Chat with Michael Rothstein
Welcome to WolverineNation! On Thursday, reporter Michael Rothstein stops by to chat about the state of Michigan football.
Rothstein joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering the University of Michigan for AnnArbor.com, Notre Dame for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette and a host of colleges for the Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, Va.). A Syracuse graduate and an East Meadow, N.Y. native, he lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Send your questions now and join Rothstein Thursday at noon ET!
Michael Rothstein (12:01 PM)
Hey everyone and Happy Holidays to you! While still enjoying thoughts of last night's (well, this morning's) Nirvana reunion fronted by Paul McCartney, let's get started talking about Michigan sports. Bring all your questions and let's have a great hour.Annnd....Go.
Ryan (NY) (12:13 PM)
Where does Denard play in the Outback bowl?
Michael Rothstein (12:17 PM)
Sorry for technical difficulties. Looks like we are back. Apologies.
Michael Rothstein (12:19 PM)
Ryan, back to your question....I think Denard plays a little bit of everywhere in the Outback Bowl. Certainly some quarterback but a healthy amount of running back and slot receiver. Wouldn't shock me if Michigan went the Percy Harvin route with him in the bowl game.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What College Football Bowl Game are you Looking Forward seeing this season?
Michael Rothstein (12:19 PM)
The national championship game. I think it has the potential to be the the best bowl game, period, and I like watching defense. There will be a lot of defense in this game.
Since Michigan is the only team to play Al and ND, what is your view of the national championship game?
Michael Rothstein (12:21 PM)
As mentioned before -- a lot of defense. These are the best two defenses, and best two front sevens, in the country. First one to 20, in my opinion, wins. I'll be curious to see what Bama's defense does to confuse Everett Golson. That might be the key to the game. If Golson can figure that out Notre Dame has a shot. The Irish also can't get in awe of the moment. Alabama has been there before and knows the deal. If the Crimson Tide get a 10-14 point lead early, it could be curtains.
Will Michigan have a top class
Michael Rothstein (12:23 PM)
I don't think Michigan will have the top recruiting class, but I bet the Wolverines finish in the Top 5 this year. They have a great quarterback recruit in Shane Morris and a gaggle of good linemen on both sides. The only way I could see them finishing with the top class is if they land all their top targets remaining. Don't know if that happens.
Chase Neumann (Guthrie, OK)
Do you think that Michigan should've put Robinson at running back instead of quarterback when he first came to Michigan?
Michael Rothstein (12:25 PM)
No, I don't. Michigan had a major, major need at quarterback then (remember, the other quarterbacks on the roster were David Cone, freshman Tate Forcier and Nick Sheridan, who wasn't really built for Rich Rodriguez's system). Plus, Michigan was in a decent-to-good spot at running back with Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown, both of whom had cups of coffee in the NFL. Robinson spent his career pretty much where he should have.
Will Denard Robinson get drafted? And if so, what position will he play in the NFL?
Michael Rothstein (12:26 PM)
Yes, I don't think there is any doubt he gets drafted. Even if he shows he doesn't have the most reliable hands, a team will take a chance on him because of his speed and the hope they could teach him that skill. If he can show he has hands, I think he could be an early (not first round, but early) pick. No question he is a combination of slot receiver, running back, returner and maybe (depending on the system) Wildcat quarterback in the NFL.
Is Michigan for real? Can they win the title
Michael Rothstein (12:27 PM)
In basketball? Yes, they can. Really high on this team. Like their depth at key positions (point guard and the post) and have 4-5 guys who can go off for 20 points on a given night. This is probably the most talented team Michigan has had since the Fab Five years.
Javaris Jamar Javarison Lamar (Albany,GA)
We always do good in recruiting. Who is the best player we have picked up so far and will he have an impact on the team in the future?
Michael Rothstein (12:28 PM)
Quarterback Shane Morris is the most high profile player and the likely starting quarterback at Michigan down the road a little bit (post-Devin Gardner). As far as immediate impact, I like tight end Jake Butt. He fills a need as a position and he has really good pass catching skills and footwork. He could make an impact as a freshman.
