Bad news, Wolverine fans: Michigan will be without a key contributor in its defensive backfield for one of its biggest games of the season.
Per mlive.com and other outlets, Brady Hoke announced Monday that senior corner-slash-safety Courtney Avery would miss two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last Saturday. Avery was elected one of the Wolverines' four captains for the 2012 season.
But he won't be able to help his team on the field until its Week 3 matchup with Akron. That shouldn't much matter in Michigan's in-state opener against Central Michigan this Saturday -- the Wolverines are currently 31-and-a-half-point favorites over the Chippewas. But it might matter very much in Michigan's top-25 Week 2 showdown against none other than Notre Dame .
Avery had been in the mix to start at both corner and free safety during fall camp, and would likely have been the team's starting nickelback (at minimum) against both CMU and the Irish. Juniors Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor are now all-but-locks to start at corner, with sophomore Jarrod Wilson taking over at free safety.
Avery has appeared in 39 games in his Michigan career, starting 13, making him one of the defense's most experienced players.
Notre Dame won't bring the most fearsome attack the Wolverines will see in 2013 to the Big House Sept. 7 (Michigan held the Irish to 13 points in their 2012 meeting, only to score just 6 themselves), but the Irish nonetheless are a critical hurdle to clear if Hoke's team has any designs on a dark horse national title run. Missing one of the Wolverines' veteran leaders and steadiest secondary presences won't help a bit.