Mailbag: The Game, Michigan RBs, Recruiting and More

Mailbag: The Game, Michigan RBs, Recruiting and More

Football

Mailbag: The Game, Michigan RBs, Recruiting and More


WolverinesWire answers your Michigan football questions.


Mailbag: The Game, Michigan RBs, Recruiting and More

Welcome to our first-ever mailbag.

Like I did at my former stop with the old AMA, we’ll keep this relatively informal.

Let’s do it!

Yes. You have to take a look at how things have stacked up for Michigan in his first three seasons, and realize that the best (and perhaps only real ) shot Harbaugh had in beating Ohio State was in 2016 — when they really, truly, kinda almost did.

I believe Michigan was favored in 2015, but that was a fool’s errand, and an overreaction to Ohio State’s inexplicable loss to MSU the week before. Michigan just didn’t have the talent, and former defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin was mentally checked out, having privately accepted the Maryland position.

In 2017, the play-calling and game plan was excellent, but John O’Korn was not. I’m not gonna bash him for that (he’s heard enough of that already), but more competent QB play wins that game. It was all right there for them, but it — again — was an overmatched Michigan team, in that, Ohio State is really good in all three phases of the game, and Michigan was good in 1.5 a year ago.

Now, looking to next year, it’s far from a lock to say that Michigan should win The Game. Ohio State will be breaking in a new QB, presumably Dwayne Haskins, but it’ll also be on the road. As for now, I’ll say it’s in OSU’s favor. If Michigan doesn’t win that version of The Game, I actually like the Wolverines chances in 2019 — which is the year I believe everything really comes together. You’ll lose some important early entrants to the NFL Draft, but the bulk of experience should return as seniors. It’ll be at home, and the progression should be there.

It takes awhile to build a program, and while Michigan had a lot of top-rated recruiting classes under Brady Hoke, there were a lot more misses than hits. The same can’t be said for Ohio State.

Harbaugh will get there. He’s outcoached Urban twice now, but just hasn’t had all the horses he needs to run the race. If not this year, I think 2019 is The Game you should have circled on your calendar.

Not as of yet. As far as I last heard, he still hasn’t been cleared — waiting on one specific (unspecified) hurdle.

Regardless, it’ll still be a longshot that he returns to form. If there’s anyone that can do it, it’d be Grant, though. The fact that he’s battled back to where he currently is, is a testament to his demeanor.

To my knowledge, it had been offensively — but don’t hold me to that, as it may have changed with his own personal preference.

I don’t know that weather is the main thing, per se, or if it’s proximity. I haven’t gotten any strong reactions to how his last visit went, but I spoke to him during his visit a year ago, and Michigan did the best it could to put him in prime decision.

And don’t think Michigan is out of the race — they’re firmly in it, for sure, as of this juncture.

Answering the first one first — last season was just Kurt Taylor’s first season on campus, so it’s far too early to tell whether or not Taylor will get playing time.

He has something of an uphill battle, though. At this time, he’s behind Higdon, Evans, Tru Wilson and O’Maury Samuels on the depth chart — from what I’ve heard. And the staff is excited about the potential of both Christian Turner and Hassan Haskins.

Not to switch gears, but on the latter mentioned incoming freshman — I had heard from sources close to Michigan’s thinking last fall about Haskins. In their evaluation, they saw a bruising tailback with speed who played much closer to a five-star than his three-star rating. Drew a comparison to former Michigan commit A.J. Dillon who just killed it in his first year at Boston College. So, you have some talent coming in.

I’m not writing Taylor off yet, though. He had a whole offseason — the same as anyone else with Ben Herbert & Co. I’d imagine he’ll get carries this year, but what he does with them is up to him.

As far as the other running backs, I posted a piece at launch about how Karan Higdon is now 13 lbs. heavier, and I’ve been told by a source that he’s actually faster than he was before. Michigan is excited about its 1-2 punch, but I’m just curious to see who grabs that third spot and literally runs with it.

I think far too much has been made about all this RPO stuff, as if it will become the essence of the Wolverines offense.

You’re 100% onto something here, in that — and this is just my feeling, honestly — it’ll be more of a sprinkled in scenario than not.

The quarterbacks, in particular, have much more mobility than their predecessors, but I wouldn’t even call Shea Patterson a dual-threat as some have. RPO also means — of course — that there’s the option to hand off, but based off what Harbaugh’s offenses have looked like throughout the years, I’d be hard-pressed to predict an entire philosophy change.

To me, RPO because the trendy buzzword after the Philadelphia Eagles went on their Super Bowl run, but Michigan used some semblance of it even a year ago. Given the state of the quarterback room, and the style of backs and receiver they have in its arsenal, I would be surprised if Harbaugh didn’t use a decent dose. But I don’t think that this offense is suddenly going to turn into one where the quarterback is making all the choices at the line. As we saw in All or Nothing, Harbaugh likes to keep a firm hand on the rudder, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

It’s still far too early to tell for sure. Michigan is still in it with backs like John Emery, Zach Charbonnet, Eric Gray, Crouch — if you want to call him that. They’re still working on guys like Kyle Ford, Cornelius Johnson and Wandale Robinson. But they did just extend several offers, including to Bay City WR Devell Washington.

I think they’re in good position with all of the above, at this juncture, but it’s hard to actually project anyone to end up in this class in that light — despite the early visit period. We should know a lot more next month, when Michigan has its annual BBQ at the Big House.

Right now, if I had to pick anyone to end up in this class, it would be Washington, with the rest being question marks until further notice. But considering that most of the above have made multiple visits or have intentions to, it’s a good sign.

I believe it just started, but don’t quote me on that.

Given how quickly the Oosterbaan weight room facility took to get done — started last summer and finished this spring — things should move relatively quickly.

From @CoreyWordSmith

Recent follower, like your site alot so far. I have a question that I’ve yet to see anyone address: has Michigan considered giving Michael Barrett a shot at Quarterback? If so, why not? Besides his height, is he not a good thrower or what? Just curious, haven’t seen anyone ask that.

I don’t expect Barrett to get a true shot at quarterback at Michigan, and that’s by design.

First, with the quarterbacks room that the Wolverines currently have, there’s a lot of fierce, stiff competition. Not saying that Barrett doesn’t have an arm — and we’ve seen that he’s multi-talented — but he would be put at something of a disadvantage, having to compete with Shea and Brandon Peters and Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton, outright. I think it’s more that he has a much higher value at being versatile, if that makes sense.

In a way, I liken it to the Zach Gentry situation. I think, if Gentry would have stayed at at QB, he would have had a shot to be a starter at the position by now. But, the staff saw a high ceiling at TE, and that looks like it’s close to paying off, with him being something of an unstoppable weapon there, if deployed correctly.

Same idea with Barrett, who can play on both sides of the ball and be plugged in at multiple places — including QB.

We’ll see what happens once he goes through fall camp, and given his skillset, I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled a Jabrill Peppers — eventually — and took reps under center — eventually.

Contact/Follow @WolverinesWire@isaiahhole

Latest

More WolverinesWire
Home