Position superlatives: Michigan

March, 6, 2009
3/06/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The superlatives move on to Michigan, a team still dealing with several obvious weaknesses, but boasting more strengths than it did a year ago.

Quarterback remains a question mark for the Wolverines, but they should be stronger at the other spots on offense. The defense gets a makeover up front and must adjust to a new coordinator (Greg Robinson) and a different scheme.

Strongest position -- Running back

Key returnees: Senior Brandon Minor, senior Carlos Brown, sophomore Michael Shaw, senior Kevin Grady

Key departures: Sam McGuffie (118 carries, 486 yards, 3 touchdowns)

The skinny: The growing pains should continue at quarterback, but this group of running backs, along with a more seasoned offensive line, should lighten the load this season. Minor finished 2008 strong and enters the fall as an All-Big Ten candidate. Shaw averaged 5.1 yards a carry as a freshman and should only get better. Brown provides another threat if he can stay healthy. McGuffie's departure shouldn't hurt too much. The wide receiver corps returns virtually intact, and Michigan could be a lot better at linebacker and along the offensive line.

Weakest position -- Quarterback

Key returnees: Junior Nick Sheridan

Key departures: Steven Threet (102 completions, 1,105 pass yards, 9 touchdowns)

The skinny: Tate Forcier very well could be the answer for Michigan, but he'll be a true freshman trying to absorb a somewhat familiar, but more complex offense this spring. Steven Threet wasn't a perfect fit by any means, but he started eight games last fall and would have given head coach Rich Rodriguez some insurance if the two incoming freshmen (Forcier and Denard Robinson) didn't catch on right away. The defensive line also could fit here after the losses of three starters, but end Brandon Graham is a beast and the incoming freshmen should help.

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