As Michigan prepares to open their season Saturday against the Flordia Gators, we can expect a few things. The Wolverines have released their roster, and we are also aware that the Wolverines will be wearing new alternate jerseys. As anticipation builds for the first game of the season, here are three reasons the Wolverines will leave Texas with a victory.
As anticipation builds for the first game of the season, here are three reasons the Wolverines will leave Texas with a victory.
1. THE WILTON SPEIGHT EFFECT
Last season, Wilton Speight had some moments of pure magic, showing that he has the ability to be an elite quarterback for the Wolverines. Despite no depth chart being released, and word that Speight and John O’korn have had a competitive fall camp, I expect No. 3 to be the man under center come game time.
Last season Speight put together some impressive numbers, completing 61.6 percent of his passes for 2,538 yards and adding 18 touchdowns versus only seven interceptions. After another season of learning and development, I believe Speight can play at a Heisman candidate level. He’s already been named to multiple preseason award watch lists (Davey O’Brien Award and Maxwell Award) and is one of three players to watch for this season.
The departure of several weapons could be viewed as a potential hamper to Speight’s numbers this season. however, I believe that it will work in just the opposite fashion. Speight will make the weapons around him better, and help with the progression of all the young talent at his disposal. Speight will make a skilled Gators defense look silly on Saturday.
2. STRONG WOLVERINES UP FRONT
The defensive line is going to be the heart of the Wolverines defense this year, and perhaps the heart of the entire team. It’s certainly not going to be a question or concern for Michigan this fall. The level of skill on the defensive line is incredibly high and the depth is staggering.
As the Wolverines take the field this Saturday, the Gators should be very afraid of the men lining up opposite their offensive line. Rashan Gary is the likely leader of the unit. The sophomore phenom is expected to be one of the best defensive linemen in the country, having already been named to both the Nagurski Trophy, Bednarik Award and Walter Camp Award watch lists. His abilities will often draw double teams, opening up his teammates to success.
Gary will be playing as an end, the other big name to watch in Maurice Hurst. Hurst had 11.5 tackles for loss and five sacks last year. Hurst was projected as a first- or second-round pick after last season, after another offseason of development, Hurst could be an All-American type of defensive tackle.
Aubrey Solomon is another name to know, the freshman was a 5-star recruit and listed as the No. 2 defensive tackle in his class. He’s one of a handful of freshman for Michigan who can make a big splash right away this season.
It could be trouble for a Gators offensive line that ranks 8th in the SEC (T-66th in the country) in returning offensive line experience.
3. DEPLETED GROUP OF GATORS
This last point isn’t about the skill of Michigans team, it’s about the plethora of suspensions experienced by the Gators team.
Flordia has already suspended 10 players for the season opener, including star wide receiver Antonio Callaway and starting running back, Jordan Scarlett. With the Gators missing so many key players due to suspension, Michigans path to victory has been made easier.
In addition to losing Callaway, the Gators have also lost wide receivers Rick Wells and James Robinson to suspension. The depth of Florida’s receiving corp is suffering. Could be a long day for redshirt freshman QB Feleipe Franks, who was named the team’s starter for Saturday, if he does not have his full complement of weapons on display.
It’s much easier to defend players that aren’t allowed to play, and the off-the-field mistakes of some Gators have made Michigan’s opportunity to win much greater.
- Date: Saturday, September 2
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- Broadcast: ABC | Michigan IMG Sports Network (Check local listings here)
- Line: MICH -5
- O/U: 43
|EVAN JAMES BAILEY||MICH, 34-10|
|DANIEL DYLAN BAIR||MICH, 27-17|
|MATT BASSIN||MICH, 33-20|
|SHAE BROPHY||MICH, 30-13|
|DON DRYSDALE||MICH, 34-17|
|RYAN GRIFFIN||FLA, 21-20|
|ALEXANDER MULLER||MICH, 27-13|
|ROB OTTO||MICH, 30-20|
|CARL POPOSKI||FLA, 24-21|
|AJ REILLY||MICH, 31-13|
|PAUL ROCHON||MICH, 37-13|
|MICHAEL WHITAKER||MICH, 42-21|