After an abysmal 2008 season of going just 3-9 and missing a bowl game for the first time since 1975, the Wolverines are looking to bounce back with underclassmen and second year head coach Rich Rodriguez's spread offense.
The offseason was filled with transfers, starting with running back Sam McGuffie to Rice and ending with starting quarterback Steven Threet, and decommits. The Wolverines have not dropped the drama that has joined once RichRod came on board last year.
However, with a top 10 recruiting class, according to Rivals.com, Rodriguez has brought in players that fit his system and has begun to transform the Wolverines into the fastest team in the Big Ten. Once Quarterback U, now the spread offense reigns in Ann Arbor as true freshmen Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson will likely share snaps at some point in the season, with Forcier having the advantage due to early enrollment.
Young, skilled slot receivers such as sophomore Martavious Odoms and freshman Jeremy Gallon are likely to have big impacts in the passing game, as well as senior Greg Matthews on the outside. Rodriguez stole four-star recruit Je'ron Stokes from Tennessee late in the process, who could also have an impact as a freshman.
On the other side of the ball, new defensive coordinator and former Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson will have his hands full with a unit that underperformed last season. There are only six returning starters on the defensive side of the ball returning though. Freshmen that could have a big impact include DT Will Campbell and CB/S Justin Turner, both highly recruited.
With all the young talent that Michigan has got the past two seasons, even though they have been transition years, there is nowhere to go but up. It takes time for Rodriguez to get his players in, but once he does, they will be atop the Big Ten once again.
Ohio State and other Big Ten teams struggle with teams that are going to be built like Michigan—all speed. Michigan is an SEC-built team in the Big Ten, and it will pay off come bowl season when they start to win more big games against the teams that are similar to them.
Not only does the 2009 season look for some promise, and by some promise I mean a bowl game, but the future looks even brighter with Michigan back in the National Championship picture within the next few years.