Have Michigan football questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Michigan mailbag to talk all things Wolverines. This week, we’ll discuss Michigan’s freshmen who played against Florida, the running backs situation and conference and national rankings.
Anyone have eyes on how many freshmen played today?
— Mark Kellogg (@markakellogg) September 3, 2017
Here are the freshmen who got into Michigan’s season opener: WR Tarik Black, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (who played at punt returner and got in at wide receiver in the second half), DB Ambry Thomas, DB Benjamin St-Juste, FB Ben Mason (who was on special teams), DL Aubrey Solomon, DL Kwity Paye, DB J’Marick Woods and LB Josh Ross. (I may be missing one or two, so let me know who I overlooked.)
Black had an excellent game Saturday against Florida, with two catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. Black even got a mention in Stugotz’s Weekend Observations on the Dan LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio.
All these freshmen getting playing time? It’s almost a product of necessity. When you lose 18 starters, you have to have players who can step in and either be game-ready or learn how to be game-ready against a Top 25 team. Even against a shorthanded Florida team, Michigan’s freshman (and its redshirt freshmen and sophomores, particularly Devin Bush and Quinn Nordin) performed at a strong competitive level.
Did Ty Isaac claim the No. 1 running back spot?
Troy Yorton asks a really good question on Facebook, and the numbers alone would say yes. Isaac ran for 114 yards on 11 carries against Florida, including 3 carries in third- and fourth-down situations.
However, when asked if Michigan was still using a rotation among its running backs, this was Isaac’s answer:
Michigan RB Ty Isaac asked if UM's RBs will rotate: I believe so, but that might be a better question for coach Jay Harbaugh.
— Rachel Lenzi (@RLenziCMG) September 4, 2017
Jay Harbaugh won’t commit to having a No. 1 running back, either, but is doing so by design.
“I’d love for them to be totally interchangeable, because then you can stay away from predictability, as in, ‘hey, when 22 comes in, expect this’ or ‘hey, when 12 comes in, expect this,’ ” Harbaugh said Wednesday. “That can be problematic. Interchangeable parts is the goal, but inevitably, certain guys are going to be better at certain things, and it’s all about putting guys in position to succeed.”
Were there any significant injuries?
Any significant injuries?
— Netillaman (@netillaman) September 3, 2017
None were announced immediately after the game, and during his weekly press conference, Harbaugh said the Wolverines sustained no major injuries in its win against Florida.
“We’re in really good shape coming out of this game,” Harbaugh said.
Brandon Watson and David Long left the game, but Harbaugh said Monday that “I think both those youngsters will be fine. Kind of minor couple-day kind of things. But we’ll see for sure.”
Also, defensive linemen Luiji Vilain and Donovan Jeter were photographed on crutches in David Turnley’s game-day slideshow, which was posted Saturday on the Michigan football Twitter account.
What’s going on with Kareem Walker? Is he going to play? Are Kurt Taylor and O’Maury Samuels going to redshirt?
What's going on with Kareem Walker? Is he going to play? Are Kurt Taylor and O'Maury Samuels going to RS?
— Puglife (@Pug_life_4_Blue) September 3, 2017
Where is Kareem walker?
— Jake VanderMeer (@jvandermeer35) September 6, 2017
whats going on with him? He seems incredibly legit, why the hell aren't they playing him?
— Real Muscle Gamer (@RealMuscleGamer) September 6, 2017
It might be a little too early to give redshirt status to any Michigan freshman; one game doesn’t make a season. But going through Michigan’s past rosters, it’s not uncommon for the coaching staff to redshirt quite a few. But no word on Kurt Taylor and O’Maury Samuels, two players who were part of Michigan’s incoming 2017 freshman class.
As far as RB Kareem Walker goes — and we’ve gotten a few queries about Walker for this mailbag and on our weekly Facebook Live chat (tune in here at 6 p.m. ET each Wednesday) — he redshirted last season and is on the roster for this year, but didn’t play against Florida. He was also shown in David Turnley’s aformentioned slideshow, in Michigan’s training room, but none of Michigan’s coaches have mentioned Walker’s health or playing status.
When asked Wednesday if Walker will play this weekend against Cincinnati, running backs coach Jay Harbaugh answered with a cryptic “We’ll see.”
Michigan’s offensive backfield is both crowded and productive; Michigan had seven rushers carry for 215 yards against Florida, including running backs Isaac, Chris Evans and Karan Higdon and fullback Khalid Hill.
Where do you have Michigan ranked in the Big Ten, against the other teams?
Marty Cornwell submitted this question on Facebook, and it’s a good way to promote Land of 10’s weekly Big Ten power rankings, which the staff votes upon. Michigan opened the season at No. 3 in the 14-team rankings, behind No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Penn State.
Here’s how I voted:
1. Ohio State
2. Penn State
11. Michigan State
I don’t have a vote in the AP Top 25 poll, but I vote in the weekly Football Writers Association of America/National Football Foundation Super 16 poll. Michigan is ranked No. 7 in the first poll. Here’s my ballot for the first week:
2. Ohio State
5. Penn State
10. Florida State
11. Oklahoma State
16. Virginia Tech
I can guarantee you, these rankings (including mine) will change. It’s early in the season.
— Emeterio Ruiz Reyes (@EmetRuizReyes) September 3, 2017
Because after a confidence-boosting win, who doesn’t want ‘Bama?
Someone already answered this on the Twitter thread, and it might be too early to ask to schedule the gold standard of college football. The two teams have only met four times, and Michigan and Alabama have split those four games.
Michigan defeated Alabama 35-34 in overtime in the 2000 Orange Bowl, and defeated Alabama 28-24 in the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl.
Alabama defeated Michigan 17-14 in the 1997 Outback Bowl, and manhandled the Wolverines 41-14 in 2012 in Arlington, Texas.
A Michigan-Alabama matchup would be fun to watch (and, hopefully more competitive than the 2012 season opener). Right now, that’s only happening if both teams make the College Football Playoff or meet in a bowl game.
Have a question about Michigan football? Tweet us @Landof10Mich and we’ll try to answer your question in a future mailbag. Check to see if your question already was answered by reading previous Michigan football mailbags here.
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