Michigan Football Preview 2017

2017 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link: http://read.uberflip.com/i/835590

Contents of this Issue


Page 139 of 179

138 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2017 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY LELAND MITCHINSON I n his second year as the head coach of his alma mater, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh led the team to another plateau on the path to the ultimate goal of winning a national championship. Harbaugh and the Wolverines turned in a 10‑3 record for the second year in a row and capped the season with a trip to the 2016 Capitol One Orange Bowl. Though Michi‑ gan fell to Florida State 33‑32, it is clear that the Wolverines have returned to national prominence after just two years with Har‑ baugh at the helm. On the field in 2016, the Wolverines scored at least 45 points in each of their first four games, the first four‑game stretch in which the offense scored at that rate since 1947. Hawai'i, Central Florida, Colorado and Penn State lost to Michigan by a com‑ bined score of 208‑55. The first real obstacle the Wolverines faced in the 2016 season came in the fifth game of a five‑game home stretch to start the season. On Oct. 1, then‑No. 8 Wisconsin came to Michigan Stadium having just dis‑ patched Michigan State 30‑6 in East Lansing the week before. The two defenses battled to a scoreless first quarter before redshirt junior fullback Khalid Hill punched the ball into the end zone from one yard away six seconds into the second quarter to give the Wolverines a 7‑0 lead. Wisconsin scored a touchdown of its own with 8:03 left in the third quarter. A 46‑ yard connection between redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight and fifth‑year senior Amara Darboh down the left sideline put the Wolverines back on top, 14‑7. The Badgers attempted to mount an an‑ swer, but senior cornerback Jourdan Lewis made the play of the year for the Wolverines, a leaping one‑handed interception while fall‑ ing down backwards that essentially sealed the victory for the Wolverines. Michigan then played a stretch of four games where the team was once again a dominant force. The run of victories in‑ cluded a 78‑point win at Rutgers, and a tri‑ umph over rival Michigan State for the first time since 2012 and the first time on the road since 2007. The Wolverines also added a pair of home wins over Illinois and Maryland, led by 2015 Michigan defensive coordinator DJ Durkin. The joy of being undefeated nine games into the season would not last long for the Wolverines. The team left the state of Michi‑ gan for just the second time all season to take on Iowa in a night game Nov. 12 and saw its unblemished record pick up its first mark on the wrong side of the ledger. While a last‑second field goal sealed the 14‑13 victory for the Hawkeyes, Michigan's offensive struggles brought about the team's first defeat of the year. Speight was limited to 103 passing yards and was picked off once and sacked twice, suffering a shoulder injury to add to the problems for the Wolverines. The rushing game was just as ineffective for Michigan, with the team managing just 98 yards on the ground. What was most sur‑ prising about the loss was the 164 rushing yards the Wolverine defense surrendered, the third‑highest total allowed all season. With one loss now on the record, Michigan returned home to defeat Indiana 20‑10, de‑ spite having to play without Speight. The Wolverines then headed to Columbus to take on Ohio State. Unfortunately, Harbaugh would not get his first win against the Buckeyes as a coach. Though the defense dominated Ohio State for the first three quarters, three Speight turnovers were too much to overcome. THE YEAR IN REVIEW Michigan Closes The Gap In Second Year Under Jim Harbaugh

Articles in this issue

view archives of Michigan Football Preview 2017 - 2017 Michigan Football Preview