Commentary

Looking at possible bowl matchup

Mailbag: Keenum, Houston would present stern test for Mattison's pass defense

Updated: November 30, 2011, 10:58 AM ET
By Chantel Jennings | WolverineNation

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Michigan football team closed out its season with a strong 40-34 win over Ohio State, and the basketball team had an impressive showing in the Maui invitational before a disappointing 70-58 loss to Virginia in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

For the first time in a while, fans are excited to see what happens with the BCS bowl selection, and people are filling the newly renovated Crisler Arena. Is Michigan back? I don't know. Please don't ask that question in the mailbag unless you're asking Mike. But I do know it's an interesting time to be in Ann Arbor.

With that said, the 'Bag is only as good as the questions you, dear readers, ask. Send questions to michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com, jenningsespn@gmail.com, or shoot them over as Tweets to @wolverinenation.

[+] EnlargeCase Keenum
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireQB Case Keenum and Houston's offense are unlike anything Michigan sees in the Big Ten.
Jacob E. Mangum, via Twitter: Do you think UM's woes against the pass this past game are cause for concern, especially if we play senior quarterback Case Keenum and Houston?

A: I think any team, even if it doesn't struggle with its pass defense, is going to be concerned to play Keenum. He's averaging 394 passing yards per game. He has thrown 467 passes and only three of those have been intercepted. His completion rate is 73.2 percent. The nice thing about Keenum for the Wolverines (if there is a "nice thing") is that he isn't going to run much. He rushes less than four times per game, so Michigan will know where it needs to put its focus.

The Wolverines are giving up about 189 yards of passing offense per game. But Keenum is going to get his yards. Even on a very bad day, he could throw for 250 yards and that could still really hurt some teams. But if the Wolverines can control Keenum's three major targets (Tyron Carrier, Patrick Edwards, Justin Johnson), Michigan could have better luck. The three are redshirt seniors but account for 32 of Keenum's 43 touchdown passes. If Michigan's "inside and in front" mantra can be kept up against a very talented quarterback and pool of receivers, it could be a very close game. But if Keenum has a big day, the Wolverines probably won't be very successful.

Ryan Wietchy, Sterling Heights: What kind of a role do you see Trey Burke playing in this season as a freshman? Do you think he deserved to start over Stu Douglass at point guard in the opener?

A: I think Maui basically solidified Burke as the Wolverines' go-to ball-handler. He ran the floor and the offense well and didn't seem to be rattled by the pressure. I was very impressed with how few breakdowns there were in the offense. Yes, there were times when he drove the lane into a bunch of trees and threw bad passes, but I think Michigan coach John Beilein prefers that Burke has the courage to drive now as he's learning to make harder, quicker passes rather than for Burke to be a tentative player.

And no, I don't think Burke should've started over Douglass in the opener. Burke showed up late to the team's walkthrough practice that day, and I respect that Beilein upheld his team rules. Last season, point guard Darius Morris lost his starting spot in Michigan's game against Purdue because he "disregarded core values," according to Beilein. If it were senior guard Zack Novak or sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. that showed up late, I think the result would've been the same. Beilein is a tough coach, and his rules are the team rules.

J Raddy, via Twitter: Which coach has the most swag at Michigan?

A: Obviously, swag is in the eye of the beholder, but if I had to pick I would say assistant basketball coach Bacari Alexander. Not only has he been a four-time winner of CollegeInsider.com's Runway to the Fashionable Four, but also I've seen him sport some pretty fly suits on the sideline at Crisler Arena. I actually spoke with him last year about it, and he said he lets his wife pick out his clothes.

Dave, via Twitter: What was up with the weird color socks & shoes in Maui? Two thumbs down!

A: It was a special shoe for the Maui Invitational. Each team wore the teal warmup shirts and shoes but I just think it was more obvious with Michigan, because people are used to the Michigan basketball team wearing blue shoes, just not that shade. So no, there wasn't a mess-up with the shoe order, it was just in the spirit of Hawaii!

Chantel Jennings covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. She can be reached at jenningsespn@gmail.com or on Twitter at @chanteljennings.

Chantel Jennings | email

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