Chat with Chantel Jennings
Welcome to WolverineNation! On Thursday, reporter Chantel Jennings stops by to chat about the state of Michigan football.
Jennings joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering University of Michigan athletics for three years at The Michigan Daily. Jennings graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in English and Spanish and lives in Ann Arbor.
Send your questions now and join Jennings Thursday at noon ET!
Michael (Austin, TX)
Where is Michigan on RB recruit Derrick Green? Top 5? Top 3?
Chantel (12:02 PM)
Michigan picked up one of Green's five official visits (Michigan-MSU, Oct. 20). He already took an official to Tennessee. He will also be taking officials to Auburn (Nov. 10) and Oregon (Nov. 17). His final official will either be Ole Miss or Virginia Tech. Based off that, you can say it's one of his top 5 schools. He has long been impressed with Michigan and made it one of his officials very early in the recruiting game (for a kid who's choosing at this time). The Michigan/MSU game should be a good visit for an official because I believe the majority of the 2013 commits will also be taking their officials and Green is interested in the 2013 class as a whole no matter where he goes, and so it'll be good for Michigan to have so many of their 2013 commits around.
Barry (Maria Stein, OH)
How bad is the lack in our running game (running backs) hurting our chances of landing D Green in 2013 and OL commits for 2014?
Chantel (12:05 PM)
Why not have two D. Green questions in a row to start today off? Anyway, sometimes lack of depth is a good thing for a recruit because they can seem themselves playing earlier than coming into a situation where they're the fourth or fifth guy. For Green, that could come into play. And as far as the OL commits in the 2014 class, they could see the same thing as well as an opportunity to be pushed by the talent in the 2012 and 2013 O-line class. However, depth at RB is a much, much greater concern at this point than at the O-line for the future.
Matt (Toronto, Canada)
Do you think the Michigan defence is good enough to carry Michigan to a B1G title?
Chantel (12:07 PM)
Michigan's defense looked really solid last week against Purdue. Yes, the Boilermakers aren't an SEC offense or anything like that, but fundamentally they looked good and they seemed to be in the right spots at the right times (plus, they forced turnovers as a result of that). With how the B1G is this year, Michigan really won't face any huge offensive threats until OSU this season. Michigan State's offense has struggled a bit with Maxwell at QB, but Braxton Miller will be a threat to Michigan's D, so we'll be able to see how much progress they've really made at that point.
Chantel (12:07 PM)
And Nebraska will be a good measuring stick as well. Can't leave Martinez out in the cold on this one -- especially at home for the Cornhuskers.
Is it time to start getting other running backs some additional carries? I missed last week's game, but I can imagine what 17 carries for 19 yards looks like.
Chantel (12:09 PM)
No matter what happens on the field, the coaches keep saying Fitzgerald Toussaint is their guy. Last week, it was a lot of dancing and lateral running rather than North/South running (for Fitz). Rawls managed to get north and south, but it was late in the game and Purdue wasn't exactly playing its top guys at that point. Rawls could get a few more opportunities in upcoming games, but I think they're hoping to get Toussaint to break through pretty soon here.
Who will be our starting quarterback next year? Devin or Shane!!!
Chantel (12:14 PM)
Everyone seems to be forgetting about Bellomy whenever this question comes up. He's definitely in play for the starting spot. Each player has pros and cons and this is how I see it: Devin's pro at QB: He has the most experience with Borges and they love his athleticism at that position. He'd be able to keep a bit of that dual-threat quality since he does have the ability to run. He's a taller kid. Devin's con: He's not at WR. He has shown himself to be one of Michigan's top receivers this year. He can't throw the ball to himself. He's proved to be such an asset down field and I can't imagine Michigan wanting to lose that. Bellomy's pro: coaches love how he plays, they've been really impressed with him this year. Bellomy's con: Hasn't played much in games this year. Morris' pro: canon, confidence, prototypical Borges QB. Con: true freshman. Normally it's not a great thing when your starting QB is a true frosh.
Brian (Dayton, OH)
What do you think about the shortage of pass plays last week? I understand Denard's been struggling, but wouldn't that have been a perfect opportunity to get his confidence back up?
Chantel (12:16 PM)
Yes, it was a heavy run game and he didn't pass a whole lot (just 16 attempts), but I think even that helped his confidence. Coaches loved his decision making -- threw away passes that he should've, no interceptions, made his reads well. I think a game when you only attempt 16 passes but make good decisions is much more of a confidence boost to a QB than a game when you throw 30 passes and have a few mistakes -- because those mistakes are what'll stick with you.
Justin (Rochester hills)
How worried should Michigan be about Conley and maybe decommitting or getting his scholarship taken because of an Oregon visit?
Chantel (12:23 PM)
I haven't talked with Gareon recently, but I assume Michigan will have the same conversation they always do when this comes up. Gareon knows (and will probably be told again) that if he takes the visit, Michigan will decommit him. Conley is the Wolverines' second-highest ranked commit, so losing him wouldn't be a good thing, obviously. But Michigan does have depth in the secondary currently and there are a lot of talented kids out there that Michigan is still in play for plenty of great CB's in the 2014 class.
When do you think Pip will start getting more playing time?
Chantel (12:26 PM)
He played a bit more against Purdue but as Hoke explained yesterday that was both because he has earned it and because Michigan was in its base defense. As the Wolverines have to play other sets and schemes, he probably won't play as much until he gets more familiar and comfortable with it all. It just takes one little mistake from a guy in the D-line to create a really, really big problem."If we started teaching him all the sub package stuff, the dime, the nickel, whatever you want to call it, it would probably set him back a little bit." - Hoke
Adam (New York)
What is Brady Hoke doing to make sure the team doesn't overlook weaker opponents (Illinois) and towards bigger ones (Sparty)?
