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Maize n Brew Mailbag: Zach Harrison, Milton, trap games, Patterson, and more

Q: “What’s the deal with not throwing the rb screen anymore? Growing up as a young kid that’s what Michigan ran in my opinion the best. I think I’ve seen maybe 5 screens to the running back since Harbaugh’s been coach. Why is this?” – Chad Anthony Holbrook

A: I’ll start out by saying that just because you witnessed Michigan do something schematically when you were a kid doesn’t mean they should do the same a generation later. Every coaching staff should be different and do whatever they want to do as long as it translates into wins. They’ve certainly thrown a screen more than five times since Harbaugh has been the coach. I’ll bend your way a bit, but the answer to your question may be that Harbaugh is waiting for the right time to use some screens. I could see some unfolding out of the pistol formation against big matchups such as Ohio State and any game they play beyond that. Thanks for the question.

Q: “What are the odds Shea Patterson returns?” – Jeff FaFa

A: Han Solo doesn’t like being told the odds, and I do not like telling the odds. However, I just so happened to speak with Shea’s father on Tuesday, Sean Patterson, who told me that Shea hasn’t give any thought about returning in 2019 or declaring for the NFL Draft. It sounds like Shea is just focused on winning now. CLICK HERE for the article.

Q: “What lessons have the veterans learned (and have passed down to underclassmen) in order to avoid late season letdowns like years past?” – Shawn M Sims

A: The lesson is pain, the agony of defeat. A lot goes into a win, and a loss, and Michigan lost far too many games last season. Lessons the vets learned would be how to be leaders, how to study in the film room, how to condition themselves, how to stay calm during a game with adversity, and so on. When I say the lesson is pain, what I really mean is the major lesson is experience. They don’t want to feel like they did against Notre Dame again, and they’re going to do everything in their power to make sure that doesn’t happen again. That’s their mindset, and Michigan has an abundance of leaders on both sides of the ball to instill that into the rest of the players.

Q: “Is Zach Harrison a silent commit?” – Martin Shaugnessy

A: Things are becoming a lot less silent. It’s sounding as if it’s only a matter of time before Harrison commits to Michigan. Crystal balls keep trickling in and flipping from Ohio State to Michigan for the five-star defensive end. Steve Wiltfong even said “Zach is definitely going to Michigan,” said one person I spoke with on Saturday. “I talked to him last week and I think he is close to making his decision.” Be patient, but I think Harrison goes to Michigan as well based on whom I’ve spoken with. At this point, it would be a surprise if Harrison went somewhere other than Michigan.

Q: “Did anyone/anywhere predict we would beat Wisconsin, lil bro, and Penn State?” – Jason Sinicropi

A: I’m not going to research this one, as I know I did in fact predict Michigan would beat all three teams.

I then was interviewed by the PSU site BlackShoeDiaries, where I said “my gut tells me Michigan pulls away in this one. Penn State is to be respected, their pass rush is impressive, Trace McSorley has been brilliant at times this season and throughout his career, but Michigan is the better team as a whole when we start breaking down each position unit. Combine that with home field advantage, the team being well-rested coming off a bye with an extra week to prepare, a lot of variables are setting up for the Wolverines to win by over 10 points.”

Q: “Whether Milton is the backup or not should he enter the game vs Rutgers?” – Matt Wilson

A: Yes, he should. Granted, Michigan needs to pull away for this to happen, but let’s say they do by the end of the first half, Milton should get a long look in the final two quarters. Michigan may not have the opportunity to get him in the game versus Indiana and Ohio State, playing against Rutgers would be his surest bet of receiving a steady dose of snaps. As it stands right now, Milton has only appeared in one game (Wisconsin), so he can play in three more before the next game he plays burns his redshirt status. Not only should you be rooting for Michigan in this one, you should be wanting them to score 40 by halftime.

Q: “How does the team stay focused and avoid trap games in Rutgers and Indiana?” – Ryan Montgomery

A: It’s simple. They need to keep doing what they’ve been doing. They’ve blown all the teams out they should have. The closest two games came against arguably the best teams Michigan has faced this season (Notre Dame, Northwestern), everything else has been gravy by the time the start of the fourth quarter hits. Harbaugh and his players keep saying they have a one week at a time approach, and I tend to believe them.

We want to thank those who sent in questions for this mailbag. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook so you can send in a question next week.



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