The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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���But it���s not like the door is wide open ��� you have to earn that job. When he gets his opportunity in practice he has to produce and show he���s a guy that make plays, and go in there consistently and get the job done.��� U-M has used three linebackers on the weakside. Herron started the opener and was the National Defensive Player of the Week after scoring on a pair of touchdown returns ��� he had a 29-yard fumble recovery in addition to his interception. However, he missed each of Michigan���s next seven games with an injury. The Maize and Blue tried true freshman Desmond Morgan against Notre Dame and then settled on Hawthorne in week three. The Pahokee, Fla., native started the next five games, and then Morgan moved back into a starting role against Purdue. ���I���m repeating myself, but we need more consistency in their play,��� Smith said. ���Both of them get out there and do some good things and then all of a sudden don���t do some good things. ���That���s a bottom line for all the linebackers ��� be more consistent in what we���re doing. We���ll have some good plays, and then we have a series of bad plays. That���s a lack of the focus and consistency that they need to have. ���I have no complaint with our kids��� effort. The guys are trying to be better. We just keep making the same mistakes, and that���s something we can���t do. We have to correct those things and move on to the next challenge if we���re going to realize our goals as a team.��� Youth Is Served: The Future Is Bright At Linebacker In 2012, Michigan will return seven linebackers from its les, ranking 11th among Wolverines. current two-deep while welcoming four newcomers, includRyan is at his best when he���s coming off the edge, and it is ing four-stars Royce Jenkins-Stone, Joe Bolden and James possible the coaches will move him to rush end (potentially Ross, to the roster. There will be plenty of competition for moving junior Craig Roh to strongside defensive end) to put spots. Here is how the battles at middle linebacker, strongthe best 11 on the field. side linebacker and weakside linebacker could shape up. If this occurs, Gordon is the most logical option to take Middle Linebacker: Redshirt junior Kenny Demens has over the Sam post thanks to the redshirt sophomore���s comstarted 15 consecutive games in the middle dating back to bination of strength, athleticism and intelligence. However, last season, but for all the promise he showed in 2010, DeBeyer has already earned playing time at the position in his mens has not played at a consistently high level this season. true freshman season, while one or two of the 2012 rookies He has notched just 55 tackles in eight games, to rank 15th could also make a play for the starting job. in the Big Ten with 6.9 stops per Weakside Linebacker: game, while recording a measly Michigan has used three diftwo tackles for loss this year. ferent starters at the weakside The 6-1, 248-pounder will post: fifth-year senior Brandon certainly have to stave off chalHerron (one game), Morgan lenges from within the roster (two games) and junior Branwhile the coaches have shown din Hawthorne (five games). they are willing to play true Hawthorne is seeing the field freshmen ��� rookies Desmond extensively for the first time Morgan (two starts) and Brenin his career and is battling nen Beyer have played signifithrough the inconsistencies cant minutes this year ��� providexpected. He has speed and ing an opportunity for someone quickness but is limited by his like Bolden to usurp Demens. size (6-0, 214 pounds). A seasoned middle lineMorgan has impressed with backer, however, is a commodhis ability to accelerate his ity, and Demens will be given learning curve within the deevery opportunity to keep his fensive framework. He isn���t job. overwhelmingly big either, at Strongside Linebacker: just 6-1, 220 pounds, but can Redshirt freshman Jake Ryan add a little more weight. has been one of the pleasant Morgan is already challengsurprises of 2011, taking over ing for playing time and will at the position in week one become an even bigger facwhen an injured Cam Gordon tor with an entire offseason could not dress. He has not reto bolster his game. Freshlinquished the role since and man Antonio Poole, redshirthas been a key playmaker for ing this year, and 2012 recruit the Maize and Blue with five Kaleb Ringer also possess the tackles for loss, a sack and two athleticism to excel at the fumble recoveries. Redshirt freshman strongside linebacker Jake Ryan contributed weakside post and will be What Ryan has not been, five tackles for loss, a sack and two fumble recoveries during added to the mix in fall camp though, is a consistent overall Michigan's 7-1 start this season. next year. presence. He has just 19 tack��� Michael Spath Photo by Per Kjeldsen 34��� the wolverine��� ������ November 2011

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