UM mailbag: How will Wolverines respond?
So now what? Michigan State beat Michigan again, and now the focus is on how the Wolverines will respond. They play at Indiana on Saturday, the first of consecutive road games – the second is at Penn State in a night game. But first things first and on to Indiana.
There are some extremes in discussing how Michigan rebounds, and here are two questions that reflect that. Will the Wolverines now begin a downward spiral? Will they rebound and make a run?
Question: Do you see last week’s misstep propelling this team for the remainder of the schedule? -- @St3v3Wilds
Question: OK, Michigan loses 4 of its next 5 because they cannot score, then need to beat Wisconsin and OSU to go bowling. Scared? I am. -- @michmike69
Answer: Michigan Mike, you don’t really think Michigan is going to lose four of the next five, do you? That stretch includes Indiana, Penn State, Rutgers, Minnesota and Maryland. I know you’re just posing this a theoretical, but it is highly unlikely. There are three games against current top-10 teams ahead – Penn State and Wisconsin, both on the road, and Ohio State.
Originally I had Michigan going 1-2 in those games, but it is highly plausible they could go 0-3. But the Wolverines only need two wins to become bowl-eligible, and the wins will be there.
Now Steve – at least that’s what I think your handle means – it’s hard to say how a young offense will respond coming off that loss, but sophomore tailback Chris Evans reported that things were much more amped up in practice this week, particularly in the fumble drill. My hunch is they won’t lose their focus going forward.
That doesn’t mean they’re going to win every game, as Patrick Kugler suggested this week is the goal, but they will have an opportunity to make a splash and pull off an upset or two – if the offense can find any sort of rhythm. The plate the Michigan defense is carrying is going to get heavier, though, and they will have to make a more concerted effort to force turnovers and give the offense a short field.
Q: What do former Michigan linemen (who aren’t M cheerleaders – Jansen and radio guys) say about the abysmal line technique (ALL 5 linemen)? -- @PerfectFitAR
A: Have definitely spoken to several of them, and it’s fair to say they are a proud group. While they certainly care about the team as a whole, their focus is on the line play year after year. They are not thrilled with the technique and feel the younger linemen just aren’t coming along fast enough. One told me in the spring that it would probably be a long year in terms of offensive play – and so far he appears to be right.
Q: Will Drevno go on field to coach instead of booth? Any players on OL switching to right side to help out? -- @bakingmom14
A: I don’t know about being on the field unless the decision was bad for Pep Hamilton to call the plays with Jim Harbaugh giving final say. That’s a great question about switching, and I feel there’s going to be some movement on the line. Jon Runyan Jr. practiced at right tackle this spring before moving to guard in camp, and there was about a week in camp when Nolan Ulizio switched to left guard and Ben Bredeson moved to right tackle. There are options, and it will be interesting to see what direction they go.
Q: Is Brandon Peters even in the picture to start if O’Korn continues to play like he did last week? -- @FootballGorilla
Q: OK, will Speight play next year? -- @joshjreynolds
Q: If Speight misses significant time, what’s likelihood of Peters getting playing time? -- @BustTheGrape
A: Related questions, so we’re going for the bundle special. Brandon Peters has been presented as the best option since, really, the spring. But there is a reason he didn’t win the job. Not saying he won’t get better and he won’t fully grasp the playbook, but he’s not there yet. But he is the proverbial one-play-away quarterback, and he could be thrust into that situation.
There is absolutely no doubt his ceiling is high and his athletic skills are significant, but he is not a finished enough project. That should be a bit disconcerting, frankly, that he’s not ready to take over, but he’s not.
Don’t know what Speight’s status will be next season, Josh. Bottom line, he has to get healthy and that’s the biggest issue. Everyone is focused on Peters, but I think the name that should be coming up is Dylan McCaffrey. They won’t burn his redshirt, and they shouldn’t, but he could very well make a move next year.
Q: Who’s your favorite person around Michigan program – player, coach, support staff – to interview? @knjkime
A: Don Brown, Michigan’s defensive coordinator is, hands down, the best interview on the staff and one of the most enjoyable interviews overall. He’s demonstrative – which makes video of a Don Brown interview gold as he throws his hands around or makes a sound that adds impact to his point – and he tries to give you a real answer and not coachspeak. Of the players, Wilton Speight gives really thoughtful insight. And if you’re at the football building and you run into Jack Harbaugh or Jon Falk or Jerry Hanlon, you certainly will have an enjoyable conversation.