Head Coach — Brady Hoke (3rd year)
2012 Record 8-5 (6-2)
The Michigan Wolverines finished their 2012 campaign with a record of 8-5, while going 6-2 in Big Ten play. The Wolverines had to finish out the season with Devin Gardner under center, but what looked like a setback proved to be an exciting preview of things to come.
Look for Brady Hoke to instill his physical mentality and his pro-style approach to the game fully this season, and with the talented Gardner under center, this team will be a tough out for anyone, especially teams unfortunate enough to travel to Ann Arbor.
Devin Gardner will be under center for Michigan this season, and if Gardner can continue his success from late last year, this team could possess one of the most dangerous offenses in the Big Ten. Gardner started just five games for the Wolverines last year, but the Wolverine QB threw for more than 1,100 yards and eleven scores, while still rushing for seven.
The Wolverines have one of the elite recruits in their backfield from this past class in Derrick Green, but Green will have to beat out Fitzgerald Toussaint for playing time. Toussaint didn’t perform up to expectations last season, and if Fitz struggles again in 2013, look for Green to see some extended playing time.
Gardner has some targets to thitem to, in Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo, but the Wolverines are still looking for additional help on the outside, as well as depth this season at the wide outs.
The offensive line is a huge problem for the Wolverines, as the only returning starter from a year ago is Taylor Lewan. Lewan is solid, but the rest of this group is unproven, and if this pro-style system in Ann Arbor is going to work, this unit must gel, and do so quickly.
Before Brady Hoke and company got here, the Wolverine defense was a laughing stock. Now the Wolverines are back to playing outstanding defense again, and should Gardner and this offense struggle, the defensive unit will likely keep them in most games.
Up front the Wolverines do return just one starter from a season ago in Quinton Washington, but the players and fans seem to love Frank Clark, so look for Clark to make an immediate impact from his end spot.
The linebacking corp. lost Jake Ryan due to an injury, and Ryan will likely miss at least the first half of the season. The Wolverines are looking to speed things up in the defensive backfield, to counter some of these spread looks they will be seeing. There is some experience within this group, but until Ryan gets back you could see some confusion, especially early on with new faces and others switching positions.
Taylor and Gordon are solid in the secondary, but again this is a unit that needs depth, and while there is definitely talent here, the lack of experience is evident and could prove costly, especially early on.
The Wolverines are picked by many to face the Buckeyes in the Big Ten title game, and while they do certainly have a shot, I am not completely sold.
Don’t get me wrong, this is an excellent team, but the lack of experience on the offensive line, as well as injuries and newbies on the defensive side of the ball raise my concern.
Likely Michigan’s meeting with the Huskers on Oct. 27 will decide the Legends winner.