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MnB Roundtable Assumes Things Were Followed

ConcussionGate isn't going away. There is a football game this week, but no one is talking about on-the-field matters. MnB writers get together once more to warm up by the dumpster fire.

Leon Halip

No one wants to talk about on-the-field things this week. While keeping it respectful, where does Michigan go from here?

Peter: That's kind of a loaded question, isn't it? Where does Michigan go from here? To be honest, I don't know. I've been watching Michigan for almost 30 years and this is the worst position I've ever seen the program. The obvious answer, though, is they need to get rid of Hoke and Brandon and just start fresh. The problem with that is that we're probably looking at yet another 3 years of mediocrity...if they can hire the right coach.

Anthony: Michigan's problems go far beyond what takes place on the field, but the simplest way to remedy all of this is to just go out there and win. I can't imagine what this week of practice will be like for the Wolverines, but I'd like to see them play with a chip on their shoulders this weekend. Players on this team keep talking about how they will fight for Hoke, so it's time to show some emotion and just get it done, and they definitely can against a Rutgers team that they should be able to handle on paper. As we know, that's easier said than done, though.

Zach: Fire Hoke and Brandon, Make Nuss the interim head coach (he deserves an audition), try to win some games and get a little positive momentum rolling for what is going to be a tumultuous off season.

Anthony M: What Zach said.

Zooby Q: WZS. ^^^^^

John W: I go with what Zach said except make Mattison the interim head coach. He has the players respect and if he stays after Hoke is gone he could maintain some stability with recruits. I don't believe Nuss has been here long enough to be given the interim job and doesn't really fit. Matison is at the point in his career where he could take over and then return to a coordinator position when (hopefully) a Harbaugh comes to town. I feel like if Nuss takes the interim job he may not want to return to coordinating, especially if he has success.

Josh H: Where do they go from here? Well, it's pretty obvious what needs to be done.. That's pretty much where they can go. As far as playing football, win some games. Rutgers will present another challenge and could very well beat Michigan on Saturday.

Kevin: The scary thing is that things can still get worse. I'd say Hoke is done either way the season ends, it'll come down to how much pressure the regents and new president decide to exert on the athletic department. Obviously more wins will assuage some of the furor, but Michigan has to start over because of how bad this has looked. They need to come up with an exit plan that solidifies the starters at each position, throw the kitchen sink at the field offensively, and most critically, be talking to some people for next year. Michigan cannot mess up a third coaching search, and better have a contingency plan when someone high on their list says no thanks, because it's going to happen. Especially if Brandon is the one doing the search.

Drew: I have made my stance on what Michigan needs to do pretty clear.

What's one thing you're hoping to see in New Brunswick on Saturday night, no matter how silly it sounds. Anything involving Gary Nova is an acceptable response.

Peter: Competitiveness. It may be asking a lot, but I just want to see this game turn into a game. Nothing about this season has been fun, not even the wins. I'm hoping to see some players on the field playing their asses off, but having fun while doing it. I don't mean laughing on the sidelines after a bad play like Morris did last week, but showing some signs of life. It really looks like those kids hate football right now.

Anthony: Like I said before, this team needs to show some emotion. Play loose and just have fun out there. Just compete.

Zach: I want to see Michigan catch a couple breaks early on offense. This team has a fragile psyche, and early struggles tend to snowball into massive collapses later in games. If Michigan catches a couple early breaks or has a nice big scoring play to set the tone, it could help this team get over the hump a bit.

Anthony M: I just want to see something resembling an offense. I don't even need to see a true offense -- just something resembling an offense. Run the ball well on occasion. Put the occasional drive together. I want 20 points and a few drives that don't instantly end with punts, because Michigan's defense only need that much from its offense to take control of the game and win.

Josh H: In all honesty, I'm really hoping Michigan doesn't make me bang my head on the desk repeatedly.

Zooby Q: Gardner needs to be effective on the first drive and turn it into a touchdown. I agree with the fragile state of this team. The program has been the talk of the nation and here's hoping it makes these boys bond together like brothers. Anything less than 20 points of offense is a recipe for disaster, on the road, at night.

Kevin: I'd like competent special teams performance in a hostile environment. That's a big ask, because it was pretty horrid against Minnesota. Matt Wile out kicks coverage on punts, and kickoff returns/coverage has been absent. WHEN WILL DENNIS NORFLEET DO DENNIS NORFLEET THINGS??

