I walked outside today, felt the cool 90-degree Michigan breeze, and, let me tell you, it felt like fall.
It felt like football.?
Totally kidding. It’s hot – too hot. Is it always this hot the week of college football’s return? I feel like I ask myself this question every year while sweating profusely thinking about a 62-61 final in the 10:30 p.m. west coast game.
Even though it’s not?technically?fall ? football is on tomorrow, therefore, it’s fall. Forget your calendar.
Fall is apple cider, donuts, chicken wings, layered chip dip, tailgating, and trying that seasonal beer your brewery hoppin’ friend Todd told you about (No, Todd, I don’t like Hopslam).
Most importantly, fall is football. It’s the dark horse Heisman; the empty seats at Northwestern; the Finebaum rants; the winged helmet; the golden domers; the mid-season coach firings …
… and it’s almost time for all of that.
That being said, with some time left until kickoff, there’s still some important updates ahead of Michigan’s first trip to South Bend since the Irish molly-whopped the Wolverines 31-0 in 2014.
Inside the submarine that is Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines, there are questions that everyone wants answered.
Let’s help with some of those today.
Here’s the?final?Fall Camp Files of 2018 before football season kicks off.
- Here’s what I expect the offensive line to look like (from left to right): Jon Runyan, Ben Bredeson, Cesar Ruiz, Michael Onwenu. Juwann Bushell-Beatty. I’ve got a hunch that Bushell-Beatty edges out James Hudson. Don’t count out Hudson to potentially beat out JBB later in the season. Bredeson has been phenomenal in camp, from what I can gather. Stephen Spanellis has been this unit’s sixth-best. Unfortunately for him, he’s had to compete with a strong interior in Bredeson, Ruiz and Onwenu. Andrew Stueber has come on late for a nice camp, he’s strong as hell, and a guy that could compete for a starting spot next season.
- Ed Warinner has worked his magic, and the o-line, through a simplified scheme and new coaching strategy, has gotten a lot better. Nonetheless, I still think we’ll see some struggles out of the gate. I don’t believe it’ll be catastrophic like last season, but the right side of the line is still a question mark as to how they can handle a pretty stout Notre Dame d-line.
- I’ve got a hunch that Jared Wangler will be at fullback more than expected. He’s been blocking really well and put on a great performance in camp. Sophomore Ben Mason is still the No. 1 fullback, and he’s been just as good, but Wangler’s turned some heads. Name another program that has fans this involved with a fullback battle.
- I’ve noted multiple times — long before the Tarik Black injury — that Nico Collins had been the most impressive receiver in camp. Multiple times, I’ve been told that he was the most impressive WR in camp. He wasn’t going to start over Black or sophomore Donovan Peoples-Jones, but he was going to be?heavy?in the rotation. Now, that starting role is his; I, personally, think he’s going to put the nation on watch in the first couple weeks. He’s not as skilled as Black, but he’s an inch taller with a large catch radius. Plus, he’s a great route-runner, something vital as he, essentially, becomes the No. 1 target, like Black was before him. I’ve been told that Shea Patterson loves throwing to Collins, he could garner the most targets when it’s all said and done.
- The national media is acting like Donovan Peoples-Jones doesn’t exist. All respect to Black, he’s a future star and an NFL player if he can stay healthy. But once he went down, it was as if Michigan lost its entire offense. Like I said, losing him is a huge blow, but DPJ was the No. 1 WR in the country out of Cass Tech in 2017. He was this offense’s most exciting player that wasn’t a running back in 2017. So while Collins certainly fills Black’s role, people cannot forget about the star power DPJ brings to the table.
- Zach Gentry, if his camp translates, is in store for a really big season. He is such a unique weapon.
- The players’ love for Shea Patterson to the media isn’t just mush. If his camp translates to the field, watch out.
- I’ve got a hunch that the offense has a couple things coming on Saturday that we haven’t seen before. You’ll know what it is when/if it happens.
- Rashan Gary is fine, as we all now know. I don’t believe there’s anything to worry about there long-term.
- Some freshman that have impressed and will play: DE Aidan Hutchinson and CB Vincent Gray. Hutchinson, I believe, will rotate at end, spelling Winovich/Gary. Gray, I believe, has worked his way into second-team reps. Though, if I’m Michigan, I keep him below the four-game threshold to save his redshirt and eligibility, barring any injuries.
- Casey Hughes is with the corners still, rotating at nickel.
- RS frosh Brad Hawkins, at safety, has worked his way into a spot behind Metellus, where he should get plenty of rotational playing time.
- Josh Uche continues to impress and should garner plenty of time, especially in some special blitz packages.
- I believe Kwity Paye will be vital in rotational time and has an All-Conference recognition coming his way in 2019/2020. What a steal he was as a lowly 3-star Rhode Island prospect that was committed to Boston College.
- I’m taking Devin Gil as the starter at WILL at this juncture, though I believe Josh Ross is an inch away. Gil brings a different type of speed to the table. Graduated (and now coaching), Mike McCray brought a sure-tackling, high football IQ, type-linebacker to Michigan’s D last season. Gil brings lights-out speed as a good open-field tackler that’s sure to be an upgrade in pass coverage. That being said, Ross has been very good, too, and should be heavy in the rotation with an opportunity still to earn that starting role down the road.
- The d-line should be rotating quite a bit with players like Bryan Mone (run-stuffer), Lawrence Marshall, Carlo Kemp, Hutchinson, and Paye. Marshall had a really nice performance in camp.
- I was told that, when Gil is a part of the defense, that Michigan’s linebackers are “faster than ever.”
- Quinn Nordin remains the big boot he arrived in Ann Arbor as. I’ve heard he’s hit some deep ones. He played through an injury last season but he’s 100% for 2018.
- If I had to guess, I would take Will Hart as the team’s punter. A very overlooked part of Michigan’s struggles last season was its inability to flip the field with its punting. Something they’ve emphasized in camp.
- Don’t be surprised if true freshman Jake Moody sees time as a special teamer.
- I believe that the return men will stay the same with DPJ on punts and Ambry Thomas on kicks. Both are threats to take one back every time.
That’s all for the 2018 Fall Camp Files. Thanks for coming.