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Michigan recently signed linebackers coach Chris Partridge to a contract extension.

Michigan football mailbag: Looking at keys to linebacking corps

Rachel Lenzi

Have Michigan football questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Michigan mailbag to talk all things Wolverines. This week, we discuss the linebacking corps, Michigan’s defensive potential for 2018 and Greg Frey’s departure for Florida State.

It seems like Michigan now has tons of speed at the linebacker position, unlike recent years past? — Sam Park, via Twitter (@spark766)

One can never go wrong with speed, especially at linebacker. Michigan loses only one key player in the linebacking corps — fifth-year senior Mike McCray — and returns Khaleke Hudson (who plays at the Viper), Butkus Award finalist Devin Bush Jr., Devin Gil and Josh Uche. Jordan Anthony and Drew Singleton will be key additions to the unit, not just for boosting Michigan’s depth but to accentuate its athleticism.

It’s a strong combination of speed and strength, and Michigan’s younger linebackers also should factor into the fold if they can maximize their spring practice reps.

Michigan also made what’s likely a valuable retention by securing Chris Partridge to a contract extension. Partridge has been key in the development and production of Michigan’s linebackers, as well as invaluable for Michigan in recruiting.

Due to the personnel, will Michigan switch to a more spread-type offense? — Jimmy Bailey, via Facebook

Likely not. If Michigan has to move to anything, it has to be a stronger and more efficient pro-style offense that will include spread formations. It’s one of the reasons that Dan Enos was brought in. His emphasis is on the pro-style offense, even as a receivers coach.

Michigan also has athletes that fit more of the pro-style mold, and that’s the direction college football offenses head. The key here for Michigan will be how it evolves its offense.

How powerful will the Michigan defense be in 2018? — Justin Doroslovac, via Facebook

If recent history holds, Michigan’s defense won’t miss a beat. The Wolverines return all but two starters for 2018, including defensive ends Chase Winovich and Rashan Gary, and viper/linebacker Khaleke Hudson.

Winovich’s return definitely buoys the defense, and the secondary will be a year older. Experience is always helpful. Furthermore, Sporting News projects Gary and Winovich as potential first-round picks, and NFL writer Bob McGinn, who is based in Wisconsin, also wrote last month that scouts project Gary as a top-5 pick in 2019.

The question that needs to be asked, though, is, “How will the 2018 offense support the defense?” Too many times in 2017 we saw Michigan’s defense dominate and bail out the offense, and that likely wore on the defense in the later weeks of the season.

Who do you think may replace Greg Frey, and what do you think of him leaving? — Jermaine Jones, via Facebook

Right now, Michigan’s coaching staff is at 10 assistants and coordinators. NCAA rules recently allowed FBS staffs to expand their staffs to 10 position coaches.

So there may not be a replacement for Frey as an offensive line coach. Those responsibilities fall under Tim Drevno’s title as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Also, there’s a belief that Michigan’s offensive staff already might have too many proverbial hands in the bucket.

I’m not surprised that Frey left, but surprised at the brevity of his tenure. He’s a Florida State alum with plenty of ties to the Sunshine State (he’s originally from Clearwater, Fla., west of Tampa — read more here about Frey), with aspirations to become a head coach.

Florida State, however, has not officially announced Frey’s hire, though Frey has updated his Twitter feed (@CoachFreyFSU) accordingly.

Have a question about Michigan football? Tweet us @Landof10Mich and we’ll try to answer your question in a future mailbag. Check to see if your question already was answered by reading previous Michigan football mailbags here.