UM mailbag: QB competition underscores depth

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Wilton Speight

It’s finally here – college football season. With it will come the rash responses to the starting quarterback’s first mistake, second-guessing coaching decisions, and plenty of trash talk between fan bases.

Ain’t it great?

So here’s to a fun season as we open the first Michigan football mailbag of the season (and thanks to those who added the #nbw – Not Bob Wojnowski – tag to your questions):

Question: In your opinion, starting QB? -- @Justitia1543

Answer: I haven’t waffled on this. I’ve always thought it would be Wilton Speight. I think there was some frenzy when Jim Harbaugh at Big Ten media days said there was a “dead heat” among Speight, John O’Korn and Brandon Peters. Pretty sure I rolled my eyes. There has been competition for sure, there always is. I thought Harbaugh’s comment was a way to make sure no one – Speight – gets too comfortable, and the others – O’Korn and Peters – don’t back off. In his first year as starter last season, Speight clearly made mistakes, and he is the first to acknowledge those. He also did a lot of good things and in the offseason dropped 23 pounds and spent a little time with his quarterback guru out in California. Will he be better? Time will tell. But what I think people are glossing over is this is a really good quarterback situation with some depth.

More: Wojo: Harbaugh faces huge third-year test at Michigan

Question: Did I read too much into it, or did Warde Manuel not sound excited about those upcoming night games at Michigan?? Thanks. -- @ajortiz3

Answer: I think you accurately picked up on what Manuel feels about night games. He knows Michigan will host them and has no issues with that, but his preference would be day games. I do think the frustration is not knowing NOW what game or games will be prime-time kickoffs. With the Big Ten’s new TV deal, networks can wait until 12 days before to let the host school know.

Question: Thoughts on MSU night game. Do you honestly think AA can’t handle it when NFL teams (w/stadium drinking) & SEC teams been doing it for years? -- @smeaton_chad

Answer: Did I ever say Ann Arbor can’t handle an MSU night game? Don’t think so. In fact, I’ve always wanted to see a Michigan-Michigan State night game. Over the years, the athletic directors from both schools have expressed serious concerns about it, not so much because of the fans who will pack either stadium, but the number of people who will simply go to Ann Arbor or East Lansing just to party. This is why I asked Manuel about the difference preparing for a night game – how much more security is needed and other logistics issues. NFL teams and SEC teams have, you’re correct, been doing this for years. It’s not like it’s been the norm at Michigan.

More: UM RB Ty Isaac says he’s slimmer, more effective

Question: How long is an acceptable period of time to continuing (complaining) about the 4th and 1 spot in Columbus? -- @dangoldss

Answer: I have a feeling, Dan, you’re not going to let that go for a long time. And I think you have many fellow Michigan fans who are with you on that. The doctor is in, though, any time you want to vent on Twitter.

Question: If Michigan loses to Ohio State again (a true joy being an M fan in Ohio), how much heat will/should JJH begin to get? -- @PerfectFitAR

Answer: If Michigan loses again to Ohio State, there certainly will be some backlash and criticism. But … this is where the youth argument would come into play considering the Buckeyes will be a seasoned team with a veteran quarterback. In the event of a loss there probably will be a few headlines like, “Will Harbaugh ever beat Ohio State?” but remember last year’s game and I think the answer is yes.

Question: Curious about Quinn Nordin and the kicking game -- @nateshay

Answer: Frankly, I don’t think the kicking game has been discussed enough during camp, considering Kenny Allen is gone and he handled all of it. Nordin, who worked through some technique things last year, has an impressive leg. He boomed some kicks during practices in Rome. He should be the guy on field goals.

Question: Which offensive skill position player offers the most dynamic inter-positional flexibility to the team? -- @MarcuscEY

Answer: I want to say Eddie McDoom, even Donovan Peoples-Jones, but I’m going with Tyrone Wheatley Jr. He has incredible size and is physical and is going to be a relied-on blocker at tight end. But he has also exhibited great hands. He has trimmed down and is quicker. Just have a feeling this could be a breakout year for him.

Question: re Coach Harbaugh: Does he focus on prepping for Ohio such as by running 1 or 2 plays at the end of every practice like some past HCs? -- @Brady_Bustany

Answer: I have asked about this over the last couple of years and never received a good answer. Former players have said Bo wouldn’t always indicate he was, partly, preparing for the final regular-season rivalry game. But by Ohio State week, the lightbulb would go on and they realized they had been preparing all along for the Buckeyes. I would suspect there is a version of that going on now. But remember, Harbaugh had all the countdown clocks to Ohio State and the “Beat Ohio” signs removed from the weight room.

Question: Can we submit questions about @bobwojnowski? -- @ChiefGoodfriend

Answer: I want to say no, waste of my time. But … if it means making fun of him, sure!

Question: Who was your favorite interview subject during the Yost era? -- @bobwojnowski

Answer: You’re getting older. More forgetful. This is understandable. But you should remember you were the beat writer WAY back then and are equipped to answer this, not me. Thank you for your interest.

Twitter @chengelis