Thursday, January 17, 2013
By Michael Rothstein, Tom VanHaaren & Chantel Jennings
Every Thursday, the WolverineNation writers sit down and discuss three of the most important topics in Michigan sports for the week. This week, they look at a returning offensive lineman, the basketball team’s first loss and the 2013 recruiting class.
1) How or where will the Wolverines benefit the most with Taylor Lewan staying for his final season?Chantel Jennings: The quarterback position. Devin Gardner would’ve had a much rougher year if he had an inexperienced and young left tackle protecting his blind side. Now, he has the probable frontrunner for the Outland Trophy. Had it been a young player as a starter, Gardner would’ve been sacked and hit much more, in which case we would’ve seen more Russell Bellomy, Jack Kennedy or Shane Morris, who also would’ve been protected by a young left tackle.
Tom VanHaaren: There are a lot of ways that Lewan coming back helps. It obviously means one fewer question mark along the offensive line. Having Lewan back means the left tackle spot is solidified, which will obviously help in the pass and run game. More importantly, it might help for the future. His return means that Michigan doesn't have to insert a redshirt freshman or move Michael Schofield over. It gives the younger linemen more time to develop and learn under Lewan.
Michael Rothstein: This is a simple answer, but the left side of the line. It wouldn't shock me to see a lot of Michigan's runs, at least in the beginning of the season, be geared toward the outside as the interior lineman gain experience. Having Lewan there gives Michigan options to run outside left or outside right. Leadership will help, too, but the run blocking is a tangible thing.
2) What did you learn about the Michigan basketball team in its loss to Ohio State?
Trey Burke was 4 for 13 from the floor at Ohio State.
Jennings: The Big Ten title will be won in Crisler Arena, both Assembly Halls, The Barn and Value City Arena. Whichever conference teams wins the most games in those venues will likely be the regular season Big Ten champ. And guess what -- Michigan travels to all three of those remaining arenas in the next three weeks.
VanHaaren:Trey Burke isn’t invincible and when he plays poorly, at least four other players must play really, really well. Burke finished 4-of-13 from the floor, but he had four turnovers. That’s as much as he had in all of the Big Ten season going into that game.
Rothstein: Nothing that surprised me. Michigan was never going to go undefeated and the way it had been playing, it was going to lose either Sunday at Ohio State or tonight against Minnesota. And the Wolverines still might lose to the Gophers. But this is more important to what they learned -- and how John Beilein and his staff can use those things to help refocus Nik Stauskas and Burke.
3) If you could add any 2013 prospect in the country -- regardless of whether he's committed to another school -- to this Michigan football recruiting class, who would it be and why?
Jennings:Jaylon Smith (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers). For a while it seemed (and it still could be the case) that Michigan wanted another OLB for some reason. A number of offers went out near the end of the season and so whether it’s attrition or something else, they seem to want one, so why wouldn’t you pick one of the best out there? He and Matthew Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington) are the two top OLBs in the country and Thomas beat out Smith by a single spot, but I picked Smith because he’s committed to Notre Dame. So not only would Michigan pick up a great player, they’d also be making sure one of their rivals didn’t get him.
VanHaaren: After watching him play in the Under Armour All-America game, I'm going to say cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, Fla./Wharton). He locked down the No. 1 wide receiver, Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee), and had an outstanding game. He would have been a huge boost to Michigan's defense. He was never seriously considering Michigan, but adding him to the class would have been a big deal. Florida is getting a great prospect.
Rothstein: From a name perspective, defensive tackle Dee Liner (Muscle Shoals, Ala./Muscle Shoals). Such an awesome name. From a talent perspective, Hargreaves III. He has the potential to be a shutdown corner early in his career and there aren't many of those wandering around college football. He's one of the few guys who you can, barring injury, tab as a definitive pro down the road. I'd be surprised if he isn't an All-SEC corner by his sophomore season.