Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Reclamation of Pride

University of Michigan football. It dominates my life in the fall, and I'm just as enthusiastic this year despite their 3-9 record last year. Why? Well, the fact that I can have optimism about sports after the Red Wings' loss is reason to jump for joy in itself, but also because Coach Rod has a few more of his guys in place and another year of his system in the making. I'm psyched for college football's return, and I think Michigan has a good chance to completely turn around from last year's embarrassments and take a step or two in the right direction. Here's my official preview of the 2009 Michigan Wolverines.

First, let's look at the schedule. It's not hard. At all. I count five games that Michigan should even have the possibility of losing. But then again, they did lose to Toledo at home last year, so I can't really make those assumptions. Anyway, here's the schedule with my own preseason predictions:
  • Western Michigan. Win, 34-10.
  • Notre Dame. Win, 23-20.
  • Eastern Michigan. Win, 27-14.
  • Indiana. Win, 31-23.
  • at Michigan State. Win, 45-38 in 2OT.
  • at Iowa. Loss, 10-28.
  • Delaware State. Win, 24-3.
  • Penn State. Win, 14-13.
  • at Illinois. Loss, 17-23.
  • Purdue. Win, 42-31.
  • at Wisconsin. Loss, 20-27.
  • Ohio State. Win. 1,000,000-0.
That last score against the Backstabbing Bastards from Buckeye Country should tell you all you need to know about my predictions: they're just about as useful as a fork when you're eating tomato soup. I know nothing about how this year will turn out, but my endless optimism about Michigan and their beautiful winged helmets and their unmatched fight song tell me they will reverse the curse of a crappy year and take a 3-9 (2-6) record in 2008 to 9-3 (5-3) in 2009.

Why did I make such a crazy prediction you ask? Here's a few reasons.

First, they play eight of 12 games at home. That's not only ridiculous, it's pretty damn helpful. They play four softies in a row in the Big House and I think if they can manage to win all of those games, they can get a little momentum rolling and win a tough road game (Michigan State) and another couple big games down the stretch (Penn State, Ohio State).

Obviously, that's a stretch to begin with. But they've got lots of talent coming in and I've always believed in freshmen players more than I should because I've been blessed with watching the incredible freshmen years of Chad Henne, Mike Hart and John Navarre, among others. I've also seen guys like Adrian Peterson, Pat White and Steve Slaton dominate in their freshmen years. So, why not Michigan's Tate Forcier (below left) or Denard Robinson (below right)? Forcier looks great from the video I've seen and the articles I've read, and all the hype about Robinson makes him sound like the second-coming of Michael Vick - Virginia Tech version. How can I not be excited?

And, as Michigan Sports Center writes, everyone is making wayy too big of a deal about the whole "Michigan is going to start 3 QBs in their season opener" thing. Here's RichRod's exact quote from media day:

“In what order and how many, I couldn’t tell you,” Rodriguez said Sunday at media day. “Right now, all three of them look like they’re going to play in the opener.

“Again, it’s two weeks out. There is a lot going to happen in the next two weeks.”

Hmm...after reading that today, I have no idea what all the hubbub is about. Did anyone quote him? Everyone just made a huge leap and assumed that RichRod would actually play all three QBs in the opener. From that quote, it sounds to me like the competition between Sheridan, Forcier and Robinson is way too close to call and he has no idea who will be his starter yet. Maybe three QBs will play, maybe two or maybe just one. But nothing in that quote tells me for sure that all three will play, so that's a calming breeze for everyone freaking out about the possibility of a quarterback carousel. My vote? I'm pulling for Forcier, with some Robinson thrown in at tailback. That's a deadly combination in my imagination.

Next, they have Zoltan Mesko. Never heard of him? Shame on you. He's the best punter in the NCAA and probably the best kicker Michigan's had in a while. Since I imagine Michigan will be punting a lot while they try to hit their stride in the first few games, Zoltan the Space Emperor will help the Wolverines keep good field position and give some confidence to the defense. It can't be good that I'm lavishing praise at Michigan's punter and hailing him as a key point to their success, but how can you doubt a guy with a name like Zoltan Mesko?

Finally, it's Michigan football. From the helmets with wings to the song the crowd sings, Michigan football is about pride and the players, coaches and fans represent the best college football program in history. Last year, they were written off from the beginning and a laughingstock by season's end, but one year doesn't erase history. One year doesn't mean anything. Sure, it sucked from a fan's point of view. But that's over now. It's time to reclaim that pride, that history, that sense of entitlement. Let's. Go. Blue!

No comments: