It’s mail time. You’ve got questions. And no one is blaming you for that because this team is a bit confusing from time to time. So let’s try to answer some of those.
Send your questions in and we’ll do a mailbag every Tuesday (Twitter: @chanteljennings, Email: jenningsESPN@gmail.com).
Berserk Hippo via Twitter: Is there light ahead on offense? What should make me feel better by offense next year versus now?
A: I think the growth we saw in the offensive line in just a week should give you a bit of hope. So much of the line is based on chemistry, and by the end of this season you’ll have a handful of guys who’ve had significant game experience on the line and an entire offseason to build that chemistry so that next fall they won’t have the growing pains they experienced this season. On top of that, Amara Darboh will return to the wide receivers next season, and I think he and Jehu Chesson could both be huge assets. And the run game, specifically freshmen Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith, should give you some hope for next season. They showed they have vision and they’re downhill runners.
And for everyone calling for Shane Morris to play ... Well, there’s now an entire spring season (which he wasn’t able to enroll for last year) and summer and fall camp for him to compete. Plus, Wilton Speight will be enrolling this January, so there will be a solid three-man race for that starting spot with Morris and Speight chomping at the bit and Devin Gardner being put under a lot of pressure.
Jake, Chicago: What are the chances Michigan can beat Ohio State?
A: Ohio State has the better, more consistent team. Is it possible that Michigan can win? Yes, it is possible. But the current Michigan pass rush isn’t going to faze Braxton Miller too much. The current run defense isn’t going to be the most difficult Carlos Hyde has seen. And the secondary needs to play its best coverage of the season in order to not allow Miller to make his throws. On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes will likely throw a similar blitz scheme against the Wolverines as did the Spartans, and they’ll do their best to get after Gardner on every single down. And though the run game looked improved last week, Smith and Green (or Fitzgerald Toussaint) will have to play their best games of the year. If all that goes well, then yes, Michigan could win. Would it be the biggest outlier performance of the season? Yes, yes it would.
B Hugh via Twitter: How many snaps would one expect Taco Charlton to receive for the rest of the year?
A: I think we’ll see him for more snaps over the next two games. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison seems very high on his progress, and Frank Clark has kind of taken Charlton under his wing. On Tuesday, Mattison said Charlton is no longer playing like a freshman, so with the rotation up front and that kind of trust in Charlton, I think Mattison might try to mix him in a bit more.
Sam, DC: Did Michigan gain or lose fair-weather fans by their overtime win at NU?
A: Well, I suppose that depends on the definition of fair-weather fans. I feel like Michigan fans are huge fans and that even when they’re upset, they’re still loyal. However, if we’re talking about fans on the periphery who might tune in Saturday because of what they saw last week, then maybe there are a few. Obviously, a win helps (and Northwestern is better than its Big Ten record implies). However, even more so than the win, Drew Dileo's slide into the hold (#DileoPowerSlide was trending among Michigan fans, I believe) brought some eyes to the game. Any time you have a play like that, it draws people.