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Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Michigan football mailbag

By Chantel Jennings

It’s November. We’re less than a month to Thanksgiving/the Ohio State game. No matter what you use as your count down, you’ve got something to look forward to.

We do the mailbag every week, so get your questions in early and often. Send them to me on twitter (@chanteljennings) or via email (jenningsESPN@gmail.com).

Brady Hoke
Is Michigan coach Brady Hoke already on the hot seat?
Blake Sattler via Twitter: Is Brady Hoke on the hot seat yet?

A: I don’t think so. Are people unhappy? Yes. Should they be? Sure. But the people who control the future of Hoke’s job (the administration) still seem to be happy and the players really seem to love playing for him. If it’s 2015 and he’s still putting teams on the field that can’t gain positive rushing yardage against Michigan State or get blown out by Ohio State, then the tide might turn. But for now, Hoke is safe.

Jeff Vanover via Twitter: Who do you believe will start against Appalachian State in 2014?

A: Good question. Obviously, Devin Gardner will have the upper hand as he will be a senior. But I really think he’s going to see some serious competition from sophomore Shane Morris and freshman Wilton Speight. Now, I know Speight will just be a freshman, but he’s enrolling this January and is coming in ready to compete.

However, I think the better question is: who will be starting on the offensive line? Because that’s kind of a scary thought. There’s a real possibility the eldest starter on the offensive line next season is a redshirt sophomore. And if that’s the case (and if they don’t have maturity and chemistry, as displayed last weekend), then the best choice might be Gardner -- even if Morris or Speight display a sturdier arm -- because Gardner has more natural scrambling ability.

Eric Bacon via Twitter: When will Michigan get their swagger back like [they had] in the 90s?

A: I have heard Michigan basketball coach John Beilein use the word “swagger” properly, but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard Hoke use it. Ever. That doesn’t mean the Wolverines can’t have it, though. And, if we’re talking on-field swagger when the play talks for the players then I’d say give it another year or two. Michigan wants to start up front. It talks about having strong offensive and defensive lines. The coaches demand it. They probably dream about it. But the truth is, that’s just not where they are right now. And they can’t be the team they want to be until that is true. In the perfect world, Darrell Funk would be able to start redshirt juniors and redshirt seniors on the offensive line and the same would be true for Greg Mattison on the defensive line. When Michigan can be aggressive up front, it'll be able to put together a team full of swag.

Joe Provost III via Twitter: Could Hoke be doing a better job? Or do we have to be patient and let him coach his own recruits for more then two years?

A: Patience is a virtue. But it’s also something most fans don’t want to deal with. In some ways, every football fan is that little girl in the AT&T commercial. “If you really like something, you’ll want more of it. We want more. We Want more. Like, you really like it.” Every fan wants more wins no matter what. And they want them now. No matter that Hoke has needed to completely replenish a depleted offensive line unit. No matter that it’s not his usual scheme. No matter that the defense had to go from near-worst in the nation to something respective. Fans want more wins. And they want them now. That’ll make you go crazy. Give him two more years to really get his guys into the system -- specifically, his guys up front -- and then see where he is.