Michi­gan fans mull over loss to Spar­tans

The fo­cus now is on how the Wolver­ines re­group, re­spond

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY AN­GELIQUE S. CHENGELIS The Detroit News achen­ge­lis@de­troit­news.com twit­ter.com/chengelis

So now what? Michi­gan State beat Michi­gan again, and now the fo­cus is on how the Wolver­ines will re­spond. They play at In­di­ana on Satur­day, the first of con­sec­u­tive road games — the sec­ond is at Penn State in a night game. But first things first and on to In­di­ana.

There are some ex­tremes in dis­cussing how Michi­gan re­bounds, and here are two ques­tions that re­flect that. Will the Wolver­ines now be­gin a down­ward spi­ral?

Ques­tion: Do you see last week’s mis­step pro­pel­ling this team for the re­main­der of the sched­ule?

Ques­tion: OK, Michi­gan loses 4 of its next 5 be­cause they can­not score, then need to beat Wis­con­sin and OSU to go bowl­ing. Scared? I am. @mich­mike69

An­swer: Michi­gan Mike, you don’t re­ally think Michi­gan is go­ing to lose four of the next five, do you? That stretch in­cludes In­di­ana, Penn State, Rut­gers, Min­nesota and Mary­land. I know you’re just pos­ing this a the­o­ret­i­cal, but it is highly un­likely. There are three games against cur­rent top-10 teams ahead — Penn State and Wis­con­sin, both on the road, and Ohio State.

Orig­i­nally I had Michi­gan go­ing 1-2 in those games, but it is highly plau­si­ble they could go 0-3. But the Wolver­ines only need two wins to be­come bowlel­i­gi­ble.

Now Steve — that’s what I think your han­dle means — it’s hard to say how a young of­fense will re­spond com­ing off that loss, but sopho­more tail­back Chris Evans re­ported that things were much more amped up in prac­tice this week, par­tic­u­larly in the fum­ble drill. My hunch is they won’t lose their fo­cus go­ing for­ward.

That doesn’t mean they’re go­ing to win ev­ery game, as Pa­trick Ku­gler sug­gested this week is the goal, but they will have an op­por­tu­nity to make a splash and pull off an up­set or two — if the of­fense can find any sort of rhythm. The plate the Michi­gan de­fense is car­ry­ing is go­ing to get heav­ier, though, and they will have to make a more con­certed ef­fort to force turnovers and give the of­fense a short field.

Q. What do for­mer Michi­gan line­men (who aren’t M cheer­lead­ers — Jansen and ra­dio guys) say about the abysmal line tech­nique (ALL 5 line­men)? @Per­fec­tFitAR

A. Have def­i­nitely spo­ken to sev­eral of them, and it’s fair to say they are a proud group. While they cer­tainly care about the team as a whole, their fo­cus is on the line play year af­ter year. They are not thrilled with the tech­nique and feel the younger line­men just aren’t com­ing along fast enough. One told me in the spring that it would prob­a­bly be a long year in terms of of­fen­sive play.

Q. Will Drevno go on field to coach in­stead of booth? Any play­ers on OL switch­ing to right side to help out? @bak­ing­mom14

A. I don’t know about be­ing on the field un­less the de­ci­sion was bad for Pep Hamilton to call the plays with Jim Har­baugh giv­ing fi­nal say. That’s a great ques­tion about switch­ing, and I feel there’s go­ing to be some move­ment on the line. Jon Run­yan Jr. prac­ticed at right tackle this spring be­fore mov­ing to guard in camp, and there was about a week in camp when Nolan Ul­izio switched to left guard and Ben Bre­deson moved to right tackle. There are op­tions, and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see what di­rec­tion they go.

Q. Is Bran­don Peters even in the pic­ture to start if O’Korn con­tin­ues to play like he did last week? @Foot­bal­lGo­rilla

Q. OK, will Speight play next year? Please say no. @ joshjreynolds

Q. If Speight misses sig­nifi- cant time, what’s like­li­hood of Peters get­ting play­ing time? @BustTheGrape

A. Re­lated ques­tions, so we’re go­ing for the bun­dle spe­cial. Bran­don Peters has been pre­sented as the best op­tion since, re­ally, the spring. But there is a rea­son he didn’t win the job. Not say­ing he won’t get bet­ter and he won’t fully grasp the play­book, but he’s not there yet. But he is the prover­bial one-play-away quar­ter­back, and he could be thrust into that sit­u­a­tion.

There is ab­so­lutely no doubt his ceil­ing is high and his ath­letic skills are sig­nif­i­cant, but he is not a fin­ished enough project.

Don’t know what Speight’s sta­tus will be next sea­son, Josh. Bot­tom line, he has to get healthy and that’s the big­gest is­sue. Ev­ery­one is fo­cused on Peters, but I think the name that should be com­ing up is Dy­lan McCaf­frey. They won’t burn his red­shirt, and they shouldn’t, but he could very well make a move next year.

Q. Who’s your fa­vorite per­son around Michi­gan pro­gram — player, coach, sup­port staff — to in­ter­view? @kn­jkime

A. Don Brown, Michi­gan’s de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor is, hands down, the best in­ter­view on the staff and one of the most en­joy­able in­ter­views over­all. He’s demon­stra­tive — which makes video of a Don Brown in­ter­view gold as he throws his hands around or makes a sound that adds im­pact to his point — and he tries to give you a real an­swer and not coach­s­peak. Of the play­ers, Wil­ton Speight gives re­ally thought­ful in­sight. And if you’re at the foot­ball build­ing and you run into Jack Har­baugh or Jon Falk or Jerry Han­lon, you cer­tainly will have an en­joy­able con­ver­sa­tion.

John T. Greil­ick/Detroit News

The Michi­gan of­fen­sive line faces off against Michi­gan State in last week’s up­set at The Big House.

David Guralnick/Detroit News

Bran­don Peters is the prover­bial one-play-away quar­ter­back.

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