The Michigan Wolverines have endured a tough stretch in Ann Arbor over the past few seasons. The team has a new coach in Brady Hoke, and with his new system, there are several players who are key to Michigan's success.
The offense must transition from Rich Rodriquez's spread to Brady Hoke's pro style, but Hoke has proven in the past that he can develop quarterbacks.
The defense has been the achilles heel for this university, and with a more consistent showing from this group; the skies the limit for the Michigan Wolverines.
In Brady Hoke's new 4-3 scheme, Craig Roh will be that physical presence who will be a key helper at stopping the run and demolishing big plays from happening. Roh added some weight during the offseason, which will allow him to play defensive end over outside linebacker.
Roh is a third-year starter, and has appeared in 25 consecutive games. His experience, along with the rest of the defensive line, makes this unit the most important on Michigan's team this season.
Roy Roundtree was a stud last year for the Wolverines. The wide receiver lead the team with 72 catches for 936 and seven touchdowns, and also set the Michigan record for receiving yards in a single game (246) against Illinois (Nov. 6, 2010).
Roundtree is the team's top returning wide receiver from 2009 and 2010, and with Darryl Stonum out now, Roundtree will be counted on even more.
RS Senior Troy Woolfolk was injured last season, but he looks to be a big contributor in 2011. The senior will be relied on heavily to disrupt the big plays that have plagued Michigan's defense over the past few seasons.
Woolfolk started all 12 games in 2009 for the Wolverines, and proved to be versatile by making six starts at safety and six at cornerback.
Ryan Van Bergen will be the anchor in the Wolverines' 4-3 scheme this upcoming season. Van Bergen is listed at 6-6 288, and will be a force against the gigantic Big Ten offensive lines.
Van Bergen is a senior leader on the defensive line, and has been the most consistent out of the group. Van Bergen has made 26 career starts on the line while playing in 37 career games, and pitched his best season last year by racking in 30 tackles and four sacks.
If you haven't already guessed, this Michigan defensive line is the key to their success, and senior Mike Martin is another valuable piece. While at Michigan, Martin has racked up 108 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in his career. Last year, Martin had 36 sacks and 1.5 sacks.
Martin is a three-year letterman, and was also named 2010 All-Big Ten (second team coaches, honorable mention media).
This year Martin is a preseason All Big Team team member.
Denard Robinson is once again the key to Michigan's offense in 2011.
Robinson had a great season in 2010. He passed for 2,570 yards, threw for 18 touchdowns, and completed 62.5 percent of his passes. Robinson, as we all know, is also a dual-threat and ran for 1,702 yards, scored 14 touchdowns and averaged 6.6 rushing yards per attempt.
None of those stats matter, though, because Robinson has to learn Brady Hoke's pro-style offense this season. The offense will require Denard to take most of his snaps under center, which will contribute to there being a less of chance of him being hit.
If Robinson can flourish in the new system, this team could be on their way to a surprising season. Don't count Michigan out just yet, there's a new sheriff in town and he goes by the name of Brady Hoke.