2009 Schedule: First Glance

With the 2009 football season looming a mere 4+ months away, it’s as good a time as any to take a first look at Michigan’s upcoming schedule, and determine whether the teams the Wolverines will face this year should get better or worse (or remain the same) from last year to this. I also reserve the right to be completely wrong.

Western Michigan
2008 Record: 9-4 (6-2 MAC)
Key losses: S Louis Delmas, LB Austin Pritchard, WR Jamarko Simmons
Key returning players: QB Tim Hiller, RB Brandon West
Projection: Same. Sure, teams lose players to the NFL every year, but it’s not fair to the Broncos (nor would it be to basically any MAC team) to assume they’ll be able to replace a second-round pick in the secondary. However, the offense should really continue trucking behind the QB play of Tim Hiller. The Broncos should be about the same as they were last year, though they’ll rely even more heavily on a high-flying offense to make up for a much weaker defense.

Notre Dame
2008 Record: 7-6 (0-1 Syracuse)
Key losses: WR David Grimes, S David Bruton
Key returning players: QB Jimmy Clausen, RB Armando Allen, WR Golden Tate
Projection: Up. Based on roster composition alone, the Irish should be pretty rockin’ this year. One impoortant caveat: you could say that about the last two years as well, and they were somewhere between terrible and mediocre over each of the previous two seasons. Is Charlie Weis just one big, fat FAIL, or will he start to get the talent he has assembled to perform? There’s no excuse (lol book title/disingenuous motto) for the Irish to not beat up on most of their schedule this year.

Eastern Michigan
2008 Record: 3-9 (2-6 MAC)
Key losses: RB Terrence Blevins, WR Tyler Jones, LB Daniel Holtzclaw, S Jacob Wyatt
Key returning players: QB Andy Schmitt, WR Jacory Stone, LB Andre Hatchett
Projection: Up. The Eagles return some key pieces, though they also lose some important ones, the upgrade at the head coaching position appears to be a substantial one. Eastern was terrible last year, save the upset of Central Michigan in their final game of the year, and even anything approaching competency would be a leap in the right direction.

2008 Record: 3-9 (1-7 Big Ten)
Key losses: RB Marcus Thigpen
Key returning players: QB Ben Chappell, QB/WR/? Kellen Lewis, WR/CB Ray Fisher
Projection: Same. You can tell the Indiana coaching staff is really grasping at straws in an effort to not get fired at the end of this year. They’re moving key players around (2nd-leading receiver Ray Fisher to corner, best offensive weapon Kellen Lewis all over the field, etc.), and completely revamping their schemes (reports say they’ve almost exclusively worked out of the pistol this spring). If it doesn’t work, Bill Lynch and co. are probably going to get the axe.

Michigan State
2008 Record: 9-4 (6-2 Big Ten)
Key losses: QB Brian Hoyer, RB Javon Ringer, S Otis Wiley
Key returning players: LB Greg Jones, WR Mark Dell
Projection: Down. The Spartans were beneficiaries of a bad Big Ten and some good luck last year. They were more like a 7-6 team than the 9-4 that they actually went. Take away 3 of their 4 most important players (the fourth is Jones), and they should be worse. Take away that luck, and they’re just a team. Adam Rittenberg will still predict that they win the National Championship.

2008 Record: 9-4 (5-3 Big Ten)
Key losses: RB Shonn Greene, DTs Mitch King and Matt Kroul,
Key returning players: WR Andy Brodell, LBs Pat Angerer and Jeremiha Hunter, QB Ricky Stanzi
Projection: Same. The Hawkeyes lose arguably their three most important players in Greene (no, Rittenberg, you can’t just baselessly say “I think Jewel Hampton will be at least as good as they guy who won the Doak Walker Award”) and the defensive tackles. However, they upgrade slightly at almost every other position, and assuming they can stay healthier than they have in the past couple years, they should be about as good as they were in ’08. Of course last year, they were something of an anti-MSU, and lost a couple games they shouldn’t have. The Hawkeyes will be about the same quality of team, but the record may improve.

Delaware State
2008 Record: 5-6 (5-3 MEAC)
Key losses: QB Vashon Winton, RBs Chris Strother and Kareem Jones, LB Kevin Conner
Key returning players: DB Avery Grant, WR Laronne Moore
Projection: Down, down down. For a team that wasn’t even good to begin with, losing 3 of your top 5 tacklers, your 4-year starter at QB, and your top 3 running backs can be little other than a recipe for disaster. Delaware State is a true 1-AA cupcake, and will be even worse this year than they were in 2008.

