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!
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who will be the Starting Quarterback for Michigan in 2013?
Michael Rothstein (12:02 PM)
Hey everyone. Hope you are all having a fantastic week. Big week for Michigan with the Final Four this weekend -- first since '93 for the Wolverines -- and spring practice ramping up.Get those questions in and let's get started.
Michael Rothstein (12:02 PM)
This is to Chris' question -- Devin Gardner and there's no question about that. The bigger one is who will be backing him up. With Russell Bellomy out, it'll either be true freshman Shane Morris or walk-on Brian Cleary, the current No. 2.
With Michigan's recent success, how many players do you see leaving for the NBA? Burke, obviously, GR3? Hardaway?
Michael Rothstein (12:04 PM)
I think there is still some ambiguity there. Do all four return? Highly, highly, highly unlikely. Mitch McGary told reporters this week he is staying. The other two, right now, are wild cards. Could actually depend on how this weekend transpires.
Derek (Grand Rapids)
Is there going to be a big drop off next year if Burke goes pro?
Michael Rothstein (12:09 PM)
I think it depends more on if anyone else leaves, Derek. Trey Burke is a special, special talent and I'd be surprised if he isn't given one of the big national player of the year awards. But if -- and it's an if -- every other starter returns, then either freshman Derrick Walton or sophomore Spike Albrecht would really just have to facilitate and defend without worrying about scoring. They would still be a Top 10-15 team in my opinion if that happens. Walton has a chance to be another special point guard for Michigan. The Wolverines have really recruited that position well.
Do you think the offensive line, despite the youth might end up being a strength for Michigan this season?
Michael Rothstein (12:12 PM)
Not right away. Too many questions on the interior combined with the well-known knowledge that an offensive line improves as it has more time together. By season's end, they could be good and they may not end up as a weakness, but I don't know if I'd call them a strength.
Should I be concerned about the receivers, or the passing game in general this season?
Michael Rothstein (12:14 PM)
Until you see them in an actual game, sure, you have every right to be concerned with the receivers other than Jeremy Gallon. I wouldn't worry about the quarterback much (unless Gardner goes down then, by every means, commence worrying) but the receivers there is legitimate reason to at least wonder.
Bill (Ann Arbor)
How are the tight ends going to be utilized this season? Now that Funchess has some playing time, same with Williams? With Jake Butt enrolling early, are they going to be a big factor?
Michael Rothstein (12:16 PM)
I think they will increase their role each coming year. Funchess has a chance to be a star if he puts on a little more weight, learns to block a little better and continues to run good routes as a receiver. Williams has dropped some weight and could be more of a passing game threat now. Jake Butt enrolled early and it is hard to envision him not playing if for no other reason than numbers and the lack of a Mike Kwiatkowski-type walk-on at the spot this year.
Who are some of the younger guys on the football side you're interested in seeing develop, either next season or in the future
Michael Rothstein (12:17 PM)
I'm interested in seeing a lot of them, Mitchell, but the guys I'll be watching the most in the spring game are the receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson and defensive linemen Tom Strobel, Matt Godin and Taco Charlton. We haven't seen any of them before because all but one (Darboh) either redshirted or was in high school last year. They are two positions of need and Michigan will need some of those guys to play, so it is worth watching where they are in their progression.
Do you think Bellomy's injury is a big deal? I know an injury is always bad, but how big of a deal is it for this season?
Michael Rothstein (12:19 PM)
If Devin Gardner stays healthy, upright and takes every snap, it is not a major issue as far as in-game situations. If Gardner were to get injured, it is a major storyline because Michigan would then have to turn to either a walk-on (Brian Cleary) or a true freshman who didn't play much football last season due to mono (Shane Morris). The Wolverines could be in a pinch at quarterback. Unless Cleary beats out Morris, it also means the chances of Morris redshirting drops dramatically.
shane larkin or trey burke
Michael Rothstein (12:20 PM)
Trey Burke. He is the best player in college basketball.
Tim A. (Ann Arbor)
What are you expecting out of the defensive line this season? Seems like Frank Clark's name has come up a lot.
Michael Rothstein (12:21 PM)
It has, Tim, and I think he ends up playing a lot at rush end. Michigan needs someone to make an impression there and while they will still rotate, he'll likely be part of that rotation with either Taco Charlton or Mario Ojemudia. But more and more, it wouldn't shock me to see him as the starter in the fall.
What is your favorite Bacari pre-game speech?
Michael Rothstein (12:22 PM)
Dude is creative, that's for sure. The pringles one he used during the tournament, with the actual potato chip on each guy's shoulder -- that was pretty good. Had not heard of that before. He's going to make a pretty good head coach one day.
