Last season was a major disappointment for the Michigan Wolverines' football program. After starting the year ranked 17th in the AP Top 25, the Wolverines finished the season unranked with a 7-6 record.
They were handled in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl by Kansas State to put a capper on matters last year.
Injuries and inconsistent play were the primary culprits in the issues of 2013. But that was then and hope springs eternal before the annual Michigan Spring Game.
Head coach Brady Hoke will work to have his group better prepared to meet the expectations of the fan base, and the program.
Here's the information needed to catch the first publicized practice of the season for the Wolverines.
|Date||Time (ET)||TV Network and Live Stream|
|Sat., April 5||2 p.m.||Big Ten Network/BTN2Go|
Players to Watch
The Wolverines quarterback showed his grit and weaknesses last season. Though he did throw for 2,960 yards and 21 touchdowns, while running for 483 yards and 11 touchdowns, his decision-making was sometimes bewildering.
Some of those poor decisions led to his 11 interceptions and ill-advised scramble attempts. Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com said this about Gardner's struggles:
Gardner had moments of brilliance in 2013, but he also had plenty of struggles. He threw 11 interceptions, had nightmarish showings in losses to Michigan State and Iowa, struggled in wins over UConn and Northwestern (at least in regulation), and had three first-half turnovers in a loss at Penn State.
Perhaps because of some of the issues Gardner has had, Hoke has announced that there will be an open competition for the starting QB position.
That said, Gardner proved to anyone who was watching that he had the heart to lead this football team. Playing with an injured foot that would require offseason surgery, he threw for 451 yards and four touchdowns in the narrow 42-41 loss to Ohio State in the regular season finale.
With that as his last game of the season, he gave Wolverines fans something to look forward to. We'll see if we can see glimpses of his continued maturation in the spring game.
Moving Ryan to inside linebacker could help the Wolverines' entire defense.
Ryan is one of the team's best playmakers on defense, though he was slowed by the recovery from an ACL injury in 2013.
Placing him in the middle has him acting as one of the unit's leaders. It also puts him in more of a read-and-react situation. Per Brian Bennett of ESPN.com, Ryan seems to like his new role:
“It’s been different, because now I’m blitzing up the middle. And last year I was looking at the tight and now I’m reading the running back. But I like it a lot better because you’re in the mix of everything. It’s cool.”
In 2012, Ryan had 16 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. The Wolverines are hoping to see him return to that form for the upcoming season. The spring game might give fans their first clue.