Michigan football finally gets the 2016 season underway at noon against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (0-1). The Wolverines should have a rather easy time, but here’s what we’ll be keeping an eye on this afternoon:
Setting the Tone
The teams in the top ten that have played so far on this opening weekend have not been too terribly impressive. Michigan has an easy matchup against Hawaii and should be able to do what it wants.
Great football teams run inferior opponents off the field. The Wolverines have superior talent and can win on that alone, which makes it easy to overlook the task at hand. They have a chance to make a statement with a quick start.
Michigan has been licking its chops all off-season to hit the field. I don’t expect Jim Harbaugh’s team to let off the gas pedal at all today.
Wilton Speight looks like he will get the start at quarterback. Much like his predecessor Jake Rudock, he is calm and makes smart decisions with the football. There may not be a whole lot to take away from a performance against a bad team, unless it is a subpar performance.
Protect the football and make the throws that present themselves, and he’ll be just fine. Michigan may not air it out and throw the ball 40 times, but we will see how he is able to get the ball to Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh, Jake Butt and others.
Be efficient and do not make mistakes. It is the key to success in any game, but moreso in your first collegiate start. There will be plenty of tests this season. This game is the first to see how comfortable he looks and how the offense moves.
The Run Game
Expect to see a heavy dose of the power run game on Saturday afternoon with De’Veon Smith and Ty Isaac leading the charge. Michigan is going to have to be able to run the ball more consistently in 2016 and should not have any problems doing so this weekend.
The offensive line has a large role to play in this. A true freshman could get the start at left tackle in Ben Bredeson, so it will be interesting to see how he performs . The rest of the line is one of the most experienced units in college football, but was up and down last season. Anything less than dominating would be a disappointing performance.
Stop the Run (Duh)
Hawaii ran for 248 yards in their season opener last week. Michigan will not let that happen, or anything remotely close to that number. They have one of the best defensive lines — if not the best — in the game.
The Warriors do have some explosive playmakers, so containing the chunk plays will be key.
We have not seen an official depth chart yet, but by all accounts, it seems like there will be a lot of true freshman in the mix for early playing time.
Defensive lineman Rashan Gary headlines that group, along with the aforementioned Bredeson at left tackle. We have heard good things about Chris Evans, Michael Onwenu, Devin Bush, David Long and a handful of others in camp. The backups should see the field quite a bit. We will see how much of the two-deep is made up of Michigan’s loaded 2016 class.
What will you be looking for? Sound off in the comments below!