Big Game Analysis Returning Starters Report:
Talent, Maturity and experience matter: The teams that possess all three of these measures are more likely to have success.
For example Michigan who ranks number one returns 86% of its starters (including transfer Shea Patterson who was a starter at QB for Mississippi in 2017). In 2017 Michigan was number seven in total team talent according to 247 Sports Total Team talent tool. The roster before this last recruiting cycle was added included (3) five stars and (46), four star players. Michigan has been steadilly building depth at all positions with its offensive line being a major focus. Michigan returns four offensive line starters in 2018.
Michigan's defense as a whole has been stout in two years under Don Brown who took over following the 2015 season when DJ Durkin left to take the Maryland head coaching job. The defensive front coached by Greg Mattison is deep with talent and returns two all Big Ten players Chase Winnovich and Rashan Gary.
Winnovich came to Michigan as a three star player and even switched to offense and tried out as a tight end in 2015 before finally moving back to defense. His quickness when rushing the QB and his ability to move laterally when guarding the edge is the perfect compliment to what Rashan Gary is also able to do opposite side of Winnovich.
Michigan also has a number of four star players that can replace MO hurst who graduated and was drafted in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft in 2018.
The list can go on and on for the Michigan Defense. The secondary is loaded with talent David Long and Lavert Hill are both potential All American players and future first round draft prospects.
In other Michigan football news, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. lists Bush Jr. as the best underclassman linebacker in the country in his first 2019 NFL Draft rankings.
Junior quarterback Shea Patterson: No. 3 underclassman quarterback
Junior offensive guard Ben Bredeson: No. 3 underclassman guard
Fifth-year senior defensive end Chase Winovich: No. 5 senior defensive end
Junior cornerback Lavert Hill: No. 4 underclassman cornerback
Hudson: No. 2 underclassman safety
Redshirt sophomore kicker Quinn Nordin: No. 2 underclassman kicker
Michigan's 2018 defense has the potential to produce two All American players at each level starting with the two defensive ends Rashan Gary, Chase Winnovich, linebackers Devin Bush, (LB hybrid) Khaleke Hudson, both corners Lavert Hill, and David Long. Michigans' defense is on the verge of something special.
Washington is ranked number two: Washington, like Michigan, returns 81% of their defense, a starting QB and three out of five offensive line starters. Washington's 247 Sports Total Talent ranking as of 2017 was number 24. The Huskies began the 2017 season with (23) four star and (55) three-star players on the roster. Washington is not entirely on the same level as Michigan regarding total talent, but they return all of the ingredients necessary to make another Pac 12 Title run in 2018.
Most intriguing team that lost the most Starters:
Penn State Has had a nice run the last few years winning a Big Ten Title two season ago and then winning 11 games a year ago and finishing 2nd in the Big Ten East. Penn State lost a lot of talent from their 2017 roster including the best player Penn State has had in 25-year's Saquan Barkley, Former volleyball, basketball, jump ball enthusiast Tight End Mike Gesicki, and the speedy WR Daesean Hamilton. Penn State does return five offensive line starters from 2017, and they have another five-star talent, Miles Sanders, to replace Saquan Barkley in the backfield. They also return senior and projected all-Big Ten QB Trace McSorley.
The Penn States lost its phenomenal offensive coordinator from 2017 (Joe Moorhead) who is now the head coach at Mississippi State. Moorhead has been replaced by Ricky Rahne who has been on Penn States staff since 2014. Here is a quote about Rahne from Penn Live,
Rahne enters his first season leading the offensive after spending the previous four with Penn State as the passing game coordinator under Moorhead. He's been with Franklin since 2006 at Kansas State.
Rahne is familiar with the offense and took over as OC in the bowl game, and Penn State appeared to do just fine against Washington in the Fiesta Bowl.
Penn State's 2018 question marks are on the defense. The Nittany Lions return only two starters on defense, and defensive coordinator Brent Pry has his biggest test yet as the Lions must replace nine Starters from 2017. Michigan's defense faced a similar scenario in 2017 when they returned one starter on defense. Don Brown got the most out of his young talent by molding them into a top five defense, but in the big games, the Michigan defense would sometimes cave giving up leads, or big plays by playing too aggressively. We are going to find out this year how good Penn State is at developing defensive players.
I expect Penn State to be in a few shootouts in 2018 because of their youth on defense. The Lion's return their starting QB, and the importance of keeping McSorley upright (unlike Michigan's Wilton Speight) in 2017 will play a huge role in the 2018 win-loss totals for Penn State.
Team that under Achieved in 2017 with most starters returning
The Florida Gators are a sleeping giant awaiting the right coaching staff? Dan Mullen takes over a team that returns 72% of its starters from 2017 including ten starters from the offensive side of the ball. Mullen has been given a moldable template that he can develop and win with right away in 2018. Florida has always recruited well, and the cupboard is not bare according to the 247 Total Talent ranking as of last September 2017 Florida was ranked 17th. Florida's roster last year had (2) five star's, (26) four stars and (56) three stars.
Mullen brought his staff with him from Mississippi State that has achieved more with less than any other team in the SEC. According to 247 Sports Total Team rankings in 2017, MSU ranked number 25 in total talent with (1) five star, (15) four star's, and 57 three stars. The glaring difference between the recent recruiting at Florida compared to MSU is program prestige. If Mullen can successfully utilize the current talent on the roster and parlay it into a ten win season in 2018, Florida's recruiting will begin to take off and rise into the top ten. Florida is currently number 30 for the 2019 recruiting cycle with zero five stars and four five stars; this can change in a hurry if they win immediately in 2018.