Looking through the 2013 Michigan Wolverines Football Roster that features two players each with the numbers 4, 5 ,6 ,7 ,8 , and 9, but no player between 15 and 17 makes a fan wonder what the winningest college football team in the history of the sport is going to look like this year. The face of Michigan Football and the ultimate “Michigan Man” has left the building with both caps: graduation and NFL draft. With QB-Spectaculaire, Denard “Shoelace” Robinson having moved on to the NFL, what can we honestly expect from the Michigan Wolverines this season?
The return of 5-Year LT, Taylor Lewan was a snarling boost to what will be a very young offensive line that has major uncertainty up the middle. Lewan’s partnering tackle, Michael Schofield is fairly unknown, but that won’t last through the season as he and Lewan make Devin Gardner look like a magician.
Oh, Devin Gardner, you say? Gardner has been waiting behind the sacred Shoelace for some time now and even offered his services at wide receiver for the beginning half of last season, where he excelled greatly due to his ridonkulistic athleticism. When Robinson went down against Nebraska last year with an Ulnar nerve injury, Gardner stepped in for the final five games, posting a QB Passer rating of 161.7 and scoring 7 rushing touchdowns to boot. What is behind Devin Gardner is the real issue as Michigan has absolutely zero depth behind him at quarterback. Backup Russell Bellomy is out for the season with an ACL tear, redshirt sophomore, Brian Cleary has no game experience and was only a 2-Star prospect from Rivals (out of 5 stars). The final QB on the roster would be true freshman and golden boy-lefty Shane Morris, which the team would prefer to redshirt, but in the instance of a QB1 injury, that red shirt may burn. Devin Gardner, you must stay healthy!
With Gardner healthy and wreaking havoc on defenses as he should, Michigan’s offense can be one of the best in the nation and will stick with anybody on any Saturday.
Defensively, the Michigan Wolverines have been spotty, but another year in the Greg Mattison defense is going to pay dividends. Mattison, former defensive coordinator for some of those nasty Baltimore Ravens defenses, is a mad genius and has made massive strides since taking over a couple years ago. This defense should be good enough to win games and once wild-man Jake Ryan presumably recovers and returns from an ACL-tear mid-season, this defense should be getting their bellies full with three-and-outs.
The re-emergence of cornerback, Blake Countess, and the true freshman safety/nickelback, Dymonte Thomas, the secondary should be able to recover from the loss of veteran safety Jordan Kovacs. Watch out for Frank Clark. I mean it, watch out for him, he’s going to wreck your life if you think his pass-rush isn’t freaktastic. He’s the popular pick for a breakout season and I am not one to disagree, the man is a man is a man and that man does not like to be blocked. QB-Beware.
As one not entirely inclined to keeping realistic expectations, I will attempt here to keep my lid on. Team 134 ( 134-year tradition!!) should absolutely contend for the Big Ten Championship this year and The Game this November could have major implications for a trip to Indianapolis for the title game. Michigan plays their main competition for the Legends Division, Nebraska, at the Big House this season.
Expect one loss going into The Game on November 30th. It might be this year that beating Ohio would mean a trip to the Big Ten Championship.
Prediction: BCS Bowl Win.