2008 CFN Michigan Preview
Michigan DE Tim Jamison
Michigan DE Tim Jamison
Posted May 2, 2008

Woe is Michigan. It has issues on the O line, there isn't a QB to fit what the coaching staff wants to do, and no one is predicting any sort of success. Whatever. Tim Jamison and the defensive front four should be terrific, and watch out, things might not be that bad. Check out the CFN Michigan Preview.

Michigan Wolverines

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Michigan Preview |
2008 Michigan Offense
- 2008 Michigan Defense | 2008 Michigan Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Michigan Preview | 2006 CFN Michigan Preview 

It's been an interesting 12 months around the winningest program in college football history.

From the embarrassing losses to Appalachian State and Oregon, to yet another loss to Ohio State, to Lloyd Carr announcing his retirement and then going into the sunset with an everyone-can-kiss-my-butt-like coaching job by beating Urban Meyer and Florida in the Capital One Bowl, to a coaching search that wasn't as easy as it was supposed to be for the supposed Leaders and Best, to the whole bizarre divorce between Rich Rodriguez and West Virginia, to Michigan deciding to foot the bill for part of the alimony, to the defection of players like star QB prospect Ryan Mallett to Arkansas and lineman Justin Boren to Ohio State, to the loss of uber-recruit Terrelle Pryor to Ohio State, even though he could've stepped in and started from minute one in Ann Arbor, you'll have to forgive Wolverine fans if they need to catch their collective breath.

Head coach: Rich Rodriguez
1st year at Michigan
8th year: 60-26
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 15, Def. 25, ST 5
Lettermen Lost: 23
Ten Best UM Players
DT Terrance Taylor, Sr.
2. DE Tim Jamison, Sr.
3. CB Morgan Trent, Sr.
4. RB Brandon Minor, Jr.
5. WR Greg Mathews, Jr.
6. DT Will Johnson, Sr.
7. DE Brandon Graham, Jr.
8. CB Donovan Warren, Soph.
9. LB Obi Ezeh, Soph.
10. OT Stephen Schilling, Soph.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 Utah
Sept. 6 Miami Univ.
Sept. 13 at Notre Dame
Sept. 20 OPEN DATE 
Sept. 27 Wisconsin
Oct. 4 Illinois
Oct. 11 Toledo
Oct. 18 at Penn State
Oct. 25 Michigan State
Nov. 1 at Purdue
Nov. 8 at Minnesota
Nov. 15 Northwestern
Nov. 22 at Ohio State

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 9-4

Sept. 1 App. State L 34-32
Sept. 8 Oregon L 39-7
Sept. 15 Notre Dame W 38-0
Sept. 22 Penn State W 14-9
Sept. 29 at Nwestern W 28-16
Oct. 6 Eastern Michigan W 33-22
Oct. 13 Purdue W 48-21
Oct. 20 at Illinois W 27-17
Oct. 27 Minnesota W 34-10
Nov. 3 at Michigan State W 28-24
Nov. 10 at Wisconsin L 37-21
Nov. 17
Ohio State L 14-3
Capital One Bowl
Jan. 1 Florida W 41-35

Rodriguez was an interesting hire as it showed that Michigan, a program not exactly known for being wild and wacky, has decided that it needed to make a change. Getting a coach who runs the spread offense was an easy sell considering the way the Wolverines were pantsed in the first two games of last year, but it might also mean a major transition period, and that might not be a bad thing.

The big complaint about the Carr era was that the program, after winning the 1997 national title, was never able to take that one last step to become the yearly player in the national championship race like USC and Ohio State were able to become.

There were some moments, like the 2006 season when the Wolverines had their shot to play for the whole ball of wax going into the Ohio State game, but more often than not, seasons ended with a thud after facing the big boys in the bowl games.

Under Carr, Michigan was never allowed to take that one step back to regroup and revamp to take a giant leap forward, instead trying to adjust on the fly. But now the program might be forced to suck it up for a year for the potential to be the kind of elite-of-the-elite, perennial top-five superpower the fan base thinks Michigan should be.

So is it all gloom and doom this season without the parts to run the offense the way Rodriguez wants? Hardly. The defense will still be terrific, and while there might not be a Pat White or a Steve Slaton to do the things West Virginia was able to offensively over the last few seasons, this is still Michigan, and it's full of all-star prospects and more talent across the board than RichRod had ever enjoyed at West Virginia.

