The Michigan Wolverines were forced to make some changes on their defense when their best defender, linebacker Jake Ryan, tore his ACL last week during practice. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is wasting no time finding bodies to try and replace him, moving junior defensive end Brennen Beyer to outside linebacker. Will he be able to hold down the position until Ryan returns?
Luckily for the Wolverines, there won’t be too much of a learning curve for Beyer. In 2011, Beyer played linebacker during his freshman season before being moved to rush end last year. In 2012, he started eight games and made 19 tackles with a forced fumble. So far, Mattison has been pleased with Beyer’s transition back to the linebacker position in spring practice.
Beyer’s won’t have to shoulder too much of the responsibility for picking up the slack in Ryan’s absence. He will be used as a rotational player to add depth to the linebacker corps, giving Mattison a much-needed warm-body in the strong-side linebacker position. He’ll bring a boost to Mattison’s blitz packages with his experience rushing the passer and could provide a nice change of pace for the defense on obvious passing situations.
He will likely end up as the primary backup to senior Cam Gordon, who will be counted on after watching his role in the defense diminish over the last two seasons with the arrival of Ryan. Mattison is confident that Gordon will be able to step up and take on the role of starting outside linebacker next fall and has worked to instill that confidence into Gordon as well.
It’s a patchwork situation at linebacker for Michigan in 2013, but Beyer appears ready to step up and provide depth in Ryan’s absence. Will he be enough to keep the Wolverines’ defense together?