They say hindsight is 20/20. To make the obvious joke, our Michigan Football Roundtable series showed foresight so poor it needed some JoePa glasses. Few Michigan fans were able to predict just how poor this season would turn out to be, but some of our predictions were comical, even though we didn't get our act together in time to post a final season record prediction. Judging by our other previews, it's a damn good thing we didn't try to pick the Wolverines' final record. That could've been embarassing.
Anyways, for the purpose of comic relief, here are our preseason roundtable predictions, in all their misguided glory:
Joe and Webstarr: Darryl Stonum. Not a terrible choice, considering he finished with 14 catches for 176 yards and a touchdown. However, he was never a huge part of the offense, disappeared for long stretches (although that can be blamed on the general ineptitude of the passing offense), and showed a troubling propensity for dropping passes.
Sam: J.B. Fitzgerald. Finished with 8 tackles, and saw playing time almost exclusively on special teams.
Ace: Terrence Robinson. Damn, wrong pocket-sized slot receiver. Robinson took a redshirt after injuring his knee before the season. I did include this caveat:
[Note: If Odoms beats out Robinson as the designated slot guy/returner, just switch my vote to him. You can basically just swap "Odoms" for "Robinson" for that entire post and it would still ring true. I'm totally cheating, but you get the idea. Slot guy = big deal.]However, this is called "hedging your bet" and is totally cheating.
The Actual Impact Freshman: Martavious Odoms.
Sam McGuffie showed early flashes of brilliance (mostly in the Notre Dame game) and finished second on the team in rushing (486 yards) but faded quickly down the stretch. Michael Shaw seemed to have a big impact any time he touched the ball (5.1 yards per carry), but that didn't happen very often (42 attempts in 10 games). Boubacar Cissoko saw the field sporadically, and traded decent plays (3 pass breakups, tied for second on the team) with coverage blunders one would expect out of a true freshman.
Ultimately, Odoms was the freshman with the biggest impact. He led the team with 49 catches, 443 receiving yards, and 1040 all-purpose yards, and the offense's ability to move the ball often relied on him to turn bubble screens into first downs. He also returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown in the Purdue game. Yes, he had some major issues holding on to the ball on punt and kick returns, but it's hard to argue against him being the best freshman on the team this season.
Joe: Kevin Grady. Joe certainly went out on a limb here, and the gamble didn't really pay off. Grady was a seldom-used short-yardage back, carrying the ball 14 times for 33 yards and a touchdown. It is clear that he doesn't fit in to RichRod's offense.
Webstarr: Brandon Graham.
More on Graham later.
Sam: Stevie Brown. If this award went to the player who caused the most fans to "break out" their inner demons and do serious damage to property, people in the vicinity, and unfortunately placed pets, Brown would win in a landslide. However, we were looking for something different. From Stevie and Sam. Sorry, guys.
Ace: Carson Butler. Caught two passes all year, was in the coaches' doghouse for blowing assignments and punching opposing players, and eventually moved to defensive end. Epic fail on my part.
The Actual Breakout Player: Brandon Graham.
Went from a pass rush specialist (8.5 sacks in 2007, but only one other tackle for loss, and 3.5 of those sacks came against an incompetent Notre Dame line) to a full-fledged beast this season. Led the team with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss, had 46 total tackles and forced two fumbles. Despite facing constant double-teams, BG lived in the opponent's backfield. Graham was by far the best player on Michigan's defense, and was named second-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media.
Joe: Tim Jamison. Jamison had a solid season, with 5.5 sacks and 10.5 TFLs, but had nowhere near the impact of Graham.
Webstarr: Wasn't in the article, but knowing Noah the pick would have been BG. Too bad he didn't send me anything before the season. Children, this is why you shouldn't be lazy -- you lose the right to gloat if there's no proof you were right in the first place.
Sam: Morgan Trent. Sam made the argument that Trent was the most proven player on the roster in the preseason, and used this pick as evidence that Michigan was not going to be very good. The overall point was correct, but Trent actually seemed to regress this season after a solid 2007 campaign. He did intercept three passes, but nobody in the Wolverine secondary can escape the fact that as a whole they gave up way too many big plays to considered anything but a liability.
Ace: Carlos Brown. Oops. Brown was limited by variety of injuries throughout the season, and rushed for 122 yards on 29 attempts, all but six of which came against Northwestern in his lone game as the featured back. My visions of Brown as a 1000-yard back and part-time QB could not have been much further from reality.
The Actual Team MVP: Zoltan Mesko.
Yeah, I said it. Our punter is my pick for MVP this year, and only partly because I already named Graham as the breakout player of the year. Brandon Minor, who one could argue was the most valuable player on offense, only ran for 533 yards this season. The rest of the offense teetered somewhere between surprisingly mediocre and epic suck. Besides Graham, nobody on defense can claim that they performed consistently well this season. K.C. Lopata hit only two-thirds of his field goals this season, and blew an easy chance to tie the Toledo debacle.
Mesko, however, averaged 43 yards per punt, nailed 24 kicked inside the 20-yard line while kicking only three touchbacks, boomed 24 50+ yard punts, forced 21 fair catches, and was the biggest reason why Michigan spent much of the season as the top net punting team in the country (we're currently #5). Zoltan the Inconceivable was able to almost single-handedly change field position, and with the 111th ranked offense in the country, field position was at a premium. He was the lone Wolverine to garner first-team All-Big Ten honors.
That should really tell you all you need to know about this season.
Lil' Wayne Lyric:
Before the season, we all tried to choose the Lil' Wayne lyric that would best describe the season. I won't do the rundown, but all our quotes essentially talked about overcoming adversity to achieve great success. In the long term, this should be the case, and I certainly believe it will be. However, if you were to take a Weezy quote that summed up the general Michigan fan's reaction to this season, I would go with:
"And man I miss the times, we would shine, you would keep me on your side
You would teach me how to ride and you would teach me how to pry
Then we get on the line and go over our lines
We were in the same position and that's when you change positions, shit
I never change and I miss ya, and its strange but I never forget ya
say that ain't you in them pictures"
--Lil' Wayne, "I Miss My Dawgs"