Why Michigan’s struggles will help its underclassmen next season

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — As a freshman in 2014, Juwann Bushell-Beatty was part of a Michigan football team that lost seven games, missed a bowl berth for the first time in four years and took plenty of criticism.

Three years later, Michigan has struggled in different facets of the game and has lost two of its last three contests. Bushell-Beatty remembers that 5-7 season in 2014, and considers what it taught him.

“Facing adversity, although you may not want to run into that, I think it teaches you a lot,” said Bushell-Beatty, an offensive lineman. “It helps you shape yourself as a player.”

Michigan’s struggles this season give the Wolverines an opportunity to learn and develop while still winning football games. Michigan’s players from 2014 relied on those struggles to motivate them for a 10-win season in 2015. This underclassmen this year will do the same.

“Nobody wants or likes losing,” wide receiver Grant Perry said. “But losing instills a lot of lessons winning can’t. Whether it’s bouncing back or being able to understand what that feeling is like, and trying not to have that again. No one wants to lose but it’s definitely a big lesson for us. Guys are going to hold onto that and work from that, for sure.”

Bushell-Beatty was one of 18 underclassmen who are now seniors or fifth-year seniors and played on a team that lost seven games in 2014. That group of players includes linebacker Mike McCray, defensive end Chase Winovich, defensive tackle Maurice Hurst and offensive lineman Mason Cole.

Cole started at left tackle as a freshman on an offensive line that gave up 25 sacks, and the Wolverines had 1,954 yards rushing, their second-lowest total in the last five seasons.

Michigan won only once on the road, and its losses in 2014 included Minnesota, Rutgers and Maryland, which aren’t exactly Big Ten Conference powers.

The following season, Michigan won 10 games with much of the same personnel. New coach Jim Harbaugh harnessed his players’ skills and talent. He developed many of them into NFL-caliber players and built their mental toughness.

Michigan thrived in a structure of four-hour practices and under the tutelage of coaches with NFL experience. Its success came with a core group of players that were sophomores and juniors in 2014.

Bushell-Beatty anticipates this group of underclassmen to learn from adversity.

“Winning every year doesn’t really teach you everything,” Bushell-Beatty said. “When you learn from losing games, and trying to come back from upsets and disappointing events in your season, it teaches you to refocus and re-compartmentalize what you have in mind for yourself, personally, and what you want to achieve as a team.

“Learning from those things now will help the younger players on the team, and all of us will learn from this, going forward, I think it’s going to be a positive.”

The post Why Michigan’s struggles will help its underclassmen next season appeared first on Land of 10.

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