Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Jan 2012

ESPN: Michigan Isn't Back Yet

After a great debut season under Brady Hoke, Michigan is going to get a lot of love in the preseason polls next year. There is a lot to like about the future of the Wolverines program, but it will take time to fully ascend to elite program status. The well of extraordinary good fortune will dry up at some point and next year's schedule is going to be tougher.

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 04 Jan 2012

4 comments, Last at 05 Jan 2012, 2:48pm by Subrata Sircar


by Subrata Sircar :: Wed, 01/04/2012 - 11:38pm

Michigan is going to lose the heart and soul of its D-line (Martin and Van Bergen), plus the best center in the country (Molk). It would take a real miracle to not regress back a ways from those 3 - they're too good.

I would expect that Michigan could see real improvement from Denard Robinson and still lose 2 more games than this year.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 9:01am

What was somewhat surprising was how VT pushed U-M around. VT is not a power team, and struggles with them despite good team speed. U-M seemed to be more like Virginia, who played above their head to a solid record despite mediocre talent, and less like a UNC or GT, who underperformed despite being very athletic. They were also shockingly unsophisticated. Robinson does not play like a QB with three years of starting under his belt. He's Tavares Jackson-like in his read speed when passing. He projects to me as a future WR.

by Chappy (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 1:42pm

Sad to say, but as a Michigan fan/alumn, I must agree. The only thing that makes me hopeful is that Mattison took a terrible, almost embarrassing defense and made it a good defense. While they are losing a lot of guys on the D-line, I have hope that he can make even further strides with another year.

by Subrata Sircar :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 2:48pm

One thing to note about the Sugar Bowl is that Molk injured his foot in warmups, and Van Bergen hurt his foot on the first few plays, then again in the 2nd quarter (high-ankle-sprains, I think).

My other takeaways are that V-Tech was well-prepared (they always seemed to know how the plays would develop), and they had fast linebackers and safeties (guys seemed to close on the ball very quickly), and they were exceptional tacklers (I don't know if I saw anyone really break a tackle all night). On paper, Michigan's best hope was to use Molk and Lewan to pound the ball into the soft part of the defense, but his injury left them unable to do that.

Michigan did make fewer mistakes against a well-coached team, and that should translate well going forward.


As I said earlier, I'm not expecting Michigan to be nearly as good next year - if you'd told me last year that Michigan would put up 11-2 BCS victory and 8-5 bowl-game seasons in the next two years, I'd have been happy; I'd just have assumed a different order.

There are three keys to any successful Michigan season (ordering varies depending on how good we are):
1. Beat Ohio State
2. Win the Big Ten Championship
3. Go to, and win, a bowl game
[Bonus points for beating anyone we lost to last year, and super-duper extra credit for a national championship.]

Next year, if we beat tOSU in their house (and beat MSU at home), then go to and win a bowl game, that will be a successful season. Keep getting the recruits in, keep coaching them up and graduating them, and we'll continue to return the program to its glory years.