Michigan Football Preview 2017

2017 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 51 of 179

50 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2017 FOOTBALL PREVIEW 1. NOV. 25 VS. OHIO STATE It's past time that the Wolver- ines regained the upper hand in this series, but just winning every other one — and at this point, one — would be a start. Rivalry games usually go back and forth, and so do the breaks, but the Buckeyes have gotten more than their share over the last 15 years. They also took advantage of two poor coaching decisions to own the series. Head coach Jim Harbaugh was hired to change it, and it's time he does. OSU will be more experienced, but their young and talented team pulled out the win last year in Colum- bus. There's no reason Michigan can't do the same, even with the tables turned. 2. NOV. 18 AT WISCONSIN The Badgers essentially took Michigan's place as a perennial Big Ten contender after head coach Lloyd Carr retired, and Madison has become an extremely tough place to play over the years. Wisconsin returns 17 starters (eight offense, seven defense, plus its kicker and punter), and has won the last three at home against the Wolverines. 3. OCT. 21 AT PENN STATE A night game in Happy Valley can be tough, especially against the defending Big Ten champions. Ohio State found that out last year while suffering its only regular-season loss at PSU. Quarterback Trace McSorley had great success with the deep ball last year and will likely air it out against the Wolverines' young secondary, while running back Saquon Barkley is the best in the league at his position and has something to prove after being shut down by U-M last year. 4. SEPT. 2 VS. FLORIDA The opener with the Gators in Arlington, Texas, will be inter- esting for both teams. Each squad had a lot of question marks, and though we won't know all the answers after one game, we should find out a lot about the Wolverines. Like U-M, Florida has plenty of talent and, reportedly, a new man under center in graduate transfer (and former Notre Dame quarterback) Malik Zaire. 5. NOV. 11 AT MARYLAND The Terrapins are considered one of the up-and-coming programs in the Big Ten under former U-M assistant DJ Dur- kin, and they're still hurting from the 59-3 embarrassment the Wolverines laid on them last year. This will be a solid road test against an improving team. Top Five Games Ty Isaac scored one of six U-M rushing touchdowns in the 49-10 rout of Penn State, but the Nit- tany Lions went on to win the league. The two will rematch in one of 2017's top Big Ten games. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL Top Five Freshman Candidates To Play Michigan signed 30 players in the 2017 class, and several should see playing time start- ing Sept. 2 in the opener against Florida or shortly thereafter. Here's the list of most likely to see the field this fall: 1. WR Tarik Black Black wasn't even the top wide receiver signee in the class, but he's emerged as a candi- date to start. He's got sticky hands and is a great route runner. He shined in the spring game with four catches for 50 yards and a score, and might be even better than his No. 76 national ranking out of high school. 2. DT Aubrey Solomon Michigan will need depth on the interior defensive line this year, and the five-star should help provide it. The 6-3, 305-pounder recorded 77 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 18 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble off one of those sacks, which he returned 20 yards for a touchdown, during his senior year. He's an unbelievable talent who could have gone anywhere. 3. WR Donovan Peoples-Jones The five-star prospect and No. 1 wide receiver nationally was an early enrollee, and he didn't disappoint, often putting on a show in practices. He was banged up a bit this spring, but will play this fall and will likely be an impact frosh by the end of the year. 4. P Brad Robbins Kornblue Kicking, a specialist camp and training program run by former Michigan kicker Brandon Kornblue, listed Robbins as the No. 1 punter in the country for the 2017 class, and he'll have every opportunity to win the job. Walk-on Will Hart did a decent job this spring, but Robbins has an absolute cannon for a leg. 5. CB Ambry Thomas Thomas needs to be more physical and better in run support, but he's extremely skilled and outstanding in coverage. He'll play corner and will also be in the mix at nickel back. WR Donovan Peoples-Jones is the fifth-highest ranked recruit (No. 12) Michigan has signed in the Rivals era (since 2002). PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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