With the Michigan Wolverines sitting at 7-1 at the bye week and No. 5 in the country, I can’t say I am overly shocked.
With the assistant coaching upgrades, Shea Patterson rolling into town, veteran leadership and talent all across the board, results were on the way.
But there still have been some things that have me surprised — two players and one position group in particular. All in a good way, may I add.
Many expected sophomore Brad Robbins to be the starting punter from Day 1, but a back injury is expected to sideline him the entire 2018 season.
Enter: Will Hart.
Hart has been incredible for the Wolverines, and may be the biggest surprise of the entire team. He is averaging 49.54 yards per punt, No. 1 in the Big Ten by a huge margin. Out of his 28 punts, 16 have gone 50 or more yards. His long is 65 yards and he’s also landed 11 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Punting was a huge problem last year. The Wolverines began the season with Hart as the starter, but head coach Jim Harbaugh elected to put in Robbins after Hart struggled during the first few games.
Robbins and Hart combined for 39.55 yards per punt in 2017. Hart is punting for about 10 yards more on average by himself. Simply put, the dude has been a beast. Oh, and did I mention he isn’t even on scholarship? That will change soon enough.
Man, was I wrong about Metellus, but this is one of those times I am incredibly happy to be wrong.
Coming into the season, I thought of Metellus as the weak point on defense. Little did I know he would end up being one of the catalysts for the defense in 2018. And little did I know how pivotal his targeting penalty at Notre Dame would end up becoming.
His coverage skills have gotten progressively better as the season has worn on and his tackling form has also improved. He has three interceptions, one being a pick-six, 32 total tackles and three tackles for loss.
Metellus has come a long way since last year and that dropped interception against Ohio State, and I am more than okay taking the L on this one. He has been vital to the defense and could be in line for a captain spot next year. He’s been, to me, a pleasant surprise.
The offensive line
The offensive line is good. There, I said it. And it feels so good to say that.
Last year was a disaster on the offensive line (it’s been a disaster since Lloyd Carr retired, but let’s just keep referencing last year, okay?). Guys were playing out of place and two meatballs were trying to coordinate different schemes and concepts at the same time. It was confusing as all hell, so Harbaugh did what he had to do: bring in the best offensive line coach in the country.
Ed Warinner has been a revelation for this team. Plain and simple. The job he has done with this group has been nothing short of a miracle. Converting a guard (Jon Runyan Jr.) to play left tackle at a high level is not an easy task, but he did it anyway.
The penalties for the offensive line are way down and so are the sack numbers (13 in eight games, 1.63 per game). In 13 games in 2017, the Michigan offensive line gave up 36 sacks and 2.77 per game.
Give Warinner credit, but also give a ton of credit to the players for going out there and actually executing at a high level. They have done a great job, and they are going to have to continue that if the Wolverines want any shot at making it to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship.
What has surprised you the most so far?
This poll is closed
The offensive line
Other (put answer in comments)
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