Spartans set tone, never wavered

Michigan (6-1) is licking its wounds after losing last Saturday to rival Michigan State for the fourth consecutive time. The loss generated its fair share of questions, and rightfully so.

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 that you throw at least your first name and hometown in the question. With that, let's get to it.

Nate Creech,
Parts Unknown:

It was tough seeing "Little Brother" get us again. Any thoughts?

MR: Michigan State outplayed Michigan in every way -- both good and bad. The Spartans dominated on the lines, had better quarterback play, better running back play and were more opportunistic.

The other thing: Dirty or not, Michigan State set a tone early that it wouldn't be intimidated by Michigan, and that had an effect. When players say after the game that they were out-toughed, that tells me something. Beyond being outplayed physically, they were beaten mentally as well, because toughness is as much mental as it is physical.

Listen, Michigan wasn't going to go undefeated this season. There were too many holes that could be exploited and too many pockets of inconsistent or plain bad play from the offense. That was going to catch up with the Wolverines at some point. It just happened to be against Michigan State.


I am a devout Michigan fan and supporter, and I love what's happening with the team. I was wondering what is going on when the Michigan D-line shuffles all of the linemen and everyone is jumping around. I am wondering why they do that, and I am also worried about someone quick-snapping it and catching us mid-shift. Love WolverineNation. Thanks.

MR: What Michigan is doing is part confusion and disguise and part reaction to the opponent switching calls at the line. The mid-adjustment snap is a valid concern, but from what I can tell from watching both live and then again on the DVR, the line is usually making those switches as the opponent is making calls as well, and it is a switch that happens in about a second, so the timing would have to be perfect.

That said, it wouldn't shock me if Michigan gets caught on it at some point this season, leading to a big play.


What do u think about starting Devin (Gardner) at QB and putting Denard (Robinson) in the slot, a la Steve Breaston? Experiment against Purdue.

That might be a little bit much, honestly. There is definitely room for more experimentation in terms of moving around Robinson -- or even Gardner -- to give opposing defenses different looks, but I don't think Robinson is being displaced as the starting quarterback anytime soon.

That said, it wouldn't surprise me to see Gardner play more snaps at quarterback, with Robinson moving to different spots on the field -- we've already seen him as the back wide receiver in a wide receiver stack formation, and as one of three running backs in a diamond formation. But one thing is certain: Robinson will be on the field for Michigan in some capacity.


What kind of review of the (William) Gholston situation is necessary for (Michigan State coach Mark) Dantonio?

MR: There is an official process here, and so far Michigan State is following protocol. While the Spartans could have just suspended him outright for a game and been done with it, they are reviewing the situation before making a decision after the Big Ten informed the school of a possible violation of the league's sportsmanlike conduct code.

If the school decides to suspend him after the review, then it has set a fairly intelligent precedent in giving every player due process when it comes to possible suspensions. If the school doesn't, then it opens itself up to a lot of criticism -- especially if the Big Ten doesn't agree with Michigan State's decision. So for now, it's wait-and-see, but it might not be for much longer.

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