The Michigan Wolverines had many weaknesses in the 2012 season. One of the biggest weaknesses was the number of turnovers they had. Michigan gave up 19 interceptions last season, and this cannot fly in the upcoming year. The key for Michigan’s success is to limit turnovers.
Michigan’s schedule is not going to be easy. We already know they are going to face Notre Dame, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Nebraska in 2013. These are all potential top 25 teams. While Michigan is a top 25 team themselves, they have struggled against these teams in the past five years. The games are going to be tough, and they are going to come down to the wire. What Michigan doesn’t need is a repeat of the four interception game against Notre Dame last season. They will need solid drives ending in points or punts.
Devin Gardner, who threw five picks in just five games last season, is a huge piece to this puzzle. With solid numbers like that, Michigan will be fine, as they can handle an interception or two per game. The question is whether he can keep going at that pace.
Let’s also not forget the defenses he played. He faced Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa, Ohio State, and South Carolina. While he didn’t face scrubs, he didn’t face overpowering defenses. He will see a variety of defenses this season. Some of them may be better, some may be worse. He will get tested again and again. If he can keep the pace of one interception per game, this will huge for Michigan.
Fumbling is certainly something that shouldn’t go unnoticed, as they are just as important as interceptions. Fumbles usually give the opposing team a better field position than interceptions. Keeping the football tucked tightly is a fundamental task that Brady Hoke must drive home in practices. I would much rather have interceptions late in a game than a fumble.