The Wolverine

February 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 45 of 187

BY MICHAEL SPATH M ichigan won 10 games for the first time since 2011, finishing the year with a flourish offensively — av- eraging 455.6 yards and 35.8 points in its final five games — while ranking fourth nationally in total defense (280.7 yards allowed per game) and sixth in scoring defense (16.4 points allowed per game) on the year. However, the Wolverines lost to Michigan State for the third year in a row and seventh time in the past eight years, and then fell to Ohio State for the fourth straight season and 11th time in the past 12 seasons. So was the year a success? We asked that question and many more to our expert panelists of current analysts: All-Amer- ica linebacker Ron Simpkins (1976-79), all-conference offensive lineman Doug Skene (1989-92), All-Big Ten safety Marcus Ray (1995-98), 1997 national championship linebacker Clint Copen- haver (1995-98) and 2011 Sugar Bowl champion defensive end Ryan Van Bergen (2008-11). The Wolverine: Was the 2015 season a success? Skene: Parts of 2015 were certainly successful. Michigan won the games it was supposed to win. Multiple play- ers showed great improvement, and the team overall displayed much bet- ter body language and chemistry than previous seasons. I cannot call 2015 a true success be- cause of the standards set forth by the players themselves to win the Big Ten championship. We did not beat MSU or OSU so that eliminates any talk of "great" seasons. I expected this to be an 8-4 team and play in a New Year's Day bowl game. Going 10-3 with a blowout over a good Florida team is a great step to the real success we all expect. Simpkins: Without a doubt. It put Michigan back on the map. It made us a relevant football team again, and I think it put us in a position to re- cruit everyone nationally — all the big- name, high-end talents — now. The 2015 Season ROUNDTABLE Analysts Discuss Jim Harbaugh's First Season And Preview The 2016 Campaign

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