It’s game week. If you’ve already started tailgating, there’s no judgment. It has been a long, long offseason. We have the mailbag every Wednesday, so feel free to drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or send me a tweet (@chanteljennings) whenever questions pop in to your head and check back here to see if they make the final cut.
Now, on to this week’s questions…
1. Andre Davis, Evansville: What's the biggest weakness on this year's team?
A: Having not seen this team play yet, I’m going to go with the interior offensive linemen. Graham Glasgow, Jack Miller and Kyle Kalis combine for a total of zero starts, which isn’t exactly what you want to see. Don’t get me wrong, there are other areas of doubt, obviously. The wide receivers took a blow. We have no idea what the running back situation looks like. The secondary is pretty turned over, experience-wise. The defensive line may or may not be better than last season. However, if the offensive line isn’t effective then it puts Devin Gardner in a much more difficult situation. With Gardner in a more difficult situation, he has a tougher time getting the ball to Fitzgerald Toussaint or any of his receivers. If the offensive line can’t protect him, he faces injury and then Michigan is left with a true freshman or a walk-on, neither of which is a scenario I think people want to see played out. Those three guys up front need to have chemistry and need to play older and more experienced than they are if they want the offense to function like it can.
2. Mike Randazzo, Salt Lake City: How will Greg Mattison take advantage of the CMU QB being 2-of-4 passing in his career? Unleash blitzes early, or drop many back?
A: Well, junior Cody Kater was the understudy to a pretty talented quarterback in Ryan Radcliff (3,158 yards, 23 touchdowns as a senior), and I never underestimate what a player can learn while studying the guy in front of him. However, yes, he is inexperienced and the Central Michigan offensive line is in a worse place without No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Eric Fisher protecting the QB. However, I don’t think Mattison will just throw the kitchen sink at him. The goal is for Michigan to be effective defensively on a regular basis with a four-man rush. I’d imagine we’ll see some blitz schemes early just to get Kater on his heels and let the Chippewas know that they can, but I don’t necessarily think that means they will consistently.
A: That’s a tough question. Because you have to look at depth at the position nationally and if only one rush end is named and it’s between Clark and, you know, Jadeveon Clowney, I think we know who’s going to get the All-American status. However, even if Clark isn’t named a first team All-American, I think he’ll have the more successful season at his position. I expect Gallon will have a great season, maybe even a 1000-yard season. But when you look at who will contribute more to Michigan and how that will be seen nationally, based on how other people at the same position perform, I think the scales will tilt to Clark. If he lives up to his billing, I think he’ll be the one with the ridiculous stats at the end of this year.
4. Kellen, Detroit: Which position on the depth chart seemed the most surprising to you?
A: Probably running back. I already knew that Derrick Green wasn’t going to be first or second string, but I thought the coaches had been downplaying his fall camp. To see him listed as sharing the fifth-string position with De'Veon Smith, however, was just kind of a surprise. I think most expected Green to come in and compete for the starting spot from Day One. Now, this doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t do that. But if you want to trust the depth charts (which, Brandon Moore -- with a cast on his foot -- was listed as a first string tight end last season for many weeks), it means he hasn’t done that yet, which surprises me. Green has had a month to prove himself better than Drake Johnson, Thomas Rawls or Justice Hayes, and he hasn’t. I would imagine he’ll move up the depth chart at some point this season, but I definitely wouldn’t have guessed at any point since he committed last winter, that we’d see him as a fifth stringer.