Examining the 2012 Michigan Football Depth Chart

April 14, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (28) runs the ball at safety Thomas Gordon (30) during the Michigan Spring game at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

The depth chart for September 1st has been released. It has been analyzed and picked through. That doesn't mean we can't take our own look at things. Observations below:

  • The big news is that Fitzgerald Toussaint is the number one running back on the depth chart. What this means for the Alabama game is still unknown. Is Hoke playing a bit of a game with Nick Saban, or has Fitz done enough to earn his way back on the field? My guess is he sits and regains his starting job against Air Force. I also thought the depth chart on the DL would include Jibreel Black at the 3-tech (spoiler alert), so I think we've learned our lesson as far as making up our mind before Hoke lets anyone know wha tis going on.
  • Holy crap, that's a lot of freshmen on the two-deep for the offensive line. Also, walk-ons. Scary. Joey Burzynski continues to garner the favor of the coaching staff and is listed as the backup at both guard spots. How much of this is also gamesmanship and how much of it is legitimate is up for debate. Fort Schembechler, man. It's impenetrable.
  • Either way, any injury on the offensive line could mean a not-so-significant drop in production, and two injuries calls for all out panic.
  • The TE depth chart leads me to believe we won't see much from the TEs this year. This position is probably two full years away from being an every down-ish part of the offense.
  • Gallon is listed as the starter for the second receiver spot, but it is most likely that with Michigan running three-plus receivers on most plays, that it will be Gallon sliding inside in the slot while Devin Gardner or Jerald Robinson getting a run at the other outside position.
  • Devin Gardner is QB2. Receiver move not totally complete.
  • The WDE spot is topped by a guy who entered fall camp practicing at 3-tech and is backed up by a guy who could miss significant time due to legal issues. I just don't know, man.
  • Nathan Brink is listed as the second string defensive tackle. In front of Jibreel Black.. Brink might not even be big enough for SDE, much less the 3-tech spot. This is a weird listing, but Black wasn't really big enough for the spot (see: move back to WDE).
  • The back seven is exactly how everyone imagined. Demens-Ryan-Morgan starting with Bolden-Gordon-Ross backing them up at linebacker. Behind them it is Avery as the first corner off the bench, and a two deep at the safety position that doesn't make me want to cry. Hooray for depth.
  • Hagerup, if order has anything to do with it, has the leg up (HA) in the punting battle, but Wile is close on his heels. Not surprising given Hagerup's upside paired with his consistency issues over the past season.
  • Dennis Norfleet and...Josh Furman returning kicks? Norfleet was a blindingly obvious candidate here, but Furman has thus far been just a collection of recruiting hype and ridiculous athleticism. If he can harness that athletic ability, he might be able to run back the occasional kickoff that he actually gets his hands on thanks to the new rules.

The general theme on defense seems to be bigger while the offensive surprises aren't really a surprise (i.e. there is no depth<> and we already knew that). The shakeup on the defensive line was not foreseen, but ultimately it is unsurprising given what little we knew about the unit coming into camp and how much these players were going to have to adjust to completely new positions. When you have that little return experience and production, sometimes you just have to throw a bunch of crap against the wall and see what sticks. Let's hope all the changes on the line pay off.

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