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MnB Roundtable Hopes Wisconsin Isn’t On

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Manball Bowl 2016

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Offer the kind folks in Baton Rouge some coaching search advice as they embark on replacing a coach for the first time in twelve years.

Evan Petzold: The third time is the charm, well maybe. It took the Michigan football program Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke before the team found a gem in Jim Harbaugh.

Zach Travis: Keep calling Jimbo Fisher. I'm sure that'll work out for you.

Shash: Don't hire an alumnus with an underwhelming resume just because he's an alumnus. And don't hire someone all your boosters hate. And don't hire Jim Harbaugh. Hire Urban Meyer, please. Or Mike D'Antoni.

PP: First of all, go with someone who isn't really going to fit at all. Then, after you fire him, try to get that guy everyone in your fandom wants, but then settle for some other guy who will wow you in the presser and perhaps in the first season. After *he* is fired a few years down the road for not wearing a headset and clapping like a maniac on the sidelines, only then will you get the coach you deserve.

Alejandro Zuniga: Make sure your next coach enjoys chowing down on organic, free-range grass.

Kyle: Jimbo Fischer has the LSU history and has the proven track record. He will certainly come with a high price tag, but one that they should be more than willing to pay. No need to overthink it.

Trevor: The Tigers need to geaux out on the dating scene again and find that perfect match like they had once upon a time in Les Miles. Unfortunately for LSU, their pick up skills may be a little rusty as they have been locked in a long-term relationship. Fortunately though, they are a brand name school and should have no problem attracting great coaches. I personally think Greg Mattison would be a great head coach. But lets keep that idea close to the chest.

Tanner: Getting rid of the old coach who had a National Championship and would consistently win 9+ games in favor of the hot young coach with the high powered offense always works out. So, y'all should be good. I think.

Garrett: Be patient and find the right man for the job. Don't be like UofM and rush to sign the hot coach (RichRod) or the idealistic, not ready for prime time coach (Hoke). LSU is a desirable spot and the right candidate will come around.

KB: Michigan wrote the manual on how not to conduct two coaching searches. Don’t wait until it’s too late to make a move and all the viable candidates have inked new contracts, or flatly declined, or get wooed by another school. Don’t let an overbearing athletic director run the show and just hire the guy he alone wants. Don’t let your athletic director involve the university president and go for the splashy hire. Do create a search committee to do some of the legwork and come up with a list of hires everyone will be pleased with. Do contact candidates through back channels/common connections to avoid the rest of the college football world knowing your every move. Don’t interview guys who no one wants and be so terrible at enticing them that they say no anyway, causing any other potential candidates to flee to greener pastures.

Do hire Jimbo Fisher. Or keep Ed Orgeron. He’s a player’s coach and everyone loves him.

AB: Stay in your swim lanes and have a plan. Don't just close your eyes and swing for the fences. It could be the difference between your Brady Hoke or your Jim Harbaugh.

Which part of this surging Wisconsin team do you buy into the most: smothering defense, a freshman quarterback, or their offense putting up 30 points on MSU?

EP: I believe the defense is for real. I am not so sure about the Wisconsin offense. I'm very interested to see how the freshman quarterback and his offense compete against a Michigan defense that has solidified themselves as one of the best in the nation.

ZT: The defense. It has done the most and been the most impressive. The rushing game for Wisconsin still might not be vintage Wisconsin and the freshman quarterback is still a freshman, so the middling offensive performances against GSU and LSU (as well as the lingering question of just how good MSU's defense is) don't point to the offense being the team's strength.

Shash: The defense, and it isn't close. MSU's still really good. So is LSU's offense. The D won them both those games.

Peter: It's Wisconsin, so buying into their QB is always a risky proposition, but Hornibrook is creating a ton of excitement in this town. The people I know are talking about him like he's the next Russell Wilson, which is probably only going to end up breaking their hearts in the long run. That's what people here are buying into, but what do I buy into? The rush defense keeping opponents under 100 yards per game. If that trend continues, Michigan is really going to have to rely on Speight and the fact that the Wisconsin pass defense has allowed 269 and 250 passing yards in the last two games respectively.

AZ: Well, the offense didn't exactly put up 30 points on MSU — it was helped out immensely by several Spartan turnovers. I'll buy into that defense, for sure, but I'm excited to see more of redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook. He doesn't have the strongest arm, but the Badgers' staff has praised his consistency and poise. Those traits came in handy at Spartan Stadium, and he'll need more of it against a ferocious Michigan defensive line.

Kyle: While Alex Hornibrook is better than expected, there are many question marks remaining about the Wisconsin offense. However, the Badger defense sure looks impressive and will need to continue to give the offense shorted fields to work with. Seven forced turnovers against LSU and Michigan State highlight the potential of this unit.

Trevor: I personally am buying into the Badger defense filled with countless wrecking balls who play every snap like it is the last play in the College Football Playoff. This team has produced players with motors that Gerald Ford himself would be impressed by. TJ Watt and Vince Biegel are two players to keep an eye on in the Big House on Saturday. Bold Prediction: Leo Musso gets another turnover for Wisconsin in this game.

