Michigan Football in 2018 is about a very talented and deep football team with a couple of major question marks playing an absolutely brutal schedule in year 4 of the Harbaugh era. The Michigan defense this year should be elite (top 5). They return every starter other than the very talented NT Mo Hurst. The DL features one of, if not the, best pairs of DE in Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich. These dudes are tireless future NFLers. At DT, Mike Dwumfour is expected to start and is getting lots of good press out of camp. He will be paired with 5* true soph Aubrey Solomon who had a pretty solid freshman year. Behind the starters are a slew of talented but untested young guys (Vilain, Paye, Kemp) and some upperclassmen who haven't overwhelmed but help solidify a rotation (Mone, Marshall). The LB corps are led by future NFLers Devin Bush at MLB and Khaleke Hudson who plays the Viper position in Don Brown's D (a hybrid Safety/LB position). At the WLB, there are a lot of bullets in the chamber with Devin Gil, Jordan Anthony, John Ross, Singleton, and a couple other guys who could potentially see the field. The secondary is headlined by future NFL CBs Lavert Hill and David Long. Both of these guys are shutdown Corners and together, they make life miserable for WRs. They have very capable backups in Ambry Thomas and Brandon Watson. The safeties were good last year, but finished on a down note. That being said, they are young and should be better this year. Tyree Kinnel and Josh Metellus are upperclassmen that hopefully can take steps forward this year. They have talented but untested backups (JKP and Woods). It's worth mentioning the coaches here because I think Don Brown is the best DC in College Football. The guy lives and breathes college ball and made BC into a perennial overachiever with less-talented players. The longer he stays, the better off the program will be. Zordich has done very well with his CBs and Mattison is an overqualified College DL coach. There's a lot of good minds in that room. The offense should be improved this year by virtue of incoming transfer QB Shea Patterson (from Ole Miss) and a better organization of offensive coaches. Namely, the offense presumably got rid of the sources of its personality disorder by losing Tim Drevno and Greg Frey and bringing in OL coach Ed Warriner. Everything out of camp indicates that the playbook has been simplified and the OL is vastly improved. Honestly, it's a low bar but a believable statement based on the above. Patterson is a 5* QB with substantial SEC starter experience. He is not a big guy, but apparently he throws a great long ball and is a solid scrambler. If the OL struggles, that scramble ability will become increasingly important. Part time starter from last year Brandon Peters in the backup and with that experience hopefully is a capable backup. Behind Peters is uber-talented but not ready yet Dylan McCaffrey. There is another development QB behind McCaffrey who is super raw named Joe Milton. I'm more bullish on the OL than most because the middle of the line should actually be very good. Cesar Ruiz was born to play Center and has been dedicated to the position at a high level for his entire career. Ben Bredeson is easily the OL with the best report card from last year and is the starting LG. Mike Onwenu is a giant man and is the presumed RG. The OT is where it gets iffy. Most reports have Jon Runyan Jr. as the starting LT. Not ideal and definitely the biggest area of concern for the entire offense. I peg Juwan Bushell Beatty (JBB) as the starting RT at the moment. He was excellent at run blocking last year but was disastrous against the pass. There are a few capable backups in Hudson and Spanellis, but OL is the position I want to see no injuries. RB is very settled with the 2 starters Karan Higdon and Chris Evans back from last year. They've added a couple of FBs who may play more. TE is a position that hopefully the team can lean on to get the OL and WR some assistance. Sam McKeon had the best season last year as a true 2-way TE and he jumped a couple of more senior guys to do that. Zach Gentry and Nick Eubanks are your more receiver-like TE and I expect one of them to go into a pattern on almost every pass play. There are some really talented young guys who will get some minimal amount of burn this year (Schoon, Muhammed). The WR group is super talented and super young. DPJ is a 5* that should've had better stats last year but poor QB play really hurt. Tarik Black looked even better in an injury-shortened year last year, and he just fractured his OTHER foot, so he will be out for a substantial part of the season at least. Fortunately, Nico Collins is a Kelvin Benjamin doppleganger (think NCAA Benjamin) and should make a suitable counterbalance for DPJ. Grant Perry is the only WR who is not a frosh or soph (he's a senior) and he is a very capable slot WR. Oliver Martin and Nate Schoenle may figure in, but not hugely so. Quinn Nordin was a very highly rated kicker and had a pretty good freshman year, other than some midseason yips. Punter is a total shoulder shrug and will likely be an underrated mess. DPJ is a super talented Punt Returner and I don't know who to expect for Kick Returns. The schedule is an absolute bear this season. @ND presents a stiff Week 1 test that will not give this team a chance to gel before being required to perform with real stakes on the line. Nevertheless, ND's offense sounds like it's a bit of a mess and I think this D can carry the team to a low-scoring sloppy win. Western Michigan and SMU at home should be straightforward wins. Nebraska at home will show how quickly Scott Frost can get this program going in the right direction. I think he will overachieve this year, but struggle with serious squad limitations. Win for M. @Northwestern and vs. Maryland should be wins and I don't think they will be that close. Then, it gets brutal: vs. Wisco, @MSU, vs. PSU. I think M can get 2/3 here. But all 3 in a row is a tall order with Wisco presenting a huge challenge, MSU presenting a test that is always tougher than it appears, and PSU that I think will be substantially worse than last year, but that still has a lot of good pieces. Rutgers and IU should be wins. @OSU I will pencil in as a loss every year until M can show that they can compete and actually win this game with any kind of consistency. Prediction: 10-2 with losses vs. Wisco and @OSU.