Chat with Michael Rothstein
Welcome to WolverineNation! On Thursday, reporter Michael Rothstein stops by to chat about the state of Michigan football.
Rothstein joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering the University of Michigan for AnnArbor.com, Notre Dame for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette and a host of colleges for the Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, Va.). A Syracuse graduate and an East Meadow, N.Y. native, he lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Send your questions now and join Rothstein Thursday at noon ET!
Michael Rothstein (12:02 PM)
Hey everyone and welcome to my first offseason chat of the year. Hope you all had a fantastic New Year's and are ready to go in 2013. Let's get to your questions.
Chioke Hassan (Baltimore,Md)
Dear MichealWhen could you see Gary Moeller returning to coaching?
Michael Rothstein (12:03 PM)
I can't see it. Moeller is almost 72 years old and while he has been around Michigan a good amount lately, I can't see him getting back into the profession unless there was an emergency situation.
blue bleeder [via mobile]
How does Michigan Football recruting stack up to that team down on ohio?
Michael Rothstein (12:05 PM)
Michigan is doing well, although Ohio State is ahead of the Wolverines in the rankings by a couple of spots. Compared to the rest of the Big Ten, however, Michigan and Ohio State are doing much better than everyone else. It's a tight race between those two at the top.
Jason (New Haven, CT)
Play devil's advocate for us and articulate why Green shouldn't choose UM. We have the top o-line recruiting class in the country (including his good friend Dawson), a pro style offense, a chance for significant playing time as a freshman, and a program on the upswing. To me, for a running back, it is a no brainer decision.
Michael Rothstein (12:07 PM)
You don't like seasons and winter. You'd prefer to play in the south, where you could practice outside all of the time. You want to play in the SEC, which has won the past seven national championships. That would be my counter argument.
John (Ann Arbor)
With Taylor Lewan coming back next year. Who is the first Wolverine drafted? Denard Robinson?
Michael Rothstein (12:09 PM)
I would think he would likely be, although a couple of years ago if you told me Jonas Mouton would be a second round selection, I would have looked at you funny. So you never know with the draft, but Robinson would be a safe selection as the first Michigan player taken. Will Campbell strikes me as someone who could move up draft boards, though. The NFL likes to draft on potential sometimes and he has always had it, even if his production wasn't there for most of his career.
Next year's line will be Lewan at LT, Kalis at a guard and who else?
Michael Rothstein (12:10 PM)
I'll be answering this in much more depth over at http://www.wolverinenationespn.com over the next week or so, but the quick answer is...from left to right...Taylor Lewan, Kyle Kalis, Jack Miller, Chris Bryant, Michael Schofield. That said, there is a lot of time between now and the beginning of the season and Michigan has multiple options of what it can do, including moving Schofield back inside to guard.
What are the chances that our O-Line is better next year with Lewan coming back? Also, other then Gallon and Funchess, who will step up next year as a reliable/breakout receiver?
Michael Rothstein (12:13 PM)
There's no question a line with Taylor Lewan is better than a line without Taylor Lewan, especially on the college level. He has a chance to be the best lineman in college football next season, so having him back is a boost on many levels for Michigan. As far as the receivers, I wrote a little bit about that here (INSIDER) http://es.pn/11fQbA5 ... but it is one of the bigger questions for the Wolverines this offseason. Sophomore Amara Darboh is a place to look, as is Drew Dileo, but I have a tough time seeing Michigan starting two receivers who are under 6-feet.
With the return of Lewan and presumably some combination of Kalis, Miller, Bryant, and Bars, Michigan should be better on the offensive line next year, right? Do you see them running the ball better?
Michael Rothstein (12:15 PM)
By the end of the season, Michigan may be better but remember -- none of those guys has played a meaningful college football snap, if any college football snaps at all. There is going to be a pretty large learning curve on the interior of the line. The talent is there, but whoever is starting other than Lewan and Michael Schofield will probably have some struggles early on.
With Lewan back, what do you think the line will look like? Will all the incoming freshmen get a redshirt?
Michael Rothstein (12:16 PM)
Aaron, I would think all of the incoming freshmen linemen will get a redshirt barring major line injuries for Michigan. Kyle Bosch is coming in early -- he's already on campus -- so if any lineman has a shot, he might be the one to watch, especially since Michigan needs to replace its entire interior line.
Greg (Saline MI)
Any chance Brendan Gibbons is named a captain next season?
Michael Rothstein (12:18 PM)
It's possible, but I don't know if that would happen. I'd think Lewan, by coming back, probably put a captaincy as a high probability when his teammates vote. Other than him, it is pretty open but there could be a decent amount of candidates, including quarterback Devin Gardner, safety Thomas Gordon, linebacker Jake Ryan among others. But Gibbons might be in that conversation. Not sure the last time I saw a kicker as a captain, though, unless there was a designated special teams captain.