Tanner: The defense, easily. They play good, sound, fundamental defense. Their offense is nothing crazy, being gifted two touchdowns by MSU by way of the fumble return and botched punt inside the 5. T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel are legit studs, though, and that defense is nothing to mess with.

Garrett: None of the above. I don't think Wisconsin is as good as so many are making them to be.

AB: Their defense is going to keep them in games. I am not sold on Michigan State after seeing how the first three weeks of their season have gone. The win in South Bend looked good, but ND is terrible this year for some reason. Not trying to get into the transitive wins argument here, but Wisconsin has not faced a test like Saturday's will be yet.

KB: LSU may have been grossly overrated to begin the season, but the Badger defense still shut Leonard Fournette down. That’s an accomplishment, and then they went ahead and prevented Michigan State from scoring a touchdown with a veteran quarterback. Seems legit to me.

This is the first opportunity for Michigan to beat a top-ten team since OSU last year - how has this team gotten better since, and can they do it?

EP: Michigan has gotten better in all aspects of the game. I think the team has a lot more confidence going into the game against Wisconsin this weekend. With the additions of Chris Evans, Eddie McDoom and new fullback Khalid Hill, Michigan has more weapons on the offensive end. Wilton Speight looks comfortable even after getting knocked around against Colorado. The offense looks great and the defense looks even better.

Who wins your September Heisman?

  • Peppers
  • Lamar Jackson
  • Deshaun Watson
  • Christian McCaffrey
  • Greg Ward, Jr
  • Is Denard Still Eligible?

EP: I have Lamar Jackson because he is so dynamic and versatile, as is Jabrill Peppers. However, Jackson has accounted for almost all of Louisville’s touchdowns. We will see how things go for Louisville against Clemson this weekend, then ask me the question again.

ZT: Are you f---ing kidding me? Jackson in a landslide. I think he banked enough stats to probably win the October Heisman without suiting up that month if he wanted.

Shash: If I have to explain this answer you haven't been watching college football. Ward's been hurt at times and missed a game. Lamar Jackson has more touchdowns on his own than every TEAM in FBS except Michigan.

Peter: Peppers, because I'm just going to be a total homer.

Alejandro: Jackson. He has had the best game against the best opponent.

KB: Jackson lit up Florida State, and if he lights up Clemson on Saturday, it’s probably game over. However, Greg Ward had nearly 400 yards of offense and three touchdowns last night against UConn, so he’ll make a push.

Kyle: Lamar Jackson has done exactly what a Septemer Heisman is supposed to do. He plays with pizzazz that few others possess, he has performed extremely well on a national stage, and he has grabbed the headlines and attention from all outlets. Oh, and his numbers are ridiculous.

Trevor: Is Denard still eligible?....That is the funniest thing I have read all day. Lamar Jackson's numbers are too gaudy to deny him the September Heisman at this point. 25 touchdowns is absolutely remarkable. I just checked my Twitter feed and LJ just scampered in for another 40 yard TD against Florida State.

Tanner: Jackson. I think he has 86 touchdowns, so I'll go with him.

Garrett: As much as Peppers is by far the best football player on this list, the Heisman is a numbers game and no one has filled the stat sheet like Lamar Jackson. If Peppers hopes to get into serious Heisman consideration by the end of the season, he needs a few more punt/kick return TDs, a handful of impressive offensive plays, and to erase any debate about whether he or Lewis is better at what they do on defense.

AB: Jackson on his own has scored about as many TDs as the Wolverines have as a team. Literally.

Why are people so split on whether student athletes can have a voice on social issues?

ZT: (immediately gets political)

Shash: Some are welcoming it, and it's important to not discount those that are standing together, but the really interesting question here is why people have such a virulently negative reaction to athlete activism. As far as the "stick to sports" crowd, I have two answers here that build off each other. One is the message: many people inherently don't like being challenged about these issues, partly because they either a) feel they're in the "right" and wonder why it's "their fault" (I was accused of writing to assuage my "white guilt" by one commenter last week) b) flat-out deny that these problems are occuring (White kids get shot too!) c) actually disagree with the stand they're taking for reasons ranging from a very sheltered mentality at best to a very racist one at works. Two is the messenger/medium: People tend to watch sports as a distraction from those real issues. They don't want to be challenged during a football game or before it when they're getting hype about it. They want to feel pride in their country during the anthem, not be reminded of the injustices that are very real. The messenger also matters - it's very easy for people who don't want to agree with something to simply not accept the message because of who's delivering it (Who's Colin Kaepernick, rich guy, to tell me how to feel? Or - say "that's a black problem" or a "white problem"). I could go on here but it matters so much how this message is delivered. It shouldn't, but here we are. Feel free to disagree with my take on how people are here, but those are the reactions I've encountered/observed.

PP: Without getting political, eh? It comes down to: do you think an athlete is a human being with thoughts and concerns under the helmet/uniform, or do you think an athlete should just shut up and play the game? Personally, I believe they should voice their opinions. Some of us may not like the how, but the right is there and needs to be respected.

