The spring superlatives series, which examines the strongest and weakest positions for each Big Ten team, marches on with Michigan.
Arguably no team in the Big Ten needs a strong spring more than the Wolverines, who must answer questions on defense after dropping their final seven Big Ten games last fall. It doesn't help that Michigan loses its top two defenders: Big Ten co-MVP Brandon Graham at defensive end and All-Big Ten selection Donovan Warren at cornerback. The Wolverines lose a few contributors on offense but still should be dangerous on that side this fall.
Strongest position: Offensive line
Key returnees: G Stephen Schilling, C David Molk, T Perry Dorrestein, T Mark Huyge, G Patrick Omaneh, G John Ferrara
Key losses: LT Mark Ortmann, G/C David Moosman
The skinny: The Wolverines look solid at all of the offensive skill positions, but head coach Rich Rodriguez is a bit concerned about his outside receivers, and Michigan loses its top two running backs (Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown) from 2009. The offensive line, meanwhile, returns three starters as well as promising redshirt freshmen (Taylor Lewan, Quinton Washington, Michael Schofield). Molk could contend for All-Big Ten honors if he stays healthy, and Michigan should have much more depth this season. Rodriguez is pleased with the physical gains the linemen made during the offseason, and it should translate well to the field this fall.
Weakest position: Secondary
Key returnees: CB/S Troy Woolfolk (46 tackles, 1 pass breakup); S Jordan Kovacs (75 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 1 INT); S Mike Williams (56 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup)
Key losses: Warren (66 tackles, 4 INTs, 7 pass breakups)
The skinny: Michigan loses more at other positions, and the kicking game is a major concern, but the combination of Warren's departure and so many major breakdowns puts the secondary in the spotlight going forward. Woolfolk looks like a good option at one cornerback spot, but the other will be up for grabs, as J.T. Turner, J.T. Floyd and heralded recruit Demar Dorsey all will compete. The competition at the safety spots should be intriguing, as Kovacs, a walk-on, tries to hold off Vladimir Elimien and others. Michigan has enough bodies in the secondary, but the coaches need to identify a combination that works.