ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- While questions about Denard Robinson’s health hang over the Michigan football team for the third consecutive week, other questions also have started to emerge.
Who will catch passes next year? What about Brady Hoke’s on-field demeanor?
These questions and more are answered in this week’s WolverineNation mailbag. Questions for next week should go to firstname.lastname@example.org or @chanteljennings.
jamesjr360 from The Den asks: Do you think any 2012 or 2013 receivers have a chance to be a big playmaker (seeing how Laquon Treadwell is losing interest)?
Amara Darboh is someone with a bright future. Michigan’s coaches have said with Devin Gardner moving back to quarterback, Darboh has taken some of his old reps in practice. Combine that with the coaching staff deciding to burn his redshirt -- perhaps so he could have game experience for next season -- and there is the potential for him to have a an impact as early as next season. He is 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, which is more along the size lines of what the Wolverines want in their receivers as well.
theJET84 from The Den asks: How much does Brady Hoke's (mostly) calm presence on the sideline have an effect on the players during games -- namely games in which they are coming from behind (e.g. Notre Dame Under The Lights, the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Michigan State and now Northwestern.... am I missing any?)?
I remember some players discussing it last year and it does help. In some ways it gives the players the belief he still has confidence in them. That can’t be understated. While it doesn’t likely mean the difference between wins and losses -- scheme, players and preparation do that -- exuding calmness certainly helps all of that on Saturdays, especially when the game is on the line.
J.B. from Bloomington, Ill., asks: Bloggers, online community types and other goofs have noodled aplenty about Michigan’s offensive struggles this season. Some have felt that Al Borges was not being flexible enough with Denard Robinson, trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, and calling plays that were neither surprising nor optimal for the situation at hand. I’ve also heard that Michigan’s offensive talent is as weak as it has ever been since Bo Schembechler became coach. We have a very talented but limited quarterback, a weak offensive line, mediocre playmakers, and but for Devin Gardner’s coming-out party last week, next to no depth. I don’t want to pin this solely on Borges. I think he hass been more flexible than people give him credit for, and I think last week’s game gave us a taste of what Borges’ style can offer. But is the coaching staff failing to develop the offensive players so that they play to their talents and are ready to contribute?
It’s an interesting question, actually, and one I’m not terribly sure of either way. The biggest thing, to me, goes to the offensive line. The interior of the line, especially, has been inconsistent throughout the season. For every good play Elliott Mealer and Ricky Barnum have had, there has been an equal amount of rough spots. It starts there. In looking at player development, though, a lot depends on the player. Taylor Lewan has improved greatly over the past two seasons. So has Jeremy Gallon. I don’t know if the judging of Russell Bellomy off of the one relief appearance -- especially with Michigan’s line issues -- is a fair assessment of what Michigan’s coaches saw in him. That’s all to say there has been development with players, but some guys -- and this is true throughout every program across the country -- don’t develop at either the same pace or at all and coaching has little to do with it.