2018 Michigan projections on the Hour Glass
By John Luke McCord
Jim Harbaugh has notched at least eight wins in each of his three seasons as the head coach at Michigan, including back-to-back 10-win seasons in his first two. Even with 28 since his return to college football, Harbaugh has caught a load of criticism. That could be due to his ability to recruit and drum up excitement overshadowing his coaching job, thus far in Ann Arbor.
Though he has recruited well at UM - Michigan ranks 3rd in the Big Ten and 6th in the FBS with an Hour Glass 3-year recruiting stamp of 91.28 - this will be the year many of those talented prospects reach maturity. Furthermore, Harbaugh will enter the 2018 season with the most talented signal caller he’s put under center for the Maize and Blue. Shea Patterson transferred from Ole Miss this offseason and gained immediate eligibility to play. Once a five-star prospect and the top recruit in his class, Patterson should bring some fireworks to the Wolverines’ passing game.
On top of Patterson taking over QB1 duties, Michigan will benefit from having two of their top rushers back this fall in Karan Higdon and Chris Evans. There’s plenty turning in the pass-catching category, as well, with tight ends Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry coming back in addition to wide outs Grant Perry, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Eddie McDoom and Nico Collins. More so than in previous seasons, the Michigan offense should have balance this season. Sure, it won’t be perfect at first with Patterson making the transition to operating in pro-style formations. But at the end of the day, he will be more protected by the Michigan OL, throw to talented players, and be able to count on a strong running game.
Even with Patterson invigorating the offense in 2018, the defense will still be the heartbeat of the team. It’s possible that the Wolverines will have the most disruptive front seven in college football this season. The likes of Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich, Khaleke Hudson all return this season after putting together productive TFLs numbers a season ago. Gary was the top prospect coming out of high school and should be in for a monster junior season. Leading tackler from 2017 Devin Bush is back to lead the linebacker group. Aubrey Soloman is another name to watch along the defensive line. The defensive backfield is sure to be solid, as well, with production returning in the form of Tyree Kinnel, Josh Metellus, Lavert Hill, David Long and others.
This Michigan team already had a roster talented and deep enough to make a run at the Big Ten crown this fall, but in Shea Patterson they’re hoping they have a QB1 that can not only put them over the top in their league, but on the national scene as well.
The schedule sets up well, or as well as it can being in such a difficult league, for the fighting Harbaughs to make their run. A road trip to South Bend to face Notre Dame is how the season begins, and it ends, of course, with a trip to Ohio State. And while they also will have to go on the road to face rival Michigan State, they do get Wisconsin and Penn State at home.
HG analytics pick: 10-2, 2nd in Big Ten East
My pick: 8-4, 4th in Big Ten East
2017 Michigan projections @ 10-2; actual finish 8-4, (83 percent accuracy)
Hour Glass National Recruiting Ranking: 6th – Inside our Realistic College Football National Champion Line on our talent index.
National Coaching Rank for Jim Harbaugh on HG Scale: 9th (Harbaugh Stamp at 16) – Average coaching value for 2018 set at 3.75.
Returning Michigan quarterback play rated 28th in the country out of 130 teams. Average quarterback stamp nationally for 2018 is 8.3. Michigan has a stamp of 10.32.