The Wolverine

May 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Bridging The Gap Jake Ryan's ACL Injury Changes The Look And Potential Of Michigan's Linebacker Corps T By Michael Spath here is a refrain bandied about the hallways of Schembechler Hall dating back to the legendary coach himself — the expectation is for the position. So when Michigan announced in mid-March that linebacker Jake Ryan had torn his ACL and would likely miss the majority of the 2013 season, fifth-year senior Cam Gordon and junior Brennen Beyer both recited the famous statement in describing the monumental task that confronts them in their efforts to replace Ryan. There is another cliché that seems apt — easier said than done. In 2012, Ryan produced 4.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss and 88 total stops, leading Michigan in all three categories. Gordon and Beyer had 3.5 total stops behind the line of scrimmage and 36 total tackles while U-M's returning linebacker corps, sans Ryan, combined for 15.5 tackles for loss and three QB takedowns. Still, no one is lamenting the loss, knowing Michigan must press forward. "Everybody knows how much we love Jake, but you have to be ready for something like that at every position," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. "I am fine with who we're playing with. "Hopefully, our program is getting to the point where you look and the next guy is waiting for that turn." Gordon and Beyer are the first and second options — and it is too early to say definitively in that order — to step in at strongside linebacker. But to fill the void created by Ryan's absence, U-M's entire linebacker corps and all 11 defenders must elevate their performances. "Everyone knows Jake's such an explosive and dominant player, but this is Michigan," senior wide receiver Drew Dileo said. "Like Coach Hoke says, people have to step up, and that's what spring ball is for — for people to compete and fill the roles that need to be filled."

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