The defense is an enigma. Defensive end Brandon Graham will be an All-Big Ten player, at the least. Defensive tackle Mike Martin is a weight-room beast with remarkably quick feet for a big man playing inside. Michigan has two skilled corners in Boubacar Cissoko and Donovan Warren. Hopefully, J.T. Floyd will be a third. Most teams are fortunate to have one. Plus, first-year corner/safety J.T. Turner may be too good to keep off the field.
But after this the questions begin. The defensive line lacks depth, especially at tackle. Will Campbell, an all-world high school player from Detroit, will be forced into early action. Ryan Van Bergen should be a reasonable complement to Brandon Graham at the other defensive end, but if either is injured, new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson won't have a lot of places to turn. Backup ends Adam Patterson and Greg Banks and starting tackle Renaldo Sagesse all need to step up. Craig Roh, a freshman this fall, is a likely future star, but he needs a year in the weight room.
Over the past couple of years Michigan's linebacking and safety play has ranged from erratic to terrible. This year, there is reason to believe that it will be better. Obi Ezeh, in the middle, is experienced and has shown promise. Jonas Mouton, making the transition from safety to outside linebacker, should be improved over last year. The other linebacking position is up for grabs (Brandon Herron, another weight-room star, has the inside track at the moment). Safety also remains unsettled, with Stevie Brown and Mike Williams being pushed by Troy Woolfolk and frosh Vlad Emilien and Brandon Smith. As much as any position, safety may be the key to the defense this year.