Friday, August 31, 2012

2012 Season Predictions

This is always fun.  Take a look at my 2011 predictions.

Now for the things that will absolutely, 100% become true in the coming months:

Leading Rusher
Last year I picked the right guy (Denard Robinson) but fell short on the yardage.  Now that it looks like Fitzgerald Toussaint will miss some time due to legal issues, it's even more likely that Robinson leads the team in rushing for the third straight season.  Hopefully he can stay healthy and make this come true.
Prediction: Denard Robinson, 1200 yards

Leading Receiver
Starting flanker Roy Roundtree looks like he's being groomed to be this year's #1 target, now that he's been moved to the multiple receiver side and wearing the #21 jersey.  The coaches want him to be The Guy, and he's been successful before.  He doesn't have the same ability to catch balls in traffic as last year's leading receiver Junior Hemingway, but he does have some smoothness and shiftiness to him.
Prediction: Roy Roundtree, 750 yards

Leading Tackler
Starting middle linebacker Kenny Demens returns to the same role this season.  He doesn't have the same talent in front of him to keep him clean, but the mass of Quinton Washington and William Campbell, along with the steady play of Craig Roh, should help Demens maintain some level of consistency.
Prediction: Kenny Demens, 90 tackles

Leading Sacker
The pass rush is not this team's specialty.  Especially if weakside end Frank Clark can't play much because of legal issues, the athleticism just isn't there for the full-time players.  The best pass rusher on the unit is SAM linebacker Jake Ryan, but he might be overmatched if he has to play too much weakside end.  Ryan is better as a guy who moves around from the edge to an inside blitz, back to the edge, etc.
Prediction: Jake Ryan, 5.5 sacks

Leading Interceptor
I picked J.T. Floyd for this spot in 2010, but he got hurt halfway through the year.  Then I picked Jordan Kovacs last season, and he ended up with just 1 pick.  The best cover guy on the squad is Blake Countess, in my opinion, but Countess had 0 picks last year, though he had 1 in the spring game.  So I'm going to combine my last two choices.
Prediction: J.T. Floyd and Jordan Kovacs, 2 interceptions each

All-Big Ten First Team
Prediction: Taylor Lewan, Denard Robinson

Leading Scorer (non-QB, non-kicker)
Prediction: Fitzgerald Toussaint

Breakout Offensive Player
A lot of starters return again in 2012, and last year's choice (Jeremy Gallon) already kind of broke out.  Lots of exiting Michigan players have mentioned Jerald Robinson as a guy to watch, but I have yet to see it.  I'll go with Thomas Rawls, who at the very least should be able to run over some mediocre competition through the first half of the year (except Alabama) and pile up some decent numbers.
Prediction: Thomas Rawls

Breakout Defensive Player
This is a tough choice, because the back seven guys all return, the defensive line is expected to be mediocre, and perhaps my #1 choice during the offseason (Frank Clark) is in legal trouble and might miss too much time to be a smart choice here.  I guess I'll go with Thomas Gordon, who showed flashes of playmaking ability last year.  I expect him to be even better in pass coverage this year and help support the run quite a bit, so this should be a big year for him.
Prediction: Thomas Gordon

Most Disappointing Offensive Player
Lots of outgoing players have chosen Jerald Robinson as a breakout player, and we haven't even seen a glimpse of it in a spring game.  Before Roy Roundtree's 2010 breakout season, he had a good end to the 2009 campaign and an awesome spring game.  Before Jeremy Gallon's 2011 breakout season, he had some nice plays during his 2010 redshirt freshman season.  Robinson must do a lot in practice, but it never translates to anything more than that.  He won't disappoint me because I'm not expecting a ton, but I do think he'll disappoint some of those guys who think he'll be a stud.
Prediction: Jerald Robinson

Most Disappointing Defensive Player
The only way anyone in the back seven disappoints is if they regress.  It's already a rather solid group, perhaps without a superstar but pretty good nonetheless.  I think defensive tackle/end Jibreel Black is going to struggle.  He's too small to play 3-tech and too big/stiff to be a quality weakside end.  He might be okay against the run as a weakside end, but Michigan probably won't get much of a pass rush out of him.
Prediction: Jibreel Black

The Big Finish
Sept. 1 vs. Alabama: LOSS.  Michigan is probably going to struggle, especially running the ball.  Alabama has a very good offensive line and stops the run well.  That leaves the game in Denard Robinson's hands, and he can't pass Michigan to a win.

Sept. 8 vs. Air Force: WIN.  Air Force is going to struggle this season, and Michigan will be angry coming off the loss to Alabama.

