It’s bye week. But that doesn’t mean football isn’t on our minds, which is why we have the weekly mailbag. Send your questions in (jenningsESPN@gmail.com, @chanteljennings on Twitter) and I’ll answer the best here every Wednesday.
A: I don’t think so. Everyone has to remember that it’s not just Gardner who’s the reason why the Wolverines are turning over the ball. The offensive line isn’t giving him a ton of help. The running backs haven’t been effective enough to really make teams play them too honestly. And the wide receivers aren’t always putting themselves in the best spots to catch passes. Yes, Gardner has made some poor decisions. I don’t think anyone will argue that. However, put in the same place, would Morris make better decisions? And on top of that, Morris doesn’t have the same kind of threat with his feet that Gardner has, so defenses would likely blitz even more. If a coach and coordinator are going to pull a redshirt junior for a true freshman, they better have as much confidence in that kid as they do in their job. I think leaving Gardner in was the right thing to do. I don’t know if Morris would’ve done any better and he certainly wouldn’t have been more clutch in the must-score situations that the Wolverines have been able to score in (led by Gardner).
Dave Conlon, Ann Arbor: Todd McShay says it's time for Michigan fans to "panic." What say you?
A: I would take a cue from the British and “keep calm and carry on.” But if you want to panic, I guess now would be a decent time. The Wolverines have showed they can be clutch when they really, really, really need to be. I guess that’s encouraging. But they’ve put themselves in positions to be clutch against teams that they should’ve eaten for breakfast. I think this bye week comes at an opportunistic time for Michigan to kind of figure out its situation on the lines on both sides of the ball. The four-man rush definitely improved against UConn, but it has a ways to go. And if coach Brady Hoke does decide to move some guys around on the interior of the offensive line, that might not be the worst thing in the world. And if both the offensive and defensive lines can get better, it’ll help the rest of the team exponentially. If the O-line can hold it together, that gives Gardner some breathing room and allows playmakers to do their thing. If the defensive line can start becoming a bigger threat, then the linebackers and secondary can focus more on their jobs rather than worrying if they’re breaking down up front. So, if you’re going to panic, panic about the lines.
P.J. Wascher, Ann Arbor: Has [Graham] Glasgow taken any practice reps at center since the season started?
A: From what I’ve heard, he has in practice. I assumed that we would’ve see him play a bit against UConn, but moving him to center also means that the Wolverines need to field a new body at left guard. Chris Bryant would likely be the first guy up, but for whatever reason, that just hasn’t happened yet. On Tuesday Hoke said that they would use this week to bring more competition to those three positions so I think we might see a new starting line up when Michigan starts Big Ten play against Minnesota.
Matt Brown via Twitter: They read into the hype and performed bad. They tried to counter that and still performed bad. What's their mentality now?
A: They’re taking it all in stride and working to get better during the bye week. Really, you’re just going to get a bunch of coach speak during this time. Clearly, Hoke isn’t happy with his team, nor are the players. But, in times like this, when nothing seems to be working, teams generally go back to the basics. And luckily enough for Michigan, it has a bye week now to do that, and then next week to prepare for Minnesota.
Jess, Michigan: With a bye week, what should Michigan fans do this weekend?
A: Watch some other football games. Ohio State and Wisconsin should be a good game. And LSU-Georgia will be good, too. Or, do like me and enjoy some cider/donuts and check out Art Prize in Grand Rapids.