Michigan Has the Pieces to Make a Run in 2018

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Michigan Has the Pieces to Make a Run in 2018

Football

Michigan Has the Pieces to Make a Run in 2018

CHICAGO — Michigan isn’t maybe getting enough credit for what it returns in 2018.

Despite having the fifth-best odds in Vegas to win the College Football Playoff, the over/under is set at 8.5. Pundits point to a (correctly asserted) brutal schedule, which sees the Wolverines playing on the road at Notre Dame, at MSU and at Ohio State, while still having to face Penn State and Wisconsin at home. It’s an absolute gauntlet, and while Michigan went 8-5 a year ago, the maize and blue weren’t too far off from having a much better record than that last season.

The reasons why the Wolverines failed in 2017 is multiple, but much of the fault rests on the offense. Quarterback injuries and uncertainty paired with an offensive line that couldn’t pass protect, as youthful you could be at wideout and a running game that couldn’t muster 3 yards-per-carry against quality competition canvassed the litany of failings that doomed Michigan last year.

But, now — even with potential injuries, Michigan should be solid at the quarterback position going forward. The offensive line is reportedly coalescing under new coach Ed Warinner. The receivers are a year older, and should have more polish. And the tailbacks have both worked diligently to get bigger, faster and stronger compared to a year ago.

All of that spells potential success for Michigan in 2018, should everything go to plan. Still a big if, but, as fifth-year defensive end Chase Winovich says, the Wolverines have the makings for a potential run.

“When you factor in the fact that we had the youngest team in America last year and we return basically everybody on defense except for Mo Hurst and Mike McCray, and when you factor in the fact that our offense is, at the very least, going to be marginally better than it was from a production standpoint last year, I think there’s a lot of things to be excited about, at the very least.”

But the attitude in Ann Arbor — outside of the halls of Schembechler — aren’t as keen on these Wolverines as some of the previous teams.

An 8-5 record will do that, and though a run could be in play, there isn’t a similar feeling compared to how Michigan stacked up going into the 2016 season.

That year, the fanbase was abuzz, with Michigan coming off of a dominant 41-7 performance over SEC East champion Florida, and with the bulk of those players returning, everyone and their brother knew that the Wolverines would be formidable in 2016.

And they certainly were.

Much of this year’s squad — at least many of the expected contributors — were a part of the 2016 run. They weren’t the mainstays or the names that made splashes, but they still were a part of it, and saw what it take to win — and lose — in nearly as tough of a schedule.

The locker room now may have many of the same components, but it’s still a different locker room. However, as fourth-year safety Tyree Kinnel tells it, the feeling is very similar to how it was in 2016, albeit with vastly different personalities leading the charge this go-round.

“There’s still a somewhat familiar feel – the locker room changes with the people that’s in it,” Kinnel said. “Not in a good or bad way, just different personalities. Everyone still has that goal or mentality of winning, you’ve just got different personalities in the locker room now. You’ve just got to get used to it each year. That’s what I’ve done being here – each year it changes, and I change the way I look at everyone in the locker because – new personalities.”

It all starts in just one month, with Michigan taking on Notre Dame at Notre Dame Stadium at 7:30PM on September 1.

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