The 2011 college football season may have just ended, but that doesn't mean that the players and coaches go sit on the couch for seven months. No, first it was the recruiting process, and now it's time to begin preparing for spring practices.
These practices are extremely important, as it will help the coaches answer questions and help them put together their depth chart for the upcoming season. This is also a chance for the younger players to prove themselves and earn more playing time than they probably would have normally received.
Michigan's first practice has yet to be scheduled, but the spring game does take place on April 14th. Here are five things we should be paying attention to when these events take place.
Quarterback Denard Robinson will likely still lead the team in rushing yards, but the Wolverines have a great chance to have one of the top one-two punches in the nation. Running back
Fitzgerald Toussaint really turned it on at the end of the season, as he rushed for over 100 yards in four of the last six games. If Toussaint can get off to a fantastic start the way he ended last year, he'll easily be the top back in the Big Ten and will put up some outstanding numbers.
Michigan is a run-first team with a quarterback that isn't exactly accurate throwing the football, but that doesn't mean you don't need receivers on the field.
Players like Junior Hemmingway, Kelvin Grady, Kevin Koger, Steve Watson and Martavious Odoms have all left the team. That means that there are several players on this team that will need to step up and make plays.
Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon will be the starters heading into Week 1, but other players need to emerge to provide much-needed depth.
Defensive line is another area of concern for the Wolverines. Losing defensive tackle Mike Martin is really going to hurt, as well as Ryan Van Bergan, who led the team with 5.5 sacks last year. They also lost lineman Will Heininger, who was a starter on the defensive line last season.
Michigan was able to make such an improvement in one year because of their solid defense. Losing key players on the defensive line doesn't help this team moving forward. Much like at the receiver position, players will need to step up on the line and help contribute right away.
Molk was a four-year center at Michigan and was considered one of the top centers in all of college football. Having a center you can rely on is extremely important, and as of right now, there is no candidate that the Wolverines can trust.
Rocko Khoury is likely the favorite, but he had problems in the Sugar Bowl snapping the ball correctly. Ricky Barnum played the guard position last year, but he is more than capable of filling the hole at center if Khoury can't get things straightened out.
This is a position to keep an eye on going into the spring.
Robinson is without a doubt one of the most exciting players in all of college football. But he has to limit the mistakes he makes on the field. In three seasons, he's thrown a combined total of 30 interceptions, which simply isn't going to get it done. He is the main reason this team wins games, but he can also be the reason they lose them with the careless decisions he makes on the field.
If Robinson can limit the amount of interceptions he throws, Michigan will not only be better off as a team, Robinson will also receive an invite to New York at the end of the year.
Randy Chambers is a B/R featured columnist that covers college football and the NFL. You can contact him @Randy_Chambers or Randy.Chambers7@yahoo.com.