Seems like the secondary could be an interesting group to watch. Countess and Taylor, but Jarrod Wilson and Dymonte Thomas getting mentions, too. Anything to watch there
Michael Rothstein (12:23 PM)
Yeah, the spot next to Thomas Gordon appears to be the one most in contention right now. Marvin Robinson and Jarrod Wilson seem to be the guys who are really making moves there and it would surprise me to see one of those two end up as the starter. They both could play in nickel, too, if Michigan chose to move Gordon down into the box leaving room for both those guys at safety. I would pay a lot of attention to that spot next weekend.
Prediction for Saturday's final four games?
Michael Rothstein (12:24 PM)
I like Michigan over Syracuse and Louisville over Wichita State. Louisville over Michigan in the final. That's what I'm leaning toward right now.
Trey Burke (Atlanta)
What am I going to do on Saturday?
Michael Rothstein (12:25 PM)
Probably wake up. Eat something. Maybe watch some TV or listen to some music. Get dressed. Go to the Georgia Dome. Play in the Final Four. That sounds about right. I miss anything?
Every chat I see questions regarding the WR corp. I don't understand the concern, really. Gallon was BY FAR the top WR last year, and Dileo was probably our second most reliable. With Funchess getting time and playing more this year, I think the WR corp could be one of the biggest strengths of the team...at least offensively. What do you think?
Michael Rothstein (12:26 PM)
The concern is Drew Dileo is not an outside stretch-the-field receiver, especially when Jeremy Gallon is your No. 1 guy. Michigan needs a downfield speed threat with some size and neither one can give you that complete combination, especially with Michigan headed toward a pro style offense. Funchess is also a tight end, not a WR, so while he presents a nice passing target for Devin Gardner, I would be surprised if he lined up on the outside.
Am I crazy to think UM will be better and more balanced next year if everyone returns other than Burke? Throw Irvin and Walton in there, and we have long NBA players all over the court.
Michael Rothstein (12:29 PM)
Better? Tough to say. This year's team is in the Final Four. More balanced? Perhaps, because if Burke leaves his shots could be divided up among the guys who remain. More shots usually equals more points for more guys.Think of it this way. During the NCAA tournament and next season, Michigan has been playing with somewhere between 5-8 pros (either in Europe or NBA).
Assuming Trey Burke leaves for the NBA, do you see Spike or Walton running point next season?
Michael Rothstein (12:31 PM)
Walton. But also could see Spike getting more in the range of 15-18 minutes a game.
I guess my point was that Funchess is gonna need safety attention going up the seam, and so you're probably looking at two guys with great hands going one on one on the outside. If any of the young WR's are even servicable, this should be a pretty solid group...
Michael Rothstein (12:33 PM)
Maybe, but considering they have almost no experience other than Dileo and Gallon (and I suppose Jeremy Jackson), that would still be a concern to me. Plus, if you have big deep threats in the middle of the field and on the outside along with Gallon, that makes Michigan really dangerous as a passing team.
Tom Crean (Hangin' with the Harbaughs)
that 2-3 zone is killer.... beilein, hit me up you know the number.
Michael Rothstein (12:34 PM)
Beilein's seen a lot of the 2-3. Never solved it with one of his own teams (0-9 vs. Jim Boeheim all time) but if any coach not in the Big East understands the 2-3, it is John Beilein.
With Nik's "creative" ball handling can you see him running PG with a bigger line-up next season? He is 6'6".
Michael Rothstein (12:37 PM)
I could see that. I think the bigger possibility is maybe a return to what Beilein used to run, which is a two-guard "tandem" look which gives them even more options.
Michael Rothstein (12:43 PM)
Just have a few minutes left. Any final questions today?
Depending on who leaves early, how is that going to affect recruiting on the court? Any information about Trey Zeigler possibly transferring to Michigan?
Michael Rothstein (12:46 PM)
I would be very, very surprised if that happens.
Chris (Ann Arbor)
Any plans on taking 2 qbs in the future so we can get back to 4 scholarship qbs?
Michael Rothstein (12:47 PM)
None that I've heard of definitively, but considering the injury issues Michigan has had at the position the past four years, it wouldn't surprise me if that happens at some point.
Chris (Ann Arbor)
Who has the best pro career?
Michael Rothstein (12:47 PM)
Basketball? That's tough. I think three guys will have really long pro careers: Burke, McGary and Robinson III. Stauskas could as well.Football? So tough to predict, but I'm going to go with Devin Gardner. I think he is an NFL quarterback and potential starter down the road.
Chris (Ann Arbor)
Hoke and Mattinson have loved joking about McGary playing TE or DE, any chance we see a FB/BB athlete in the near future (Not necessarily him)
Michael Rothstein (12:48 PM)
Maybe. It would have to be the right guy who was elite in high school in both sports, in my opinion. That is so tough to do.
Michael Rothstein (12:49 PM)
That's my time for this week. I hope everyone has a great weekend and enjoys the Final Four this weekend.