Why Michigan will improve in '13

Devin Gardner threw for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports

In two years under coach Brady Hoke's leadership, the Michigan Wolverines have tallied multiple notable accomplishments, including double-digit wins in a single season, beating Ohio State (in 2011) for the first time since 2003, notching a Sugar Bowl victory and racking up a top-six showing in the 2013 ESPN recruiting rankings.

As significant as these achievements are, there are issues the Wolverines will have to overcome in order to improve on last season's win total. Michigan returns only 12 starters from last year's squad, a total that is tied for last in the Big Ten. The list of personnel losses includes former Heisman Trophy candidate and quarterback Denard Robinson, vertical threat Roy Roundtree and five of the top nine tacklers on the squad. The Wolverines are also having to deal with an injury to 2012 tackles for loss leader Jake Ryan.

So how can the Maize and Blue improve this season and challenge for a Big Ten championship? One big reason could be the ascension of Devin Gardner to the starting quarterback role for an entire season.

That single move might not seem like enough at first glance, but a closer analysis shows it does have the type of potential to take Michigan's offense to an even higher plane in 2013 than it was during the Robinson era.