<
>

Expect more of two QBs package

Michigan (5-0) is undefeated for the third consecutive year entering the second week of the Big Ten season and playing better than it ever had under former coach Rich Rodriguez.

But naturally, there are questions. You, the fans, always have questions.

Remember, the 'Bag is only as good as what you ask. So feel free to send questions to michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com. All we ask is you throw at least your first name and hometown in the question.
With that, let's get to it.

Jim, Parts Unknown: At the risk of being labeled a blasphemer, what are the odds we see (Devin) Gardner at quarterback and Denard (Robinson) in a Brad Smith-type role next year? I love Denard like any other Michigan fan, own a 16 jersey, etc., but if the passing doesn't get better don't you have to consider it?

MR: Jim, saw it Saturday, and I'm thinking Michigan is going to do more of that going forward. It's the easiest way to get their best players on the field. It's going to be a good balance between change-of-pace and utilizing Robinson in a variety of ways.

Asked Robinson on Monday whether he felt playing that role for a set number of plays might help him down the road in the NFL, where he'll likely play receiver or running back and be a Josh Cribbs-level kick and punt returner. He dismissed the question, saying he's focused on being a really good college player. If you're Robinson, it can't hurt, because it'll show more versatility for his future.

Spencer Wheelock,
Traverse City, Mich.:

I know there have been a lot of redshirt talks lately. What is more important: securing a redshirt, or early playing time/experience? I know there's the "whatever it takes to win" mentality, but with our running back situation especially, do we really need more than five active backs?

MR:
Spencer, rule of thumb from coaches I've covered is this: If a player is going to have significant playing time or is a direct backup in a position of need, don't redshirt. If they don't have to play a guy, better to have him sit a year to watch and learn.

This specifically comes into play with offensive and defensive linemen. Usually, players who come in at either position are not big enough to realistically compete at a high level as a true freshman. At skill positions it is a trickier situation. But to answer you directly, five active backs is probably enough.

Tyler, Decatur, Ind.: I loved the way Michigan looked against Minnesota. Denard was very efficient, and for the first time in a long time they didn't rely on his legs to be the focal point of the offense. [Vincent] Smith hopefully wrapped up the starting job in the backfield, and it blows my mind that Michigan is actually playing defense.

1) Will Dan Persa be good to go on Saturday?
2) Can we expect to see more plays with Denard and Devin in the same package?
3) The secondary is still vulnerable, so when do you see an offense being able to exploit that?

MR: Tyler, to your questions:

1) All reports indicate Persa will be good to go Saturday. If Persa and running back Mike Trumpy -- who is out for the year with a torn ACL -- are both out, it'd be tough for Northwestern.

2) Yes, absolutely. Michigan didn't pull that out against Minnesota, the worst team in the Big Ten, for it never to be used again. It'll be interesting to watch the evolution of the package going forward.

3) I don't believe they are as vulnerable as you think. Jeremy Ebert is an extremely talented receiver, and with Trumpy out Northwestern will have to throw more to win. Look for Persa to test the cornerbacks early. Kirk Cousins and Michigan State will go after the secondary next week. By Oct. 16, you'll know a lot more about the Wolverines' defensive backfield.

Paul (via Twitter), Ann Arbor:
More important assistant coaches: hoops or football? I think there's only one correct answer here #HALOL

MR: Paul, extremely interesting question and it is a tough one to really break down, because the assistants are so important in both sports. So let's look at it like this:

Football: In a sport with more than 100 athletes, assistants are much more responsible for developing individual relationships with players in their position group. They are also more important for helping with the cohesiveness of what they are teaching in meeting rooms and how it translates to the rest of the unit. Also, with the amount of players football recruits, the assistant coach is critical in developing relationships with recruits from the outset.

Basketball: There are only 12 to 16 players on a roster, so a head coach can be intimately involved with understanding individual players. The way John Beilein has used his staff has been impressive because of what he has picked from each guy. He has a good post teacher in Bacari Alexander, a former head coach and underrated game planner in Jeff Meyer, and a pick-and-roll expert and point guard coach in LaVall Jordan. All three were crucial to Michigan's success last year. In Michigan's case, they have been invaluable in recruiting, too. The Wolverines are after a bunch of top 100 players each year.

So -- not to cop out, but -- it depends on the staff.

Thanks for all the great questions. Email: michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com, Twitter: @mikerothstein or @wolverinenation.

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. He can be reached at michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or on Twitter @mikerothstein.