The Wolverines are Iowa's sixth opponent of the year. This will be the Hawkeye's homecoming game and will be played under the lights at Kinnick with a 7:00 kickoff. Michigan is coming off a 3-9 season, the worst since 1962 when the team went 2-7 and the 5th worst ever. However, 2008 was the first year under head coach Rich Rodriguez and the team was learning a whole new system. This year with the spread fully in place and a boat load of offensive starters returning, the Michigan offense should be better than last year when it averaged less than 300 yards per game and only 20.2 points. The defense was less of a problem last year (except in the 4th quarter, giving up 101 points in 12 games), but only 5 starters return in 2009.
Offense: Key Returning Players
Basically the whole offense is returning from last year and every player should at least have some starting experience. RB Brandon Minor led the team in rushing yards last year and scored 9 touchdowns on the ground and 2 receiving. The two leader receivers from 2008, Martavious Odoms and Greg Mathews also return. The two combined for 84 catches for 852 yards. Odoms was also the team's punt return and returned one for a touchdown. The offensive line returns 7 players with starting experience and should be a veteran line with 3 senoirs (LG Tim McAvoy, RG David Moosman, and LT Mark Ortmann).
Offense: Key Losses
The only starter lost is QB Steven Threet who is transferring to Arizona State. Nick Sheridan did start a few games a quarterback, but it will likely be newcomer Tate Forcier that gets the nod as starter.
Defense: Key Returning Players
Michigan has 3 of the 4 leading tacklers on the team returning in 2009. LB Obi Ezeh led the team with 98 tackles in 2008 and another linebacker Jonas Mouton was second with 76. Coming in at fourth was S Stevie Brown with 64 tackles. Also back is DE Brandon Graham who had a team high 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss and CB Donovan Warren.
Defense: Key Losses
The biggest loss on defense is FS Brandon Harrison, who was very disruptive in 2008. Harrison was third on the team in tackles and had 7 tackles for loss with of those sacks. Three solid linemen, DE Tim Jamison, DT Will Johnson, and DT Terrance Taylor, are also gone. Though the impact of their losses should be lessened by the switch to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.
Here is Michigan's spring prospectus.