Michigan Football Preview 2013

2013 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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notre dame• sept. 7 2 Irish Still Have High Goals Despite Quarterback's Suspension By Ryan Tice offense that averaged just 25.8 points per game oming off an appearance in the BCS (78th nationally) last year. One area of emNational Championship Game and with phasis is being more efficient in the red zone, several key players back, Notre Dame has high where Notre Dame scored touchdowns just expectations for 2013. Junior 48.3 percent of the time (112th quarterback Everett Golson, nationally). who started 11 games as a redThe departures of Theo Ridshirt freshman last season, was dick and Cierre Wood, who suspended for "poor academic combined for 1,659 yards and judgment" May 26, but the nine scores on the ground last Irish still have hopes of reachyear, leave a big hole at running ing similar heights this year. back. Junior George Atkinson Losing an improving quarterIII, who recorded 361 yards and back that just led the team to the five scores in 2012, is the frontnational title contest is a marunner to be the featured man. jor blow for any program, but Senior wide receiver TJ there might not be a squad in Jones has to step up as the top the country better equipped to target after the graduation of Junior defensive end Stehandle it than the Irish. Senior phon Tuitt posted 47 tackles, tight end Tyler Eifert. Jones Tommy Rees, who opened 12 including 13 tackles for loss made 50 catches for 649 yards games in 2011 and has a 14-4 and a team-high 12 sacks, in and four touchdowns last year. record as a starter, is expected 2012. The Irish were powered in photo courtesy notre dame 2012 by their defense, and that to take the helm. In 33 appearances, he is 403-of-634 passing for 4,413 yards is likely to be the case again. They were the with 34 touchdowns and 24 interceptions, but only team in the nation that didn't give up more he does not have the mobility or arm strength than 20 points in regulation during the regular that Golson had. Rees has rushed the ball 47 season, and eight starters return from that unit. times for a loss of 71 yards and one TD in his career, compared to Golson's 94 carries for 298 Quick Facts yards and six scores. All-Time Series: U-M leads 23-16-1 If Rees can hold off senior Andrew HenFirst Meeting: U-M 8, ND 0 (Nov. 23, 1887, at South drix and four-star early enrollee Malik Zaire, a Bend, Ind.) dual-threat QB in the mold of Golson, he will Last Meeting: ND 13, U-M 6 (Sept. 22, 2012, at South be operating behind one of the nation's best Bend, Ind.) Head Coach: Brian Kelly, 28-11 at Notre Dame (4th lines. Fifth-year senior left tackle Zack Maryear) and 199-68-2 overall (23rd year) tin (a projected second-round draft pick who Off./Def. Systems: Spread/3-4 chose to return to school), fifth-year senior left 2012 in Review: 12-1 guard Chris Watt and senior right tackle ChrisFinal 2012 Ranking: No. 3 USA Today coaches and tian Lombard lead the way up front. No. 4 Associated Press There is room for an improvement for an Returning Starters: 13 (4 offense, 8 defense, 1 spe- C Players To Watch OFFENSE: TJ Jones, Sr., WR — After the graduation of star tight end Tyler Eifert and the loss of starting quarterback Everett Golson, he is the most important returning piece to the Irish aerial attack … After two solid campaigns to open his career in South Bend, he exploded last year with 649 receiving yards, which nearly matched his total in his first two seasons, and 50 catches with four touchdowns, marks that both tied for the team lead … Jonas logged 30 starts in 38 appearances and recorded 111 receptions for 1,321 yards and 10 scores. DEFENSE: Bennett Jackson, Sr., CB — After two seasons as a special teams standout, he moved into the starting lineup for the first time in 2012 … Started every game and responded by ranking third on the team with 65 tackles … Also became the first Irish corner to intercept at least four passes since 2006. cialist) Last Bowl Appearance: 2012 (BCS National Championship Game, vs. Alabama, L 42-14) Returning Leaders Passing: Tommy Rees (436 yards, 2 TD) Rushing: George Atkinson III (361 yards, 5 TD) Receiving: TJ Jones (649 yards, 4 TD) Tackles: Bennett Jackson (65) Sacks: Stephon Tuitt (12) Interceptions: Bennett Jackson (4) The stars are on the defensive line with a pair of All-America candidates in senior nose guard Louis Nix III and junior defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Sophomore defensive end Sheldon Day is promising, and outside linebackers Prince Shembo, a senior, and Ishaq Williams, a junior, also help to pressure the quarterback. The quintet combined to start 37 games last season and tallied 193 tackles, 37.5 tackles for loss, 23.5 sacks, 26 quarterback hurries, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. At inside linebacker, the defense boasts fifthyear seniors Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese, who were both part time starters last season and combined for 112 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble. On the back line, the team boasts three starting level cornerbacks with senior Bennett Jackson and sophomore KeiVarae Russell back after productive campaigns where they each started 13 games, as well as senior Lo Wood, who missed last year with an injury but was a projected starter. Jackson and Russell combined for 123 tackles and six picks in 2012. Notes Notre Dame loses 4,362 yards of total offense and 17 touchdowns when you combine Golson, Riddick and Wood (21 touchdowns if you include Eifert) … This marks Brian Kelly's fourth straight year as a school's head coach for the first time since 1994, when he was in his fourth of 13-year tenure as the head man at Grand Valley State … The Irish were 5-0 last year in games decided by one score or less, and their turnover margin improved from minus-15 in 2011 to plus-eight last season. ❏ 2013 Schedule DateOpponent 2012 Result Aug. 31 Temple — Sept. 7 at Michigan W, 13-6 W, 20-17 Sept. 14 at Purdue W, 20-3 Sept. 21 Michigan State Sept. 28 Oklahoma W, 30-13 Oct. 5 vs. Arizona State* — Oct. 19 USC W, 22-13 Oct. 26 at Air Force — Nov. 2 Navy W, 50-10 Nov. 9 at Pittsburgh W, 29-26 Nov. 23 BYU W, 17-14 Nov. 30 at Stanford W, 20-13 (OT) * at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas the wolverine staff Prediction Why Michigan Could Win: The Wolverines will host Notre Dame at night for the second consecutive matchup in Ann Arbor, and the electricity could tip the intangibles for what is otherwise two teams on even footing. Michigan has the defense to go head to head with ND's vaunted defensive unit, and with a veteran quarterback, receiver and tailback the Maize and Blue feature more experience offensively then an Irish team rebuilding on that side of the ball. Why Michigan Could Lose: U-M must replace three of its offensive linemen, and two weeks into the season the new guards and center will face a formidable front seven that may just end up being the nation's best. One position matchup does not often dictate a game's outcome, but if the Wolverines cannot run the football and cannot protect their QB, Notre Dame's defensive line and linebackers alone could spell doom for the Maize and Blue. Prediction: This one has the look of a classic low-scoring meeting where defenses rule and the offense that just does enough lifts its team to victory. Barring defensive scoring, U-M's Devin Gardner will prove the greatest difference-maker. Michigan 20, Notre Dame 14. The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview  ■ 177

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