The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 203 1. This Is Michigan? — After throttling Central Michigan and downing rival Notre Dame to start the season by an average score of 50.0-19.5, optimism reigned supreme in Ann Arbor. Then came an unexpected reality check. A tight win at home against Akron — which was considered "embarrassing" by All-American fifth-year senior offensive tackle Taylor Le- wan — and a fourth-quarter comeback win against a bad UConn team set the tone for the struggles U-M would endure throughout the second half of the season. Over its last nine games, Michigan won just three contests and yielded 29.4 points per game. 2. Struggles In The Trenches — Despite having two future NFL Draft picks in fifth- year senior tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, Michigan's offensive line struggled mightily throughout the season. The Wolverines rushed for just 125.7 yards per game — the program's third-worst season average since 1962 — and produced an ab- solutely astonishing rushing performance of minus-48 yards against Michigan State. The Wolverines led the nation in backfield futility, yielding 114 tackles for loss on the season, an eye-popping 8.8 tackles for loss allowed per game. 3. Road Woes — U-M's road woes reared its ugly head in 2013 when the Wolverines needed a desperation comeback to top an abysmal UConn team in late September. On the season, Michigan finished 2-3 on the road, marking the third losing season away from home in three years under Brady Hoke. The Maize and Blue trailed at halftime in four of five road contests and were outgained by an average of 343.8 to 272.8 yards per game. Overall, Michigan is now 6-9 in reg- ular-season games played away from Ann Arbor during the Brady Hoke era. 4. Winning Time — Excluding Michigan State, Michigan's four other regular-season losses came by an average of 2.8 points per game. Whether it was the failed two-point conversion against Ohio State, the game-end- ing fumble by Devin Gardner against Iowa or the missed field goals in overtime against Penn State, the Wolverines were snake bitten in crunch time during conference competition. Dating back to 2011, six of U-M's nine con- ference losses have come by one score or less. 5. Second-Half Collapse — Following a 5-0 start, Michigan's second half collapse was eerily reminiscent of the late-season falters of its previous regime. In the two prior sea- sons under head coach Brady Hoke, Michi- gan had accumulated a 10-3 post-October regular-season record. In 2013, the Wolverines fared just 1-5 in the months of November and December. A five-game stretch in which Michigan lost to Penn State, Michigan State, Nebraska and Iowa was demoralizing for the Wolverines, who found themselves essentially out of the running for a slot in the league championship game after losing 17-13 to Nebraska Nov. 9 for its third conference loss of the season. Top Storylines Of 2013 THEY SAID IT "Nobody's happy with 7-6. We all have to do a better job, and that includes me." HOKE ON U-M'S 2013 STRUGGLES "Decisions like these are never easy. I have a great amount of respect for Al as a football coach and, more importantly, as a person." — Michigan head coach Brady Hoke on the firing of offensive coordinator Al Borges "Coach asked us if we wanted to go for it, and everybody said yes. We ran a two-point play we've run in practice, and they got a jump on it and intercepted the ball." — Red- shirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner on the decision to go for a two-point conversion against Ohio State "We play to win the game. I thought about it, and we did it" — Hoke on the decision to go for the win instead of the tie against Ohio State "I think a lot of this game absolutely falls on the offensive line." — Fifth-year senior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan after Michigan was held to minus-48 rushing yards against rival Michigan State "He certainly doesn't need my advice. I'm confident in Brady and what he will do. You're going to have some down times, and when you do you've got to fight back. They're going to do that." — Former U-M head coach Lloyd Carr on the future of the program "This is embarrassing for the University of Michigan football team." — Offensive tackle Taylor Lewan following the Wolverines' 28-24 home win over Akron "We've got a major league problem, and we've got to fix it because that's not going to win championships." — Hoke on the Wol- verines' struggles against Connecticut Taylor Lewan Is A First-Round Pick In 2014 NFL Draft Fifth-year senior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the 11th over- all pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The four-year mainstay, who started 48 games in his career, earned first-team All America honors from Sporting News, was named the Rimington- Pace Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and was a consensus first- team all-conference performer in 2013. Lewan was the first Wolverine to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since defensive end Bran- don Graham was chosen 13th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010. Fifth-year senior offensive tackle Michael Schofield, who started 36 games while in Ann Arbor, was se- lected by the Denver Broncos in the third round of the NFL Draft and fifth- year senior wide receiver Jeremy Gal- lon was chosen by the New England Patriots in round seven. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL 198-203.Year In Review.indd 203 6/19/14 2:29 PM

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