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Monday, November 26, 2012
Michigan 10: End of regular season

By Michael Rothstein

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The regular season has concluded for Michigan and one thing is very clear after 12 games for the Wolverines.

Michigan’s defense was very good this season and has the potential to be even better in 2013. The Wolverines’ linebackers, led by Jake Ryan, will have a chance to be the best unit in the Big Ten next season, and with it, defense once again carries the edge in the final regular season edition of the Michigan 10.

Jake Ryan
Jake Ryan was the leader of Michigan's defense in 2012.
1.LB Jake Ryan (3): The redshirt sophomore completed his regular season with another standout performance with nine tackles, two forced fumbles and two tackles for loss (including a sack). Ryan led Michigan in tackles (84), tackles for loss (15), sacks (4.5), quarterback hurries (two) and forced fumbles (five) this season. If he doesn’t win Michigan’s Most Valuable Player award, it would be a surprise.

2.QB Devin Gardner (1): Michigan’s quarterback of the present and future, he struggled a little against Ohio State, completing 11 of 20 passes for 171 yards, a touchdown and an interception while rushing for negative-28 yards and a score. But Gardner also made some good throws and good decisions. He was just hampered by rough offensive line play and difficult play calling.

3.LB Desmond Morgan (NR): When he has been on the field this season (he missed two games and parts of at least one other with injury), he has been a consistent player for the Wolverines. He had a team-high 11 tackles Saturday and 78 this season. He and Ryan, along with freshmen Joe Bolden, James Ross III and Royce Jenkins-Stone, will make a formidable linebacking crew for the next few years.

4.WR Roy Roundtree (5): Lost in Michigan’s offensive mess Saturday was another good game from the fifth-year senior. He had a 75-yard touchdown reception, one of three catches for 92 yards. Now with 28 receptions for 553 yards and three touchdowns this season, he is seventh in career receiving yards at Michigan (2,277), passing Marquise Walker and Jason Avant on Saturday. He is seven yards away from Tai Streets for sixth (2,284), 33 yards from Mario Manningham for fifth (2,310) and 40 yards from David Terrell for fourth (2,317).

5.LB Kenny Demens (4): The senior started the season being pushed by Bolden for his job and ended the regular season one of Michigan’s top defenders, making another nine tackles against Ohio State for 81 on the season, second among all Michigan players. His six tackles for loss is third on the Wolverines behind Ryan and Frank Clark.

6.DE Frank Clark (NR): The sophomore has had a weird season. Suspended for the season-opener after being charged with second-degree home invasion, he returned to eventually start three games, making 25 tackles. He also had nine tackles for loss, three pass breakups and two sacks. With Craig Roh and Will Campbell leaving, he’ll be a big part of the defensive line next year.

7.QB/RB/WR Denard Robinson (2): It is an interesting situation for Michigan now, because as long as Robinson can’t throw, won’t throw or doesn’t have a pass play called for him, he becomes a one-dimensional player at what needs to be, for him, a two-dimensional position. Michigan’s career touchdowns leader (91) and the second-best quarterback rusher in FBS history behind Pat White can still score from anywhere on the field, but where Michigan used him against Ohio State was not to anyone’s advantage despite his 122 yards rushing.

8.WR Jeremy Gallon (6): Michigan’s leading receiver had another good game, catching six passes for 67 yards. He leads the Wolverines with 40 catches and 684 yards and has four or more receptions in each of Gardner’s four main games as quarterback. In the 21 games prior to Gardner’s emergence, he caught more than four passes in a game just three times.

9.DE Craig Roh (NR): The senior had four tackles against Ohio State and quietly put together a good senior season. He had 36 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and a forced fumble. Michigan’s most experienced lineman, he has started every game of his four-year career at three different positions -- both defensive ends and outside linebacker.

10.S Thomas Gordon (9): The redshirt junior had eight tackles Saturday, including a sack. Fourth on Michigan in tackles with 75, Gordon will also be the leader of the secondary next season with the departures of Jordan Kovacs and J.T. Floyd. He always appears to be around big turnovers for the Wolverines.

Dropped out: Jordan Kovacs (7); Thomas Rawls (8)

On the Cusp: Kovacs; Taylor Lewan; Will Campbell; Quinton Washington; Brendan Gibbons