Michigan Wolverines: Craig Roh

Michigan season preview

August, 19, 2013
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Can Michigan make the jump from the cusp to an actual Big Ten championship game? A look at the 2013 Wolverines:

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

Coach: Brady Hoke (66-57, 19-7)

2012 record: 8-5

Key losses: QB/RB Denard Robinson; WR Roy Roundtree; RG Patrick Omameh; C Elliott Mealer; DE Craig Roh; DT Will Campbell; MLB Kenny Demens; CB J.T. Floyd; S Jordan Kovacs

[+] EnlargeDerrick Green
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comCould running back Derrick Green be the key to Michigan's season? The touted freshman is expected to compete for the starting job right away.
Key returnees: QB Devin Gardner; RB Fitzgerald Toussaint; WR Jeremy Gallon; TE Devin Funchess; LT Taylor Lewan; RT Michael Schofield; DT Quinton Washington; DE Frank Clark; LB Jake Ryan (injured); LB Desmond Morgan; CB Blake Countess; CB Raymon Taylor; S Thomas Gordon

Newcomer to watch: There are a couple of freshmen who could see major snaps for Michigan, but the most notable is running back Derrick Green. He will push Toussaint for the starting job immediately and could end up as the featured back by the end of the season. The other two freshmen who could see major time are early enrollees: defensive back Dymonte Thomas and tight end Jake Butt. Neither will likely start, but both will be key reserves or used in subpackages.

Biggest games in 2013: Michigan had all of its key games on the road last season. This year, the Wolverines will have their two toughest games at home: Notre Dame on Sept. 7, and Ohio State on Nov. 30 in the regular-season closer. The Buckeyes, though, cap a difficult month for the Wolverines, who have trips to Michigan State on Nov. 2 and Northwestern on Nov. 16.

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: Who will run the ball? As the Wolverines complete their transition to a pro-style offense, they need a capable running back lining up behind quarterback Gardner. Considering the importance of play-action in what they will try to do offensively, they will need a back to gain yards to keep the whole offense balanced and a defense confused. The main candidates are Toussaint and Green, with freshman De'Veon Smith, redshirt freshman Drake Johnson and junior Thomas Rawls also pushing for time.

Forecast: Good. Like most teams that are near the end of a rebuilding phase, depth at certain positions is questionable, which means anything written here would be for naught if Gardner, Gallon or Lewan were injured for any length of time. Provided those three offensive stalwarts stay healthy, the Wolverines have a strong shot at making a run to the Big Ten championship game.

Michigan’s season could come down to whether it can beat Michigan State and Northwestern on the road. It is entirely possible that by the time the Wolverines and Buckeyes play in the regular-season finale that both will have wrapped up divisional titles and Big Ten title game trips. The best news for Michigan in all of this is how the schedule breaks down. After Notre Dame in Week 2, the Wolverines have only one real challenge -- at Penn State -- until November. This will allow a young offensive line to gain confidence and chemistry, and a young defensive line a chance to figure out how to beat Big Ten linemen.

A road win at any of those three places could lift Michigan into a different level, because one of the major issues with coach Brady Hoke has been his inability to win a game of any significance away from Michigan Stadium, where he has yet to lose.
As Michigan’s preseason approaches at the end of this week, WolverineNation takes a look at the 10 players who are most indispensable for the Wolverines this season. This doesn’t mean the most talented players, but rather the players, if Michigan lost them, would be in the most trouble.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It looked like Quinton Washington’s college career was never going to happen, the one-time highly touted prospect from South Carolina languishing on the offensive line and then deep in the defensive line depth his first three years at Michigan.

Even a season ago, it didn’t appear he would play much of a factor on the defensive line. Michigan had Will Campbell (now with the Jets) and some youth it felt really good about.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- How close Michigan is to a potential national championship depends on how well you think the Wolverines’ offensive and defensive lines will play this season.

Using the metrics put forth in the criteria for the past seven national champions, the Wolverines could qualify in a lot of areas -- but likely will fall short in other spots due to their relative inexperience on the offensive line and questions at running back.

Here’s a look at how Michigan could fare this season.

WHERE MICHIGAN SHOULD SUCCEED


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Michigan spring wrap

May, 3, 2013
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2012 record: 8-5

2012 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters: Offense: 6; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 3

Top returners:

QB Devin Gardner, WR Jeremy Gallon, TE Devin Funchess, LT Taylor Lewan, RT Michael Schofield, DT Quinton Washington, LB Desmond Morgan, LB Jake Ryan, CB Raymon Taylor, S Thomas Gordon

Key losses

QB Denard Robinson, WR Roy Roundtree, OG Patrick Omameh, C Elliott Mealer, DE Craig Roh, DT William Campbell, LB Kenny Demens, CB J.T. Floyd, S Jordan Kovacs

2012 statistical leaders

Rushing: Denard Robinson (1,266 yards)

Passing: Denard Robinson (1,319 yards)

Receiving: Jeremy Gallon* (829 yards)

Tackles: Jake Ryan* (88)

Sacks: Jake Ryan* (4.0)

Interceptions: Thomas Gordon* and Raymon Taylor* (2)

Spring answers

1. Defensive line fine: Michigan had to replace a four-year starter in Craig Roh as well as defensive tackle Will Campbell up front. It doesn’t seem like it will be an issue. Michigan has a potential star in Frank Clark at rush end as well as depth at the position with Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton. Keith Heitzman, for now, seems to have locked up a spot at strong side end, but there is a lot of talent there, too. The Wolverines have depth at all four spots and while competitions will continue into the fall, Michigan should be able to rotate at defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s leisure.

