Michigan is dreaming big in coach Jim Harbaugh's 2nd season
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) If anyone makes jokes about Michigan aiming to win its first Big Ten title since 2004 and national championship since 1997, that's exactly the reaction Jim Harbaugh wants.
''If people aren't making fun of you for what your dreams are and what your goals are, then you haven't set those goals and dreams high enough,'' Harbaugh said.
Michigan went 10-3 last season, doubling its wins from the previous year in coach Brady Hoke's final season. The Wolverines surpassed modest expectations, but were humbled by losing to Ohio State for the 11th time in 12 years and heartbroken by a seventh setback in eight games to Michigan State.
Here are some things to watch as Harbaugh begins his second season in Ann Arbor:
Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis, both of whom are primarily used on defense, are expected to take some snaps on offense. And they will likely return some punts and kicks, too.
While Peppers was used on offense to run, catch and throw the ball, Lewis has only been used as a kickoff returner outside of his role as a cornerback. Lewis is thankful his lobbying efforts with Harbaugh appear to have paid off.
''I've been in his ear about playing on offense since he got here,'' Lewis said. ''I've always wanted to do it here to help the team win, and I'm glad it looks like I'm going to get a chance to do it.''
The Wolverines' relative success last season led to Maryland hiring their defensive coordinator, D.J. Durkin, to lead its program. Harbaugh hired Boston College defensive coordinator Don Brown, who helped the Eagles rank among the nation's best defenses even though they won just three games last season.
The Wolverines have a daunting road schedule that includes the Buckeyes, Spartans and Iowa. They do get to host five teams to open the season and play a total of eight games at the Big House. Michigan might be 7-0 on Oct. 29 when it faces Michigan State in East Lansing, where the Wolverines haven't won since 2007. Michigan will close the regular season Nov. 26 at Ohio State, where the Wolverines are winless since 2000.
Michigan opens the season Sept. 3 against Hawaii with Michael Jordan scheduled to be on hand as an honorary captain because the Wolverines are the first football team to wear Jordan Brand apparel.
After everyone gets done looking at Jordan and Harbaugh, they will shift to the player who ends up taking snaps for the maize and blue. Harbaugh appears to have up to four choices for quarterback, but appears to choosing between John O'Korn and Wilton Speight. O'Korn threw 34 touchdowns and started 16 games at Houston before transferring to Michigan and sitting out last year. The 6-foot-6 Speight threw a game-winning touchdown pass late in a game last year at Minnesota in relief of injured starter Jake Rudock.
Harbaugh, who played quarterback at Michigan and in the NFL, has a track record of developing signal callers in college and with the San Francisco 49ers.
''He's the best quarterbacks coach around,'' O'Korn said. ''It's an opportunity of a lifetime.''
Michigan will win 11 games, surpassing last season's total. Loses on the road to rivals Ohio State and Michigan State, though, hold Harbaugh back from having a special season in his second year.
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