The 2013 Michigan Wolverines Football Preview turns its attention to the defense and the linebacking corps. Despite losing Jake Ryan to an ACL injury in spring practice, the linebackers should still easily be the strength of the Michigan defense. The Michigan Wolverines depth at linebacker in 2012 will certainly help them recover from the early season adversity.
Jake Ryan – Junior – Strong Side
Ryan was the defensive leader of the team last year. When he went down with an ACL tear in spring practice fans feared they would not have their star defensive player on the field in 2013. However, Head Coach Brady Hoke says Ryan is ahead of schedule with his rehab and should play some time in October. That means some other players on the Michigan Defense will have to step.
Cam Gordon – Senior – Strong Side
Gordon was identified by defensive coordinator Greg Mattison as a key player that needs to step up to fill the void left by Jake Ryan.
“As always at Michigan, there’s a senior like Cam Gordon who just, OK, it’s senior year,’ ” Mattison said It’s time for him to step up and be a Michigan defensive football player.”
Brennen Beyer – Junior – Strong Side
Beyer is the other player that could see time at the strong side in place of Jake Ryan. Brennen Beyer and Cam Gordon were splitting reps on the strong side position in spring practice. Beyer could surpass Gordon on the depth chart by performing well in training camp.
Desmond Morgan – Junior – Weak Side
Morgan is a returning starter and will be the default leader of the linebacking corps in the absence of Jake Ryan. Last year Morgan played the weak side but took much of his reps in the middle during spring practice. Morgan said this of the move to MLive
They want us to be interchangeable — they want to put the best two guys on the field no matter what the situation is. One guy goes down, they don’t want to go to the next MIKE or the next WILL, they want to go to the next best linebacker. That’s what all of our mindset is.”
Although Desmond Morgan may be learning the middle linebacker spot, chances are he will start on the weak side where he has started 17 games. However with practice in the middle that does give defensive coordinator Greg Mattison some flexibility when game planning.
Joe Bolden – Sophomore – Middle LB
Joe Bolden was taking reps on the weak side during spring practice to help the defense more versatility. That said, Bolden was a effective understudy for Kenny Demens last season and is the heir apparent to replace him barring further injury to the linebacking corps.
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