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5 big questions for Michigan football’s 2019 season

Buckle in, folks, because the season is almost here.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Today marks the first time we have seen a college football game week in seven months, and boy does it feel good to type that out.

But Michigan, and most other teams, unfortunately do not play until next week. So let’s pass the time a little bit by answering some of the pertinent questions involving the Wolverines.

And as always, feel free to engage in the comments section with your thoughts and opinions about my answers and predictions.

1: Who is Michigan’s most important player on offense?

Answer: Shea Patterson, QB

Why: Josh Gattis’ offense is built around putting the defense in tough situations, and you cannot do that without a smart, reliable quarterback who knows exactly where to throw the ball, or when to hand it off to the running back. Luckily, Michigan has a few of those, but Patterson will be the guy in 2019.

Patterson played well last season for an offense that was a bit more quarterback friendly than in years past at Michigan, but still not friendly enough. Now with Gattis in the mix, this offense is built for a guy like Patterson to do his thing. I am expecting somewhere around 3,000 passing yards for Patterson in 2019.

2: Who is Michigan’s most important player on defense?

Answer: Josh Metellus, S

Why: The depth at cornerback is a bit concerning heading into the season, but I am a little less concerned than most fans and pundits. If there is one thing cornerbacks coach Michael Zordich is good at, it is turning unproven players into dudes, as Don Brown would say.

I believe Metellus is the most important player on defense in 2019. He is one of the veteran leaders not just on the defense, but the entire team. He’s a vocal guy that makes everyone around him better, which is good because the depth at safety isn’t very deep.

If Metellus were to go down with injury, who would replace him? Brad Hawkins? J’Marick Woods? Daxton Hill? It’s really a crapshoot, with no clear answer at the moment. Metellus is, without a doubt, one of the key players on defense this season.

3: What should be the biggest change for U-M between 2018 and 2019?

Answer: The offensive philosophy

Why: Change had to come, and Jim Harbaugh knew it.

The offense held the Wolverines back, once again, in 2018. It was good, but no longer can you win the time of possession battle and expect to win every single game. Remember how slow Michigan’s final drive was against Notre Dame last year? Remember how slow Michigan’s drives were in the second half against Ohio State? It was painful.

But those days seem gone now that Gattis has arrived. Up-tempo, no huddle, speed everywhere, utilizing your best play-makers. It’s refreshing, and should provide Michigan some much needed team balance.

4: What is the most important game on the schedule?

Answer: Ohio State (Nov. 30 at Michigan Stadium)

Why: Do I really have to explain myself here?

The Big Ten East crown has come down to The Game two of the four years Harbaugh has been in town, and if I were to guess, this year would be no different. The Buckeyes lost depth at a few key positions this offseason, but let’s be real, they are the Alabama of the north. They reload like it’s no one’s business. Come November, both teams will hit their stride and a trip to Indy should be on the line.

Oh, and a win against Ohio State would put to rest the notion Harbaugh can’t win a big game. That would be nice, too.

5: Where will Michigan head at the end of the regular season?

Answer: The Rose Bowl

Why: Because I just cannot slot Michigan into the College Football Playoff, let alone the Big Ten Championship, until I see it happen at least once.

This might be basic, but I am predicting a 10-2 season for the Wolverines, with losses on the road to Indiana (it has to happen sometime, right?) and at home against Ohio State. Yes, that would mean after starting the season with 10 straight victories, Michigan loses its final two games and misses out on Indy yet again.

That would be a tough pill to swallow, especially given that Ohio State would be bound for another Big Ten Championship, but a trip to the Rose Bowl would be a better postseason game than what we have gotten out of Harbaugh so far. The Wolverines have not been to the Rose Bowl since 2007, so it would likely be a welcome sight to Michigan fans.