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!
Chantel (11:58 AM)
Hey everyone! Welcome to the chat. Thanks for joining. I'll be here for the next hour but the earlier you get your questions in, the better chance I have of getting to them! Ask away!
Are the seniors going to be doing any special training this year like they did last year with the Navy Seals?
Chantel (12:00 PM)
From what I heard I believe they'll be doing the SEALS training trip again this year. It was so beneficial to the seniors last year that I would imagine as long as it's still within the rules (which it should be) they'll do it again.
your Moon (South carolina)
Who is better equipped to defend KU's Withey out of Michigan's bigs?
Chantel (12:02 PM)
I would imagine they'll throw a few different things at him defensively. Don't expect John Beilein to throw a one-on-one McGary-Withey matchup at him the whole time (though when they are straight up man, I expect that match up). Withey is good, so Michigan's help defense is going to have to be stellar tomorrow.
What will the starting Oline look like game 1?
Chantel (12:05 PM)
Don't expect them to look entirely polished. They'll be a relatively young line (outside of Lewan) so there will be growing pains.
Chantel (12:09 PM)
As far as personnel: LT = Lewan, LG = Ben Braden/Blake Bars/Joey Burzynski, C = Jack Miller, RG = Kyle Kalis RT = Michael Schofield.
Do you think we'll be RB by committee to start the year?
Chantel (12:10 PM)
Al Borges and Brady Hoke are anti-committee, that's for sure. But I think we could expect to see some sort of collection of backs just because of the situation at hand. Green doesn't get here until July. Toussaint won't be ready for a while. And fall camp can only decide so much. Honestly, I think we might see a bit of an on-field tryout/committee to start, but the coaches won't be too pleased about that.
Any ideas on the big names that will be attending the spring game?
Chantel (12:12 PM)
Three of Michigan's 2014 commits will be in town (Michael Ferns, Wilton Speight, Mason Cole). So that's a big deal. They'll definitely help on recruiting guys. As far as other big names -- WR Drake Harris will be on campus for the 357th time. Also visiting will be WR Artavis Scott, Cole's HS teammate. I think it's a big deal to have him back. He has been impressed a lot by Michigan but has visited a ton of places. Also TE Daniel Helm will be there.
Do you think they'll be an all Big 10 Final Four?
Chantel (12:16 PM)
It's definitely possible, but I wouldn't say probable. IU's task of getting out of the east is a bit less difficult with Miami losing Johnson. OSU is a tough tournament team and Aaron Craft is a game changer -- they might have the least difficult route of any B1G team. MSU's would be more difficult. Duke and Coach K are two entities no one wants to face in the postseason. Ever. And after that you've probably got Louisville, which just has so many weapons. And Michigan? Sure. Why not. Kansas should be an interesting matchup for them. But then you've either got Florida (weapons) or FGCU and Dunk City to deal with. Not fun. (Well, super fun to watch. Not fun to defend.)
Neel (Geneva, IL)
Do you have the sense that Project 135 is working to attract new recruits, or is it more about creating a sense of family in those who end up committing?
Chantel (12:18 PM)
I think it definitely is unique. I don't know of any other 2014 class in the country that is sending out t-shirts and bonding like this. The four commits are already pretty close thanks to social media and texting. And it absolutely helps when Michigan preaches its family atmosphere.
GBK (Lincoln Park)
With Michigan using their center a lot for ball screens, how much will that minimize Withey's effectiveness on the defensive end, and do you think it will lead to him getting into foul trouble?
Chantel (12:20 PM)
I'm not sure. If Michigan had a big man who could also knock down 3s (which would require Withey to guard close outside) that would change a lot. But I'd imagine he'll kind of stay inside. I wouldn't be surprised to see KU drop into a zone and force Michigan's outside players to beat them. Stauskas has been spotty and if KU can clog the lane, not a ton will be open.
Chantel (12:21 PM)
As far as foul trouble, I think the player you need to more readily worry about is McGary. He's a true freshman going up against a senior. McGary has dealt with foul trouble before. Get him a quick one or two on the defensive end and suddenly you've got who guarding Withey? Morgan? Horford? Bielfeldt? Ehhhh....
