Mailbag: ACLs, 2014 season, V-Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope you have one. And if not, I hope you have chocolate.

Keiran, Ann Arbor: What’s up with the ACL issues on this team? Should it be something to worry about?

A: Anytime a given injury crops up over and over again, it’s something to take notice of. Obviously the coaches aren’t going out there and taking two-by-fours to their best players’ ACLs and weird cuts/hits happen. But to have nine ACL tears in three years is pretty incredible. I spoke with another college strength and conditioning coach on Thursday and he said that during his career, ACL tears really only happened at new stops during the first three to five months of his training. During the first three to five months that’s when the body is getting used to the new regimen and if there’s a muscle or ligament or part of the body that has been underworked, that’s when it’ll be injured. The majority of the ACL tears the Wolverines have had weren’t in that three- to five-month window. On top of that, I know that Brady Hoke and his staff pride themselves on having physical practices, but five of the nine ACL tears happened during practice or conditioning. I’m not sure how you fix that or avoid it, but I do know that this should be addressed. Albert Einstein said insanity was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” The injury has hit different position groups at different times in different situations. If the coaches have a way that they train and strengthen the ACL, now is the time to reexamine.

Alex, Holland, Michigan: Outside of Ohio State and Michigan State, what’s the big game we should have circled for next season?

A: Well, the obvious one would be Notre Dame. It’s the final scheduled matchup between the rivals. Michigan might have the more talented roster, but it’s on the road early in the season, so that’ll be a good one for sure. But that kind of seems like the obvious choice, so I’ll also say the ones that I’ll be watching a bit differently will be Appalachian State and Penn State. App State, because, well, that was my first game in Michigan Stadium as a student. I remember being at pregames and people playing the scene from The Longest Yard when Adam Sandler says, “In college we’d start every season against Appalachian State or some slack Division II team. Kick the living snot out of ‘em.” And then, we all know how that ended. And I’m interested in the PSU game because it’s not very often that we’re able to so clearly see the evolution of a player -- that, I believe will be evident in Christian Hackenberg. And James Franklin is going to put together one heck of a game plan. Don’t sleep on the Nittany Lions.

Andrew, Hoboken: What’s your best Valentine’s Day story?

A: I assume by best, you mean worst. So that'd be third grade. Anthony Tucker. Mrs. Pohlkamp’s class. Anthony, being the romantic 8-year-old he was, put a bunch of flowers in my desk at school. Unfortunately, I had a sinus infection and terrible allergies to pollen. The two combined made me not able to breathe and everything in my desk had to be cleaned because of the flower allergens. It was literally like that scene from Hitch when Will Smith needs the Benadryl because of the shellfish. #TrueLove