Best, Worst and Most Realistic Outcomes for 2017

Breaking down the best, worst and most realistic possible outcomes for Michigan Football 2017.

Photo: Patrick Barron
So Let's Talk About the Offense
So Let's Talk About the Defense

Fall camp is in full swing and lots of juicy tidbits are beginning to surface from the submarine. And while it's fun to speculate about starting positions and who's looking good and who's stepping up...all of that will sort itself out once games start being played. Right now, as we usually do in the preseason, it's time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

2017 has all the potential to be a truly special season in Ann Arbor. Michigan is coming off of two straight 10-win seasons for the first time since 2002-03. And while it's easy to try and compare Michigan (and Harbaugh) to other CFB powerhouses like Ohio State and Alabama and their celebrity coaches, that's not a fair assessment of where Michigan football is. There's nothing similar going on anywhere else in college football than what's happening in Ann Arbor right now.

Questions abound for the 2017 edition of Michigan football for many position groups. And despite a lot of talent going leaving from a year ago, this isn't a situation where the cupboards are bare. In fact, from what we're hearing, it might just be the opposite.

Best Case
Last year, the best case scenario was simple. Win all of the games and bring home that gaudy CFB National Championship trophy. That's still the case. With Jim Harbaugh, the ceiling will always be as high as possible. That's precisely why you hire the guy.

Worst Case
In a worst case situation, I see 4 losses on the schedule. Florida, Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State. The Florida game is an easy choice given it's the opener. Penn State at night on the road makes total sense even with all of Michigan's recent success against the Nittany Lions. Same goes for Wisconsin...I'm nowhere near confident yet for a road game in week 11. And of course Ohio State is always a loss in any worst case scenario. With the right injury to the right person and some bad bounces, perhaps another loss could sneak in there somehow, but again...this is the worst case.

Realistic Case
Well, if recent history tells us anything, it's that truly great coaches typically have stellar 3rd seasons. It's hard though, in August, to look at the holes Michigan has to fill plus the schedule, to reasonably expect an undefeated season. Any squad that loses Kenny Allen, Jourdan Lewis, Dynonte Thomas, Chris Wormley, Taco Charlton, Ryan Glasgow, Jabrill Peppers, Jake Butt, Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson is going to have a hard time replacing those guys.

Even with Harbaugh, undefeated is simply not an expectation for this team.

I'm trying my hardest not to gauge overall success simply by wins and losses. Michigan lost 3 of the last 4 games last year which made a 10-win season feel pretty unsuccessful. And given the nature of those losses...a game winning FG by Iowa and double OT vs Ohio State...yeah, that's gonna sting.

But it does speak to just how close Michigan was to...dare I say...greatness. Think about it. Get a first down and run out the clock against Iowa...that's a win. Don't throw a pick-6 or fumble the ball at the goal line against Ohio State...that's probably a win...a landmark signature win at that. (Plus, JT was short) Either of those games go Michigan's way and it's a very different post-season. But great teams find ways to win those games. Michigan, despite tons of talent on the field, wasn't quite there yet.

They're not there yet this year either. Look I get it, Michigan has a ton of talent. But a lot of it is fresh and untested. Unless this coaching staff can get all of these new faces up to speed in record time, there are going to be some stumbles here and there. I mean, talent is important, but so is experience.

My most realistic scenario is 3 losses. I'm not overly confident about the Florida matchup even though that game should be a win. Penn State and Wisconsin on the road scare me for reasons. And of course Ohio State should be undefeated or damn near it when they roll into Ann Arbor.

If Michigan is going to be a truly elite team and if Harbaugh is going to be a truly elite coach, they need to prove it this season. Yes, there will be challenges...but with challenge comes opportunity. Michigan sits on the precipice of...something. Overachieving with Hoke's players was fun...but Michigan must keep moving forward. The good news is, they have the right man for the job. The time is now to do it.

No comments

Post a Comment