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Michigan Week Q&A with Maize n Brew

One day away!

NCAA Football: Washington at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With this weekend’s Michigan affair just one day away, we sat down (digitally) with Trevor Woods of Maize n Brew to get the lowdown on the Michigan Wolverines.

BSD: “Could you give us an update on the injuries Michigan is dealing with right now? RB Blake Corum, WRs Andre Anthony and AJ Henning, and CB Gemon Green all left the Indiana game early because of injuries, while TE Erick All missed the game entirely? Any expectations on which players will be back for this weekend?”

Woods: “Much like James Franklin and Penn State, Michigan and Jim Harbaugh don’t really divulge injury info — it’s gamesmanship, for sure. Harbaugh said he hopes to get them all back, but if I had to bet, I’d lean towards Erick All being active and I’m skeptical about the rest. Corum, for example, was in a walking boot last week after his injury, I’m not sure he’ll be healed in time for Penn State. I could see a scenario where Corum is active and plays a few snaps more along the lines of being a decoy.”

BSD: “Michigan has one of the more unique QB situations with Cade McNamara seeing the bulk of the snaps while JJ McCarthy will see time here-and-there. Both quarterbacks have been pretty successful this season, so the QB duo has mostly worked, but do Michigan fans prefer just one QB getting all the snaps? And if so, who is the fan favorite?”

Woods: “Fans were happy about the utilization of both McNamara and McCarthy up until McCarthy fumbled twice in the loss to Penn State, one of which was a turnover — although the fans aren’t giving McCarthy credit for throwing a TD in that same game to put Michigan up 20-14. Really not sure who the fan favorite is so to speak, McCarthy is a five-star freshman and his social media presence is definitely way bigger than McNamara’s. McCarthy definitely has the bigger fanbase online. As far as who has the bigger upside, it’s probably McCarthy, but he’s still young and growing pains are still occurring. McNamara is the safer option.”

BSD: “Because of his ties to James Franklin, we have to ask — how has the Josh Gattis Era been? Seems like this has been a breakout year or sorts. With some Power 5 jobs potentially opening up and Gattis’ name being rumored with them (i.e. Virginia Tech), what’s the expectation for how much longer he’ll be around Ann Arbor?”

Woods: “The Gattis era has had its fair share of criticism, and he’s usually blamed for the struggles in the red-zone (88th in red zone TD percentage). I really don’t think anyone cares if he stays or leaves, and the schematics we’ve seen from Michigan’s offense this season look more like the Jim Harbaugh offenses of old — something James Franklin pointed out, as well as Indiana coach Tom Allen. Michigan fans wouldn’t consider this a breakout year for Gattis, and even the success in the running game is being more attributed to RBs coach Mike Hart than Gattis. Perhaps some of the criticism towards Gattis is unfair, but he’s not beloved by Michigan fans.”

BSD: “After a down defensive year last season, Jim Harbaugh made the choice to dismiss Don Brown and bring in Ravens LB coach Mike Macdonald. That move has seemingly worked, with Michigan’s defense being ranked third in the Big Ten in points allowed per game at 16. What has Macdonald done well? Where are the strengths on the defense? And if there is a weak spot, how can Penn State exploit it?”

Woods: “The defense is playing a more multiple scheme, mixing in tenants of zone and man. The D is much harder to gameplan for than Don Brown’s unit was. The defense is aided by perhaps the best pass-rush in college football (Aidan Hutchinson, David Ojabo), and pass-coverage has improved mightily. One area where Michigan has struggled on defense has been with up-tempo schemes. Macdonald likes to make lots of substitutions but sometimes this does not work to Michigan’s advantage. Too many guys trying to get off the field, too many players not set, and then bam, a big play for the opposing offense. Both Nebraska and Michigan State were able to do damage with up-tempo, and it would be wise for Penn State to try and do the same. Further, Michigan struggled big time against the play-action pass vs. Nebraska and QB Adrian Martinez, and I could see Sean Clifford having similar success if the pass-rush doesn’t get home.”