Steve McQueen (Austin)
Michael - any chance for a M shocker this weekend in Louisville? I don't know anything about volleyball (other than PSU is awesome) - but I'm rooting for the M women.
Michael Rothstein (12:29 PM)
Sure. Anything is possible. Michigan has played extremely well (from the very limited amount I saw) and pulled a couple of upsets along the way. This program has been building toward this having made a couple big runs the past couple of seasons before falling just short of the Final Four.
Why is there no clear answer if Gardner is going to receive his Medical Redshirt? Is it UM or the NCAA dragging it out?
Michael Rothstein (12:31 PM)
It doesn't have much to do with the NCAA. The Big Ten makes the fifth-year decisions and they have a process outlined here: http://es.pn/TGiL9d ... As far as why, Michigan just recently applied for it and it does take a little while. I'd imagine the Wolverines will know one way or the other by the time next season starts for sure.
Michael (Denver, CO)
Do the Michigan offensive and defensive lines improve or regress next year?
Michael Rothstein (12:34 PM)
Tough question. The offensive line will take a lot of lumps early having to replace three (or four if Taylor Lewan goes) starters next season. The talent level is high, but other than Joey Burzynski, none of the potential replacements have played a snap of college football. On the defensive line, there's a chance to be better than this season. Replacing Craig Roh will be somewhat difficult but there is talent to do that. Quinton Washington and the three-pronged rush end of Brennen Beyer, Frank Clark and Mario Ojemudia all return. Considering they all were in their first years of significant action (save Beyer), I bet they end up being better than this season. The defensive line will have depth for the first time next season.
How do you think we match up to Indiana, and what seed do you see us getting in the Tourney? ( i know its far out but never too early)
Michael Rothstein (12:37 PM)
It'll be a fun game against Indiana (we're talking hoops here). Don't know if Michigan has anyone who can handle Cody Zeller 1-on-1, but they'll have at least 15 fouls and a lot of time to figure that out. Oladipo is also going to be a problem and much like Michigan, Indiana has a good amount of depth. I think they split (lose at Assembly, win in Crisler). As far as seed, probably a No. 2 seed but should benefit from one of the regionals being in Auburn Hills, less than an hour from Ann Arbor depending how you drive.
B (Bloomfield Hills)
How has Shane looked post mono?
Michael Rothstein (12:38 PM)
Haven't seen him play a game, obviously, but saw him at a MaxEx camp a few weeks ago and he looked like he has put some weight back on. Seems in pretty good spirits, too. I'd be floored if he started next season, though, barring injury.
With the announcement of another night game against Notre Dame, will Michigan look to fill that high profile type of game with an in-conference opponent in the future?
Michael Rothstein (12:39 PM)
Possibly, but it depends on how the schedule breaks down. If there is a high profile Big Ten opponent on the schedule in October (there isn't this season) then Michigan could make that move. If not, could be a non-conference opponent. Michigan AD Dave Brandon wants to have one a year, though.
Michael, I've seen some people say they didn't believe having a good/great basketball program (or other sports for that matter) helped get prospects to commit, but I disagree. What are your feelings on how successful sports programs at Universities effect recruiting in the "other" sports?
Michael Rothstein (12:41 PM)
J, this is a good question. Football success helps everyone, I think, since a lot of sports will use football weekends to bring in recruits to see campus (Mitch McGary being around for a football weekend last season helped some because he saw the atmosphere). The Michigan campus is most alive on home football weekends. Basketball, if the weekend is right, could also have that impact but nothing like a football weekend.
Al Borges does not inspire confidence in the way Greg Mattison does. Am I wrong to be concerned about our OC?
Michael Rothstein (12:43 PM)
Yes. Let's see what Al Borges is able to do next season, when he is running a style he favors and will have more pieces in place, before there is any sort of judgment. Save for a couple of games and a couple of decisions, Borges has done a good job the past two seasons. Michigan had issues with depth on the offensive line, which didn't help at all.
