Devin Gardner (right) takes over at quarterback this season for Denard Robinson (left).
With the college basketball season in the books, College Football Live embarks on its Spring Bus Tour, visiting eight schools. Today we take a trip to check out the Michigan Wolverines.
2012 Season Recap
Michigan began the 2012 season with high expectations -- the Wolverines were ranked No. 8 in the AP preseason poll -- and had two games in the first four weeks against the teams that ended up playing for in the BCS Championship Game.
Eventual national champ and preseason No. 2 Alabama handed Michigan a 41-14 loss to open the season. The Wolverines turned it over three times against the Tide, a sign of things to come.
They committed 11 turnovers in their first four games, including six in South Bend three weeks later against No. 11 Notre Dame. Senior quarterback and Heisman contender Denard Robinson was responsible for five of the six turnovers, and 12 of the 27 that Michigan committed last season.
Robinson was injured against Nebraska in October, opening the door for Devin Gardner to step in at QB. Michigan won Gardner’s first three games at the helm and he’s the biggest reason for optimism in Ann Arbor.
Key Returning Players
Gardner was a more able passer than Robinson in a decent sample size (11 TD, 5 Int, 243.8 Pass YPG over five games). The key to Michigan’s 2013 season is Gardner sustaining that production over a full season.
Gardner’s favorite target, Jeremy Gallon will also be back. In the five games with Gardner under center, Gallon had 31 receptions for 511 yards and three touchdowns. Last year’s starting running back, Fitzgerald Toussaint will also be back in the fold.
Taylor Lewan passed up the NFL draft and will be back to protect Gardner’s blindside. Lewan’s presence will be crucial for the Wolverines, who lost three starters along the offensive line.
On defense, S Thomas Gordon, LB Desmond Morgan and LB Jake Ryan are expected to be major contributors -- all three players had at least 80 tackles last season. Michigan’s defense last season allowed 320.0 yards and 19.9 points per game, both in the top 20 nationally.
Michigan opens the season against Central Michigan on August 31 and hosts Notre Dame the following week. This season will be the last time the Irish visit Ann Arbor for the foreseeable future (Notre Dame opted out of its contract with Michigan).
The big one is November 30, when the Wolverines host the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big House. Michigan has lost to Ohio State in eight of the last nine seasons.