Sept. 15 vs. Massachusetts: WIN.  UMass is in its first season in the FBS, and Michigan should handle them pretty well.  And it won't be a close final score like it was a couple years ago.

Sept. 22 at Notre Dame: WIN.  This is basically a toss-up because Notre Dame is going to be on the upswing this year, I think.  The Fighting Irish will be better, but Denard Robinson shouldn't be making the same mistakes he did in last year's game.

Oct. 6 at Purdue: WIN.  Purdue probably won't be very good this year.

Oct. 13 vs. Illinois: WIN.  Illinois doesn't have the offensive firepower to beat Michigan.  They always seem to have a couple good defensive players, but they're probably going to get overpowered on offense.

Oct. 20 vs. Michigan State: LOSS. Michigan State's defense scares me a little bit, and Michigan hasn't shown over the past few years that they can handle the pressure up the middle.

Oct. 27 at Nebraska: WIN.  This was a blowout in Ann Arbor last season, and Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead had a bit of a rough day.  Michigan's defensive line manhandled Nebraska's offensive line, so it won't be a blowout, just a fairly close victory.

Nov. 3 at Minnesota: WIN. Minnesota is bad.

Nov. 10 vs. Northwestern: WIN.  Offensively, Northwestern will give Michigan some trouble like they always do.  But eventually Michigan will figure it out, and the Wildcats won't be able to hold up on defense.

Nov. 17 vs. Iowa: WIN. Iowa lost quite a bit last year, and I think this might be a year when Kirk Ferentz and his revamped coaching staff can't hold it all together.

Nov. 24 at Ohio State: LOSS.  The Buckeyes are going to be good at the whole defense thing, but I expect them to take a year before Urban Meyer's offense really takes shape.  However, the game is at the Horseshoe, so Michigan will be a little off their game.

Final record: 9-3


  1. We beat Michigan State this year.

    They lose Jerel Worthy and replace him with basically a nobody. Double A-gap blitzes or not, the pressure up the middle is going to be greatly reduced from last year. Add in MSU's probable difficulty in scoring, and I'm marking that a win.

    1. Nope, sorry. For what they lost in the middle up front, they basically gain everywhere else on the D as both LB and secondary core groups are better along with their edge situation. Everyone in Michigan land is basically hoping and praying that Maxwell and his WR's flop because that's what it would take for the rest of the team to not get them the win. Unfortunately, Maxwell doesn't need to be great for State to win, just not bad and it doesn't look like he will be bad. Objectively, I'm going with Magnus on this one

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Michigan loses more up front than MSU. Worthy was good, but there's more to than defense than just him.

  2. Bama: Win
    MSU: Win
    Ohio: Win


  3. I think Fitz will lead the team in rushing. I only expect him to miss one game and I believe the staff really wants to get their rushing yards from a feature back not the QB. I'll take Fitz with 1200 yards and Denard will have around 1000.

    For breakout offensive player, I am going with Devin Funchess. Big rangy WR/TE. Gardner has the same measurables but has never been a WR before and will struggle with routes and hands. Funchess will be a big weapon in the Red Zone. He won't lead the team in receptions or receiving yards, but for a true frosh he will put up pretty good numbers: 350 receiving yards and 5 TD's.

    UM will beat MSU this season (close game though) but lose to the Domers and Cornshuckers. UM is actually better than both of those squads IMO, but with the games being on the road and at night, I think UM loses close ones to both. Final regular season record: 8-4.

  4. That would be about the most unsatisfying 9-3 record imaginable.

  5. Agree with the W/L predictions, except ND and MSU. UM benefitted from terrible QB play in the last two ND games and should have lost both. I'm guessing that Kelly finally finds a QB who can avoid turnovers, comes to his senses and runs more, and Denard struggles a bit on the road in South Bend.

    Michigan beating MSU this year is a good bet in my opinion. MSU has a good defense, but UM's offense made them look better than they really were last season. Borges and the OL will be ready for them this year and Mattison will eat up their overrated offense, especially at home. Hoke is zeroing in on this game big-time.

    You went safe on the breakout players. Last year, I'd say they were Morgan, Countess, Ryan, and Fitz (going from nothing to major contributors). Three of those guys were freshman-eligible players who became at least competent starters. With higher quality recruits now coming in, I think you have at least that many freshmen who make their marks. My guesses for the most likely would be Norfleet, Darboh, Funchess, Kalis, Ojemudia, Bolden, DG at WR, Bellomy, and Pipkins. Of those guys, I think Funchess , Gardner (WR), and Ojemudia are best bets because of positional weaknesses.

    1. ND also benefited from bad QB play in the last two least for most of them. I say the Notre Dame curse continues and we beat them right at the end. Could be another toss-up, especially being on the road at night.