Next year's O Line - overall better or worse than this years? I'll let you assume Lewan's status.
Michael Rothstein (12:44 PM)
By the end of the season, better. At the start, equal to worse. You'll be working in at least three new starters and almost all of them will be young and all of them will be inexperienced. Add in a likely fourth new starter potentially and there will be some chemistry and growing pains. But by the end of the season, they'll be more comfortable and should be better than this group, which has really struggled outside Lewan.
How does Michigan basketball end up this year? Do you see potential for a follow-up big ten championship? Thoughts on the chances for a NCAA championship in the near future?
Michael Rothstein (12:47 PM)
They end up having a really good season, Andrew. Tough to predict a Final Four or anything like that just because so much of the tournament is based on matchups, but unlike any of John Beilein's other teams anywhere ever, this one can adapt to almost any style. I'd be surprised if Michigan didn't make at least the Sweet 16. Anything past there is based on matchup. This is Michigan's best shot at a NCAA title, though, since those Fab Five teams (and then the season after without Webber but with Rose, Howard, King and Jackson).
Where do you see denard working out at the combine and being drafted as?
Michael Rothstein (12:48 PM)
I'd be surprised if he worked out anywhere other than running back or wide receiver. If he worked out with the quarterbacks, in my opinion, it would be a big mistake. I would think most teams would draft him as a hybrid RB/WR/KR/PR/QB and see where they could fit him in.
Borges may have had OL depth issues to deal with but Mattison inherited a lot less talent than Borges did, no? The D got better very game and within each game...the Offense not so much...
Michael Rothstein (12:51 PM)
Kind of. Michigan had way more talent on the defensive line (if not the depth) in Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen. He had more experience on the offensive line last season and it showed. Graduating Molk and Huyge were big losses that Michigan, due to depth issues, couldn't recover from as well. The defensive line, in some instances, hasn't either. They are able to mask that better with the play of the linebackers. If you can't block, the whole offense will look disjointed. If the defensive line is struggling, it is noticed but there are more ways to counteract that (blitzing a linebacker, scheme different). Can't hide a struggling offensive line.
Michael - I know its ridiculously early to think about this, but with likely BB departures after the season, is this the best M will be in a while? Or do you think Beilein's recruiting will keep them a top program?
Michael Rothstein (12:53 PM)
I get the feeling Michigan thinks it has a real shot this season -- otherwise I don't think the coaches approach and then pull the redshirt off of Caris LeVert. This has a chance to be a special season, but if most of the talent remains for next season, the recruiting class of Derrick Walton Jr., Zak Irvin and Mark Donnal should be able to fill in fine. Michigan has been recruiting really well and with all of these players (other than McGary) there is a common theme of getting in on them before they blew up. Michigan is really good at evaluating early talent.
Any chance we get to see Michigan and Ohio as a night game? I'd love to see that atmosphere!!!
Michael Rothstein (12:53 PM)
As long as it stays in November, doubt it. Highly. I learned to never ever say never because that's a long time, but I'd go with...1 percent.
From a win-lose perspective, it's been said that the 2011 schedule help Michigan while the 2012 hurt. With this in mind, how does the 2013 season look.
Michael Rothstein (12:56 PM)
It helps. The way the schedule breaks down home/away (ND, Nebraska and Ohio State at home) and timing (at MSU, at Iowa, at Northwestern, Nebraska & OSU are the last five games not in that order) will help build confidence for this team if they win. There's a chance Michigan could enter November 7-0 or 6-1. That's huge for momentum. Still think Michigan ends up 9-3 next year, but don't hold me to that yet because there's still a long way to go. This season isn't over yet.
Does Lewan go pro? And when does he have to decide by?
Michael Rothstein (12:57 PM)
He has said he's undecided. If he's a first rounder, though, could be tough for him to turn that down. He'll have to decide by mid-January.
