Every Thursday, the WolverineNation staff gets together to discuss three important issues facing Michigan sports. This week, the writers discuss football suspensions, an interesting basketball matchup and the Detroit Cass Tech pipeline.
1) With the three suspensions from the football team, is two weeks enough to pick up the slack left in the secondary and the kicking game?
Michael Rothstein: Replacing Will Hagerup shouldn't be much of an issue since sophomore Matt Wile did some punting this season and had the job for portions of last season. While Hagerup has a really strong leg, Wile is good enough to be a serviceable replacement. Michigan should be more concerned in the secondary. Courtney Avery is replacing J.T. Floyd, and Avery has been inconsistent. He has had times in his career where he has been quite good -- and other times where he has been burned and eventually passed by Raymon Taylor on the depth chart. Plus, Avery's move to outside corner from the nickel shifts the entire secondary. Michigan should have enough time to adjust without Floyd.
Tom VanHaaren: The kicking game will be fine. Michigan has Wile and walk-on Kenny Allen, and Hagerup has been suspended before. The secondary is a different story, though. Michigan needed Floyd back there. I don't think it will be a disaster, but it's definitely a big blow.
Chantel Jennings: Michigan won’t miss Hagerup too much, but the difference between Floyd and one of his possible replacements -- Dennis Norfleet -- is a bit scary. South Carolina’s targets might not be the biggest (Bruce Ellington is 5-foot-9, Ace Sanders is 5-8, Damiere Byrd is 5-9) so the height factor won’t be what Norfleet is up against. It’s the experience factor. Norfleet has never played defense. He has two rushes this season. And now, he’ll be expected to play up to the “expectation of the position” in the Outback Bowl. Doesn’t sound promising.
2) Who would win: This year’s Michigan hoops team or the Chris Webber "timeout" team?
Rothstein: That Michigan team probably had more top-end talent -- Webber, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard would easily start on this year's Wolverines' team. But where this year's Michigan team would have a chance is with its depth. Michigan could roll nine guys out there to keep their team fresh -- and freshman Nik Stauskas could be a game-changer with his outside shooting ability. It would be a close game and probably come down to the final two minutes, but I'd have to go with the Fab Five because Howard and Webber would be too difficult a matchup for a combination of Jordan Morgan and Glenn Robinson III.
VanHaaren: Webber's team. This team isn't even halfway through the season yet, so I don't know that I could call it for them. The Fab Five is the Fab Five for a reason.
Jennings: If you asked John Beilein he’d say something along the lines of, “Well, the game has changed so much.” I’m going to stick with Mike and Tom and say that this season’s team would lose a close game. I don’t the current team’s big men could be effective enough.
3) Michigan picked up two more commits -- both Cass Tech kids -- last weekend. Which Cass Tech player that is currently on the roster or already committed do you think plays the biggest role for the Wolverines over the next few seasons?
Rothstein: Jourdan Lewis is a guy who stands out as someone who could have impact early in his career. While Michigan appears to be set at cornerback over the next few seasons, Lewis has enough talent to force his way onto the field in at least some capacity by his sophomore season (Avery's graduation would leave an opening).
VanHaaren: This question made me think a little bit because there are a few options. I think I'm going with David Dawson because the offensive line needs help. He’s a guard, so Dawson could help shore up the interior of the line and help progress Michigan's offensive efforts.
Jennings: I’ll say Dawson as well. He has the chance to be a really, really good guard for Michigan and over the past few months he has really matured and he’s going to be coming in ready to do anything for the program. I’m excited to see his progress over the next few seasons.