      I agree entirely that the coaches are geared up for MSU. Even though they've only been here a year, they're probably more sick of getting beat by Sparty than the fans.

    2. Morgan 'broke out' only in the sense that he was a freshman everyone though would red-shirt. But he was wrong more often than he was right, and he's an undersized guy with mediocre athleticism. Morgan had a target on his back for most of the season. Sometimes he did OK, but the target remained. He seems like a gritty kid with a good work ethic and head on his shoulders but he's not a playmaker. Countess and Ryan seem like potential all-conference players.

      I don't think WDE is a positional weakness - not with Black, Beyer, Clark there and Ryan used there situationally. Ojemudia could play, but if he does it's not for a lack of ability at the position -- which is what you actually WANT from freshman, rather than needing them to fill a hole.

    3. Yeah, the problem with "breakout" players is that we have a lot of returning starters, and I think Michigan is likely to continue largely where they left off last year. There will be some improvement, but Michigan doesn't need freshmen to contribute as much as they did last season. I'm sure some freshmen will contribute, but perhaps not at a level I would consider a "breakout."

  6. Great post - one of my favorites to read each year... Here are my predictions:

    Lead Rusher: Toussaint. I fear Denard's going to get hurt. They'll look to limit his exposure against some weaker teams (where he would have previously put up big numbers). Toussaint is a special talent and he's running behind a great OL if they're healthy - I think he has a great year and then goes to the NFL. Not playing against the 'Bama D won't cost him much production anyway.

    Lead Receiver: Gallon. I think they'll spread the ball around, but Gallon's the most talented receiver on the roster - they'll make it a point to get him the ball. Not sure how yards will shake out exactly, but I think Gallon at least tops the team in receptions.

    Lead tackler: Demens. obvious choice, though if things go bad it could be Kovacs.

    Lead Sacker: Clark. With no dominant DL threat, this is a tough one. I think offenses are going to keep a close eye on Ryan this year. Mattison will send heat from elsewhere.

    Lead INT. Avery. Should be in a lot and it's easier to snare INTs on the interior than in one-on-one deep coverage.

    Breakout O: Barnum. This is a tough one because Denard, Gallon, Toussaint, etc are all pretty established players. I think a few freshman will contribute (Norfleet, Funchess, Darboh, Williams) but none are going to put up huge numbers. Barnum's always been a well-regarded player but never stayed healthy. This year he 'breaks out' by staying healthy in a pivotal role at C and makes some all-conference teams.

    Disappointing O: Rawls. I expect a lot of carries for less than 4 yards and lots of groans, maybe some fumble issues. People will prefer the little guys get the ball.

    Breakout D: Ross. I'll go out on a limb and say he ends up starting this year. Runner-up: Black. People are going to end up valuing and respecting his versatility. Guy I HOPE it is: Ash.

    Disappointing D: Morgan. When the DL gets run over he is going to be exposed. I was going to put Campbell, but I think his move back to 3-tech has put most people's expectations back into the sphere of reasonable. Washington is another candidate but I'm still not sure how much he actually plays and I don't think people expect much. Pipkins, relative to the fact that people were talking about him being a starter a few months ago is an easy choice, but people who are sane about recriting will recognize that any contribution at all from him is a good sign for the future. Overall - Most already recognize that the DL in general is going to be a weakness, so I think the disappointment will come from the LBs not being quite as good as they looked last year - especially Morgan.

    Season: 8-4. Bama, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and OSU seem like losses to me. I think there's another injury-induced upset in there too but we'll probably snatch a victory from one of the 4 tough road games too. I do think we beat MSU at home. (That may be wishful thinking, but I think their luck has run out). Nebraska at night is going to be WAY tougher than people think. Reading way too much into last year's head-to-head matchup. Nebraskas a good team. The season will be defined by the OSU game. If they win that and go 9-3 or so, I think everyone is happy.

  7. I see State getting body slammed big time in A2. A world of hurt is going to be laid on them.

    Also, 1-2 vs these big 3....ND, OSU, Neb.

    9 - 3, or 8 - 4 if a slip up elsewhere but still satisfying with a win over "lil-bro" and a decent bowl appearance again

  8. The MSU game is about hitting. I think we restore order and outhit Sparty at home.

    The OSU game is frequently about Senior Quarterbacks and big plays. We have one, he can make em.

    Don't underestimate Lincoln though as a tough place to play. While they can't get it to shake and shudder like it's coming down ala Camp Randall, the Cornhuskers get that place rockin' pretty good. If stuff starts going wrong it can stay wrong at Memorial Stadium.