Quarterback Devin Gardner, who enters his first season as the full-time starter, believes that his team has what it takes to compete against the likes of Ohio State, a national championship contender, for the Big Ten title.
Gardner said the following about Team 134's chances during a live interview on the Huge Show, according to the Detroit News' Angelique Chengelis:
Ecstatic. That's the one word I can think of that describes this season and how I feel about it....We always have room for improvement, but this is definitely a championship-caliber football team that will win in the Big House against Ohio State. We don't feel we're inferior to anyone in the country, and we're going to give it our all.
Gardner is right. Michigan isn't inferior to any team. Along with the No. 4-ranked recruiting class of 2013, per 247Sports, the Wolverines return offensive lineman Taylor Lewan, an All-American left tackle and certain first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Experienced and steady, seniors Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo figure to give Gardner reliable targets this fall. Gallon and Gardner have the potential to combine for 1,000 or more yards of offense, while Dileo, an unheralded receiver, can provide value as a second option.
In 2012, offensive coordinator Al Borges had a difficult time establishing consistency on the ground. Other than quarterback Denard Robinson, the team didn't have much luck when running the ball, and Fitz Toussaint's lower right leg injury in Week 9 against Iowa certainly didn't help matters.
This year, Borges has a healthy Toussaint, along with Derrick Green, one of the top backs of the 2013 recruiting class. Freshman De'Veon Smith has turned heads in practice, and redshirt sophomore Drake Johnson could contribute to the group's efforts as well.
Options. Michigan has them.
This is the year that coach Brady Hoke truly finds out where Wolverines football is headed.