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Friends of the Blog: Michigan Q&A

The lads from The Bucket Problem podcast drop by to give their thoughts on the Wolverines.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 21 Michigan at Rutgers
Daxton Hill picking off Rutgers to beat them in (LMAO) triple OT back in 2020.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

To end the first third of the season, the Wisconsin Badgers welcome the Michigan Wolverines to Camp Randall Stadium on Oct. 2. While Wisconsin has had some recent success against Michigan, this is always a big game for the Badgers and not one to be overlooked.

In this edition of Friends of the Blog, we’ve enlisted the help of the gang over at The Bucket Problem, a new podcast that discusses all things Michigan football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. They also have a free newsletter which I have found very informative and insightful, if you’re into keeping tabs on conference rivals.

First up is my friend Dan, who is @ThiccStauskas on Twitter. He likes to document the Michigan State 247 board’s absurdity and he doesn’t like the popular sketch show I Think You Should Leave. He, like I, is from Philadelphia so he has all of the mental damage that supporting the Eagles, Sixers, etc. gives you.

Let’s get to it!

Who is your player to watch on offense?

I’m interpreting “player to watch” as the biggest “X Factor” meaning a player that will determine how good Michigan will be on that side of the ball. Therefore I’m excluding anyone we already know is good.

So with that said, the easiest and most correct choice would be QB Cade MacNamara, but that’s too easy.

The most pivotal non-QB player is Zak Zinter, who the staff is attempting to move to Center. He’s an absolute hoss with athleticism that would be at home on Wisconsin OL and if he can hack it mentally it sets off a domino effect for the rest of the OL which would portend a very powerful running game that could be the cornerstone of the best offense of the Harbaugh era.

That’s a lot of ifs and coulds though.

Who is your player to watch on defense?

Same thinking for defense. Michigan has struggled since 2017 with poor DT play. Moving to a 3-4 base in 2021 stretches the already thin position over three spots instead of 2. That means this team absolutely NEEDS a true nose.

The only legitimate candidate for a zero tech nose is Mazi Smith. He’s a top-100 recruit in his third year that will hopefully benefit from a simplified set of responsibilities. Don brown required a lot from his DTs. The only job of a nose in this system is to dominate the center physically. Sink or swim kid! No pressure!

Why will Michigan beat Wisconsin this year?

Michigan will beat Wisconsin this year because we’re due for some lucky bullshit.

Ok seriously I don’t think we’ll win. Wisconsin has owned Michigan and Harbaugh doesn’t win big road games.

HOWEVAH MAX KELLERMAN!!! If Michigan wins it’s because their 3-4 system puts a lot of beef up front and dares teams to beat them on the edge with their skill positions.

Wisconsin’s skill positions are ass. They’re skating by on reputation at RB, and WR has always been embarrassingly bad for a program of Wisconsin’s standards (don’t yell me I’m wrong about this I haven’t looked).

So if Michigan loads up in front and Wisconsin can’t make them pay then you could end up with a illinois 2019 type situation where Wisconsin just sort of stalls out and Michigan’s offense can do enough to pull it out.

On offense we have to do the inverse and throw the ball to our super athletic receivers against Wisconsin’s safeties named like Barnsley Farnsworth Esquire III.

This will not happen! Wisconsin by 30!!!

God, isn’t Michigan State just the worst?

Idk I think they’re ok ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Up next is the founder of The Bucket Problem, and longtime former MGoBlog contributor, Ace Anbender. Ace is a man who might get his legs broken by the neighborhood kid who mows his lawn and has a Michigan GIF for literally any scenario saved on his computer.

He has been writing about Michigan on the internet for just about as long as anyone, so here are his insight’s into this year’s team.

Who is your player to watch on offense?

Given I wrote a whole post recently about how Hassan Haskins is almost criminally overlooked, even by Michigan fans, I’d feel wrong giving any other answer.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 30 Ohio State at Michigan Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The offense is going to hit some bumps as they break in a new/inexperienced quarterback, incorporate fresh faces into the coaching staff, replace most of the O-line, and find their identity (please?). Haskins reliably churns out yardage on his own. He can keep the offense ahead of the sticks and take a lot of the pressure off the passing game.

Who is your player to watch on defense?

It’s difficult to overstate how dire the coaching situation was on defense last year but this comes close: Michigan literally didn’t have a safeties coach on the staff because Bob Shoop, for strangely undisclosed reasons, didn’t do any on-field coaching last season. The talent of former five-star safety Daxton Hill is supremely evident; he may be M’s best cornerback (not the highest bar, I realize) in addition to being their best safety. He also looked lost at times as Don Brown desperately tried overhauling the system during the season. This defense really, really needs a version of Hill who knows where to be. The good news in that regard is the learning environment couldn’t possibly be worse than last year.

Why will Michigan beat Wisconsin this year?

I put down an undisclosed wager for Wisconsin to win the conference at +1200. If Michigan wins, please credit and/or blame me for having a personal financial stake in the opponent.

God, isn’t Minnesota just the worst?

Let’s be fair and factual with this one. If you remove the Minnesota game, Michigan’s offense averaged 5.5 yards per play in 2020. Against the Gophers, they moved the ball at 8.6 YPP. The Wolverines didn’t crack seven YPP in any other game. Objectively: the worst.