Friday, August 2, 2013

Spring and Summer Give Way

BTN stage at the July 27, 2013, BTN Big10K in Chicago. (Fouad Egbaria)

It's been a long spring and summer (well, it's all relative), and so I haven't been doing a whole lot here since the basketball season ended. That is regrettable to me, even if this isn't exactly the most widely read thing in existence, but so it goes. 

My year at Medill is almost up, and I'm in the midst of a hunt for a job in the world of journalism, perhaps a funny thing to mention on, you know, a blog of all things. While I never imagined that I would go into journalism when I first started this thing before my senior year at Michigan in the summer of 2010, I've come to realize that my semi-regular ramblings here have cemented the notion that I can, sometimes, write well about sports, and that I might want to do this for a living. Then again, so does everyone else. 

In any case, while one thing comes to an end, another will soon begin. If you don't know what that thing is, then you are probably in the wrong place. 

This offseason was a strange one. With the looming specter of endless school work and the need to secure a job, paired with the Chicago Bulls' short but exciting playoff run and the Blackhawks' run to yet another Stanley Cup, this offseason flew by with startling swiftness. I'm sitting here on August 2, 2013, and Michigan's next football game is no longer an abstract mile marker on the horizon; it is a certainty. On August 31, Michigan will take the field again. The result will matter. People will be keeping score. 

The offseason has been another installment in the "Era of Good Feelings." Other than ongoing recruiting pyrotechnics, very little has happened, minus the injury of Jake Ryan; even he is miraculously predicted to return at some point in October. With the passing of Big Ten Media Days, we've gotten our fill of meticulously curated hype. Darboh, Chesson, Clark; as always, expectations will weigh on some more than others. 

Michigan has holes to fill and questions to answer, just like every other squad in college football. Who will bring the pass rush? Can Michigan run the ball when it needs to (or at all)? What will Fitzgerald Toussaint bring coming off of a fairly brutal injury? How will Michigan's last line of defense perform without mistake-eraser Jordan Kovacs? Can Devin Gardner take the next step as the unquestioned starter (something which has been in the cards for so long it might have been mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh)?

These are all valid questions, and in considering them we've all surely come up with our individual record predictions. What mine happens to be doesn't really matter, but I think it's safe to say that as long as Michigan avoids disaster at certain positions, 2013 will prove more successful than 2012. 

Michigan gets Ohio State, Nebraska and Notre Dame at home but must travel to Michigan State, Penn State, Northwestern (which might not be as much of a "home" game as it has been) and Iowa, who is down but has given Michigan trouble at Kinnick the last two times. Michigan has yet to lose at home under Brady Hoke, and will need to continue that trend in 2013 if it hopes to make its first trip to Indianapolis. 

And so, we enter this season with a formless batch of wholesale uncertainty mixed with quiet confidence. We know Devin Gardner can play, but can the Wolverines run the ball? We know Michigan can win at home, but can they win on the road? We know Michigan has young talent in spots where it didn't exist in recent years, but will it grow up fast enough to make a difference in 2013? 

Nobody has these answers but the Future, which thus far has a perfect record with respect to not disseminating spoilers. On the flip side, we'll have to keep waiting. Then again, four more weeks is but a moment in time. 

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