Over / under Michigan wins next year
Michael Rothstein (12:57 PM)
Nine. And that's where I think Michigan lands (regular season).
Jeff (Toledo, OH)
Do you see Morris or Gardner as a better fit at QB next year?
Michael Rothstein (12:59 PM)
Devin. It's tough for a freshman quarterback to come in -- especially without enrolling early -- and be the guy right away. Add in a retooled offensive line and that doesn't help. Oh, and Devin Gardner also happens to be very, very good. He fits what Michigan wants to do very well.
How do you see the Michigan O-line in 13? And on a related note, do you think Lewan's performance in the Outback Bowl against one of the best DE's in the game impacts his decision to leave for the NFL?
Michael Rothstein (1:01 PM)
Second question first...it could impact his decision, but if he performs well against Clowney and stays healthy, that could only prove his worth to NFL scouts more. Even if he doesn't have the best day, Clowney is a potential All-Pro NFL talent down the road so it might not be the best barometer. As far as the Michigan OL goes for '13, if Lewan comes back, L-R (Lewan, Kyle Kalis, Jack Miller, Chris Bryant, Michael Schofield). If Lewan doesn't, then this L-R (Schofield, Kalis, Miller, Joey Burzynski, Ben Braden).
Assuming Gardner gets the med redshirt - this team should be all set for a big run in 2014, right?
Michael Rothstein (1:02 PM)
It would potentially be in a very prime position, although there will be some tough road games on there (at Nebraska, at Ohio State, at Notre Dame). But 2014 would be the year I would target.
Michael Rothstein (1:03 PM)
Just a couple more questions, everyone, so get those last ones in!
Lenny (Grand Rapids)
How do you see the football program shaping up over the next 2-3 years? B1G title? National title apearence?
Michael Rothstein (1:04 PM)
A Big Ten title -- or certainly at least one title game appearance -- is a good possibility. National title appearance could be tough since there are so many other factors. Remember, too, the whole thing shifts to a four-team playoff soon, too. Things are trending positively for Michigan, though.
Kevin (Boston, MA)
How long before Michigan Football becomes an elite team again and do you see Michigan trading wins with tOSU or will Urban Meyer continue tOSU's dominance of Michigan?
Michael Rothstein (1:06 PM)
2014 or 2015 is probably when it happens. While the schedule breaks well for Michigan next season, there are a lot of places where there will be transition. If Gardner returns for 2014, then it could have a really good chance. If he doesn't, could be 2015. As far as Ohio State, they will have competitive games every year. Most of them will be close and I think they'll split a lot as long as Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer are there.
What do you think our chances are of landing any of the big three (Derrick Green, Laquon Treadwell, Leon McQuay)?
Michael Rothstein (1:07 PM)
I think Michigan lands one of them. As for which one -- I'm not going there on that prediction. But I could see one of them dropping for the Wolverines.
Jeff (Toledo, OH)
If Devin fits what Michigan wants to do very well, why did they start Denard over Devin all year until Denards' injury?
Michael Rothstein (1:10 PM)
I'll end on this one today...this team was and still is Denard Robinson's team. A lot of football (and most sports) is chemistry. To pull Robinson from his starting spot as a senior could have caused some issues. Plus, you're breaking in a new starter who is no guarantee -- and you're taking the ball out of the hands of a guy who was one of the most dynamic players in the game. As far as Gardner, I think playing receiver actually helped him greatly with being a quarterback. He learned how to prepare as an actual starter every week (granted, at a different position) but that preparation is key. He also learned to understand tendencies and likes/dislikes of receivers by being around them so much. Those things can't be understated. But overall, the main reason is how do you replace one of the more productive quarterbacks in school history as a senior? You can't.
Michael Rothstein (1:11 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions today! If I didn't get to yours, drop me a note on Twitter @mikerothstein, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to http://www.wolverinenationespn.com and jump on our message board. Hope everyone has a great day and holiday season!