Michigan mailbag: Defense, recruiting, B1G

Two weeks in and the No. 11 Michigan football team is 2-0. With a relatively easy few weeks, the Wolverines could be headed into their matchup at Penn State with a 5-0 record. It’s shaping up to be quite the season, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t questions. We do the mailbag every Wednesday, so make sure you get your questions in early and often (Twitter: @chanteljennings, email: jenningsespn@gmail.com) for the chance to see them here.

1. Jacob Mangum, Tampa, Florida: What former U-M player would you bring back to play on this year's defense and why?

A: I think the obvious choice here is Charles Woodson. Why wouldn’t you bring him back? He’s the only defensive player who has ever won the Heisman, and the Wolverines’ secondary could use a playmaker like him. I can only imagine what Greg Mattison would do with this defense if he had a cornerback like Woodson. However, if we’re talking someone who’s more recent to the program, I’d maybe pick Brandon Graham or another defensive lineman to help up front as the Wolverines try to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. At Michigan, Graham recorded 56 tackles for a loss, including 29.5 sacks. His athleticism up front would pick up the defensive line immediately.

2. David Weber, Burlington, Ontario: What was the impact of the game, atmosphere on the recruits that were on hand Saturday? What are you hearing?

A: I spoke with our Big Ten recruiting reporter Tom VanHaaren, and he has heard only good things. I mean, seriously, how many of the 115,000 plus fans there were ready to commit after that game? The football was impressive, and that’s a huge takeaway, but it’s also important to consider everything around the football. The experience as a whole was totally unique and something I don’t see other programs matching. As the recruits walked in to the stadium through the tunnel, they had people waiting to high five them the entire way to their seats. Add on to that the flyover, the halftime show (complete with a personalized message to Michigan from BeyoncĂ©), the flashing lights and the whole feel of the evening.

3. Bhugh215 via Twitter: Obviously Gardner will be receiving some serious Heisman recognition, but at what point do we pull him versus Akron?

A: Akron has lost 27 consecutive games on the road, and they allowed 498 yards of offense last weekend to James Madison. Suffice it to say the Wolverines should be putting up huge numbers this weekend. Michigan pulled quarterback Devin Gardner with a 43-point lead over Central Michigan in its season opener, and I’d imagine they’d do something similar this week, though maybe something more in the range of 35 or so. The scary thought, though, is that the Wolverines realistically could get that kind of a lead before halftime, especially if Jeremy Gallon, Drew Dileo and Fitzgerald Toussaint are firing on all cylinders. I think it’s even possible they could pull back-up quarterback Shane Morris at some point later in the game to allow third-string QB Brian Cleary the chance to get some game snaps, as well.

4. Ryan Massengill via Twitter: Iowa, Indiana, and Purdue have non-conference losses unfortunately, will we see any more non-conference losses in B1G Ten?

A: Not from Michigan, but across the conference as a whole, I think we absolutely will. In Week 3, Purdue has a night game against No. 21 Notre Dame; No. 23 Nebraska hosts No. 16 UCLA; No. 20 Wisconsin travels to Arizona State; and Illinois hosts No. 19 Washington. In Week 4, Michigan State travels to Notre Dame. The Spartans defense probably will be able to give Tommy Rees a few issues, but the Irish defense will do the same (if not more) to Michigan State’s quarterback. And a week later Purdue will face an impressive Northern Illinois team that already took down one Big Ten opponent in Iowa.