We are on to Tuesday and another day closer to the start of Michigan’s 2019 football season, which kicks off on Aug. 31. Here are some of the trending stories of the day for both the Wolverines and nationally.
Michigan offensive line coach Ed Warinner spoke to the media on Monday afternoon and one of the biggest topics of discussion had to do with how the depth chart changes with Andrew Steueber injured. We know that Jalen Mayfield will be the starting right tackle with Ryan Hayes as the next in line at the position, but Michigan has made a position change up front to improve their depth at tackle.
“We moved Joel (Honigford),” Warinner said, via The Michigan Insider. “He had been playing right guard. With (Andrew) Vastardis playing so well at guard/center, we felt very comfortable having Andrew Vastardis as a right guard and then bumping Joel out. Joel has only been there a couple of days but he’s looking real comfortable. That may be a better position for him. A year ago when I first got here I tried him out there, he struggled in the pass protection. Now, he’s over a year working that and some of his fundamentals we were able to develop with him, he’s really looked good out there in terms of that. That was the piece that kept him from playing tackle a year ago. Now, I feel real comfortable in his pass protection, he knows what’s going on and I think it’s going to be a good move for him. Vastardis is a solid guy inside.
“We have those two, Steve Spanellis at center, Chuck (Filiaga) at left guard, Ryan Hayes at left tackle so that’s kind of our backup and we’re bringing these freshmen along.”
Shea Patterson did not light up the stat sheet last season as Michigan’s offense sort of put the shackles on him, but Pro Football Focus has numbers that show why the Wolverines may have decided to operate the way they did in the passing game prior to this season.
Patterson had the fewest number of turnover-worthy plays last season, per PFF. The way that they grade showed only nine plays the entire year that resulted in potential turnovers, which was the best in the Big Ten among quarterbacks with at least 160 attempts.
When it came to keeping the ball out of danger, no B1G QB could top Shea Patterson. For more information on how we grade quarterbacks, check out the link below. https://t.co/RhHwVPsTAs pic.twitter.com/s3WOq64XQ8— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 19, 2019
“Passes that are graded as -1.0 or worse will receive the “turnover-worthy label” as interceptions occur on about 50% of such throws, and that percentage rises as the grade lowers,” PFF writes about its grading system.
Patterson would finish the year with 2,600 yards passing paired with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. With the offense opening up, it would not be a surprise to see all of those numbers on the rise, including turnovers, but it at least showed that he did a nice job taking care of the ball last season.
The first AP Poll of the season was released on Monday afternoon, which is really just a big nothing-burger until games start being played, but an interesting stat pointed out by Brett McMurphy has Michigan in a class to start the year that generally produces a national champion.
Since 2004, every national champ was ranked among AP preseason top 7 teams except in 2013 (FSU started at No. 11) & 2010 (Auburn started at No. 22).— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 19, 2019
So who’s this year’s national champ?
5 Ohio St
It is likely the winner of the playoff comes out of this grouping, but it is pretty close to a lock that it will either be Clemson or Alabama, at least based on what we know. Georgia could make things interesting and Oklahoma is always in it, but from there, a team may sneak in to the playoff and not do much else.
This is why when people say they expect the Wolverines to compete for national titles, they may not be there quite yet. Getting into the CFP likely means they won the Big Ten and beat Ohio State and that sounds about alright to us.
- It was all but official to this point, but Ohio State named Justin Fields its starting quarterback on Monday afternoon. He never faced any serious competition for the job, but the former five-star recruit is now officially in the saddle for the Buckeyes for 2019.
- More quarterback news for College Football Playoff contenders, as Oklahoma made it official with Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts, who will be the starting signal-caller there, as well. Hurts was 26-2 in his career at Alabama as the Oklahoma transfer pipeline continues to go strong after Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
- Smash Mouth is back in a big way. Or, at least they are back in the spotlight. Did they ever leave? Who knows, but UCF is going to have the famous 90s/early 2000s band play their tailgate concert ahead of their season opener on Aug. 29.
- Ain’t no laws! Ross Martin of Inside Carolina reports that hard seltzer and millennial craze of the summer White Claw will be sold during North Carolina football games this year. One can only hope Mack Brown will partake himself at some point and give us the meme of the 2019 season.
That’s it for today. We’ll be back with another batch of news tomorrow.