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 (12:00 PM)
Greetings everyone and welcome to this week's chat. Bunch of stuff to talk about as spring ball is around the corner, Trey Burke is still leading the Player of the Year race and recruiting is about to ramp up again. Get those questions in and let's get started.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who will be the Starting Quarterback for Michigan in 2013?
Michael Rothstein (12:02 PM)
Chris, barring something unknown -- like an injury or someone screaming up the depth chart -- Michigan's starting quarterback in 2013 will be Devin Gardner. The question is whether or not he'll have one or two more years as a starter.
zach (muskegon, mi)
who will be the biggest obstacle in michigan's schedule this year and why?
Michael Rothstein (12:04 PM)
Good question. Based on talent, Ohio State. The Buckeyes haven't lost under Urban Meyer and should be very, very good again. However, OSU has to go to Michigan, which is easier than traveling to Columbus. Toughest road game is probably Michigan State. The Wolverines have not been successful there recently.
zach (muskegon, mi)
what will be michigan's weakness this year?
Michael Rothstein (12:07 PM)
I think running back and the interior of the offensive line are still Michigan's biggest questions. The keys at running back are Toussaint's health and Derrick Green's ability to just to the college game. But their success will be directly influenced by the interior of the offensive line. If the Wolverines can't become capable there fast with three new starters, it could be a rough early part of the season for Michigan. The Wolverines, though, are fortunate that they don't open against Alabama next year.
Jeff (Savannah, GA)
Does Michigan take 2 or 3 WR's in 2014?
Michael Rothstein (12:09 PM)
I think it depends on who is available and who wants to come. An elite, game-changing wide receiver prospect is something Michigan hasn't landed since...Darryl Stonum? And he was the No. 14 WR in his class. Doesn't mean guys don't become really good -- see Jeremy Gallon and Roy Roundtree -- but they don't have the elite.
whats up michael!! i have a gut feeling that this is the year that UM pulls in a monster class.... hands,peppers,mcdowell,westphear. mark it down
Michael Rothstein (12:09 PM)
That's a very bold prediction. Very bold.
Fernando (Ann Arbor)
Who's cooler -- Tom or Chantel?
Michael Rothstein (12:10 PM)
Me, obviously. Kidding, Tom and Chantel are both much cooler than I am. Good people, too.
Who can we expect to step up at the wide receiver position?
Michael Rothstein (12:12 PM)
A lot of attention will be paid to Amara Darboh this spring but Jehu Chesson is the guy I have a sneaking suspicion could end up being a big time player for Michigan. He has a good size/speed combination and has four years since he redshirted last season. I'd start with those two. It may sound weird, but Jeremy Gallon can also still make major strides. It wouldn't shock me to see him becomes a 1,000-yard receiver next year.
how do the wolverines get tougher? It seems like they are scared to drive into the lane.
Michael Rothstein (12:14 PM)
I know Beilein has made something of the toughness lately, but I don't think that's the easy answer. The three guys who have the most ability to drive in the lane -- Burke, Hardaway Jr. and Stauskas -- all still do. But teams are cutting Burke off after the ball screen, keeping him from getting into the lane to decide, drive, dish, distribute, dip, duck, dive and dodge (hope you get the Dodgeball! reference). Seriously, though, that's been a major focus for teams. Stauskas isn't going to drive if he has an open 3 and Hardaway has still driven when it is there. If teams are focusing on taking it away, it becomes much harder to accomplish. Getting Jordan Morgan back in ball screen situations is a big key to all of that for Burke.
Brett Schwartz (Atlanta, GA)
Who is leaving Michigan basketball next year to go to the draft?
Michael Rothstein (12:16 PM)
Obviously no one has announced intentions yet, but if a guy has the chance -- and hears it on solid footing -- he'll be a first-rounder or lottery pick, he has to seriously consider it. I think Trey Burke is in that category and the rest of the guys are toss ups depending how the season unfolds the rest of the way.
do you think Fitz Touissaint will be able to return to sophmore season form?
Michael Rothstein (12:19 PM)
A lot of that depends on the offensive line. Toussaint didn't all of a sudden become a bad runner last season but the holes that were there as a sophomore weren't there as a junior. David Molk, who made all the line calls and was one of the best centers in the country, had a lot to do with that. It all depends on the interior of the offensive line -- and whether or not he can be healthy. I think he has a chance and now that he has both the potential future at the position on campus and one season to set himself up for the NFL, he'll have more motivation perhaps.
jim trevethan (solon ohio)
with urban meyer at ohio state, how does michigan stay up to par with them?
