Monday, December 30, 2013

Review of 2013 Season Predictions

Jeremy Gallon set several records this season.
Here's a link to my 2013 Season Predictions, which were posted at the end of August. This might be more fun for me than for you, but it's interesting to me to see how things played out this year.

Prediction: Fitzgerald Toussaint, 900 yards
Actual: Fitzgerald Toussaint, 658 yards
Thoughts: The offensive line was worse than anyone expected it to be, and Toussaint struggled to average 3.5 yards/carry. The next highest total was Devin Gardner's 483 yards.

Prediction: Jeremy Gallon, 1100 yards
Actual: Jeremy Gallon, 1373 yards
Thoughts: Gallon had an outstanding season and goes down in the record books with the top yardage output by any receiver in Michigan history, surpassing Braylon Edwards's 1,330 yards in 2004. I expected him to have a very good season due to the Gardner-Gallon chemistry, but this was more explosive than anyone probably envisioned.

Prediction: James Ross III, 90 tackles
Actual: Raymon Taylor, 86 tackles
Thoughts: It's bad news when a cornerback leads the team in tackles, especially when that tackle total is so high. Opposing quarterbacks completed a lot of passes in front Taylor. Ross missed the second half of the Iowa game and the entire Ohio State game, so I'm pretty confident that he would have led the team in tackles if he had remained healthy.

Prediction: Frank Clark, 8 sacks
Actual: Frank Clark and Cameron Gordon, 5 sacks (tie)
Thoughts: Clark started off slowly before turning on the jets a little bit in the middle of the season, but his season was somewhat of a disappointment considering all the offseason hype. Gordon started off quickly but lost some playing time once Jake Ryan returned midseason.

Prediction: Taylor Lewan and Jeremy Gallon
Actual: Taylor Lewan was chosen by the Coaches and the Media. Devin Funchess and Blake Countess were chosen by the Media only.
Thoughts: Lewan was an obvious choice, and Gallon was robbed after conference finishes of #2 in receptions, #2 in yards, and #3 in touchdowns. Funchess earned his accolades as a tight end despite playing mostly at wide receiver, and Countess might be the Comeback Player of the Year in the conference after tearing his ACL in 2012. Nobody else on the team really had an argument to earn First Team honors.

Prediction: Fitzgerald Toussaint, 12 touchdowns
Actual: Fitzgerald Toussaint, 13 touchdowns
Thoughts: Toussaint ended up scoring 78 points on 13 rushing touchdowns, while I thought he would score 10 rushing and 2 receiving touchdowns, leaving him with 72 points. Gallon was next with 54 total points.

Prediction: Jehu Chesson
Actual: Jake Butt
Thoughts: Chesson had an okay year with several devastating blocks, some nice plays on special teams coverage, and 15 catches for 221 yards and 1 touchdown. But I think Butt deserves this award as he improved as a blocker and became a reliable receiving target with 20 catches for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns.

 James Ross
Actual: I don't even know who to pick here. Perhaps the answer here is Blake Countess, but I don't believe I even thought of him as being in the running since he was a starter as a true freshman in 2011. You could probably make an argument for Ross, Cam Gordon, or Frank Clark, who are the three guys I mentioned considering back in August.
Thoughts: Ross nearly led the team in tackles and might have surpassed 100 if he had been healthy. Gordon and Clark tied for the team lead in sacks. I don't really see any other legitimate options here, although we saw glimpses of what Chris Wormley, Willie Henry, Ben Gedeon, and Jarrod Wilson can do.

Prediction: Jack Miller
Actual: Jack Miller?
Thoughts: Again, I'm not sure whom to pick here. Miller started the first several games at center before being benched, never to see the field again. There was lots of disappointment to go around due to the underachieving offense (Devin Gardner, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Taylor Lewan, Kyle Kalis, even Devin Funchess). I guess Miller wins because he was really the only starter to get permanently benched, but I'm open to arguments.

 Jarrod Wilson
Actual: Courtney Avery
Thoughts: This is another tough choice, but Wilson made some nice plays early in the season. Avery proved to be kind of a lost cause at cornerback and safety, where he didn't really make one significant play all season except half of a sack against Michigan State. Otherwise, he was invisible except when guys were running past him. He went from a good nickel corner in 2011 to an okay one in 2012 to a liability at two different positions in 2013.

