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Predicting Michigan Football’s offensive starting lineup in 2019

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The Wolverines offense will be one to watch as they — presumably — enter the 21st century from a philosophy point of view.

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Florida vs Michigan Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Football will be kicking off fall camp sooner rather than later and the offense is set to be a large topic of discussion with the new system coming in and the players that they have on that side of the ball. Here is a prediction on how they will look offensively when the season opens on Aug. 31.

Quarterback: Shea Patterson

Listen, I’m aware there is a Dylan McCaffrey hive out there because the kid has look solid in mop-up duty when he has been called upon, but based on what we saw in the spring and how Josh Gattis’ offense should emphasize Patterson’s strengths, he would really have to poop the bed or be injured to not be the starting quarterback. Michigan fans are obsessed with the unknown at quarterback, but Patterson was Harbaugh’s best and most consistent quarterback despite being somewhat handcuffed by an old and archaic offensive attack in 2018. He may not wind up being the Heisman candidate that some will hype him as, but he has a legit shot to be the best QB in the conference.

Running Back: Christian Turner

The hype seems to be around Zach Charbonnet as someone who can come in and light up the Big Ten as a true freshman. It could happen, but Turner showed some promise in the bowl game and he has the advantage of being in the program already and having snaps to his name. It is a scary proposition losing someone as reliable as Karan Higdon and Chris Evans being out for the the year due to suspension, but they will find a way to get a reliable run game going.

Wide Receiver: Donovan Peoples-Jones

Peoples-Jones came out of high school as an athlete who needed to learn the intricacies of the wide receiver position and how to actually run a route. We saw bits and pieces his freshman year, but he seemed to put it together in year two and has a shot to emerge as WR1 for this team. Gattis should only help take that skill-set to the next level.

Wide Reciever: Nico Collins

I think we can make the argument that Collins is Michigan’s best all-around wide receiver when it comes to athleticism, big play ability and size. Maybe someone will find a way to cover him down the field this year when he runs the post route.

Slot: Mike Sainristil

Evans being out for the year creates a need for a “gadget” type of player in Michigan’s offense and if the spring is any indication, the true freshman is up for the challenge. Even with some attrition, the wide receiver group is still as strong as it has been under Harbaugh.

Tight End: Sean McKeon

Some people have hopped off of the McKeon train, and that’s fine. However, I think that he will wind up being Michigan’s most balanced and reliable tight end by the time the season is over. He came from a Wing-T offense in high school, so to go from that to what Michigan ran before to what they will run moving forward, the layers of how different an offense can be are being peeled back for them.

Left Tackle: Jon Runyan Jr.

Left Guard: Ben Bredeson

Center: Cesar Ruiz

Right Guard: Michael Onwenu

Right Tackle: Andrew Steuber

There is not much drama on the line this year with four starters returning to the lineup, so we will group these takeaways together. First off, it is pretty amazing that right off the bat last year against Notre Dame, Runyan looked like someone who was going to get benched. Now this year, he enters the season as an All-Big Ten selection on a lot of preseason lists. Bredeson, Ruiz and Onwenu make up what should be one of the best interior lines in the country. The biggest position battle is between Andrew Steuber and Jalen Mayfield, who continue to be neck and neck at right tackle. Time will tell who wins there, as it could stretch into the regular season

Overview:

It is not over-hyping to suggest that this could be the best offense in the Big Ten. With what they have talent-wise and now from a philosophy standpoint, there really is no excuse for them not to be. Harbaugh has finally handed over the reigns to someone who appears to have a grasp for how offense should be run in the 21st century, but you are justified in being skeptical if you do not believe in them until they pull it off in a big game, namely the last week of the regular season.

Patterson is not quite Dwayne Haskins and the wide receivers that Michigan boast are not exactly Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin from a pure burner standpoint, but they have at least three NFL-caliber guys in DPJ, Collins and Tarik Black, who has to stay healthy this year. It is amazing how having Ed Warriner on staff alleviates the concerns about the offensive line, as it feels like the team is finally physically and mentally ready to handle the rigors of the Big Ten. This is going to be a fun group to watch.

For our projection on the defense, hit our piece here.