Reanimating Michigan Football
But Mattison also has challenges. His most experienced players from last year have graduated. His best playmaker, strong side linebacker Jake Ryan, tore an ACL and was thought to be done for the year, though rumor has it he may be ready to play by mid-October.
Still, even discounting Mattison's magic, there is reason for optimism. True freshman Dymonte Thomas is the probable starter at the nickel (beating out the established and pretty good corner/nickel, Courtney Avery), and his size should help the D line improve on last year's anemic pass rush. Blake Countess, a potential All- Big Ten performer, is back and healthy at corner. The other corner, junior Ray Taylor, should improve over his pretty good sophomore season, but he will be pressed by the deposed Avery. With Thomas Gordon back at safety, the only real sore spot in the secondary should be the strong safety. As of August, redshirt frosh Jeremy Clark and sophomore Jerrod Wilson look most likely, though a true freshman could make a push.
Cam Gordon will pick up Jake Ryan's LB position. While he isn't the sort of playmaker Ryan is, there is every reason to believe he will be more than adequate. Future superstar James Ross (a sophomore) has to be on the field, so Mattison has installed him on the weak side and moved junior Desmond Morgan to the middle, where he'll compete with sophomore Joe Bolden. Both are talented and experienced, and each should push the other to improve.