2017 Michigan Wolverine Football Preview via the Drive’s College Football Hour Glass

Jim Harbaugh looks to get Michigan over the hump in the BIG10 in 2017. Photo courtesy of 247sports.com

Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh has led his Michigan Wolverines to double digit win seasons in his first two years as the coach, but he appears to have missed out on his best opportunity to show up in the college football playoffs last season. The Wolverines lost two of their last three games in the regular season and finished with a loss to the Florida State Seminoles in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

The biggest challenge of the 2017 season for Harbaugh and his coordinators, Tim Drevno on offense and Don Brown on defense, will be working with only six total returning starters after having 11 of those missing 16 drafted to the NFL.

One of the nation’s best defenses last year will be without Heisman contender, Jabrill Peppers or their sack leader, Taco Charlton. Defensive Tackle, Maurice Hurst turned down an early trip to the NFL and will be the only returning starter on the Wolverine’s defense.

Brown will have his work cut out for him if he wants the defense to repeat their success from last year, when they ranked #2 in the FBS, only behind Alabama, in points and yards allowed per game and were also #1 in passing yards allowed per game.

The only thing that is working in Brown’s favor this year, is that the young talent he will be replacing the starters with were able to see some playing time last season. This will hopefully help them with making their transitions to starters a little easier and speed up their development.

Drevno’s offense may have more returning players, but he will be without the receiving core of Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson and tight end Jake Butt, who all totaled together over 1,900 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

The offense will also be without their best running back last year, De’voen Smith, which means sophomore; Chris Evans will fill in as the Wolverine’s main ball carrier. Evans, who also had four touchdowns last year, racked up 614 yards on the ground with just 88 carries which gave him an average of seven yards per carry.

Evans’ explosiveness should help take some pressure off of senior quarterback, Wilton Speight, who looks to make up for crumbling in the later part of the 2016 season. Speight, who lost the last three games he started in, will be the deciding factor if this offense prevails or fails, but he is very capable of reaching 3,000 passing yards if he and his younger receivers can get in sync early on in the season.

It hasn’t taken Michigan Football long under Harbaugh to return to the national conversation. Photo courtesy of 247sports.com

Per the Drive’s college football analytics, Speight is rated the 26th best quarterback in the country with a quarterback stamp of 11.5, just above the national average of 10.6.

Even the Wolverine’s special teams will take a huge hit this season and will be forced to rebuild. Not only did they lose Peppers as their dynamic returner, but they also lost Kenny Allen, who played the role of the punter and kicker. To replace Allen, the Wolverines will bring in a former #1 ranked kicking recruit, redshirt freshman, Quinn Nordon for field goals, and will give freshman, Brad Robbins the job of flipping field positions as the new punter.

Harbaugh’s new look Wolverines will be tested early this year when they kick off the 2017 season against the Florida Gators at the neutral sight of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The Wolverine’s other two biggest match-ups come against James Franklin and the Penn State Nittany Lions on the road and a revenge game against the Ohio State Buckeyes, who were victorious last year after double overtime.

Overall, Harbaugh, who is rated the 11th best coach in the country per our analytics has done a good job, getting Michigan back in the national spotlight and improving their recruiting profile.

The Wolverines have the 15th best three year recruiting profile on our board with an analytics stamp of 88, which puts them well inside the College Football Title Game Bust Line.

That simply means they have more than enough talent on campus to reach the College Football National Championship – but still need some work to win it all.

Projected win – loss record for the Michigan Wolverines (11-1) {Regular Season}.

Team 3+Recruiting      3+Coaching Quarterback   Hour Glass Stamp
Michigan            88               14           11.5     113.5

 

* Red denotes a game that could end up a one possession ball game or outcome turns out differently.

Date Opponent Result
2-Sep Florida WIN
9-Sep Cincinatti WIN
16-Sep Air Force WIN
23-Sep @ Purdue WIN
30-Sep OFF OFF
7-Oct Mich. State WIN
14-Oct @ Indiana WIN
21-Oct @ Penn State WIN
28-Oct @ Rutgers WIN
4-Nov Minnesota WIN
11-Nov @ Maryland WIN
18-Nov @ Wisconsin WIN
25-Nov Ohio State LOSS
Article contribution by Zach Saranthus
On Twitter @freeSaranthus

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