Penn State
2008 Record: 11-2 (7-1 Big Ten)
Key losses: WRs Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood, 3 offensive linemen
Key returning players: QB Daryll Clark, RBs Evan Royster and Stephfon Green, LB Sean Lee
Projection: Down. The Spread HD worked in 2008 because Clark was on-point all year, and the Lions had the skill position talent on the outside to force defenses to spread the whole field. With Clark tailing off in the last few games (albeit due to injury, perhaps), and the OL and wideouts gone, PSU won’t be the offensive force that they were last year. Defensively, the return of Sean Lee should help in the middle. However, the top 3 defensive ends left, and #4 is out for the season with a torn ACL.

2008 Record: 5-7 (3-5 Big Ten)
Key losses: LB Brit Miller, CB Vontae Davis, WR Will Judson
Key returning players: QB Juice Williams, WR Arrelious Benn, LB Martez Wilson
Projection: Same. Like Iowa, the record might improve, but the team will be about as good in 2009. The offense should really click with a senior Juice Williams and junior Arrelious Benn, though you could have said the same last year (and the Illini were awesome at times, just horrifically inconsistent). The defense should take major steps back with its best two players, LB Brit Miller and Vontae Davis, gone and the third best player, LB Martez Wilson, doing things like getting stabbed in a bar during the offseason.

2008 Record: 4-8 (2-6 Big Ten)
Key losses: QBs Curtis Painter and Justin Siller, RB Kory Sheets, WRs Greg Orton and Desmond Tardy, LB Anthony Heygood, S Torri Williams
Key returning players: S Joe Holland, QB Joey Elliott
Projection: Down. Purdue sucked last year, and nearly all of their best players are leaving town because their eligibility has expired (everyone but Siller) or because they cheat on exams (Siller). Couple all that with a transition to a new offensive scheme and a plan to rely on several true freshmen despite their lack of guru approval, and Danny Hope’s first year in West Lafayette may be a difficult one. There could be a coaching upgrade as Wilford Brimley had been mailing it in the past couple years, but there is basically no talent for the Boilers to work with.

2008 Record: 7-6 (3-5 Big Ten)
Key losses: RB PJ Hill, TEs Garrett Graham and Travis Beckum, LB DeAndre Levy, LB Jonathan Casillas
Key returning players: QB Dustin Sherer, WRs David Gilreath and Nick Toon, LB Jaevery McFadden
Projection: Up. The Badgers were a team that lost plenty of games they shouldn’t have, and the important question for tham is whether that was bad luck or the horrifically bad coaching ability of Bret Bielema. The early appearances are a bit of both, so the Badgers should be a bit better, but not by leaps and bounds. Hill wasn’t even Wisconsin’s best RB for much of the year, and Sherer was the better QB, despite Allan Evridge starting the year under center. Simply getting the right pieces the ball more often should help. I think Bielema has a definite ceiling, especially with players he has recruited and coached for four year.

Ohio State
2008 Record: 10-3 (7-1 Big Ten)
Key losses: RB Beanie Wells, LBs James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman, CB Malcolm Jenkins, WRs Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline
Key returning players: QB Terrelle Pryor, RB Dan Herron, CB Chimdi Chekwa
Projection: Down. The Buckeyes really should have been awesome last year, and might have been if Terrelle Pryor had started the whole year, and not been a true freshman. Alas, this was the case, and OSU’s last best chance at a national title for the next couple years leaves town with Beanie Wells and James Laurinaitis. Regardless, the Buckeyes are never going to fall completely off the map as long as Jim Tressel is the coach, so there’s a definite floor for their team. either way, they’ll take a significant step back in 2009.

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31 Comments so far

  1. MechE says...

    Great rundown, Tim. I can’t believe the Big 10 is going to be even worse next year. We’re becoming what the Big East was like before WVU got big.

  2. I know nothing says...

    So looking at that, the one game that really jumps out at me as looking like a nightmare is the Illinois game. Osu will be a tough one for at least another year, but picking a game that just looks ugly for us on paper is that one. Benn might get 300 on us alone. And then you get Juice busting us for 150. If we win, it has to be something like 82-80, unless Benn’s hands get really tired from catching all those balls.

  3. Michigan4204 says...

    Call me crazy, but looking at our schedule, I honestly think we could go 10-3 or even 11-2. The Big Ten will be even worse than last year, and if Tate or Denard can give us anything, which is more than we got last year, this could be a great year. The “D” has to step up, though.

  4. Ann Arbor 1879 says...


  5. Tim says...

    Possible? Yes. In any way likely? No.