Drew: I'm sorry, Kevin, but I think it is unlikely you will see Michigan have a competent special teams performance versus Rutgers. Why? First, Rutgers has Janarion Grant, who is one of the best return specialists in the Big Ten. Grant has had only two chances to return a punt this season, but, against Michigan's traditional formation, I would not be surprised in the least if he brings one back all of the way. Second, since 2009, Rutgers leads the nation in blocked kicks with 39, which is 12 more than any other team in that span. Thus, I would be shocked if Michigan has the better special teams tomorrow.

I want to see Devin Gardner regain his confidence and instincts. If there was ever a time for it to happen, it is against a poor Rutgers secondary that is ranked near the bottom in passing yards allowed per game (108th), passing efficiency defense (83rd), and yards allowed per pass attempt (101st). There should be large windows through which Gardner can throw, and Rutgers has no one in the secondary that can lock down Funchess, assuming he will not be limited by his ankle injury as he claimed this week. The question, though, will be if Michigan's offensive line can hold up against Rutgers' nasty pass rush, which leads the nation in sacks with 21. I am skeptical, but, if it can, we could see the Gardner we saw against Notre Dame, Indiana, and Ohio State in 2013.

Oh, and I want to see no fewer than three interceptions from Gary "Wrecking Ball" Nova.

Instead of win/loss predictions and score guesses, hand out a game ball to the guy you think makes the difference for Michigan this week.

Peter: I believe Rutgers was ranked in the top-10 in rush defense last year, but they're down to 49th this year, and allowing 130+ yards per game, along with 8 rushing TDs. So, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that De'Veon Smith will get the game ball as he breaks 100 yards rushing.

Doug Nussmeier could get it if he would stick to the shotgun. You hear me, Doug? SHOTGUN!

Kevin: Preach! Isn't it amazing that we haven't seen much shotgun with the same QB!?!?

Anthony: Devin Gardner was out to prove that this is his football team last week when he came out in relief of Shane Morris and led the Wolverines right down the field, where he scored a rushing touchdown. That's the guy we need to see this week, and I think we will. After the happenings of this week, the pressure is entirely off Gardner, so perhaps being benched for the last game lights a fire under his rear end.

Zach: It has to be Gardner. When Gardner plays well, Michigan almost always wins. When he struggles, so too does the offense.

The other person who is a much less obvious choice, is Will Hagerup. Because of everything else that happened Saturday it flew under the radar that he has a pretty horrible day outside a couple mistakes by Minnesota and the punt downed at the 1-yard line. He wasn't getting very much hang time on his kicks and Minnesota got returns of 15, 23, and 32 yards due to a combination of that and Michigan's insistence on using a traditional tight punt formation. Since Michigan isn't going to magically learn its lesson vis a vis that last point, Hagerup is going to have to bail this team out or Michigan will likely give up half a football field or more in field position just by punting the ball away and letting Rutgers get returns.

Anthony M: Frank Clark. I think he terrorizes Rutgers and hopefully helps the defense shut down a mediocre offense so Gardner can sputter up and down the field to a sloppy win. Hopefully.

John W: Game ball goes to Hagerup... wait what do you mean Zach already said that? Come on he was my sleeper pick. Fine. Game ball goes to Jake Ryan because he is awesome. His pick six will keep the deficit under 20 points as the defense outscores the offense.

Josh H: Absolutely Devin Gardner, for the obvious reasons. The coaches took his team away from him, it's time he gets it back and makes some noise on Saturday.

Kevin: Hmm. It's hard to pick any of the offensive skill players because who knows what they're going to do. My hope is that Willie Henry awakens again and has himself a game, maybe even gets another fat guy touchdown.

Zooby Q: De'Veon Smith needs to be RB1 and Green moved to RB2 status where he plays on short yardage plays and for a change of pace. Smith is just the better RB right now, and if Michigan is going to win Saturday, Smith is going to have to help Gardner out and produce on the ground. Smith for MVP.

Drew: Sorry, I do not have a game ball to hand out. If I had to give one out, it would be to Gardner because the only way Michigan will be able to score points will be to exploit Rutgers' secondary. To those that think Michigan's rushing offense will perform well tomorrow, I think you will be in for a rude awakening. Rutgers' defensive front seven is feisty, and I have not seen anything from Michigan's offensive line that leads me to believe it will not struggle all night against the Scarlet Knights.

I do not have a game ball to hand out because I think Michigan will continue to free fall. On paper, Rutgers is not a better team than Michigan. But, if there is anything we have learned the past few weeks, it is that you can shred that paper once the opening kickoff is underway. The Wolverines cannot score -- against three Power 5 schools, Michigan had only one drive gain more than 50 yards and only three total plays gain more than 25 yards -- and are notoriously bad on the road under Brady Hoke. This will not change tomorrow night. Rutgers 23, Michigan 14.

