The Wolverine

August 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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play.' I just don't see that guy there. That doesn't mean Michigan is not going to be good, but I just don't know. There just doesn't seem like there's a lot of big-play explosive ability there to make a scary good offense." Counterpoint: There's nothing pedestrian about averaging 100 yards per game receiving, and that's precisely what fifth-year senior Jeremy Gallon did over the final five games last season. No less than 31 of his 49 catches and 511 of his 829 yards receiving occurred with redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner at the helm down the stretch. That combo should continue its productivity, especially supplemented by other weapons — namely, a hugely talented sophomore tight end in Devin Funchess, who earned Freshman All-America honors last year, and another sophomore in Amara Darboh who looks ready to become a playmaker. Then there's Gardner himself. The redshirt junior topped 1,000 yards passing in five starts. He demonstrated elusiveness with his feet, a strong arm, and — especially given his clear handle on the starting job — a relentless dedication to improvement throughout the spring and summer months. Point: Dienhart wonders where the running game comes from, with Denard Robinson gone. He reasonably poses the question: "Can they run the ball? We'll see." Counterpoint: The questions are undeniable. Fifth-year senior Fitzgerald Toussaint rushed for 1,000 yards two years ago, but he's coming off a serious leg injury. Michigan features no one other proven standout at the college level. Now, all reports on Toussaint have him coming back strongly. Derrick Green ranked as's No. 1 prep running back in the nation last year. The offensive line is getting better and more physical, and the running game will be bolstered by a greater threat in the passing game. There aren't any guarantees, but many potential answers. Point: Dienhart noted: "Defensively, I ask myself, who are the stars? Jake Ryan would be an obvious choice, but we know he's out until October. Who on the defensive line do you look at and go, 'Man, he's a stud.' I just have a hard time looking at Michigan and jumping up and down with excitement." Counterpoint: Junior defensive end Frank Clark, redshirt sophomore cornerback Blake Countess and sophomore linebacker James Ross are three potential big-time playmakers on the defense. And the emphasis, as always, will be on the unit, not individuals. Clark says this defense will be better than Michigan's in 2011, one that spurred the Wolverines to an 11-2 season. Questions … sure, there are plenty. At the same time, the answers cupboard isn't empty. ❏ Editor John Borton has been with The Wolverine since 1991. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @JB_Wolverine.

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