Trevor (Detroit )
McGary for president?
Chantel (12:21 PM)
I would much rather see him as a reality TV judge.
Kalis has the rg spot locked down?
Chantel (12:22 PM)
That's my feeling. I don't know if he'll start the whole year (that depends on whether or not he does his job well). But I could see him getting the nod for the first game of the season.
Better NCAA Tournament trip: Charlotte or Dallas (Detroit doesn't count)?
Chantel (12:24 PM)
Well, I made the trip to Charlotte two years ago in a car with three other people. I also got a speeding ticket in Columbus on my way back. Charlotte was a super cool city, I really enjoyed it. I've never been to Dallas. But from what I've heard from people who are already down there (or went this past fall), I think Dallas tips the scales.
Trevor (Detroit )
Which freshman has the best chance of contributing like James Ross and Joe Bolden did their freshman year?
Chantel (12:25 PM)
I think you have to look where Michigan has the least amount of depth... so I'll say someone in the secondary like Dymonte Thomas (EE) or Jourdan Lewis. And definitely TE's Jake Butt (EE) and Khalid Hill because they're #2 on the depth chart just by showing up.
Trevor (Detroit )
Any freshman sticking out this spring?
Chantel (12:26 PM)
Trevor, that's a hard question. Michigan players are trained to basically not give any names. If you ask who's playing well they say everyone. If you ask which players look the most improved, they'll say a lot of guys. If you ask who they think has a chance to start here or there, they'll say a lot of competing is happening.
Who do you think will make the biggest impact out of the true and redshirt freshman this year for the football team? And why?
Chantel (12:28 PM)
Redshirt: Kalis, Braden, Bars, Magnuson (really anyone on the OL). True: Butt, Hill, Thomas, Lewis.Combination of depth issues and skill. They'll have opportunities. I think these kids could make the most of those moments.
Why are Hoke/Borges so anti-RB committee? Especially when this is clearly a trend throughout the NFL and NCAA. Won't it keep both RBs fresher? Is Nick Saban wrong?
Chantel (12:30 PM)
I don't think this is a wrong/right thing. I think it's more how you're used to doing things. Hoke and Borges want a guy that can hit and hit and then hit some more. Their goal is for their RB to break down defenses early in games for shorter gains and basically make every defensive player realize "I don't want to have to hit that guy again..." Then later in the game, as he wears defenses out, those gains will get bigger and bigger. It's just what they prefer. Saban does his thing. Hoke does his.
Matt (Ann Arbor)
If Withey does stay back when we do the ball screen, wouldn't that allow Burke to pull up for the shot and get to the rim easily? I don't see that being how Kansas plays the ball screen..
Chantel (12:31 PM)
I wasn't saying that Withey sits in the lane. But outside of Withey, they'll have a lot of length elsewhere that can clog the lane. I just don't think that Withey has to pay the same attention to McGary as he hops out as you would a more high percentage 3-point post guy. KU could slip or hedge (especially with Withey's length). I really don't know how they'll defend, but I'd imagine they'll throw a lot at them.
Chantel, any chance McGary can slow down T.J. Yeldon this time? Sorry, I still have #JerryBowlNightmares
Chantel (12:34 PM)
Baha, Greg Mattison joked that he'd love McGary on the team. Could he slow Yeldon? Maybe. And if he did, I think we'd all get a pretty great gif out of it.
Frank (New Orleans)
Can Cam Gordon step up and fill the void now that Jake Ryan is out with a torn ACL?
Chantel (12:36 PM)
I'm not sure. I realize Cam Gordon is his direct back up, but I just don't know how much I see that happening. They've moved Brennen Beyer back to SAM which I think could be more of an option for Michigan.
Brad (Columbus, OH)
Will Shane Morris have any shot of overtaking Devin Gardner for the starting job in the fall?