Central Michigan:
Notre Dame: Win
Akron: Win
UConn: Win
Minnesota: Win
Penn State: Win Loss
Indiana: Win
Michigan State: Win Loss
Nebraska: Loss
Northwestern: Win
Iowa: Win Loss
Ohio State: Loss
Prediction: 10-2
Actual: 7-5 (7-6 after bowl game) 


  1. Ah. You had predicted 10-2 as did I. What a stinker of a season.

  2. Breakout defensive player: I have a hard time with you predicting Ross in the first place. He was all big ten freshman last year, he played in all 13 games, and started 2 of them. We knew the talent he had, we knew he was going to produce on the field. I might have to say Willie Henry. Played in all 13 games, started 5, and despite not starting all 13 games, he had the most tackles by any interior D linemen. He came on strong at the end.

    In defense of your post with Ross, one could ask, "Would you say his freshman year was his breakout year?" Well, no I wouldn't... "Then it was definitely this year."

    I feel everything else is spot on.

    For emphasis, Courtney Avery was extremely disappointing. He personally allowed a lot of points on the field this year. I'll remember cussing out my TV this year during Michigan games whenever there was a big play deep within our secondary... I didn't need to see "11" to know it was Avery making the mistake: I just knew it was going to be him. I had such high hopes after his freshman year both for seeing the field as a freshman, and hearing the praise about his strength of character as a person, but his on-field performance is nothing I would ever praise.

    Here's hoping 2014 holds brighter tomorrows.

    1. Yeah, I can see what you're saying about Ross, but he only started games in 2012 because Desmond Morgan was injured. And Kyle Kalis was Freshman All-Big Ten this year, so sometimes it doesn't take a high level of accomplishment to get those accolades. I also think there were a fair number of people clamoring for Joe Bolden and Morgan to start at inside linebacker. I briefly considered Willie Henry, but I didn't really think he hit a "breakout" level with 29 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and half a sack.

    2. I see Avery as a typical (mediocre) RR defensive player. I will remember him for the interception in 2011 that sealed the victory over Ohio State, but other than that he's been mediocre like another RR CB JT Floyd was. Can't wait to see Peppers out there with Countess. Gotta get rid of these mediocre players who do nothing but get beat and let enemies score.

    3. I can see where you're coming from, 29 tackles doesn't seem too insane, but 29 tackles was the highest for any interior DL and he didn't play a majority of the snaps. So he produced more as a backup than where a Senior starter at DT and a RS Senior starter at NT were playing. I might call this his breakout year, and if he comes on next year with a ton of TFLs or Sacks, I might call that his coming out party.

    4. suduri, I see that you're indulging in another round of Rodriguez bashing. Certainly some of RR's defensive recruits didn't turn out that well (especially 'tweener types like Mike Jones and Brandin Hawthorne), but to my knowledge J.T. Floyd wasn't one of them. To the point, he was first recruited by Lloyd Carr. A couple references (including TTB!):

      Bashing requires good citations. :)

    5. Small point: Countess is an RR player.

      More importantly, there are plenty of Hoke players on this current defense that are "mediocre". If there weren't, the whole defense would not have been so mediocre.

      I mean, to continue the theme with DBs - Countess and Taylor are experienced and talented. We have a relatively healthy (and experienced and talented) group of LBs. Yet, KSU was unstoppable in the first half, when it mattered (considering we had a true freshman QB and thus would likely not score more than 20 pts the whole game). The bowl game was on the defense and they fell on their face.

      The coaches need to do a better job with what they got -- I hope Peppers is great, but UM fans seem to focus on recruiting and acting like old Brooklyn Dodgers fans -- "wait 'til next year." That's just excuses, and as shown by the preview, this team great underachieved this year. There were easily nine wins on this soft schedule this year, we went relatively injury-free (I mean, think what would have happened if Gardner would have broken his foot in Game 2 instead of Game 12; unlike MSU or OSU, we didn't have a viable backup) and it just didn't get done. 2014 needs to be different -- it doesn't take 5 years (or more) to show you can turn around a program.

    6. @Anonymous 1:15pm, Avery is a Rodriguez recruit. Ok, JT Floyd was recruited by Carr, signed by Rodriguez. Floyd spent 3 years with Rich Rod, so your point is? It is perfectly OK to bash Rodriguez with his defense, as it stunk to high heavens.

    7. Yeah Countess was recruited by RR, but spent all of his playing career under Hoke/Mattison.

      Don't get me wrong, I was furious with the defense vs. KSU. I wasted sleep thinking about it after it ended. Since I am a sucker for Michigan football I watched the whole thing even though the game was over by half. Something has to explain for how much the defense stunk, and much of it is on the coaches. All I am saying is that Avery is a very bad player, and he is a leftover from the previous regime that didn't help Michigan in 2013.

    8. The point is that facts are facts. Bash Rodriguez all you want, but let's not pile false statements on him, too. And yes, Floyd - who took a lot of heat from me for his entire career - spent three years under Rodriguez, but he also spent two under Hoke. And he arguably had his best year in 2010 under Rodriguez. I thought Rodriguez and Floyd were both overmatched at Michigan, but that doesn't really have anything to do with Rodriguez's recruiting.

