Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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54 PRESEASON 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY COREY BODDEN N otre Dame and Michigan are set to renew their storied rivalry with the Wolverines invading South Bend Sept. 1. It will be the first meeting between the two pro- grams since 2014, when the Fighting Irish won 31-0 at Notre Dame Stadium. Head coach Jim Harbaugh, who is in his fourth season in charge at his alma mater, and his team finished 8-5 last year after suffering three straight losses to close the campaign. Granted, the defeats came against top-10 foes Ohio State and Wisconsin plus a nine-win South Carolina squad in the Outback Bowl — but the late-season slide has left the school's fan base restless. Despite winning eight games, the Wolverines did not take down a single opponent that finished the regular sea- son with a winning record. The primary concern for Michigan heading into the 2018 campaign is its offense. The Wolverines finished 105th nationally in total yards per game (348.9) and tied for 91st in points per game (25.2) last season. One of the main reasons for those struggles was the Wolverines' quarter- back play. The trio of Wilton Speight, John O'Korn and Brandon Peters com- bined to average only 171.2 passing yards per game (No. 110 nationally) with nine touchdowns and 10 inter- ceptions. With O'Korn having exhausted his eligibility and Speight transferring to UCLA for his final season, Peters is the lone returning signal-caller with expe- rience in Harbaugh's offense. How- ever, Michigan has already officially named Ole Miss transfer Shea Patter- son its starting quarterback for Sept. 1. The former five-star prospect has received preseason adulation and even some Heisman talk due to the FINDING A BALANCE The Wolverines boast a loaded defense, but must to fix an offense that struggled last season Junior defensive end Rashan Gary, the consensus top player in the 2016 class, will be a major piece of a Michigan defense expected to be among the nation's best for a third straight year. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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