Chantel (12:37 PM)
The politically correct answer is: yes. Michigan will give Morris the chance to compete for that starting role. Do I see him getting it? No. Gardner is a fierce competitor with a lot of experience. I don't see Gardner losing the starting spot to a true freshman. If he does, then he does. But with Morris not being able to enroll early, he lost out on a lot of opportunities to gain chemistry with the O-line and WR's and TE's.
Chantel (12:40 PM)
Their leading scorer is Ben McLemore w/ 16 points per game. He's good from the outside when he does shoot it (42%) and he attacks well and gets to the FT line. But he's also a guy I could see just going off on Michigan - so stopping him will be important.
Lenny (Zeeland, MI)
Who steps up and at WR this year besides Dileo and Gallon?
Chantel (12:41 PM)
Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson are the two names that keep coming up. They made big plays throughout the fall in practice and seem to be making them now too. They were both big track guys in high school so the speed is there. I would imagine that with the depth issues in the secondary right now, those two are winning a lot of jump balls.
Who is your favorite coach to interview?
Chantel (12:44 PM)
Oh geez, this is hard. In college I covered the Michigan mens soccer team for a season and Steve Burns was always good for incredible quotes. He once told me "Tears are salty, so are tears. One gets you sympathy, the other gets you results." It was literally in the middle of a normal post game interview, just dropping gems like that. Right now, I think Al Borges is the funniest. He seems to be the most willing to interact during interviews.
Will anybody besides Trey Burke go pro?? I mean he's the only one who's ready, right?
Chantel (12:50 PM)
Right now on Chad Ford's big board there are two Wolverines: Burke - 9, GRIII - 16. I know there's a lot of talk about Tim Hardaway Jr. going and the possibility that this post season has somehow gotten Mitch McGary into the realm of conversations. I've never been drafted nor have I drafted someone, so I don't know how much stock individuals put on potential vs. showed talent. So, for me, I really don't know.
Trevor (Detroit )
If some how no one leaves for the NBA draft does Michigan start the season #1 in the polls? Even over Kentucky's amazing recruiting class.
Chantel (12:51 PM)
That would be really interesting to see. Kentucky's recruiting class is ... well ... I don't know if there are words for that. But they're definitely better than a first-round NIT loss. I would think that if everyone stayed Michigan could possibly grab the #1 preseason ranking if they make a good showing the rest of this tournament and knowing that you return your starting five.
If (when) Shane doesnt win the starting job this fall the coaches will want to redshirt him barring an emergency situation, right?
Chantel (12:53 PM)
I think that would be the goal.
Mark (Marshall, MI)
What is the likelihood that Burke goes pro if the Wolverines don't win the title?
Chantel (12:55 PM)
Well, he said the decision to go would be "easier" if Michigan did win the title. If they don't win, I still imagine that he goes. It has been a pretty great season for him on and off the court. But we'll see.
Neil K (Ann Arbor)
How has Devin Gardner looked in spring practices? Do you think he will be an adequate replacement for Denard?
Chantel (12:57 PM)
We haven't seen him in spring practices at all since those are closed, but from what coaches and other players have said, he has made progress since the fall. He seems like a gym rat to me so I would imagine he gets into Glick as often as he can with Dileo, Gallon, Darboh, Chesson, whomever. I think Michigan's offense next fall probably won't have as many "ahhhh" moments as they did with Denard, but it will look more like a Hoke/Borges offense.
Chantel - how many minutes does Jordan Morgan play tomorrow night? I know it's heavily dependent on foul trouble and effectiveness of McGary and Horford v. Withey, but what's your expectation on JB's plan for using Morgan at THIS moment?
Chantel (12:59 PM)
I would imagine they'll go heavy with McGary again. His energy in the post seems to really ignite Michigan, both offensively and defensively. And Morgan, for whatever reason, seems to be in a funk. I don't see him getting in a ton, unless there is foul trouble.
Chantel (1:00 PM)
Well thanks everyone for stopping by. If I didn't get to your question feel free to email me (jenningsESPN@gmail.com) or tweet me @chanteljennings. Mike will be chatting next week so make sure to stop by! Have a wonderful Thursday!