      Also, Avery was recruited by Rodriguez but spent three years under Hoke. So if you're saying Floyd didn't develop because he spent three seasons with Rodriguez, then it only seems logical that you would also say that Avery didn't develop because he spent three seasons with Hoke. Personally, I don't think he was a super-talented player in the first place, and Rodriguez deserves some blame there. The fact that Avery seemed to regress from his sophomore to his senior year would appear to be on Hoke/Mattison/Mallory.

    9. @Thunder what I am saying is that good defense and Rich Rod just don't go together in the same sentence. Yes Carr recruited Floyd, but Rodriguez signed him and Rich Rod's defense has stunk almost everywhere he's been at. Yes Avery spent 3 years with Hoke, but the whole team regressed from 2011 to 2013, not just Avery.

      In sum, this coaching staff got to shoulder a lot of blame for the 2013 season, but the stain left by Rich Rod (sorry upperclassmen, recruiting blunders, bad defensive players) made their job a lot harder. That's why I keep bringing up Rich Rod.

  3. Not to bring up an uncomfortable subject or anything, but Avery made me think about how some upperclassmen might, when considering the big picture, start "mailing it in." (Not saying Avery did this ... he just made me think about it.)

    Suppose you're a second-stringer whose NFL hopes look dim. Logically, you'd start thinking about life beyond football. Perhaps the only thing keeping you in the game is your full scholarship. When the long-term effects of injuries (head and many other locations) are considered, you could see where motivation might be an issue.

    One of Bo's former players wrote a book about this (and many other issues) in the late '90s.

    Have not read it, so no comment ...

    1. Very well could be. Most of our seniors don't have a chance in the NFL. Guys like Avery might as well just take it easy like losers that they are.

    2. suduri xusai: I think you're being too harsh by calling Avery and others "losers" just because they don't meet your standards as football players. If we're being technical, just about every college football player except Florida State true freshmen has lost a game in college. And Avery has had a winning record in every single season. Also, he's a good enough football player to have earned a free education, and his teammates respected him enough to vote him captain.

      I understand frustration after watching this season and watching the bowl game, but common human decency should prevent us from calling a guy like Avery a "loser."

    3. Ok Thunder, I may have overstepped here with the insult, but it is pretty darn frustrating to watch a senior player consistently get beat.

      He was good enough player for Rich Rodriguez's defense, which doesn't say much. He got 200k+ from my school for tuition and other things, and I don't think it is unreasonable to expect him to not consistently get beat in year 4.

    4. No, you have all the right in the world to call a player a "loser" because he didnt live up to what you wanted out of a football season.

      Sure, he wasnt the most successful player out there and it would've been nice if he progressed more, but come on man. Unless you were paying the 200k from "your school" maybe you should just take a step back and be a little less personally affected by what the players and coaches do or dont do.

  4. I predicted 9-3 ... losses to OSU and Nebraska and someone else. I thought we'd beat MSU. I was wrong.

    The fundamental question before the house is whether there'll be improvement this year to next based on age and development. Nobody can answer that question with certainty. We will have to wait and see.

    That the players will be one year older is certain. Whether they'll be one year better is another matter.

    If in fact 2013 was the year destined to be a poor one due to lack of experienced depth on the lines, then we should see the trend line go back up starting next year. If we regress further ... well, then we have a problem.

    1. Anything worse in 2014 and Hoke and his chubby assistants can go. No need to continue to overpay these losers.

    2. I do think there will be improvement next year. The interior of the offensive line is extremely important for success, and that was the biggest weakness of the team. I think things will improve with so many guys getting experience in there this year.

    3. @Thunder Yes, that's to be expected, but a concerning thing is that the team played without heart in the bowl game. A bunch of players (Clark, Ross III) said that many players kind of gave up, and that's very alarming. What I fear is that there's some underlying issues that hasn't been discovered.

  5. Granted, there wasn't a lot to choose from for breakout defensive player, and a lot of disappointments, but I'd have to say that Willie Henry showed the most promise for any player in his first or second year seeing the field. He wasn't dominant, but that would have been a lot to expect. He certainly seemed to be around the ball a lot more than Washington or Pipkins. I think he could be a very, very good player next season.

  6. Thunder, what are your thoughts on Cam Gordon? I feel like he had a lot of talent but was subject to poor coaching for most of his career, like many others on this team. I get the feeling that he could have been a starter for the majority of his career if he would have the same coaches & played the same position his entire career. I guess I would compare him to Stevie Brown, but Stevie B actually had a good season his senior year.