2014 Michigan Football Preview: Linebackers

Previously: Offense: Offensive Line, Running Backs
                    Defense: Defensive Line

The 2014 Michigan Football preview rolls on as we take a look at maybe Michigan's strongest position group.

This could be as good of a year as Michigan has seen at the linebacker position in quite some time. The loss of Cam Gordon should have minimal impact as lots of veterans and experience return. A fully healed Jake Ryan and MIKE, Desmond Morgan at WILL and James Ross at SAM are the veteran returners.

And depth, like Joe Bolden at MIKE, Royce Jenkins-Stone at SAM, Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray are all vying for playing time as well. The argument could be made that this position is as stacked about as much as its been in quite some time. Borderline elite status? They just might be. Just stay healthy.

The key for this group, other than providing the much needed pass rush when its dialed up or pass coverage, is to avoid being torched by spread offenses...Ohio State, Northwestern, K-State, Indiana all did a number on this group last season.

I can't sit here and tell you that those offenses where all just so much better than Michigan's defense, but I think good defense is a mindset. If you have it, its a powerful thing. Great defenses seem to have great linebackers...middle linebackers especially. They're like the quarterbacks of the defense...and with Jake Ryan, I think we have a pretty good senior leader out there.

Ryan's move to middle linebacker has been the only big story of the offseason for this unit. Its a big role and obviously the coaches feel that Ryan is best suited to fill it. Schematically, its light years from playing the SAM. The middle linebacker's role is not only field commander for the defense, but to be integrally involved in every single play, especially runs. Where the ball goes, he goes. I could go into the nuts and bolts a little deeper, but these guys already did.

From February, Ryan spoke to the media about his move to the MIKE position.

There are a lot of "ifs" when you're talking about Michigan's linebacking corps, but it mostly just boils down to how good they can be. I have no doubt they're one of the strongest positions on the entire team, but just how elite are they? Like anywhere else on the field, it depends on a lot of things and other position groups doing their jobs well. But if the mojo can swing Michigan's way, this unit could be magnificent.

No comments

Post a Comment