Michael Rothstein (12:21 PM)
The obvious simple answer is winning on the field and in recruiting. Michigan did a good job keeping pace with Ohio State in recruiting and as things continue to progress if the Wolverines keep doing that on a yearly basis, they'll continue to stay there. The next two seasons are going to be very important with that. Michigan needs to back up its recruiting successes with continued on-field results to stick with Meyer and Ohio State.
Not saying I agree with this, but is there any discussion of moving The Game from the last weekend of the regular season? It seems like the main factor in placing UM and OSU in the same division is to avoid a rematch the next week. If they moved it to earlier in the season, it would make the divisions more flexible. Again, I hope that is not the case, just wondering if that is a possibility.
Michael Rothstein (12:23 PM)
There were rumors about it but I have a tough time seeing that happen. That's an ingrained tradition at both schools and I don't know if it really helps either program. That said, as we've seen in college sports over the past decade, tradition is meant to be broken, I guess. My opinion -- and IT IS JUST MY OPINION -- is Michigan and Ohio State would prefer the game stay where it is and be in the same division rather than moving it off that weekend to October or something to maybe play again in the Big Ten title game from time to time.
Does UM get Hand and/or Mcdowell? And what about another big time skill player on offense?
Michael Rothstein (12:24 PM)
It's a long way until February on all counts.
Based on your article on PGs winning POY, I think Trey Burke still has a chance, although Oladipo is on fire right now. You mentioned the stats; he has a great scoring average and assists. He has great exposure with playing in the Big Ten, although have lost most of the biggest games so far. You also mentioned where the team would be without the player, and I think Michigan without Trey Burke would be way worse than Indiana without Oladipo. Who is your vote right now?
Michael Rothstein (12:34 PM)
I voted for Burke, Oladipo and Olynyk in the poll that came out today in that order. But I could have flipped Burke and Oladipo easily and by the end of the season I might. I also think Burke still has a chance, but more than any other position point guards need their teams to win and win a lot. He also needs guys to hit more shots when he gets them the ball. Where I mentioned where the team would be without the player, some people use that criteria but it differs from voter to voter and that criteria is the MVP principle, in my opinion. Interesting thing is Indiana and Michigan play in the last game of the regular season. A lot could be on the line for both teams in that game -- but the POY in the Big Ten and nationally could be as well.
Are you still there Michael?
Michael Rothstein (12:34 PM)
I'm here. There was a lull in questions.
GBK (Lincoln Park)
Rumors are flying that Jerry Montgomery is being considered by Oklahoma. Do you think he'd leave for the same position at OU?
Michael Rothstein (12:36 PM)
I'm not going to pretend to know what Jerry Montgomery is thinking. But he is a guy with a bright future in the profession. Right now he's working with two other guys who coached defensive line for the majority of their careers in Greg Mattison and Brady Hoke. That helps but could hurt, too, if he wants to set out on his own to make a name that way. But as I said, I'm not going to pretend to know what Montgomery is thinking or weighing. It's just something to consider. This is something to keep an eye on over the next few days.
who are the primary '14 bball prospects and when are they planning to make decisions?
Michael Rothstein (12:37 PM)
Michigan has offers out to Devin Booker and Trevon Bluiett and have visited Ricky Doyle down in Florida. None seem to be in a hurry to make up their minds. Booker is about to embark on a five-school unofficial visit tour over the next few weeks.
We seem to have a wealth of fullbacks now when only 1-2 may see the field. What happens to a guy like Houma?
Michael Rothstein (12:39 PM)
He just finished his freshman year. Still has plenty of time to earn playing time and a starting spot. And the only other real fullback on the roster right now is Joe Kerridge. Stephen Hopkins left the program and Paul Gyarmati is out of eligibility. So there is room to make a move.
It seems as if for the 2014 recruiting effort, the staff seems to be reaching beyond the big ten boundaries a little more. I know there is a need to keep the top talent close to home so is there not as much homegrown talent this year or is the staff just being a bit more selective and attempting to expand the pipelines?
