Every Thursday, the WolverineNation staff sits down to discuss three topics surrounding Michigan sports. It should come as no surprise that this week, the writers tackle three questions from the Outback Bowl and overall football season.
1) Now that the season is over and we saw how Denard Robinson was eventually used, do you think Michigan would've been more successful had it done that all season?
Michael Rothstein: Ah, hindsight and, probably, yes, it would have. Michigan would have still struggled early in the season and probably still lost to Alabama and Notre Dame because Devin Gardner and Robinson both would have been feeling their way through new positions. But I think Michigan beats Nebraska had they run this type of offense throughout the year. Still not sold on them beating Ohio State, either, but 9-3 would have gotten them in the Big Ten title game.
<--photo1-->Chantel Jennings: I think the Wolverines would’ve beaten Nebraska and found themselves in the Big Ten championship game. With that on the line, Michigan might’ve been a bigger threat to Wisconsin than Nebraska was. A possible Rose Bowl? Yes. But I think they still would’ve dropped the other three games.
Tom VanHaaren: Michigan lost to Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State. Gardner was the quarterback against Ohio State, so that one wouldn't have been different. The only games that it probably would have affected are Notre Dame and Nebraska. I think the Nebraska game would have gone a different way, but it's tough to say with Notre Dame because of its outstanding defense. So I guess I would say that it probably would have only gotten the team one more win.
2) Which underclassman do you think will have the biggest offseason?
Rothstein: Amara Darboh. Michigan needs a receiver opposite Jeremy Gallon because, and no offense to Drew Dileo, Michigan in its new offense can't have two outside receivers under 6 feet and Gallon is going to be the Wolverines' top receiver next fall. There’s a wide-open competition otherwise, and Darboh seems like a good candidate to get some of those snaps. For Michigan to have success in 2013, it'll need either him or Jehu Chesson to improve.
Jennings: Devin Funchess. He showed his promise in the non-conference season, but when the Big Ten hit, we really didn’t hear much from “the other Devin.” With more time to learn the playbook, get accustomed to Gardner and be in the weight room, he could be one of the top tight ends in the conference next season.
VanHaaren: Kyle Kalis. He has the opportunity in front of him, and I think he knows he could be a four-year starter. There were talks that he was ready physically this season, so with a redshirt season and an offseason I am expecting big things from him.
3) Which moment -- good or bad -- will you remember most from this season?
Rothstein: From a game, probably Brendan Gibbons' field goal to beat Michigan State, mostly because of how unexpected the entire final drive was and then Gibbons coming through -- again -- in the clutch. From outside a game, the way Robinson handled himself at Big Ten media days. His speech to the assembled crowd was the most open he had been to that point -- and has been since. Considering how uncomfortable he was as a freshman speaking to the media, his growth in that area might have eclipsed any progress he made on the field.
Jennings: Mine is also a Robinson moment. After the loss to Ohio State, I was behind him as he was running off the field for the last time and he took his skull cap off and threw it to one of the fans near the tunnel. For some reason that stuck with me. I’m not a nostalgic person, but something like that -- what I wore for the final game, I might keep that -- but he threw it to a fan and probably made a kid’s day. He truly is one of the most humble athletes I’ve ever covered.
VanHaaren: At the Northwestern game I was walking on the sideline to try to get to the end zone that Michigan was driving toward. I made it halfway, right in front of the visiting recruits, and I looked up to see every fan in the stadium rise and cheer including the recruits. Shane Morris and Leon McQuay III were screaming and fist pumping after watching Roy Roundtree's improbable catch. I missed the catch, but got to see the reaction of all the fans and the pure excitement on their faces. I thought that was pretty cool to watch.