Chantel (12:29 PM)
I'm pretty sure players once thought of App State and Toledo as "weaker opponents." Those losses (while they're far in the minds of fans) are close to Michigan players. They know what a loss to Illinois would mean. They understand what that would mean to the program/their ranking/their reputation/etc. Hoke said Monday that he doesn't think that his team will have any problems not looking ahead. I believe him.
Rob (Chicago, IL)
I know you just interviewed Laquon Treadwell - any immediate thoughts on level of interest with Michigan? In the past it has seemed pretty high with speculation a few times he was going to commit. Lately he's been courted by many SEC teams and still is high on OU and OSU (Oklahoma, not Ohio)...your intuition on his interest and anything you didn't include in your story that might be interesting to know from a recruiting perspective with him?
Chantel (12:31 PM)
After talking with his 7-on-7 coach, it sounds like he has really been pressured to take his time with the process. A lot of fans have been annoyed because they think he's playing with schools because he's waiting this long, but one of the things he stressed to me was that he knew he never wanted to decommit from a school. His 7-on-7 coach said Laquon is one of the most meticulous kids he has coached. He will make sure no stone is left unturned and unless he knows he is 100% committed and will never decommit from a school no matter what, he won't commit. As much hate as that has gotten him, I respect it much more than a kid that commits early and then gets into the process and thinks, "oh, maybe I should explore my options now."
Now that we are into B1G play do you think we'll see Denard running more, like the Purdue game. Really looked like the coaches were holding him back, at least in the Bama and NDame games. Thanks
Chantel (12:33 PM)
I think it will be a "game-by-game deal" as Borges would say. Against Purdue's front seven that wasn't phenomenal, Michigan saw opportunities to run, so they did. It also gave him a chance to get a good passing game under his belt. As they keep going into the Big Ten, I do think they'll try to play to Denard's strengths as much as they can. But they know they can't win if Denard runs on 99% of the plays. He will throw. How often and how early, we'll see.
What does Michigan need to work on this week to prepare for MSU and Nebraska? I may or may not be implying that Illinois is like a practice squad this year.
Chantel (12:37 PM)
NEBRASKA: More pressure up front from the D-line. Michigan isn't getting enough pressure from the four-man rush. They shouldn't have to blitz every time in order to get pressure on a QB. And Taylor Martinez is good and can get himself out of bad situations and turn chaos into something good for Nebraska. If Michigan has to send a complicated or big blitz every time, that's not going to be a good thing for the Wovlerines' D.
Chantel (12:40 PM)
MSU: The Spartans' defense has been good this year. They lead the league in scoring defense (15.2 points per game), rushing defense (86 yards per game) and total defense (272.3 yards per game). So uh, based off that I'd say Michigan needs to make sure its offense game plans well and has a balanced attack. Few teams have been able to run against MSU this year and Michigan couldn't do it last year when the two teams faced off.
Raymon Taylor.....where do you think he'd be at on the depth chart assuming everyone is healthy? Is he a starter in 2013 if he keeps this pace up?
Chantel (12:44 PM)
I think Raymon could be a starter next year. Depending on how Blake Countess' recovery and rehab goes it could be a really interesting battle in the secondary. You have Delonte Hollowell, Terry Richardson and Jourdan Lewis who could all battle for playing time (yay college position battles that already happened in high school!!! -- Cass Tech). Raymon is definitely making a name for himself right now and this experience will aid him in the future, but every position will be up for grabs and the secondary will be interesting to watch.
Do you think Rawls will be more heavily involved against Illinois?
Chantel (12:46 PM)
I think Michigan will continue using games and snaps to try and get Fitzgerald Toussaint going. They want him to not only be the Wolverines' No. 1 back, but also to play like it, which hasn't really happened this season. Each game they go into, they hope it's the game that he gets going in, which will bring him confidence. I'm sure Illinois will be the same way. Could we see some Rawls? Sure, why not? But I don't think he'll grab too many early snaps away from Fitz.
Is the coaching staff anti TE? Is Moore healthy? Funchess looks like the real thing.
Chantel (12:50 PM)
Are they anti-TE? No. I think we've seen a lot of TE play this year between Funchess and A.J. Williams. Williams has done more blocking and been more of a player like Kevin Koger was last year (which is why a lot of people haven't noticed him as much). He's not getting the flashy, highlight reel plays, unless someone is out there making a blocking highlight reel (which I think Hoke would appreciate). Hoke said yesterday that Moore is back practicing and "could" be ready to play for Illinois but even so, I'd be really surprised if he steals too many snaps away from Funchess.
Who will come out of nowhere this week to have a great game?
Chantel (12:55 PM)
I don't know how many more players can "come out of nowhere" on the roster. I'm sure there are cards Michigan hasn't played yet, but for the most part we know the players who have the ability to make big plays, which normally is what people refer to when they say "come out of nowhere." I suppose if Fitz has a big game, you could say him. Otherwise, maybe one of the defensive linemen who hasn't had too obviously big of a game yet?
In what area do you think Michigan has the ability to improve the most during this year. Depth on the lines can't be fixed, but where do you see opportunities for growth?
Chantel (12:57 PM)
I think we'll see a lot of major growth defensively. In a way, Mattison is sort of in the same position as he was last year. No, he's not introducing an entirely new defense to a group of players, but when your D-line drastically changes, it's a new learning curve again. As the D-line gets better and better (which I think we've seen of late), they'll make it easier for the rest of the defense to look solid. Inches on the D-line means yards saved in the secondary.
Chantel (1:00 PM)
Alright guys, great chat today. Thanks for stopping by. Next week Mike will be taking care of the mailbag on Wednesday so you can send him some questions in advance, and it'll be his week for the chat, so stop by if you can! I'll see y'all in two weeks. Adios!