2007 Michigan Preview

Posted Jun 26, 2007

After coming oh-so-close to playing for a national title, and finishing up the season with a two-game losing streak, can Chad Henne, who hasn't won a bowl or beaten Ohio State, finally lead the loaded Wolverine attack to a truly special year?

Michigan Wolverines

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Michigan Offense Preview | 2007 Michigan Defense Preview
2007 Michigan Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Michigan Preview 

O.K. Michigan, time to prove you’ve earned your spot at the big boy table.    

By name recognition alone, Michigan gets the type of national respect reserved for the elite of the elite, but unlike Texas, USC, Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma and Florida, the self-proclaimed leaders and best haven’t been able to come up with a really, really, really big win in years. Since winning the 1997 national title, Michigan has become the Peyton Manning of college football (before his Super Bowl win over the Bears).

Head coach: Lloyd Carr
13th year: 113-36
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 18, Def. 18, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 31
Ten Best UM Players
1. RB Mike Hart, Sr.
2. WR Mario Manningham, Jr.
3. OT Jake Long, Sr.
4. QB Chad Henne, Sr.
5. LB Shawn Crable, Sr.
6. DT Terrance Taylor, Jr.
7. OG Adam Kraus, Sr.
8. SS Jamar Adams, Sr.
9. DE Tim Jamison, Sr.
10. WR Adrian Arrington, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 11-1

Sept. 1

Appalachian State

Sept. 8


Sept. 15

Notre Dame

Sept. 22

Penn State

Sept. 29

at Northwestern

Oct. 6

Eastern Michigan

Oct. 13


Oct. 20

at Illinois

Oct. 27


Nov. 3

at Michigan State

Nov. 10

at Wisconsin

Nov. 17

Ohio State

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Record:
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 Vanderbilt W 27-7
9/9 Central Mich W 41-17
9/16 at Notre Dame W 47-21
9/23 Wisconsin W 27-13
9/30 at Minnesota W 28-14
10/7 Michigan State W 31-13
10/14 at Penn State W 17-10
10/21 Iowa W 20-6
10/28 Northwestern W 17-3
11/4 Ball State W 34-26
11/11 at Indiana W 34-3
11/18 at Ohio State L 42-39
1/1 Rose Bowl
USC L 32-18

Oh sure, there have been some sensational victories for the résumé, like last year’s win over Wisconsin, and it’s not like the team has been bad going 11-0 before losing to Ohio State and USC, but for fans wanting national titles, and who had to resort to being grumpy after the BCSers put Florida in the big game, they want more. This might be the year they get it.

The defense, which was slightly overrated throughout 2006 and exposed at the end of the year, will take a big hit losing a slew of NFL talent, but the offense will make up for it by bombing away at will with Chad Henne throwing to Mario Manningham while Mike Hart runs wild behind one of the nation’s best lines. 35-40 points a game will be the norm, while the defense won’t be all that bad. This is Michigan; it’ll replace NFL talent with more NFL talent.

The expectations should be higher than they usually are in Ann Arbor, which means 2008 could be a transition year if things don’t go according to plan. As great as the program has been under Lloyd Carr, losing to Ohio State four out of the last five years, losing four bowl games in a row, and not getting back to the national championship in ten years hasn’t sat well. With the only away game against a 2006 bowl team at Wisconsin, it’s BCS title game or bust for a team this good.

What to watch on offense … A simple formula. Run Mike Hart, run Mike Hart, and run Mike Hart. Then, just as the safeties start cheating up to finally stop getting pounded on, take advantage of the one-on-one coverage, hit Manningham and the other great receivers on game-breaking deep patterns, score 45 points, repeat the next week.   

What to watch on defense … Defensive coordinator Ron English made the D far more aggressive, but the pass rushing production slowed down in a big way by the end of the year. The overall athleticism will be there to bring more blitzes, but with such a good offense, forcing turnovers and big plays won’t be as vital as just getting off the field. Being merely above-average will be good enough.

The team will be far better if … it takes the attitude from day one that nothing less than a trip to the BCS Championship Game will do. The schedule works out well, the offense should be among the best in the country, and the defense has until mid-November to jell. It’s O.K. to talk about winning the national championship; everyone else will be.   

The Schedule: If you like last year’s big run before the Ohio State game, you’ll love this year’s Wolverine schedule. Before mid-November, the three road games are at Northwestern, Illinois and Michigan State. There are some tough battles with Oregon, Notre Dame and Penn State all in September, but they’re all in the Big House. Not facing Iowa is a plus, but missing Indiana is a bad break. It all comes down to the two-game finishing kick at Wisconsin and the showdown with Ohio State, which could both be made tougher after coming off the always-tough rivalry game against the Spartans.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Mike Hart.  Chad Henne and Mario Manningham may someday earn a better NFL draft grade, but Hart has been the irreplaceable cog in the Wolverine offense since becoming a starter as a freshman in 2004.  While not all that flashy, he never puts the ball on the ground and has the uncanny ability to move the chains and wear out opposing defenses with his straight-ahead running style.     

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Shawn Crable.  No more than a real nice complement to a stacked Michigan defense a year ago, Crable is well positioned to be the leading man in his final season in Ann Arbor.  Somewhat of a tweener at 6-5 and 245 pounds, he’s plenty athletic to wreak havoc as a blitzing outside linebacker or can play with his hand in the dirt with a few extra pounds of bulk.      

Key player to a successful season: Senior DE Tim Jamison. Is this the year he can put it all together and become a complete end? He’ll certainly have the opportunity with one of the few returning defenders with any experience. With five sacks last season, to go along with just 13 tackles, he has to be an adequate replacement for LaMarr Woodley and Rondell Biggs.

The season will be a success if ... Michigan plays for the national title. The defense gets two months to jell, while the offense will be among the best in America from the opening kickoff against Appalachian State. With a not-that-bad schedule, anything less than 11-1 might be unacceptable to most Wolverine fans, especially if that one loss is to the Buckeyes.

Key game: Nov. 17 vs. Ohio State. Playing the Buckeyes to a nearly dead-even draw last year didn’t mean much considering it was still a loss. Even if it’s not for a spot in the national title game, Michigan must beat its arch-rival for the first time since 2003 or there might be big changes on the coaching staff.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Michigan 93 – Opponents 33
- Net rushing yards: Michigan 2,282 – Opponents 564
- Sacks: Michigan 43 for 333 yards – Opponents 24 for 150 yards


Related Stories
2007 Michigan Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 26, 2007
2007 Michigan Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 26, 2007
2007 Michigan Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 26, 2007

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