For my first?piece with The Wolverine Lounge,?I have seven?bold predictions?for seven days left before the season starts.
Let’s get to it.
1. Michigan beats Notre Dame by Double Digits
There are a lot of questions surrounding the offenses for both teams right now.
However, one thing we do know is that Michigan?s defense will be the best unit in this game. It?s doubtful that whoever starts at QB for the Fighting Irish will have much success completing passes while under pressure from Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich, Devin Bush, Khaleke Hudson, and the rest of the front seven.
Moreover, the task of completing passes won?t be made easier with Lavert Hill and David Long in coverage.
Additionally, if rumors are true, Dexter Williams, Notre Dame?s leading returning rusher, will be suspended on Sep. 1.
I have a hard time seeing an offense with these particular issues being a threat to what we all expect to be an epic defense. My score projection for this game will be 23-10 in favor of the good guys.
2. Shea Patterson Completes 25+ TD passes in 2018
As confirmed by Jim Harbaugh, Shea Patterson will be Michigan’s starting QB.
Although it will take some time for him to get fully comfortable in a new offense, he’s expected to be one of the most talented QBs to ever don the winged helmet.
On top of that, Patterson will be surrounded by a boat load of talented pass catchers. His talent, combined with the long list of weapons he has,?should create the opportunity to meet or exceed the school record in TD passes.
I expect Patterson will be firing on all cylinders by October and will go in the first round in 2019.
3. Karan Higdon and Chris Evans combine for 2,500+ yards from scrimmage
Michigan has never had a running back tandem quite like these two before. For a point of reference, the two combined for 1,967 yards from scrimmage in 2017. There are many reasons why I think they are bound to outdo that performance from last year.
First, whoever the No. 3 RB is this year (I expect it will be Christian Turner) will have far fewer carries this year than Ty Issac did last year.
Second, the staff has a better idea of how to use Higdon and Evans than they did last year. In 2017, it took the staff nearly half the season to decide that Higdon should be the No. 1 guy; It took even longer to get Evans involved in the passing game. Now, the staff can use them most effectively and maximize their skill sets right away.
Lastly, both guys have made major weight room gains in the offseason, and the added bulk should allow both guys to pick up extra yards that were at the end of runs that were harder to get last year.
You'll never compete with Alabama until you start looking like Alabama. Michigan's new strength staff has them headed in that direction. Karan Higdon 2017 vs. 2018 pic.twitter.com/TDKHbPi6Qg
— LG (@LGhail) June 6, 2018
4. The defense outdoes 2016’s statistics
In 2016, Michigan totaled 46 sacks, 121 tackles for loss, allowed 14.1 points and 261.8 yards per game.
That year, Michigan and Alabama were regarded as the two best defensive teams in the country.
This year, I believe they are primed to beat the defense from two years ago, statistically.
In Don Brown?s first year in Ann Arbor, he had experienced football players who were new to his system. In his second year, he had inexperienced football players who had started to develop knowledge of his system.
Now, in year three, you have experienced players, experience in the system, and the best collection?of athletes Brown has ever coached.
Expect the linebacker talent this season – headlined by Devin Bush, Jr. – to be the X-factor in 2018?s defense being better than 2016?s.
5. Two underclassman will start at OT before the season is over
As many fans are aware, a huge part of this season?s success will hinge on the ability of the offensive tackles.
All recent reports have indicated that there have been ongoing battles between Jalen Mayfield and Jon Runyan Jr. at left tackle, and James Hudson and Juwann Bushell-Beatty at right tackle.
While I expect the two more experienced guys to get the start in South Bend, the two younger guys have much higher ceilings.
High ceiling freshmen offensive linemen at Michigan have always found a way into the starting rotation by season?s end (see Mason Cole, Ben Bredeson, and Cesar Ruiz). I expect Mayfield and Hudson to be no exception to this rule.
6. Michigan totals 17+ players with All-Big Ten honors
This team is loaded with talent everywhere, and a team this loaded with talent will have a lot of all-conference players.
As mentioned previously, the defense will be outstanding, I?d bet that 9 or 10 guys will receive all conference honors.
The offense won?t be as good as the defense, but i believe they will have 6 or 7 guys receiving all-conference honors with all the developments that have been made in the offseason.
Michigan also has some guy named Quinn Nordin as its kicker.
2018 is the year Michigan sees all the recruiting success from 2016 and 2017 pay dividends.
7. Four guys go in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft
Several of those guys that will be receiving all-conference honors will be finishing out their eligibility this season (e.g. Chase Winovich and Karan Higdon).
Other guys will have an important decision to make in February (e.g. Rashan Gary and Shea Patterson).
With the bluechip talent at QB that Michigan was gifted in Patterson and all the studs they have on defense, I see Harbaugh and his staff making a multitude of NFL teams happy in 2019.
I?ll predict that Shea Patterson, Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, and one of the corners go in the first round. Zach Gentry is a sleeper pick here, too. All these guys have elite athleticism and playmaking ability that will translate well at the next level.