Even so, with so much going on and so much turnover, there will be a wee bit of a grace period as the new coaching staff will do what it has to get the right pieces in the right places. Fortunately for Rodriguez, no one is expecting anything right away. That, by itself, might make this year's Wolverine team as dangerous as any in the Big Ten.

What to watch on offense … how quickly will the line come together? The running backs should be outstanding, the receiving corps won't be bad, and even with all the weeping and gnashing of teeth about not having Terrelle Pryor running the show, the quarterbacks aren't going to be awful. None of it matters unless the line, one of the least experienced in America, can produce right away. This is Michigan, so there's a slew of four-star talent across the line, and fortunately, there are enough good athletes to start putting the Rodriguez style of offense in place.

What to watch on defense … the line to possibly grow into one of the best in America.  The offense might struggle, but if the defensive front plays up to its capability, the defense will pick up the slack. A disappointment last season even though it was supposed to be a year of transition, there aren't any excuses going into this season with the tackle combination of Terrance Taylor and Will Johnson good enough to get the NFL scouts hopping, while the ends, Tim Jamison and rising star Brandon Graham, should be big-time stat producers.

The team will be far better if … it buys into the "nobody believes in us" cliché, because it's true. No one will pick the Wolverines to win the Big Ten and some (cough, like us, cough) will think Utah has a great shot of winning the opener. Again, it's not like there isn't talent in all spots, and despite what West Virginians might want to think at the moment, Rodriguez really is a fantastic football coach. Even so, it's going to take an underdog attitude to get through this year and make it a success.

The Schedule: While the non-conference schedule might not seem like that big a deal on paper, it's a lot rougher than it appears. If you thought Appalachian State was a nasty home opener, wait until Utah comes to Ann Arbor. No, Miami University isn't going to be a breather with its loaded defense led by a linebacking corps that's as good as any in the Big Ten outside of Ohio State's. Going to Notre Dame isn't going to be a layup this year, and Toledo has a high-octane offense. On the plus side, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan State have to come to the Big House, and there's a relatively easy two-game stretch in mid-November going to Minnesota and hosting Northwestern before the Ohio State showdown, but there's a rough patch of three road games in four weeks going to Penn State and Purdue, wrapped around the always-emotional rivalry game with the Spartans, before finishing up in Minneapolis. Missing Iowa and Indiana isn't necessarily a plus.

Best Offensive Player: Junior RB Brandon Minor. There's no replacing an all-timer of a heart-and-soul back like Mike Hart, but Minor now the main man, the running game might be more explosive. He's a very fast back with good size and the type of athleticism to be put at quarterback once in a while like Arkansas did with Darren McFadden.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DT Terrance Taylor. The 6-0, 319-pound rock of a nose tackle has the type of talent to become a first round draft pick next year, but for all the production and all the stats, he's still going to have to step up his play as the leader of the potentially great front line. He's the anchor everything will work around, and while it might not be fair, if the run defense isn't dominant, it could be his fault.    

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman QB Steven Threet. The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket doesn't have to be Pat White, and he doesn't have to Chad Henne. All Threet, a 6-6, 230-pound redshirt freshman, has to do it keep the offense moving and not screw up. The defense will be good enough to keep the team in every game, so Threet's job is to be efficient. If he can do that, the offense will be fine.

The season will be a success if ... Michigan wins ten games. Screw the diminished expectations. This is Michigan, and Rodriguez is supposed to be an elite head coach. It's not like the Wolverines are playing in the SEC East or the Big 12 South, the Big Ten is merely average after the top few teams, and outside of the home game against Wisconsin and the season-ender at Ohio State, there isn't another game on the schedule against a team that should be head and shoulders better than this Michigan squad, even a rebuilding one.

Key game: Nov. 22 at Ohio State. Ohio State is loaded and it should be the best team in America. Considering this is supposed to be a transition period for Michigan, the final record might not matter too much. Wolverine fans want Big Ten titles, BCS games and a national title chase, so really, for this year, the difference between being an also-ran 9-3 with a trip to Orlando in January isn't all that much different form 6-6 and being happy to be sent anywhere. However, no matter what Michigan does in games one through 11, if it can break the current streak of four straight losses, six defeats in the last seven games, against Ohio State, then everything changes going into 2009. All of a sudden, everything will be on the right track for Michigan to get to where it wants to be.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Onside kicks: Opponents 4 of 4 – Michigan 1 of 1
- Kickoff return average: Opponents 22.6 yards – Michigan 18.5 yards
- Fourth quarter scoring: Michigan 106 – Opponents 63