There is more to Michigan Wolverines football than who plays quarterback.
Granted, the quarterback situation is a strong part of the discussion, as it should be. Michigan is in the midst of two-week Devin Gardner-Denard Robinson debate that has fans divided on which athlete should start for the remainder of the season.
And while all of this is happening, those in the Wolverines secondary are being overlooked. A few receivers, and even a running back, are being discounted, to an extent.
Linebackers? They've been playing well, too.
It's time to look at what we've failed to address while coach Brady Hoke manages his quarterback tandem.
An overall look (just kickin' the tires)
The Wolverines are 11th overall in total defense, giving up 299 yards per game. An opponent average of 18.2 points per game is noteworthy and puts Michigan at No. 17 on the who's-who list.
Considering Michigan bent but didn't break (nearly broke, though) against a high-flying Northwestern Wildcats offense and kept the Nebraska Cornhuskers from running amok, an average of 299 per game is respectable.
Michigan has played the Alabama Crimson Tide, Air Force Falcons and a Purdue Boilermakers team, averaging 45 points per outing at the time. Michigan's defense has held opponents to 25 or less points seven times. The Wolverines won six of those games (23-9 loss to Huskers).
It should be noted that the Wolverines have allowed just 19 touchdowns, too.
Let's mention a few other things
Michigan ranks 38th in the country on third down and 43rd on fourth down.The Wolverines may be 80th overall in red-zone defense, but they've allowed a paltry eight rushing touchdowns and six passing touchdowns while defending inside their own 20-yard line.
And just for comparison's sake, Alabama (No. 7 in red-zone defense) has given up seven rushing scores and four passing in the red zone.
Those rankings may not seem all that impressive, but it shows that Michigan's defense is in the upper third nationally. Not bad stats.
The guy is playing at a level unmatched by 95 percent of linebackers in college football. Why hasn't there been more attention directed his way? Michigan's presence in the media is fueled by quarterback Denard Robinson; that's understood.
Highlighting Ryan every now and then wouldn't be problem, would it?
Name a linebacker that plays with a high motor each and every down, a player that's around the ball like he was born to chase pigskin and a guy who relishes exchanging paint with a quarterback, and you would have likely just said, "Jake Ryan."
The secondary is primary to success
When Blake Countess fell to the ground against Alabama, the Michigan secondary suffered a worst-case scenario hit. Losing Countess was a death sentence, and Michigan was destined to fall victim to the pass and lose games because of an inability to limit receivers.
So far, that hasn't been the case.
JT Floyd, Raymon Taylor, Courtney Avery, Thomas Gordon and Jordan Kovacs bonded after the loss and forged one of the elite pass-coverage teams in the nation.
Yes, that's right. Michigan has one of the best secondaries in the country.
Because of stingy cover tactics, the Wolverines are No. 21 in passing efficiency, which is exactly what it sounds like: how well they defend the pass and just how successful opponents are when throwing.
And when looking to find the best overall pass defense, one needs to look no further than Michigan, which is tops in college football.
It was about time for Fitz
Fitzgerald Toussaint had a season-high 92 rushing yards this past Saturday in Michigan's 38-31 overtime win over the Wildcats. He needed that in the worst way, a type of game that gave Maize and Blue supporters a little hope that he'll eventually catch fire and be useful down the stretch.
Until Saturday, most were waiting for Thomas Rawls to take over the No. 1 job. Toussaint essentially toned down the argument with 92 yards and a 24-yard touchdown against Northwestern.
Receivers have been playing well
He didn't see much time on the field against Northwestern, but Drew Dileo has been one of Michigan's top wideouts. Roy Roundtree had a game he'll remember forever, finishing with 139 yards from five catches in the 38-31 thriller with the Wildcats.
But what about Jeremy Gallon, arguably the best Michigan has to offer? He had 94 yards from seven receptions.
Michigan's success against Northwestern wasn't solely due to Gardner.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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