2. Devin Gardner’s progression: After the way he played toward the end of last season, there was not much doubt about Gardner as the starter, but Michigan’s coaches appear happy with his growth throughout the offseason. He has developed as a quarterback the way the coaching staff has liked, and this is even more critical because he is the only healthy scholarship quarterback until Shane Morris arrives next month. Gardner's teammates believe in him and he is setting up for a big year.

3. Tight end weapons: Michigan still doesn’t have great depth at tight end, but what the Wolverines do have is a young group of guys who will become big targets for Gardner as the position evolves into a more featured role. Devin Funchess could have a breakout sophomore season and Jake Butt has a similar skill set. A.J. Williams slimmed down as well, perhaps turning him into more than just an extra blocker.

Fall questions

1. Who runs the ball: Michigan was never going to be able to answer this question in the spring with Fitzgerald Toussaint coming off a broken leg and freshmen Derrick Green and Deveon Smith still not on campus. But none of the running backs who participated in spring made a lasting impression on the coaches, meaning if he is healthy, Toussaint will likely receive the first chance at winning the job in the fall.

2. Can Jake Ryan be replaced: Michigan seems confident with its grouping of Brennen Beyer and Cam Gordon at strongside linebacker, but part of what made Ryan Michigan’s best defender was his ability to instinctively be around the ball. Whether or not Beyer or Gordon can do that in games remains to be seen. If the combination of those two can approximate that, Michigan’s defense should be fine.

3. Can the interior of the line hold up: Michigan is replacing both of its guards and its center. While the combination of redshirt sophomore Jack Miller at center and redshirt freshmen Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis at guard has a ton of talent, none have taken a meaningful snap in a game before. How they mesh with returning tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, along with how they connect with each other on combination blocks on the inside, could determine not only Michigan’s running success this fall, but also how many games the Wolverines win in Brady Hoke’s third season.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Roy Roundtree plans to treat tomorrow like he did so many fall weekends in Michigan. He’ll plan on going to bed early tonight.

[+] EnlargeRoy Roundtree
Michael Hickey/Getty ImagesRoy Roundtree is looking forward to running the 40-yard dash at Michigan's Pro Day on Thursday.
Wake up early Thursday. Eat some breakfast and then head for one of the most critical days of his life.

Michigan’s pro day is Thursday and for most of the Wolverines participating, it is their first real chance to prove themselves in a Combine setting in front of scouts. Most of them plan on treating it just like they did when they played football games in Ann Arbor.

“I’m pretty focused on all of the drills because that’s what I’ve been working on since the Outback Bowl,” Roundtree said. “Also been working on my 40. Everybody wants to see if you run fast or run slow.

“The biggest thing is the 40.”

Most of Michigan’s prospects would agree. Only one, Denard Robinson, had the chance to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Others, such as Roundtree, defensive lineman Will Campbell and safety Jordan Kovacs, were able to show off for scouts in various all-star bowl games.

But for the majority of Michigan’s players, this is their first -- and potentially last -- chance to make any sort of impression on the men who will determine their professional futures.

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Depth chart analysis: Strongside end 

January, 16, 2013
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Over the next few weeks, WolverineNation will look at every position on the Michigan roster and give a depth chart analysis of each position on the roster heading into the offseason.

Since Brady Hoke has taken over at Michigan, the strongside end has been a position of production for the Wolverines, from Ryan Van Bergen and Will Heininger in 2011 to Craig Roh last season. Now, though, the Wolverines will likely have a young, inexperienced player manning the spot for the first time in a few seasons.

Who that is will be up for debate.

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Season analysis: Defensive line 

December, 5, 2012
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Connor Dietz Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesFrank Clark (57) got back on track after off-field problems cost him the season opener.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan’s defensive line entered the season as the position with more questions than any other. It had three new starters and one learning a new position in the case of Craig Roh.

With the unknown as the metric, the Wolverines’ defensive line did surprisingly well. There were some obvious flaws and holes -- the middle of the defensive line was spotty at points and the pass rush was non-existent for stretches -- but what could have been a glaring weakness turned into a serviceable group.

Considering what Michigan was working with -- mostly youth and old inexperience other than Roh -- the Wolverines held up well here.

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Michigan 10: End of regular season 

November, 26, 2012
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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.

[+] EnlargeJake Ryan
Lon Horwedel/Icon SMIJake 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.

