Michigan Football Preview 2019

Digital Edition

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 125 of 179

East Division 1. (tie) Michigan (predicted record: 10-2 overall, 7-2 Big Ten): The Wolverines return senior quarterback Shea Patterson, four starters on their offensive line and a trio of outstanding receivers (juniors Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones, and redshirt sophomore Tarik Black) for first-year offensive coordinator Josh Gattis to work with as he installs his 'speed in space' attack. Though the defense faces some question marks after losing six starters from a unit that finished No. 2 nationally last season, 2019 should finally be the year that head coach Jim Harbaugh's club takes home the Big Ten East title outright, especially when considering that Iowa, MSU and Ohio State all have to come to Ann Arbor. 1. (tie) Ohio State (10-2, 7-2): Plenty of question marks surround the Buckeyes with Urban Meyer stepping down and Ryan Day taking over, though the offense — with sophomore quarterback Justin Fields and junior running back J.K. Dobbins in charge — should remain explosive. A Sept. 28 trip to Nebraska will be a good indicator as to what kind of club Day will have in his first year at the helm, while another trip — the Nov. 30 showdown against Michigan in Ann Arbor — could determine whether or not the Buckeyes win a third straight Big Ten East crown. 3. (tie) Michigan State (8-4, 5-4): Plenty of question marks still surround a Spar- tans' offense — most notably at running back — that was horrendous last year (117th in the country), though the unit will receive a boost from having a healthy fifth-year senior quarterback in Brian Lewerke, an experienced offensive line ex- pected to start five veterans, and a receiving corps that features fifth-year senior Darrell Stewart and junior Cody White. After ranking 10th nationally last season, the defense (specifically the front seven) once again appears to be among the country's best and should keep the Spartans in every game. 3. (tie) Penn State (8-4, 5-4): With quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Miles Sanders both off to the NFL, how well redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford and sophomore Ricky Slade perform as their respective replacements will likely decide what kind of season the Nittany Lions have in 2019. Concerns with the right side of the offensive line and the receiving corps beyond redshirt sophomore K.J. Hamler (754 yards last year) could prevent PSU from real- istically contending for the division title. 5. (tie) Maryland (4-8, 2-7): Though new head coach Mike Locksley will be tak- ing over a program that has dealt with controversy and a lack of success (5-7 last season) over the past year, he will have the luxury of working with a potentially dangerous quarterback/running back tandem in redshirt junior signal-caller Josh Jackson (transferred in from Virginia Tech; 2,991 passing yards in 2017) and redshirt sophomore tailback Anthony McFarland (1,034 rushing yards last year). The ever-daunting Big Ten East slate (trips to Ohio State and MSU, along with visits from Michigan and Penn State) should make Locksley's primary goal simply to make a bowl game in his debut campaign. 5. (tie) Indiana (5-7, 2-7): The Hoosiers appear to have an outstand- ing offense with the return of sophomore running back Stevie Scott (1,137 yards last season), a veteran receiving corps led by fifth-year seniors Nick Westbrook and Donovan Hale, and an experienced offensive line that will start five up- perclassmen. The defense, however, may once again (ranked 83rd last year) prevent the club from making a bowl game, despite the fact that head man Tom Allen is a defen- sive-minded coach. 7. Rutgers (4-8, 1-8): The return of sophomore quar- terback Artur Sitkowski and the running back tandem of junior Raheem Blackshear and sophomore Isaih Pacheco will give head coach Chris Ash the best set of skill position players he has had during his tenure in Piscataway. However, an offensive line breaking in three new starters could make it difficult to improve from last year's No. 128 overall finish (out of 130 FBS teams) in total offense. After winning three league games in 2017, Rutgers regressed last year, failing to win a conference contest. 1. RB Jonathan Taylor, Jr., Wisconsin After rushing for a Football Bowl Subdivision- best 2,194 yards and winning both the Doak Walker Award (given to college football's best running back) and first-team Associated Press (AP) All-America honors last year, Taylor heads into 2019 as both a Heisman candidate and the undisputed best player in the Big Ten. 2. WR Rondale Moore, So., Purdue His 1,258 receiving yards as a freshman last season were the 11th most in the country and earned him first-team AP All-America accolades. 3. RB J.K. Dobbins, Jr., Ohio State It's hard to envision Dobbins not bouncing back from what was considered a disappointing 1,053- yard campaign in 2018, especially when considering new head coach Ryan Day will likely rely on the run- ning game while transfer sophomore quarterback Justin Fields eases into the offense. 4. DE Chase Young, Jr., Ohio State His 9.5 sacks (tied for the second most in the league) and 14.5 tackles for loss last year earned him second-team All-Big Ten status from the coaches, so it's fair to expect the former No. 8 overall recruit in the land to continue his development into one of the game's best edge rushers. 5. QB Shea Patterson, Sr., Michigan His 2018 performance (22 touchdown passes and a 64.6 completion percent- age) was a godsend for Michigan's offense, and the senior should only elevate his game in a new no- huddle, up-tempo system that fits his skill set perfectly. Predicted Order Of Finish BEST IN THE BIG TEN BY POSITION QB — Shea Patterson, Michigan (overall rank: 5) RB — *Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin (1) WR — Rondale Moore, Purdue (2) TE — *Pat Freiermuth, Penn State (N/R) OL — *Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin (16) DL — *Chase Young, Ohio State (4) LB — *Joe Bachie, Michigan State (7) CB — Lavert Hill, Michigan (8) S — *Jordan Fuller, Ohio State (17) * On Michigan's regular-season schedule in 2019 Top 25 Players In The Big Ten Junior defensive end Chase Young, who totaled 14.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks last year, is one of a league-best six Buckeyes listed among The Wolverine's top 25 players in the Big Ten. PHOTO COURTESY OHIO STATE 124 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2019 FOOTBALL PREVIEW

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