The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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198 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY KEVIN MINOR D uring the summer following a dis- appointing finish to Michigan's 2012 campaign, head coach Brady Hoke had harsh words about his team's 8-5 record. "It's unacceptable for Michigan, and it's unacceptable for us," the head coach said. Later in the very same press conference, Hoke offered reason for hope and optimism for the Maize and Blue fan base. "I like this team, and I usually don't say that," Hoke said, stressing the expectations of a brighter 2013 season. "[But] me liking them doesn't guarantee us anything." Following a 5-0 start, Team 134 suffered from a late-season swoon — losing six of its last eight games, the type of free fall that occurred under the previous regime. After posting a combined 12-4 record in Big Ten competition over the previous two seasons, the Maize and Blue hoped the late- season struggles were behind them. But after finishing just 3-5 in conference play and losing six of seven games played after the month of October, it was clear the program was further away from reaching the confer- ence title game than most expected. If the 8-5 record of Team 133 was con- sidered "unacceptable," what could possibly describe the struggles of Team 134? "Embarrassment" was the word used by senior offensive lineman Taylor Lewan af- ter the then-undefeated Wolverines barely squeaked by lowly Akron at home 28-24 in mid-September. And that was before Team 134 needed a second-half comeback to de- feat a three-win Connecticut team, racked up losses to five Big Ten foes and were blown out in a menial Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl appearance. Michigan began the year by eviscerating July 22: Michigan equipment manager Jon Falk announces he will retire after the 2013 season, ending a 40-year run. Aug. 9: Another retirement — longtime radio play-by-play announcer Frank Beckmann decides he will leave his post following the 2013 cam- paign after beginning in his role in 1981. Aug. 11: Michigan hosts Media Day and Fan Day, unofficially kicking off the season for Team 134. Aug. 21: Sophomore wide receiver Amara Darboh, who is expected to compete for a starting spot, is lost for the season with a foot injury. Aug. 25: Fifth-year senior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, senior defensive back Courtney Avery, fifth-year senior linebacker Cam Gordon and redshirt junior linebacker Jake Ryan are voted captains, marking only the fourth time in program history U-M has had four (2000, 2008 and 2009). Ryan is also the first junior to receive the honor since offensive tackle Jake Long in 2006. Aug. 27: Avery (No. 11), sophomore tight end/wide receiver Devin Funchess (No. 87) and fifth-year senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon (No. 21) are chosen to don three Legends Jerseys belonging to the Wistert brothers, Ron Kramer and Desmond Howard, respectively. Aug. 31: The Wolverines rush for 242 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and six touchdowns in steamrolling Central Michigan 59-9 in their season opener. A blocked punt and subsequent score on a return of 30 yards put Michigan on the board 2:04 into the contest, on the way to a 35-6 halftime lead. Sept. 2: The season-opening win does not come without a cost. Redshirt freshman tailback Drake Johnson blew out his ACL, U-M announces. The Ann Arbor native was second on the depth chart. Sept. 7: The Maize and Blue welcomes actor Mark Harmon to The Big House for the second-ever night game at Michigan Stadium, to honor his Heisman Trophy-winning father Tom, whose No. 98 jersey was added to the Legends cache. The athlete chosen to wear it, redshirt junior QB Devin Gardner, accounts for five touchdowns, tying a single-game Michigan re- cord with four through the air, in a 41-30 victory over Notre Dame. Sept. 14: In what is expected to be a blowout win, Michigan has to hang on for dear life against Mid-American Conference foe Akron, achieving a 28-24 victory only after Zips QB Kyle Pohl's fourth-down pass from the U-M 4-yard line falls incomplete. Sept. 21: Playing in front of a prime-time audience on ESPN, Michigan falls behind 21-7 to a Connecticut team that would go 3-9 on the season, TIMELINE Fifth-year senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon was a bright spot during a season in which U-M lost six of its last eight games, hauling in 89 receptions for 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL THE YEAR IN REVIEW Late-Season Swoon Dooms U-M's Championship Aspirations 198-203.Year In Review.indd 198 6/19/14 2:27 PM

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