As we count down the days of August, there is a growing excitement for football season in Michigan. That is with good reason.
The Detroit Lions are coming off a surprise winning year. They aim to build on that success. The second-ranked Michigan Wolverines have risen to take their place among college football's elite once again. Michigan State has renewed hopes for a comeback season. The Spartans have reloaded, with a new outlook as fall approaches.
Numerous other college teams around the state also prepare to start their seasons. Most notable are the Ferris State Bulldogs, who currently sit atop the Division II rankings. The Bulldogs are back-to-back defending NCAA Division II champions. Ferris State has built a powerhouse program. They are No. 1 in the latest preseason polls as they look to make it three straight national titles.
WIth that being said, here is a sneak preview of the 2023 football season in Michigan.
There is legitimate hope at Detroit Lions training camp in Allen Park this year. They finished last season on a high note. The Lions logged a two-game win streak, which brought their record to 9-8. It was their first winning season since 2017. They barely missed the playoffs.
Head Coach Dan Campbell is a hard-nosed yet intuitive leader. The players seem to buy into his plan. There's a growing sense around the league that they just might be on the right track. This year is vital to their progress. Can Detroit take another step forward?
With a number of new faces on the roster, that remains to be seen. They bid farewell to a couple of familiar names, both starting cornerback Jeff Okudah and running back D'Andre Swift were traded away in the offseason.
By the same token, Detroit signed free agent RB David Montgomery, formerly of the Chicago Bears. Montgomery was the second-leading rusher for Chicago in 2022 behind only fleet-footed QB Justin Fields. At 26-years-old, he should be going into his athletic prime.
In Detroit's run-heavy offense, Montgomery is likely to see plenty of action. He'll share the load with rookie RB Jahmyr Gibbs, among others.
QB Jared Goff is back to lead the Lions attack. The 28-year-old signal caller returns following a strong season under new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. rejoins the Lions after a two-year stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The pride’s offensive line is one of the best in football. In fact, it may be their biggest strength. The interior line has been fortified, which could make them that much better. But there are questions surrounding the defense. No doubt Detroit seeks to solidify the secondary.
Cornerback Cameron Sutton inked a three-year free agent deal in March. Sutton joins fellow new additions Emmanuel Moseley and C.J. Gardner-Johnson in Detroit's defensive backfield. The Gardner-Johnson signing was a huge score. He was tied for the league lead in interceptions (6) last year.
Those three will be joined by other new starters on defense. Defensive Coordinator Aaron Glenn appears to have has his work cut out for him.
The college season starts in just over three weeks. No. 2 Michigan takes the field vs. East Carolina to start their schedule. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh enters his ninth year leading the U of M program. Harbaugh has taken Michigan to two straight College Football Playoff appearances.
That is a noteworthy feat. However, they are not satisfied. The Wolverines want nothing shy of a national championship trophy.
Quarterback J.J. McCarthy is going into his second season as Michigan's top field general. In 2022, McCarthy led the maize and blue to an unblemished 13-0 record and college football's semifinal game. He's got a dynamic on-field presence, and has proven to be a leader on offense.
Michigan adds several skill players to the mix. Still there are questions to be answered. How will first-year playcaller Sherrone Moore handle those responsibilities? Harbaugh's looming suspension casts a dark cloud over Ann Arbor. What effect does it have on the team?
Michigan State is a different story. The Spartans hope to recover after a rough 2022. Head coach Mel Tucker and co. want to move past that 5-7 finish. They restocked in the spring and summer. Redshirt junior QB Noah Kim takes over under center.
MSU lost a lot of talent through the transfer portal. They added some skilled players in the process. The Spartans' D has a lot to prove. Can they rise to the challenge? That question and many more shall be answered this fall.
Ferris State faces a unique challenge among the state of Michigan's college teams. The Bulldogs must stay dialed in to defend their title.
Head Coach Tony Annese offered some insights at GLIAC Media Day last month. As for this year's prospects, he said: "I like our team. I like our competitiveness. I like our experience. [It] should be a good squad."
Annese went on to say: "We've got more depth. Obviously losing some All-Americans and things of that sort, that's hard. But for the most part, we've got good players and we're excited about our opportunity to go out and perform."