Bob Wojnowski, John Niyo and Matt Charboneau look ahead to Saturday's showdown between the Michigan State Spartans and Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. Detroit News
It’s Michigan-Michigan State week and the mailbag is full of questions, not about how ugly is the Paul Bunyan Trophy (admit it — you think it is), and not too many concerns about the night game. What’s everyone’s favorite topic? The quarterbacks, so where we go.
■ Question: If/When Speight is healthy again, and O’Korn keeps winning, do you sit O’Korn, or keep playing him? And why? — @Chef_Chadley
■ Answer: First of all, I’m certain everyone hopes Wilton Speight has a speedy recovery. If John O’Korn is leading the team to victories, it would be hard to sit him. But this is what Jim Harbaugh will do — he will watch the competition in practice and will see where it goes once Speight is back. That doesn’t mean he will automatically sit O’Korn. It means Speight has to earn his way back. You can’t just sit the hot hand, but you also need to evaluate how he has led the team and how they've won games.
■ Q: If O’Korn continues to outperform what Speight did in the first 3.5 games, do we dare questions Jim’s decision to start Speight in week one? — @jonathoncasalou
■ A: Everyone has that right, of course, but there’s no doubt Harbaugh and passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton saw something in Speight during the spring and preseason camp that gave him the edge. Now, maybe you criticize him for not getting O’Korn more playing time in the first three games beyond two series in the opener and spot time after that? But there’s no way he was going to start someone he didn’t think could lead the team.
■ Q: Peters will backup O’Korn versus Sparty, but who backup Peters? If O’Korn & Peters got injured, does UM burn McCaffrey’s redshirt? — @Greymarch
■ A: Harbaugh said this week Dylan McCaffrey is taking the third-string snaps. I’m not mathematically inclined so I’m not going to pretend to know the odds that would force Michigan to dip into its third string to have a quarterback on the field, but it’s got to be low. They’re not going to play him. Not unless those odds play out.
■ Q: How close is Peters? Will O’Korn have same long leash as Wilton? — @PeteBMLC
■ A: I think O’Korn gets some length on that leash, yes. He and Speight were the ones who separated themselves after the “dead heat” going into camp. Is Peters ready? Not early in the season he wasn't, but the last two weeks he was getting the backup’s snaps and he knows he’s the proverbial “one play away.”
■ Q: Why is Michigan different then any other school when it comes to the safety of having a night game or is it just habit and stubbornness? — @MIbeerbaron
■ A: Michigan coaches traditionally have preferred noon or 1 p.m. kickoffs and definitely not night games, so I guess you could say stubbornness until this year when schools no longer had a choice because of the TV deals the Big Ten cut. Now TV dictates. Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel has said Michigan has agreed to three night games in two years and, frankly, I wasn’t aware that schools could make that call. The home game against Minnesota is still a possibility to be a night game if television wants it to be.
■ Q: Which team runs the ball better on Saturday and why is no one talking about this being State’s first road game and it’s at night?! — @umichjenks
■ A: First, the weather looks like it could be crummy and will force both teams to make it a ground game. I think Michigan State has some excellent backs, but Michigan’s run defense is awfully good — it’s ranked No. 1 nationally for a reason. Now, I’m not saying I think Michigan’s run game is crazy good, either. There remain issues with the offensive line, but I think the Wolverines have a better chance to get some rush yards on MSU’s defense than the other way around. And I’m not sure why no one is discussing your other point!
■ Q: Does this season remind you of '97 in that you’d rather watch the defense than the offense? I do wish for a Marcus Ray and Woodson duo though. — @michmike69
■ A: Well, I do prefer to watch this defense, and it was hard to take your eyes off that 1997 defense. But, the ’97 offense, while it wasn’t what you would call flashy, it definitely had my attention more than this one. Let’s see where O’Korn can take this offense now. Will there be shades of Brian Griese? Time will tell.
■ Q: Is the lack of exotic play calls due to Fisch leaving or because the offense can’t perfect the basics? — @Gamecox68
■ A: There really hasn’t been much diversity in the play-calling, has there? I think it’s a function of the youth, particularly the right side of the offensive line that is still learning how to carry its responsibilities. They have got to be able to consistently establish the basics before doing any of the “exotics.” Remember, last year had a lot of veterans at key spots, and this group still needs to show a lot more. But as the offense develops, it will be interesting to see how much Pep Hamilton has up his sleeve.
■ Q: Is Michigan still planning on platooning offensive linemen? — @KrollRon
■ A: Ron, I kind of laughed when he said that after the Purdue game. I mean, who platoons offensive linemen? But the way Jon Runyan Jr. spoke last week, he and Michael Onwenu are still competing for the job, so I would expect to see him coming in for a series here and there.
■ Q: Question: what’s it like to work with @bobwojnowski? — @isaiahhole
■ A: Painful.