Must Reads

Big college football schedule this week, including another fantastic Thursday game, which ended with RichRod bringing down Oregon. Hello, Dark Ages! Ahem. Anyway, what're ya watching? What October beer will be at your side?

Peter: I have three games on my radar this weekend--Oklahoma at TCU because that one has the potential to be a "ruh roh" moment for the Sooners; Wisconsin at Northwestern because the Badgers always seem to stumble against the Wildcats, and someone else's pain will make me laugh; Utah at UCLA because I haven't had a chance to sit down and watch any PAC-12 games this year.

As for beer, if my local alcoholic beverage provider is stocked up on Great Lakes Nosferatu, that will be the beer of choice. It's also fitting because I feel like the undead after this week.

Anthony: One of the games that I will be invested in this weekend is Central Michigan vs. Ohio (The real Ohio, not those scarlet and gray boys from Columbus). I am a student at CMU and this is our homecoming game, so I will be looking forward to tailgating with my fellow Chippewas and enjoying a nice October Saturday.

As far as my beer choice, that remains to be seen. I'm new to the whole seasonal beer game, so I'm hoping my fellow MnB staff members can throw some suggestions my way.

Zach: You just know LSU-Auburn is going to be nuts. I'm also excited to see MSU-Neb, as it should be one of the five or six watchable Big Ten football games we get this year.

Anthony M: I'm watching Arizona-Oregon very closely. Rich Rodrigeuz has slowly but surely put together another solid program (FUUUUUUU) and is looking for two consecutive wins over the Ducks (lolz Michigan would lose by 50 to both of these teams). I'll be pulling for the Wildcats but won't be angry one bit if the Ducks add to their playoff resume.

I'll be trying Angler's Ale this weekend. I've heard great things

John W: Like Anthony I'll be watching Oregon assuming the Tigers aren't still playing baseball at 10:30 at night (which given last night's game is entirely possible).

Oregon has always been my Number 2 team thanks to amazing uniforms and a mesmerizing offense, while I don't like Arizona because Rich Rod. This made last season's loss to Arizona extra painful and I'll enjoy watching the Ducks get some revenge.

I'll be looking to get my hands on some Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat. I had this beer on my baseball trip to Kansas City and would love to find a place that sells it locally. Its a great beer and I hope to have it in time for the ALDS.

Josh H: Like Mammel said, I'll be paying close attention to the Arizone-Oregon game. Rich Rod put the Ducks in their place last season, would be absolutely huge for him if he could do it again. Sad for those who wanted him to succeed in Ann Arbor, of course.

As far as beer is concerned, I'll be drinking some Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest (and lots of it.)

Kevin: Surprised no one has picked Texas A&M/Mississippi State, so it's ALL MINE. Aggies pulled one out of their rear against Arkansas but I suppose that shouldn't be a shock with Bret Bielema on the opposing sideline. Kenny Hill appears to be blossoming in Kevin Sumlin's system, but Dak Prescott had an awesome game against LSU. Normally I wouldn't tout the SEC this much but when they have games featuring two playmaker quarterbacks, it's always entertaining television.

I'll be having the other half of a six-pack of New Holland Ichabod ale, but if the game against Rutgers turns ugly, that won't be close to enough beer.

Zooby Q: This is the greatest weekend of college football for the 2014 season. There are so many great games to watch, not to mention playoff baseball being on as well. For games I'll want to watch, it's pretty much an SEC feast. Fans outside the South may hate it but that's just a different level of competition. Alabama vs Ole Miss, Miss. State vs Texas A&M, LSU vs Auburn. I want it all.

Drew: Here are my instructions to you: (1) clear your schedule on Saturday; (2) tonight, go to the grocery store and load up on food and beer (if you are 21 years of age or older, of course; we encourage responsible, lawful drinking here); (3) plop your behind on the couch at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday; (4) turn on your television; and (5) do not move until every single second of college football has been played. This week's slate is incredible: Oregon-Arizona, Texas A&M-Mississippi State, Ohio State-Maryland, Purdue-Illinois, Alabama-Ole Miss, Oklahoma-TCU, Stanford-Notre Dame, LSU-Auburn, Arizona State-USC, Nebraska-Michigan State, and Utah-UCLA. How can I pick one? I cannot, so I will not.

Go nuts, college football fans. Tomorrow is your day.