The Michigan Wolverines will officially put an underwhelming 2012 season behind them with the start of spring practices in mid-March. The month-long camp will culminate with the annual spring game on Apr. 13.
11 starters are returning from last year's squad, which finished with an 8-5 overall record and were one game behind the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Legends Division of the Big Ten Conference.
Expectations are going to be high for the Wolverines, though, with more of head coach Brady Hoke's highly-touted recruits playing prominent roles on both sides of the ball.
The spring game does not have an official time or television provider at the moment, but below are all of the details for Michigan's upcoming camp.
Spring Practice Start Date: Thursday, March 16
Spring Game Date: Saturday, April 13
Location: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
TV and Time: TBA
Position Battle to Watch: Offensive Guard
The biggest position of concern for the Wolverines right now is center, however, the depth chart battle Michigan fans should pay attention to during the spring game will be at offensive guard.
Both the left and right guard spots are vacant and could be filled by a number of current Wolverines. The headliner on the left side is former 5-star recruit Kyle Kalis, who redshirted as a true freshman in 2012.
Redshirt junior Joey Burzynski will be Kalis' main competition and should get plenty of reps in the exhibition contest. Early enrollee Kyle Bosch could also make a push for playing time with a strong performance in the mid-April scrimmage.
On the other half of the offensive line, redshirt sophomore Chris Bryant and redshirt freshman Blake Bars are the top candidates to become the starting right guard.
The wild card competitor at the position is redshirt freshman Ben Braden. The Michigan coaches are trying to get Braden on the field as soon as possible and with both tackle spots filled by veterans, the 6'6", 308-pounder's best bet to do that is by sliding inside.
Do not be surprised to see Braden log some time next to returning starters Taylor Lewan or Michael Schofield.
Area in Need of Most Improvement: Running Back
The departure of Michigan's leading rusher for the past three seasons, former dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson, creates a need for significant improvement at running back.
Last season, the Wolverines only managed to get 946 rushing yards out of their backs. The Maize and Blue will need more production from their backfield if they hope to contend for a Big Ten title in 2013.
Fans will not get to see incoming freshman Derrick Green until Michigan's season-opener at the Big House on Aug. 31. Instead, junior Thomas Rawls and redshirt freshman Drake Johnson will be garnering plenty of attention in the offseason tune-up game.
Fellow returnees Justice Hayes and Dennis Norfleet could also spend some time taking hand offs from the Wolverines' quarterbacks on game day.
What to Expect in 2013
Expectations for Michigan will never change under head coach Brady Hoke. The Wolverines will be playing to win a Big Ten title in 2013, and the Maize and Blue have enough talent and experience to do exactly that.
The return of All-American left tackle Taylor Lewan should help Michigan's interior offensive line come together quicker than expected.
Derrick Green is built to play at the college level already and will be a threat to rack up 1,000 yards on the ground if the new linemen perform well.
How many games should Michigan win in 2013?
Rising senior quarterback Devin Gardner is going to carry the load offensively for the Wolverines, but one of Michigan's young wide receivers will need to emerge as a consistent deep threat for this team to reach its full potential.
Defensively, Greg Mattison will have Michigan among the nation's leaders in yards and points allowed for all of the upcoming campaign.
Six starters are returning and plenty of the players who saw time as true freshmen could step in to starting roles without too much of an issue.
Generating a pass rush is the top priority for the Wolverines heading into next season, and sophomore Mario Ojemudia could be the answer Michigan has been looking for on the edge.
The schedule also sets up well for the Wolverines with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Nebraska Cornhuskers and Ohio State Buckeyes all visiting Ann Arbor. Michigan's toughest game away from home will be against the Michigan State Spartans.
All that being said, the Wolverines should be able to finish either 9-3 or 10-2 this season. Michigan will likely need to beat Nebraska and Michigan State to win the Legends Division.
Fans should expect the Wolverines to win their half of the league and make a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game, but national title contention is still a year or two away.
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