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No Decision On Linebacker Starters: Notes From The Media Session

Coach Franklin did say that one linebacker, Manny Bowen, will not be a starter in week one.

Michigan v Penn State Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

While there have been a couple of week’s worth of practices there is still a lack of information regarding the progress of the team in terms of figuring out the two-deep depth chart. The reason for the lack of information is that the coaches have not yet made key decisions and shared them with the players. This was clear in coach James Franklin’s comments when asked about Manny Bowen.

Franklin mentioned that he felt that his and defensive coordinator Brent Pry’s comments from last week were clear enough to answer the question that was asked, “If Manny Bowen is one of the best three linebackers, will he start on week one?” While he answered with a clear ‘no’, Franklin then went on to say that he probably should not have answered the question.

We have been waiting to find out, and speculating, for months concerning which players will line up at linebacker to start the season. It is clear that we are just a few days, probably less than a week, from that decision being made. But the manner in which Franklin responded underlines the fact that this decision is still a work in progress. While we would all like to know the final answer, patience must be deployed until the appropriate time.

We will know for sure in a couple of weeks which three linebackers get the starting nod. That is, unless the team comes out with nickel personnel. In that case, we would then have to wait until a third linebacker entered the game. Then we would know, for sure, and the off-season speculation would be over.

There were a few players recently that have decided to end their playing career due to medical concerns. Coach Franklin discussed these scenarios and explained that often the news does not come as a surprise, since the players have been dealing with these issues long before the decision to retire has been made.

Here are Franklin’s comments in full.

Offensive line coach Matt Limegrover spoke briefly to the media as well. Here are some of the points that he made.

  • Some of the younger lineman, such as Rasheed Walker, Bryce Effner, and Juice Scruggs, have gotten critical reps early in practices, with the first team. This has allowed the coaches to evaluate them under heavy duress. He said that he hopes not to need to use freshmen this year on the line as was the case in past years.
  • Unlike past seasons, coach Limegrover hopes to settle on five starters, and then allow them to play together and gel as is needed.

Trace McSorley spoke about the players that have had to retire recently.

It’s tough for a young guy. Coming in, he’s been working his whole life to get to this point, to kind of have it come down. This has been their dream and it’s tough to kind of go with that news. We’re just supporting them. Wishing them the best. The good thing is we are going to be able to keep them around the program. They are going to be around us every single day and be a part of what we do. That’s kind of the bright light. Those guys are our brothers and they are going to be with us the entire time. Unfortunately they are not going to be on the field with us, but we still love them like they were with us on the field the entire time.

Defensive end Shareef Miller spoke with the media as well, sharing his insight on the future of his position group now that Ryan Buchholz is no longer available.