Friday, June 10, 2011
Hope and concern: Michigan
By ESPN.com staff
The Hope and Concern series marches on with the Michigan Wolverines.
Biggest reason for hope: Greg Mattison and a clear identity on defense
It might take some time to transform one of the nation's worst defenses, but Michigan is headed in the right direction under Mattison. He's a proven coach with a proven system that immediately resonated with players who looked lost for much of the past three seasons. Michigan can't get much worse on defense, but there's an opportunity to make significant strides this season, especially up front. The Wolverines have some talent and experience in linemen Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen and Craig Roh. They'll need some better luck on the injury front in the secondary and a few breaks to go their way, but Mattison and coach Brady Hoke are providing an identity on defense.
Biggest reason for concern: The kicking game
When you're installing new systems on both sides of the ball, you want to be able to count on the kicking game. The offense might have fewer long scoring plays this year, making it critical to, you know, make a field goal once in a while. But Michigan's situation on special teams looked shaky at best coming out of the spring. Kicker remains a huge question mark, and many hope incoming freshman Matt Wile will be the savior. Punter Will Hagerup did a solid job last season, although Michigan must improve in punt coverage after finishing 84th last season.
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