Alejandro: For a lot of people, sports are an escape from "real life." Athletes using their platform to address social issues disrupts that.

Trevor: Honestly, this is a tough one. I'm not going to get too deep into it but I think it is going to be a long time until everyone even starts to see the same way on this. I just hope we don't see anymore comments like we did this week from the Nebraska fans. That was a shame.

Tanner: Because YOU JUST ARE HERE TO PLAY FOOTBALL AND MAYBE YOU SHOULD BE THANKFUL THESE SCHOOLS CAN PROFIT OFF OF YOU AND I CAN WATCH YOU FOR MY ENTERTAINMENT BUT HOW DARE YOU TALK ABOUT ANYTHING BESIDES FOOTBALL.

Garrett: I don't think the pivot is on student athletes, but on athletes in general. Sports are entertainment and watching sports is an escape from daily life. Many people get frustrated and angry when something interrupts that, especially if that something reminds them of the ugly bits of our country. That frustration tends to come out in dictating athletes on how we think they should behave.

KB: People aren’t used to their adored athletes suddenly developing a conscience. No one in the Michigan community raised an alarm when a small contingent of players raised their fists last week. Jim Harbaugh had the best answer of any coach yet: it’s their right, and his job to back them up.

AB: Many are opposed to having a conversation and would rather pout if they do not get their way or scream in your face with their opinion. At the core of all of our issues is that we do a lot of talking and not enough listening and understanding.

Do you have any lingering concerns with this Michigan team after the first month, or right where they should be?

EP: Right where they should be. Michigan has done everything they were suppose to do. While the Colorado game was close for a little bit, it is important to note that Colorado is a better team than many expected. Michigan is 4-0. The team is where they should be.

Shash: That the rushing attack isn't an elite unit, which, all things considered is a pretty "first-world problem" in terms of football concerns.

PP: Offensive consistency, I think. They're still rounding into form but at times Speight's been missing throws and the line hasn't really coalesced.

AZ: I'm starting to feel better about this team with each passing week. I still want to see more consistency out of the run game, but we seem to be turning the corner there (no pun intended). I wouldn't say they're right where they should be, but mostly where I expected.

Kyle: I have plenty of concerns — with the quarterback, with the offensive line, with the receivers, with the kicking game. But I don't think it's right to voice anything too strongly until after this weekend, when Michigan will have to play four complete quarters if it wants a win.

Trevor: The accuracy of Wilton Speight is still a little concerning. Perhaps like Jake Rudock he will make a big jump as the season progresses, but Speight was supposed to be the more fundamentally solid quarterback compared to John O’Korn. With the number of weapons at his disposal, Speight really does not need to do too much to be successful, and hopefully he figures that out soon.

Tanner: My major concern at the beginning of the season was the same as everyone else's, the linebacker group. They have shown enough so far that I think that group is good enough to fight for a Big Ten title. My major concern today would have to be Jeremy Clark's replacement. Clark is s strong player who is often caught in the shadows of Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers. Clark meant a lot more to this team than a lot might have thought, his size and presence locked down a lot of real estate on his side of the field. This week I will be keeping an eye on his replacement. Hoping for the best.

Tanner: I want to see the offensive line do what they did last week. Too many times I thought they were turning the corner only to regress and make the same old dumb mistakes that have been holding them back. Do it against Wisconsin, and well, color me impressed.

Garrett: Speight's lack of consistent, down field throwing is concerning. Both Darboh and Chesson are fast guys and should be getting more chances at big plays, but there are signs that part of the offense will improve -- a 40 something yard pass to the endzone was erased by a holding penalty against Penn State. Beyond that, however, Speight just isn't throwing much 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. Most of Michigan's big gains have come from good running after the catch. As defenses get better and quicker deep in the season, those gains will dry up.

Bonus Q: What're ya drinking to welcome the month of October?

EP: I'm not even 21. I'm still in high school. But..... Oh never mind.

Shash: Anything that has the month's name in it and the word fest. It's prime time fall beer season. Enjoy it while you can. One I just had was Starr Hill's "Debut Maple Brown" which starts like a Newcastle and has a hint of maple sweetness at the end without being too cloying. http://starrhill.com/brews/debut-5-maple-brown-ale/

PP: Water again. For the second time in three weeks I'm bringing one of my kids to her first game; it's my 8-year-old this time.

AZ: Pumpkin Spice Lattes. (Kidding.)

Trevor: Busch Light in the hunters orange cans! Cheap, delicious, light and nobody will mistake you for a deer!

Tanner: A little beer, a little liquor. The usual.

GH: I was in Wisconsin recently and brought back -- I'll say most -- of their beer. For the game I'll be drinking New Glarus Brewing's Uff-Da released in September for 2016, and conveniently also the sound most of Wisconsin will make after each Michigan possession.

KB: I had some Bonfire Brown from Saugatuck Brewing last weekend, might have to track that down again or else locate some Jaw Jacker from Arcadia Brewing.

AB: It's starting to get chilly. How about a beverage that warms the belly and the soul?