The Wolverine

February 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 21 of 75

22 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2018 BY JOHN BORTON M ichigan's defense recov- ered quickly this year from massive personnel losses in 2016 to become the nation's No. 3 total defense (271.0 yards allowed per game) and No. 1 pass defense (150.1 yards allowed per game). The Wolverines as a team discovered retooling isn't automatic. In 2017, U-M finished 105th na- tionally in total offense (348.9 yards per game) and tied with Purdue for 91st in scoring offense (25.2 points per game). Just a year removed from averaging 40.3 points per game (11th nationally), the Wolverines spun pre- cipitously downward via injury and ineffectiveness. The Boilermakers pounded start- ing quarterback Wilton Speight out of the lineup with fractured verte- brae in the Big Ten opener. Speight never saw the field again, and opted to go elsewhere for his fifth-year se- nior season. Fifth-year senior John O'Korn and redshirt freshman Brandon Peters al- ternately saw action the rest of the way, in a season featuring only nine touchdown passes. Michigan hadn't thrown that few since Bo Schem- bechler featured a freshman quarter- back, Rick Leach, directing his option offense in 1975. The injuries, obviously, took their toll. Michigan not only lost argu- ably its top two quarterbacks for ex- tended stretches, but perhaps its best receiver — true freshman Tarik Black — for all but three games. It saw promising sophomore tight end Nick Eubanks miss the entire Big Ten season after a head injury at Purdue. Fifth-year senior running back Ty Isaac — who started out the year stringing together consecutive 100-yard games — played sparingly in an injury-plagued back half of the season. The Wolverines battled South Car- olina in the Outback Bowl without three starting offensive linemen — sophomore left guard Ben Bredeson, fifth-year senior center Pat Kugler and redshirt junior right tackle Ju- wann Bushell-Beatty. They played the entire season without redshirt sophomore left tackle Grant New- some, which moved fifth-year senior captain Mason Cole from center to left tackle. But it wasn't all about personnel, at CHANGE In The Works Michigan Reconfigures Its Offensive Staff For 2018 New offensive assistant Dan Enos is a former Michigan State quarterback who has coached in the college ranks since 1991, with stints at his alma mater, Arkansas, Cincinnati and Central Michigan — where he was the head coach from 2010-14 — among others. PHOTO COURTESY ARKANSAS

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