Michigan fans will get their first look at the 2013 Wolverines when the program holds its Spring Game on Saturday, April 13. Gates at Michigan Stadium open at 10 a.m. ET, with the scrimmage scheduled to kick off at 12:30. BTN will show a tape-delayed broadcast of the game at 9 p.m. ET Saturday night.
The biggest development for the Wolverines in spring practice has been the season-ending injury to linebacker Jake Ryan, who tore his ACL on March 19. The injury to Ryan, who led Michigan in tackles last season and earned second team all-conference accolades, leaves a gaping hole in the middle of Michigan's defense. Senior Cam Gordon and junior Brennan Beyer are the likely choices to replace Ryan in the Michigan lineup, but as SB Nation's Maize n Brew points out, they are far from the only options:
James Ross, a guy of which I'm a huge fan, immediately springs to mind. The linebacker position--especially in relation to the strongside ("Sam"), the middle ("Mike"), or weakside ("Will")--is one that is heavily dependent on instincts and fundamentals (i.e. tackling technique, ability to plug roles).
There is also Joe Bolden, who got a jump on the depth chart in 2012 because he decided to enroll early. Both Ross and Bolden are slated to play mostly at weakside or middle, but the fact that the linebacker position is more dependent on instincts ("how you play the game of football," to use a cliched trope) means that those three positions are almost like zones that the linebackers cover and are generally interchangeable, depending of course on the offense they face. The point: you can move Ross or Bolden to Ryan's position and not see your defense fall apart.
On the offensive side of the ball, head coach Brady Hoke officially hands the keys to junior quarterback Devin Gardner. The former backup to Denard Robinson took over the Michigan offense in November following an injury to Robinson and never gave it back, averaging 244 yards passing and throwing for 11 touchdowns in five starts.
Michigan's planned backup quarterback, Russell Bellomy, also sustained a season-ending knee injury this spring, making the race for the second quarterback position one of the most intriguing in spring camp. True freshman Shane Morris, who is not yet on campus, is expected to compete with walk-on Brian Cleary for the spot, and many observers will be watching Cleary on Saturday to see if he has what it takes to guide the Wolverines' attack.
Because of this, Gardner is obviously wearing a no-contact jersey:
Hoke did not hold a full-fledged spring game in his first two seasons, opting to let the first-team offense and defense scrimmage instead. That could change Saturday. Hoke told reporters that the Wolverines finally have the depth to draft two teams and play a full game.