Anthony Hostman (Ypsilanti)
With Denard gone, who is going to get the majority of the snaps? Gardner or the Freshman Shane Morris?
Michael Rothstein (12:19 PM)
Devin Gardner. I'd be surprised if it were anyone else barring injury.
Is Mitch Mcgary the kind of spark we need of the bench? His play last night was a lot bigger than what his stats are and i think he could be the key to success in big games
Michael Rothstein (12:21 PM)
Yes, McGary has become a major spark off the bench for Michigan, kind of like what Nik Stauskas was at the beginning of this season or what Stuart Douglass provided when he would come off the bench the few seasons before that. As a big man, though, McGary provides a good rebounding presence even if the offense is still a little raw. Plus, he's the biggest energy guy on the team.
Gregg (dayton, ohio)
What true freshman can u see making an impact on the field this year? Or only just redshirt freshman?
Michael Rothstein (12:23 PM)
Jake Butt, the tight end, is someone I see as an immediate contributor for multiple reasons. First, he's good and talented and is coming in early so he'll have spring practice to get accustomed to the offense and the transition to college. Second, it is still a position of need for Michigan as it moves toward a pro style offense wanting to use multiple tight ends. He'd be the first guy I'd look at.
Did Countess receive a medical redshirt after his injury?
Michael Rothstein (12:23 PM)
All indications are that he has.
How much do you think Craft's defense will bother Burke this weekend?
Michael Rothstein (12:25 PM)
I think it will be a great matchup, one I'm looking forward to watching because Burke has not faced many great defensive point guards yet. I think Burke knows it, too, and wants to play well in his hometown. Craft will bother Burke a bit, but Burke will hold his own in the matchup as well. He's improved greatly as a defender in his own right and there's a reason he's sitting second in the ESPN.com National Player of the Year straw poll behind Duke's Mason Plumlee.
Call me crazy, but I could see UM winning almost all of their games next year...the three hardest ND, Neb, and OSU are at home which under Hoke they have been perfect.
Michael Rothstein (12:27 PM)
Michigan has a good shot at making a run like that due to the schedule, but Notre Dame is still going to be very, very good as will Ohio State. Plus, Michigan has had its share of trouble going to both Northwestern and Michigan State in prior years and the Wildcats are going to be a tough out regardless. That's without taking into account Michigan's own questions on its offensive and defensive lines and at running back.
JIMMY (North Dakota)
If Magunson is ready to play RT, will they move Schofield back inside to guard? Seems like the ideal line would be Lewan-Kalis-Miller-Schofield-Magnuson, rather than magnuson backing up tackle and bryant or burzinksi on the inside.
Michael Rothstein (12:28 PM)
I think that's possible, Jimmy, but it all depends on how much confidence the staff has in Ben Braden and/or Erik Magnuson combined with what they feel they have on the interior between Kalis, Burzynski, Bryant and others.
In a 1v1 round robin contest for basketball, between you Tom and Chantel, who walks away victorious?
Michael Rothstein (12:29 PM)
No matter what I answer, I'll get in trouble here from Tom and Chantel but I've got the height advantage. That said, I'd still take Chantel in a 1v1 round robin contest. She can shoot.
After losing Floyd, Kovacs, Demens, Campbell, and Roh on defense, do you see that unit taking a step back next year? Or will the excellent coaching staff be able to get their replacements up to that level again?
Michael Rothstein (12:32 PM)
Yes and no. I think Michigan has capable replacements, but some of them are quite young. Some combination of Desmond Morgan, Joe Bolden or Royce Jenkins-Stone will replace Kenny Demens at middle linebacker. The return of Blake Countess, so long as he is healthy, mitigates the loss of J.T. Floyd and Michigan is high on the potential of Jarrod Wilson along with Marvin Robinson so both of them could replace Kovacs, although freshman Dymonte Thomas might make a run there. The biggest concern would be on the defensive line, where all of the depth is young. Ondre Pipkins is the obvious replacement, but is he ready is the question there. The talent is available on the defense, it is just a matter if they are developed enough yet.
How much will Big Ten expansion in the east help michigan in Maryland, NJ, others?
Michael Rothstein (12:34 PM)
Ehh, I don't think a ton. From a general student body population Michigan already draws well from those areas (the New York metro area and the D.C. area) so I don't know how much it helps or hurts other than giving players a potential guarantee, depending what division those schools are in, of playing close to home at least once in their careers.
Do you think the coaches seriously considered Devon at QB and Denard at tailback/WR in preparation for this past year (rather than vice versa)? Did they still hold out hope that Denard's passing would somehow come together?
Michael Rothstein (12:36 PM)
I think they considered it, especially since they showed some of it a season ago with the deuce package, which was often a diamond formation in the backfield with Denard Robinson as one of the running backs. But as long as Robinson was healthy, whether it was the right decision in hindsight or not, he was going to be the quarterback.
