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Reader Q/A for Michigan/Notre Dame: Matchups, mismatches and Brian Kelly

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Don’t forget to send in your questions for the Michigan/Western Michigan game — @maizenbrew on Twitter and Facebook — for tomorrow’s Q/A.

Michigan v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Welcome in, everybody, to the first Reader Q/A of the preseason!

Thank you for all the responses we got — whether it be serious or sarcastic, I genuinely appreciate all the feedback.

As you have noticed on our site, we have begun dishing out preview content on Michigan football’s opponents this upcoming season. Today was devoted to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, so I asked you for your best questions related to the game on Sept. 1.

Here are some of the questions you gave me to answer:

@JT_WallStreet on Twitter: How much of a drop will their o line take after the NFL draft?

It’s been widely publicized Notre Dame’s two best offensive linemen from last season are now in the NFL — Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson. They also lost six-year offensive line coach Harry Hiestand to the Chicago Bears.

They could have some issues on the offensive front this season.

The Fighting Irish’s offensive captain is fifth-year senior center Sam Mustipher, and he looks to guide a relatively young but talented group in 2018. The only other upperclassman to participate in first-team drills this spring was fifth-year senior right guard Alex Bars, who also has plenty of experience at multiple positions on the line.

Everyone else? That’s to be determined. Robert Hainsey is a sophomore at left tackle, redshirt freshman Josh Lugg is at left guard, replacing Nelson, and Tommy Kraemer is a redshirt sophomore playing right tackle. None of them had playing time in 2017.

New offensive line coach Jeff Quinn has been with the Fighting Irish the last three seasons, so he is familiar with the players and program. But despite that continuity, I could see this unit taking a step back. Sure, all those guys were highly recruited out of high school, but they also haven’t played a single snap of meaningful football since then. Much like Michigan’s offensive line, this will be a wait and see scenario, but I can already picture Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich and then rest of Michigan’s defensive line eating those guys for lunch.

@jared_poling5 on Twitter: Where will there be the biggest mismatch on the field on either side of the ball for both teams?

Easy — Don Brown vs. Notre Dame’s running backs.

Notre Dame lost a ton of running backs this offseason. Josh Adams is now in the NFL, and two others, C.J. Holmes and Deon McIntosh, were dismissed from the program.

It’s looking like junior Dexter Williams and senior Tony Jones Jr. will be the two guys for the Irish in 2018.

Last year, Jones Jr. played in seven games, running for 198 yards on 37 carries for 3 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Williams played in only five games in 2017, running for 280 yards on 31 carries for 4 touchdowns.

These two made the most of their opportunities a season ago, but the bulk of their production was during times when it did not matter, as just one of the combined seven touchdowns from those two backs were in a game decided by less than 20 points (Jones Jr.’s touchdown in a 48-37 victory against Wake Forest).

With Gary, Winovich, Aubrey Solomon and, well, pretty much every defensive lineman, it could be a long night for the two Irish backs.

@PatBicanich on Twitter: Do you expect to see 2 QBs for ND September 1st?

There is a lot of debate as to who the starting quarterback will be for the Fighting Irish to begin the season. Most think it will be Wimbush, myself included. Others, however, like yourself perhaps, think Wimbush and backup Ian Book will both get some time on the field.

It very well could be a situation like last year for the Wolverines when Wilton Speight and John O’Korn played in the opener against Florida. I would not be surprised to see both Wimbush and Book play in this one, but until I see Wimbush’s struggled up close, I will say we only see Wimbush Week 1.

Justin Goodacre on Facebook: How red will BK (ND head coach Brian Kelly) get?

Very red, Justin. Very red.


Be sure to tweet us @maizenbrew and reply to our Facebook post your best questions for the Western Michigan game. I will gather some of the best ones and answer them in tomorrow’s Q/A.