Michael Rothstein (12:41 PM)
Most of what I'm going to type are things I learned from Tom, but often on national recruits you have to get in earlier to have a chance than guys in your region. The players in your region are often more familiar with your program and have been to visit, theoretically, more than those outside the region. Plus, Michigan has a smaller class this year to work with. Brady Hoke, on signing day, put the 2014 number at 16.
Does michigan have a realistic chance to get hand and McDowell
Michael Rothstein (12:42 PM)
Michigan is in the conversation for both of them.
Who is in alot of interest in 2014 WR that we might get???
Michael Rothstein (12:46 PM)
Michigan is still looking at a lot of guys, but there seems to be interest in Drake Harris, Corey Holmes and Artavis Scott and Christian McCaffrey among others.
and thats the bases of my gut feeling.... were in the conversation or on a lot of top 5 in a handful of major prospects
Michael Rothstein (12:47 PM)
I can definitely understand that, Hector, but as I've mentioned a few times in this chat, there is a lot of time between now and signing day in February, 2014. We're still in February, 2013.
Michael Rothstein (12:48 PM)
I'll be here for a few minutes so get any final questions you might have in.
thats cool. buts its start!....
Who do you start a Michigan college basketball team with? Trey Burke or Chris Webber?
Michael Rothstein (12:51 PM)
Tough question, but I'd go with Option C: Jalen Rose. A tall point guard, he could do a bit of everything. Especially if John Beilein is the coach. In a different system, I'd probably look at Webber, Burke, Cazzie Russell and Glen Rice. It'd be a small starting five, but that would be a heck of a starting five.
Is Blake Countess going to get a redshirt for all his mised time and who will be the #2 CB?
Michael Rothstein (12:52 PM)
There has been no information to the contrary, so yes. Countess, depending how he comes back from the injury, could be the No. 2 corner to Raymon Taylor's No. 1 corner. I think those are the two starting corners in the fall if I had to make a choice today. Courtney Avery, Terry Richardson and some of the freshmen could make a push, though.
Michael (Ann Arbor)
Who is going to be the back-up QB??
Michael Rothstein (12:53 PM)
It'll be a competition, for sure, and likely either Russell Bellomy or Shane Morris. I know fans are down on Bellomy but I caution that what you saw was one game in a very tough environment in an offense that, while he could run it, was catered toward a specific player in Denard Robinson. If Michigan wants to and feels it can preserve a redshirt for Shane Morris, I think you go with Bellomy.
UM's predicted record for football. GO!
Michael Rothstein (12:55 PM)
10-2. STOP. That's a very, very preliminary answer. A lot can change between now and the beginning of the fall, let alone the start of the season.
steve (battle creek, mi)
Looking at the front seven for UM, looks to be big, athletic and alot of depth. I see the defense being a top ten defense w/ mattison coaching. Your thoughts on the front 7 this upcoming year?
Michael Rothstein (12:56 PM)
It has the potential to be very good. The linebacking corps could be the best Michigan has had in some time. Still some concern on the line -- specifically at strong side end replacing Craig Roh -- but this group could have a chance to be very, very good.
Josh (Ann Arbor)
You think the QB we have already in 2014 will stay committed to us ??
Michael Rothstein (12:56 PM)
It's a year out, but I have no reason to think he won't stay committed.
Ryan (Ann Arbor)
You think taco will start??
Michael Rothstein (12:57 PM)
This is tough to say without seeing anything yet and no spring ball to go off of (not that we'll be able to watch spring ball) but I'd venture to say no. At least not at the beginning of the season. He could end up in the rotation early, though.
I believe defensive leader will be Jake Ryan with his play. Very instinctual linebacker that has a huge knack for finding the ball carrier. Is there another defensive guy that will emerge this year as a big play maker? like and end rusher or a ball-hawk safety?
Michael Rothstein (1:00 PM)
Thomas Gordon has shown he can be a ball hawk in the past -- in 2011 he seemed to be around every turnover Michigan forced. He'll have to be the leader of the secondary next season with Jordan Kovacs graduated. He's a guy who could make a big leap. Blake Countess, if he returns healthy, is another guy who could make a sizable leap. He was in position to do so before he got hurt against Alabama.
Michael Rothstein (1:00 PM)
Well, that's it for me today. Thanks for all the good questions -- especially coming in at the end. Anyone has any other questions for me, pop on The Den over at http://www.wolverinenationespn.com or reach out on Twitter @mikerothstein.Everyone enjoy the weekend and if you're in the north, stay warm!