  6. Chris says...

    I see the world through maize and blue glasses too, but I’ve told many friends to slap me if I predict anything better than 6-6. Sure, we “should” win 7,8,9 games, but let’s face it – a new DC and a true freshman @ QB doesn’t spell “new years day bowl”. God I hope I am wrong.

  7. Andrew says...

    Michigan4204, you’re crazy. There, I said it. ;)

  8. Kenny G says...

    I think you forgot to put Aaron Maybin on key losses for the Nittany Lions.

  9. JWMU_01 says...

    I really think that this team needs momentum, the polls will not pay attention to them until half way through the Big Ten Schedule and they will need to have a few wins over ranked opponents in there. The need to start with 3 wins or 2-1 with a helluva good game against the Domers.

  10. Jason says...

    Agree with mostly all your projections, but I think Michigan State will actually be better, not worse. Yeah, they lost three of their top four, but none of those losses are going to be devastating. Ringer was overrated. The new QB crop may be a step up by mid-season. Losing Wiley will hurt, but with so many players coming back, I see them making an improvement. Plus, they haven’t been recruiting too poorly.

    I would put Wisconsin as staying the same, Illinois as improving, and Iowa as moving down.

  11. Michigan4204 says...

    Why am I crazy? Last year there were 6 or 7 games I went in knowing we were going to lose. I only see 2 maybe 3 games we will most likely lose. Add in a probable bowl loss and you have 4 losses. You people have to realize that yes, we have a freshman qb, but that freshman will be a huge upgrade from Threet and Sheridan. There really is only 1(OSU) top 25 team, maybe 2(PSU), in the Big Ten. This is also our weakest schedule in the last 10 years. Im not saying it will happen, but it is quite possible. At worst 8-5.

  12. JebStewart says...

    So, who’s going to win the conference?

  13. Michigan4204isnotcarzy says...

    I think we win eight. Those wins being WU, EMU, IND, MSU, ND, DELAWHAT?, PENN ST, and OSU. Thats right…Somehow we get by the new sparty pass attack.

  14. chally says...


    You say that you see only 2 or 3 games that we will “most likely” lose. But what if you flip the question, and ask how many games we will “most likely” win?

    I’ll give you Eastern, Indiana, and Delaware State. I think Western is closer to 60/40, but I’ll include that as well, if we’re being optimistic.

    So, the odds are good that we will be 4-3 in games that are easy to predict. That gives us five games that are “toss ups.” If the toss-ups go 3-2 in our favor, we’re at 7-5. And this is the optimistic scenario.

    For the pessimistic scenario, throw Iowa into the games we should lose, and Western into the toss up category. That puts us at 3-4 with five toss-ups. If the toss-ups cut 2-3 against us, we’re at 5-7.

    I’m not sure where you can get “At worst 8-5”

  15. Ralph says...

    “With Clark tailing off in the last few games…”

    In the last three games of the season, including against the #1 by far pass efficiency defense of USC, Clark was 57-98 for 854 yards, 8 tds, 3 ints for a passer rating of 152. I’m not sure how that is “tailing off”. He didn’t play well against Iowa after a concussion, but no QB is on for every contest.

    Penn State did indeed lose their top 3 defensive ends, but the guy who is out with an ACL Pete Massaro is far from the #4 defensive end, this year or last year. Top 3 are Jerome Hayes, Jack Crawford, and Kevion Latham. All Big Ten DT Jared Odrick also lined up at DE in the B/W game.

  16. Tim says...

    Clark most certainly tailed off. You can count the second half of the Rose Bowl as “OMG Clark is awesome,” or you can count it as “Penn State was getting the shit kicked out of them, and had to throw it a ton, so Clark built up a lot of stats.” Had Penn State gotten back into the game, it would be a different story, but as it is, does Juice Williams’s huge passing day against Missouri make him a great passer? No, it makes him a guy who threw a lot one day.

  17. Tim says...

    The conference is probably between Ohio State, Penn State, and Iowa. As down as the Big Ten was last year, it’ll be even worse in ’09. The top teams are taking a step back, the very bottom teams (except Michigan) are taking a step back or stagnating, and the middle teams should stay about the same.

  18. Tim says...

    Michigan State loses three of its best four players, and it’s hard to find accurate information on offensive linemen, but I believe two of those as well. A new quarterback is a new quarterback, and at least Hoyer was serviceable, if nothing better.

    Ringer may have been overrated, but in Dantonio’s Supreme Offensive Gameplan, he didn’t see the need to, like, give any of the other guys the ball, so 1) they’re all less experienced than they should be, and 2) they’re all clearly inferior to Ringer, or they would have played.