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Michigan 10: Week 12 

November, 19, 2012
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan had another week and another offensive shift against Iowa, this time bringing back an offense the Wolverines tested briefly last season but employed to a much larger capability Saturday in a 42-17 win over the Hawkeyes.

It showed the true devastation having Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson on the field at the same time could do, and Michigan hasn’t even unleashed all of it yet, as Robinson did not attempt a pass on Saturday.

His new role, which could approximate his NFL future, sent him darting back up the Michigan 10, the Wolverines’ weekly power rankings.

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Denard Robinson will come out of the Michigan Stadium tunnel one final time Saturday morning. He’ll be announced in front of the entirety of the likely 100,000-plus packed inside the stadium, who will be there to give one of the most well-known faces in Michigan history one final goodbye.

[+] EnlargeDevin Gardner, Denard Robinson
Lon Horwedel/Icon SMIWill Devin Gardner, left, and Denard Robinson be celebrating after facing South Carolina's defense?
But that might be it. Once the game starts, Michigan fans might not see him again, so he might not receive the full salute he once dreamed, the likely overwhelming amount of cheering and gratitude a fan base would likely show one of the most electrifying players in Michigan history one last time.

“Denard’s a guy that has thrusted himself into the talk of some of the greats at the University of Michigan,” Michigan defensive end Craig Roh said. “He’s been a guy that since Day 1, has been a huge factor in everything we’ve done. Really just the day-to-day, just the energy that he brings and I’ve almost never seen him in a bad mood.”

You also won’t hear much of Robinson’s thoughts this week, either.

Michigan is not making Robinson, the face of its program the past three seasons as he confounded opponents, wowed crowds and became a marketer’s dream, available to the media this week to discuss his Michigan experience before his final home game.

He might not play, either. Hoke would only say Robinson is “day-to-day” when asking about his availability, whether he’d be used at a role other than running back and also what he thought about whether or not fans would be disappointed not to hear from Robinson before his final home contest.

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Michigan 10: Week 11 power rankings 

November, 12, 2012
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Devin Gardner continued to show he’ll be just fine as the quarterback of the future for Michigan. And as long as Denard Robinson is hurt, Gardner will be the Wolverines’ man in the present, too.

The pro-style attack Gardner and Michigan ran was once again a smart game plan with a lot of options, and one that has ignited a Wolverines offense that had appeared stagnant through the second half of October.

On a day when Michigan’s defense struggled to contain Northwestern’s Kain Colter and Venric Mark, it needed a big day out of its offense, and it got it with Gardner. His play moves him into the top spot in this week’s Michigan 10 (last week's rankings in parentheses).

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Michigan 10: Week 10 power rankings 

November, 5, 2012
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A week ago, Michigan saw one version of what life could be like without Denard Robinson as its quarterback. On Saturday, the Wolverines saw a much different version.

It’ll likely take the Devin Gardner-led offense every time. Gardner’s performance Saturday showed flashes of what Michigan’s offense will look like when it transitions next season to the pro-style O the Wolverines coaches favor and what it could look like with Gardner at quarterback.

It also told Michigan it has a viable option behind Robinson at quarterback -- which was questionable after last week with Gardner at receiver and Russell Bellomy struggling through his first extended action on the road.

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MIchigan 10: Week 9 power rankings 

October, 29, 2012
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Denard RobinsonAP Photo/Dave WeaverWithout Denard Robinson the Michigan offense sputtered against Nebraska.
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Michigan’s run of strong play -- and its hold on the Legends Division and a potential Big Ten championship berth -- ran into a major detour on Saturday when Denard Robinson went down and the Wolverines lost to Nebraska, 23-9.

It was a game which answered many of Michigan’s fears for the season -- what would happen if Robinson were injured and couldn’t return, what could happen if the defense was pressured and passed on too much, and whetherthe running game could get going.

The answers were simple: Not well. Not good enough, and not at all.

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The Michigan 10: Week 8 power rankings 

October, 22, 2012
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Brendan GibbonsAP Photo/Carlos OsorioKicker Brendan Gibbons continues to deliver in the clutch for the Wolveries.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In one day, Michigan vanquished a rival it had not beaten in four seasons, forced the second rushing of the field after a big win in as many seasons, and, perhaps most importantly for the Wolverines, gave themselves control of the Legends division race.

Not a bad day of work, especially when you consider Michigan did it almost completely with defense and special teams.

Those two units comprise the majority of this week’s Michigan 10 -- the Wolverines football power rankings.

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The Michigan 10: Illinois 

October, 15, 2012
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Illinois might be one of the worst teams in the Big Ten this season, and it didn’t help on Saturday when starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was knocked out of the game. But Michigan still did exactly what it needed to do: Win, and win big.

The Wolverines shut out the Illini 45-0 and were led again by Jake Ryan, who is becoming a star this season after being a player in the right position a lot last season.

Due to the defensive dominance, the majority of this week’s Michigan 10 focuses on that side of the ball:

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