Michigan first-year outside linebackers coach Roy Manning had it easy when he first arrived, in charge of coaching all-conference standout Jake Ryan, but with Ryan out with an ACL injury, Manning has to get his replacements up to speed, and he's confident they will be.
Fifth-year senior Cam Gordon appeared to be the first man up but junior Brennen Beyer played well in the spring after moving to the SAM linebacker post from weakside defensive end.
"Beyer is an experienced guy," Manning said in an interview with WTKA as part of the Mott Takeover. "He's done a great job; the transition has been seamless for him. He did the things that made him successful in the past. He's a sharp kid and one of the hardest workers on our entire team."
Gordon is more athletic than Beyer and could be an asset on third down especially, as a pass rusher.
Manning can identify with Gordon, getting his best opportunity to impact, and making good on it, as a fifth-year senior.
"Cam Gordon is really motivated," Manning said. "He should be playing his best ball.
"I was really impressed with how he ran, how he played with passion and fire.
"I expect a lot from both of those guys. We have a saying here at Michigan that the expectation is for the position, and this is the perfect example of that. We can't fall off or lose anything. One guy goes down and we have to hold the rope."
Head coach Brady Hoke said in the spring that he expected Ryan to return from his ACL injury in time to play this season, perhaps even by the end of October.
"I definitely expect Jake to make a full recovery and get back out there," Manning said.
As for Manning, he couldn't be more excited about being back at Michigan after playing from 2001-04 and serving as a graduate assistant in 2011.
"When Coach Hoke called, I was like, 'Who left?' because when I was a GA, I wanted to get back here but I didn't think that would happen for awhile," he said. "I thought this would be the end-all stop for a lot of guys."