Michigan loses Brandon Graham. That's not a good thing; however, our starting lineup should be stronger up front for one reason. Our Jimmy's and Joe's match our x's and o's.
Our Nose Tackle last season was Mike Martin and our 3 tech DT was Ryan Van Bergen. I expect William Campbell to step in as the Nose, and Martin to move to 3 tech. We will gain about 60-70 pounds at those two positions because of this move.
Hence, Michigan can defend the power run better, and might not have to overcommit to the run as much as in 2009, leaving their secondary and linebackers susceptible to big plays as often.
LaLota and Van Bergen are in this group as well as Greg Banks and Renaldo Sagesse.
Michigan will be a year older, and hopefully be able to at least formulate a two deep. More bodies and experience also.
NT Campbell Sagesse
DT Martin Banks Ash/Talbott
DE Van Bergen LaLota Watson/Wilkins
They lose Steve Brown. This isn't that big of a deal. Brown may be good, but he isn't irreplaceable. Mouton, Ezeh, Herron and Roh all have experience along with Leach.
Craig Roh will bulk up and can play like a stand up rush DE, to help our DL and pass rush, again adding more size to the front seven.
Getting pushed around will be less of a problem. Expect Fitzgerald and Demens to take on larger roles as both are legitimate LBS. Demens has a lot of what you look for in a solid MIKE LB, and Fitz is maybe the best traditional/conventional LB on the team.
More upperclassmen across the board will help. Keep in mind Isaiah Bell was an UA AA and will be joined by a Hawthorne and Jones as guys who reportedly have grown significantly larger and stronger. This may not be exactly what it looks like, but you get the idea.
MIKE Ezeh Demens/Leach
WILL Mouton Fitzgerald
SAM Bell Hawthorne/Jones OLB Roh Herron
Michigan loses Donovan Warren, and this group concerns me the most right now. Still, we have three returning starters: Woolfolk, Williams, and Kovacs.
These guys were young last season, and we also add Justin Turner and Vladimir Emilien to the list along with JT Floyd, Thomas Gordon and Teric Jones. Emilien is legit, and Turner might be just as good as Warren.
I'm not sure this group will be significantly better than last year's group, but it will be better. It's older across the board, and Turner is a SERIOUS talent. Remember that Warren started as a true frosh and did a really good job.
With all the DBS coming in Marvin Robinson, Cullen Christian (AA), and possibly Sean Parker/ Tony Grimes/ Rashad Knight/ Dior Mathis? This group may have some depth behind for the seven or eight guys already in the program.
CB Woolfolk Floyd/J. Rogers
CB Turner Christian/Teric Jones
SS Williams Gordon/ Parker?
FS Kovacs Emilien/M. Robinson
Keep in mind Michigan had five HS All-Americans in our 2009 class on defense, and so those guys will play a bigger role. This 2010 class has what is shaping up to be an excellent final class on defense on paper.
If you look at the depth chart and experience level last fall vs. this year, this season should be better. Plus, GERG is back. Continuity will be another key.
In conclusion, experience, depth, better size and continuity are reasons to expect a better defense in 2010, even if only slightly better.