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July 28, 2014

Jake Ryan has one game on his mind: App. State

Jake Ryan has moved from strongside linebacker to middle linebacker, and in doing so he leaves a position in which he recorded 31.5 tackles for loss. But Ryan is confident he will continue to make plays and that teammates will also produce at a high level.

"Let's hope it's still me making big plays," he said Monday at Big Ten Media Days. "[Seniors] Brennen Beyer, Frank Clark, all those defensive linemen, [junior] Mario Ojemudia, [sophomore] Taco Charlton are all really good players that are going to perform for us.

"There will be a change but it was good for our team moving me to middle."

Ryan reiterated that he didn't seek out the move but was excited to transition after the coaches explained their decision to him.

"I like it. I've gotten to know the position over spring ball and this summer," he said. "Coach [Greg] Mattison has really helped me out with that.

"I played MIKE in high school a little bit so it's not a big challenge for me. Where you're keying before every single play will be a little different for me. I'll be looking at the running back and the tight end from now on."

The 6-3, 236-pound senior expounded on a vast array of subjects in the first of two days of Big Ten Media Day, reflecting on the fact that this is his last go-around in Chicago.

"This is it," he said. "Playing with my team for the last time, playing with these guys that I have grown to know for five years will be the biggest thing for me this season."

That season starts Aug. 30 when Appalachian State arrives in Ann Arbor, and that game, and that game alone, has Ryan's entire focus.

"They're a whole different team and we're a whole different team, and we're going to go into that game like every other game," he said.

Asked about Michigan State, Ryan responded: "It's a rivalry and one of the biggest games, but we're focused on Appalachian State."

Asked about Ohio State, Ryan responded: "I'm going to focus on Appalachian State if you have any questions on them."

And that was that. Ryan wasn't dismissive, but he understands that last year's team did not do a great job bringing the same energy week after week, performing like a top-10 team against Notre Dame but failing to show up a week later against Akron.

"We're going to take every single game like it's the only game on our schedule," he said.

Notebook

  • Ryan has really been impressed with the offense, noting that quarterback Devin Gardner, especially has really matured.

    "He's running the offense really well," Ryan said. "Coach [Doug] Nussmeier is doing a great job with the guys. Devin has the guys in the film room, coaching them up. It will be fun to watch."

    Ryan was asked about Gardner's history at wide receiver and said he's glad the fifth-year senior is at QB.

    "I told Devin the other day, he was a really tough receiver to play against because he has these long strides and he can stop on a dime," Ryan said. "He's just a great player and great all-around kid as well."

  • Michigan can go four deep along the defensive line, three deep at linebacker and three deep in the secondary. With that much competition, Ryan believes the defense should be the best he's ever played on.

  • 7-6 wasn't good enough a year ago, and the Wolverines are not ducking the pressure to perform this season.

    "It's Michigan football and we have high expectations. The fans do and we do," he said.




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