John (Ann Arbor)
How many losses do you see Michigan b-ball having by the the start of the b10 tournament? Personally I'm saying 3 At Minnesota At Indiana and at MSU. Would that be good enough for a #1 overall seed?
Michael Rothstein (12:39 PM)
Yes, that should be good enough for a No. 1 seed in my opinion, but I am not our resident bracketologist. I also could see Michigan losing a couple of more games there as well -- at Ohio State on Sunday and Illinois in a couple of weeks won't be easy and Indiana, Ohio State, Illinois and Michigan State all make the trip to Crisler. Michigan probably wins a good majority of the games we are discussing, but the potential is there for losses. This league is that good.
What are some features of Michigan's playbook potentially that now can be done with additions from 2012 and 2013 classes that we were not able to do 3 years ago?
Michael Rothstein (12:41 PM)
It starts with the tight ends. Michigan just has more of them now, so they can run more two tight end looks knowing they have a semblance of the depth and talent level they want, even if all four major contributors are going to be sophomores or freshmen. So I think you'll see more of that. Michigan would like to run the ball more but they don't have the running back/offensive line combination to do that yet. They might, depending how certain players pan out and how Toussaint comes off of injury, but they don't as of me typing this.
Kevin (Stockton, CA)
How long does Al Borges stay in Ann Arbor before moving on to be a HC?
Michael Rothstein (12:44 PM)
I think that window may be closing for Borges. He is 57 years old and has never been a head coach before, so it would probably have to happen sometime in the next 24 months, in my opinion, if it were going to happen at all. Just don't know if you could see a first-time head coach at age 60.
Is it not out of the realm of possibility for Gardner to go back to WR either this year (or next)?
Michael Rothstein (12:46 PM)
Unless someone improves enough at quarterback to be a clear favorite over Gardner -- and I just don't see that -- I'd say it is out of the realm of possibility. Gardner has a real future at quarterback.
How good can the defense be next year in the secondary with Countess returning?
Michael Rothstein (12:48 PM)
If he's healthy, it could be very good. But he has to be healthy and feel comfortable making all of his cuts and moves and reads in games before you could really say that. He may not know that until August. That said, Michigan's defense has a chance to be among the best in the Big Ten next season. Its linebackers are talented and deep and its secondary should be more athletic and rangy next season. The question is on the line, where there are still holes and talent, but very young talent.
What will be the biggest area of concern on the defense next season?
Michael Rothstein (12:50 PM)
Defensive line. The secondary has experience and talent. The linebackers will be fine because even if someone falters, every spot has at least one quality backup. The line, though, is still a question. Can Ondre Pipkins be an every down player or close to it? Who replaces Craig Roh? Will one of the three rush end players emerge or will it be a rotation again? Can Quinton Washington have a second straight good season? Many, many questions there.
Michael Rothstein (12:51 PM)
Just a few minutes left for me here. Get those final questions in!
If we see another 4-5 loss season could we have the problem that RichRod brought? Small time football coach stepping up to the big time, before his time? And why no headset at game time?
Michael Rothstein (12:56 PM)
Not sure where you get that Rich Rodriguez was a "small time" football coach. He was coaching in the Big East back when it still had talented members and was consistently one of the best programs in the country, including knocking off Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl. I think next season is big for Hoke in that the schedule sets up for Michigan to have a good season, much like the schedule set up for the Wolverines to take a step back this season no matter how good they were. But I don't think you're entering that realm with Hoke yet. As far as the headset, it has not bothered me at all. Coaches like to do things their own ways and that is how he prefers.
Patrick Sinnott (Dexter)
What Michigan o-line prospect do you hold in the highest regard? Or want the most?
Michael Rothstein (12:57 PM)
Want? It doesn't matter to me who Michigan gets or doesn't get. As far as who I think has the most potential -- because, let's face it, with all of these players it is only about potential now since they haven't made the jump yet -- I think David Dawson and Kyle Bosch both have the potential to be quite good. There's a reason, though, that this is considered among the best offensive line classes in the country. They are all talented and at some point, all five could end up as starters at Michigan.
Nick (Ann Arbor)
Do you see Lewan's decision to stay as a bit bigger than just getting an extremely talented guy back to a position of need? I see it as potentially being Hoke establishing the idea that you come to Michigan for 4 years and a degree and that is when you leave. It seems to me that leaving early without a degree is something that is looked down upon by this coaching staff as it is something that was touted by previous well known and loved coaches.
Michael Rothstein (12:59 PM)
No, Nick, I don't. This is Lewan's fourth year here since he redshirted in 2009. While I think his decision helps Michigan in the short term and perhaps sets a tradition of offensive linemen staying (considering the Jake Long precedent), every player has their own reasons for staying or going.
Michael Rothstein (1:00 PM)
Great chat today everybody and thank you all so much for your questions. If you have anything else or just want to ask me something, shoot me a note on Twitter @mikerothstein or pop on our message board over at http://www.wolverinenationespn.com.Thanks everyone and enjoy your weekend!