  19. Tim says...

    4204isnotcrazy, you think we win the toughest 3 games (probably) on our schedule, but lose to Purdue? Uh…

  20. I know nothing says...

    Okay, so Lewis has been booted off of Indiana’s team, (I hear really enjoys other ‘stuff’ more than football) so they go from crappy, to way really shitty now. And someone said that Iowa loses the wr Brodell. Didn’t check that yet, but got it from a hawkeye fan.

  21. Ralph says...

    “You can count the second half of the Rose Bowl as”

    That takes care of the 2nd half of the Rose Bowl. What about the rest of the 2 1/2 games at the end of the season? That 152 rating wasn’t just for the 2nd half of the USC game.

    “does Juice Williams’s huge passing day against Missouri make him a great passer?”

    Clark was All Big 10 First Team QB. His last 3 games of the season were just as good as any from the 1st half of the season. He doesn’t need to have stats from any one game or half to illustrate him being a good QB.

    But go ahead and spin it how you like. It’s your blog.

  22. Ralph says...

    BTW, Michigan offered LB Khairi Fortt per several sources. You should update your recruiting board.

  23. Tim says...

    You’re really going to pimp games against the amazing defenses of Indiana (#106 in the nation, and by far the worst pass defense in the conference) and Michigan State (#7 in the conference, despite playing Cal, Eastern, FIU in a rainstorm, and Notre Dame in the non-conference) as proof Clark didn’t struggle at the end of the season? Against Indiana, Penn State had by far the worst offensive output of any team that actually beat the Hoosiers, except Minnesota, who we can all agree is no offensive machine.

    Take your FAIL elsewhere, unless you want to use arguments that aren’t, like, stupid.

  24. Ralph says...

    LOL. Okay, so what is your evidence that Clark “tailed off”? The Iowa game, the 4th to last game of the season?

    Also, I’m curious as to why you didn’t use the Illinois/Michigan game as the example for a Juice Williams “huge passing day”. Wouldn’t that game where Illinois “kicked the shiat out of” Michigan have been more familiar to your readers? But I guess facing Michigan’s 87th ranked pass defense, #9 in the conference, isn’t a true test.

  25. Tim says...

    He tailed off by performing poorly against Indiana (worse than the average QB playing the Hoosiers did), and pedestrian against Michigan State (not bad, but again, we’re discussing his being a world-beater, here), and being absolutely flustered during the bowl game until the second half.

    Was he snapping out of the funk in that bowl game? Hopefully for Penn State. Was he in a funk before that? Absolutely. It may have been lingering effects from the concussion (the non-long-term effects usually take a couple months to clear up), and I’m not predicting he’ll be bad next year at all.

    Stop being obsessed with Michigan, Penn State fans.

  26. Ralph says...

    “performing poorly against Indiana”

    20-36, 240 yards, 2 TD, 1 int, 125 pass eff.

    “and pedestrian against Michigan State”

    16-26, 341 yards, 4 TD, 223 pass eff.

    Stop drinking from your air conditioner. You can fill a tanker with the dumb in your posts.

  27. Tim says...

    IU’s opponent pass efficiency (even including Western Kentucky and Murray State, two completely awful teams) was 143.05. Clark’s effiency against IU was 124.33. That is bad, no two ways about it. Couple that with the fact that he only got 3ypc against them, and yes, that isn’t quite terrible, but it is definitely bad.

    Against State, he had 4 rushes for 4 yards. He had a pretty good day passing, but it wasn’t “OMG he’s amazing,” which he most certainly was at the beginning of the year.

    I think Clark’s a great player, and you’ve blown one simple observation about his play in about 3 games completely out of proportion (I guess in typical Penn State fashion, what with being a fanbase that unironically uses terms like “referines”).

  28. Ralph says...

    A 223 pass efficiency rating is “a pretty good day”? “It wasn’t OMG he’s amazing”? You point out his RUSHING STATS? Do you understand passing efficiency?

    Did you by any chance attend the prestigious Retard School at Michigan? You are hilarious. And by hilarious, I mean terrible beyond all comprehension.

    You win.

  29. Tim says...

    Lol delusional PSU fan. Oops, that was redundant, sorry.

  30. I know nothing says...

    You deserve this Tim, as soon as you dropped the ‘referine’ comment, you had to know it would never die! But it has been a little slow around here as of late.

  31. Ralph says...

    Right, right, and calling a 223 passing efficiency day “pedestrian” isnt delusional at all.

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