College Football News Preview 2020: Michigan Wolverines

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

College Football News Preview 2020: Michigan Wolverines

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College Football News Preview 2020: Michigan Wolverines

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College Football News Preview 2020: Michigan Wolverines Keys To The Season

Biggest Key To The Michigan Wolverines Offense

What’s one thing that the Michigan offense can do really, really well? Start with simply being able to go on long drives on a regular basis. 

The offense finished seventh in the Big Ten and 68th in the nation, he was eighth in the conference in rushing, and fifth in passing. The downfield air attack worked, but there was a big, big problem with the O’s consistency.

The rushing attack rocked against Notre Dame, and it failed to hit 100 yards in its last three regular season games. The passing attack threw for over 300 yards in those three games, but it struggled on third downs way too often and then-QB Shea Patterson always seemed like he was about to turn the ball over – even though he wasn’t all that bad at ball security.

Start with third down conversions. The Wolverines failed to convert on any of its ten tries against Wisconsin, and only converted 15% of their chances against Ohio State – both losses.

Michigan is 1-5 over the last three years when it fails to convert at least 30%.

Combine that with the running game that failed to average four yards per carry. Struggle a bit on the ground, put pressure on a passing game that didn’t hit 60% of its passes, and there aren’t easy third down tries.

By comparison – or coincidence – the 2018 team averaged close to five yards per carry, Patterson hit 65% of his throws, and the team converted close to 49% of its third down tries.

Biggest Key To The Michigan Wolverines Defense

Keep everyone (especially Ohio State) to under six yards per play.

The Michigan defense has been absolutely phenomenal under Jim Harbaugh.

It finished 11th in the nation last season, second overall in 2018, third in 2017, and tied with Alabama for No. 1 in 2016, and fourth in Harbaugh’s first season.

And no one would ever know it, because all anyone remembers is the D getting power-dunked on by Ohio State year after year after year.

Last year’s defense allowed just 4.72 yards per play to everyone but three teams – Wisconsin, Alabama, and Ohio State.

Blowout loss, blowout loss (at least, after a half), blowout loss.

Only one other team came up with more than five yards per play – Penn State in the one other loss.

The amazing Michigan D is 0 for its last 7 – it beat Minnesota in 2015 – under Harbaugh when allowing teams to hit six yards per play.

28-1. That’s what Michigan is under Harbaugh – only losing the 14-13 heartbreaker to Iowa in 2016 – when allowing fewer than four yards per play.

Key Michigan Wolverines Player To A Successful Season

QB Joe Milton, Soph. 
Or Dylan McCaffrey. Someone has to be a difference-maker at quarterback. Someone has to fix the Achilles heel of the Harbaugh era.

The guy who came to Michigan as a quarterback guru – he figured out Colin Kaepernick before everyone else, and he helped make Andrew Luck, Andrew Luck – still has yet to find a really, really good quarterback.

Jake Rudock, Wilton Speight, John O’Korn, Shane Morris, Brandon Peters, Shea Patterson. Almost all of them had the talent, the recruiting resumé, and the buzz to be something great – and they were all just fine, at best.

Justin Fields, Dwayne Haskins, JT Barrett, Cardale Jones, and go ahead and throw in a little Joe Burrow in there – that’s who Ohio State has had under center since Harbaugh has been at Michigan.

Milton has the size and the skill set to be special, and McCaffrey has been waiting his turn to get in his cuts. One of them has to be a true difference maker. One has to finally give Michigan a quarterback that makes other teams freak out.

Key Game To The Michigan Wolverines Season

at Washington, Sept. 5
Yes, of course – OF COURSE – the entire season comes down to November 28th at Ohio State. Harbaugh has put it out there that the program has to beat Ohio State or bust, no other win will matter until Michigan beats Ohio State again, and …

Beat Ohio State, beat Ohio State, beat Ohio State.

But there are several brutal Big Ten games before that, and an interesting and dangerous trip to Washington to kick things off. To go cliché, this might be a tone-setter one way or another.

This Michigan team is better than the 2020 Washington Huskies, but the Pac-12 needs this, and it’ll be the first game under new UW head man Jimmy Lake.

Lose right out of the gate, and it’s going to be a LONG three months before that trip to Columbus.
Michigan Wolverines Schedule Breakdown & Analysis

2019 Michigan Fun Stats

– Field Goals: Michigan 21-of-27 – Opponents 10-of-10
– Fumbles: Michigan 10 (lost 3) – Opponents 7 (lost 6)
– Time of Possession: Michigan 34:18 – Opponents 25:42

NEXT: College Football News Preview 2020: Michigan Wolverines Win Total Prediction, What Will Happen

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