On Tuesday, we posted an article describing all of the positives and reasons to be optimistic about this Michigan team. Today we’ll take a look at a few of the negatives and reasons why Michigan is overrated for all of you pessimists out there. Here are five reasons why an already unranked Michigan team may yet still be overrated heading into 2021.
Lack of elite talent at QB
We’ve talked ad nauseam this offseason about Cade McNamara, JJ McCarthy, and the quarterback competition. Even the biggest optimist can’t reasonably expect any Michigan quarterback to be in the Heisman conversation this year. College football has increasingly become centered on how good your quarterback play is. The McNamara/McCarthy combo may be good enough to beat most Big Ten teams, but it won’t be good enough to compete on the national stage, at least not this year.
Inexperience along the offensive line
What was once the undoubted strength of this team back in 2019, the offensive line was downright abysmal in 2020. I absolutely agree that we should see some signs of progress in 2021. However, the departures of Ed Warriner and Jalen Mayfield hurt significantly. With Sherrone Moore sliding over to a new position group and having to break in several new starters, we can expect some hiccups. These hiccups will likely cost Michigan a few games against teams such as Washington, Penn State, and Ohio State.
The new defensive scheme will take a long time to adjust to
Most, including myself, were in support of moving on from Don Brown as Michigan’s defensive coordinator. However, changing not only coordinators but also schemes in year six of the Harbaugh era begs the question of if the new scheme will have time to even stick before Harbaugh’s seat becomes red hot. There is always an adjustment period when switching styles of play and coaches are usually afforded that time. Will Harbaugh have enough time to let Mike Macdonald implement his system and get it up and running?
Glaring weaknesses at linebacker and cornerback
It’s no secret that the cornerbacks have something to prove in 2021. Having been routinely torched in 2020, the position group remains almost entirely intact. If drastic improvements aren’t made - and quickly - Michigan could be subject to repeated aerial assaults early in the season.
Linebacker was supposed to be a strength last year, but the position group as a whole was largely disappointing. Gone are the days of the Viper position and electric talents such as Jabrill Peppers and Devin Bush. In steps a whole lot of inexperience and players who have yet to prove themselves. With apparent holes in the center and on the perimeter of the defense, the Wolverines could be in for a long year.
A brutal schedule bodes poorly for a young team
Last season was a debacle for a multitude of reasons. Part of what made it so bad was the number of home losses and seeing those losses without fans. This year, Michigan has to travel to Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Penn State. According to Bill Connelly of ESPN and SP+, here is the full list of teams with a harder schedule than Michigan:
- Georgia Tech
That’s it. That’s the list in the entire country. Michigan has grown accustomed to playing difficult schedules, but this team doesn’t seem equipped to handle it as well as previous iterations have been.
Here’s to hoping most of these predictions are wrong. I would love nothing more than to look back at this piece in four months and laugh at how silly it was. Until then, here are your reasons for pessimism.