Potential Jets Head Coaching Candidates if the Adam Gase experiment fails

New York Jets, Adam Gase

Currently, the New York Jets are a little over a year removed from tapping Adam Gase to be the next head coach of the franchise. The Jets’ choice came down to three guys. Now Panthers coach Matt Rhule, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy and Gase. Now, with his less than impressive reputation from Miami and a mediocre first season in New York, Gase is a hot seat candidate for next offseason. Obviously, the hope is that Gase is the long term leader of the team. However, if Gase can’t show growth in year two, these are a few early candidates to replace him.

Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy 

Eric Bieniemy is a football lifer. Bieniemy was an All American running back for the Colorado Buffaloes. Bieniemy was a Heisman Trophy finalist and ultimately earned himself a spot as a pro running back. Then, after nearly a decade in the NFL, Bieniemy went into coaching. After being the offensive coordinator for his alma mater, Bieniemy has now worked his way up to Andy Reid’s right-hand man.

Following a Super Bowl win, Bieniemy continues to fly under the radar. Bieniemy is almost certain to earn more head coaching consideration this next cycle, and if the Jets are in the market for a coach, Bieniemy would be an obvious candidate. Bieniemy is a natural leader who has built excellent relationships with his players. Bieniemy is likely the safest option of next offseason with the level of mentorship he’s had and his extensive knowledge. Still, the Jets have tried the safe route before with their last two hires, and it’s time to go for a more innovative candidate. 

Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll

The Jets should turn to the AFC East for their next head coach. Daboll came into Buffalo to mentor Josh Allen and has since been tied to his development. He’s been credited for designing the offense around Allen’s strengths and having an excellent control over the offense. Daboll is a quarterback whisper, but that sentiment can only carry him so far if Allen doesn’t take another big jump this season. If Allen and the Bills offense takes another step forward, Daboll could be a proven yet innovative mind that could make sense.

Carolina Panthers Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady

Joe Brady has been labeled as a key guy in the step Joe Burrow took last season from a mediocre season to one of the best statistical seasons in college football history. Brady also used Clyde Edwards Helaire fairly well and all the other weapons LSU had. Brady now earned a shot to prove himself at the pro level. Brady will now run the Panthers offense for this upcoming season. A good season could catapult him from a young coordinator to a franchise-changing head coach. Brady still has to prove himself before he earns legitimate hype as a head coach candidate.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich

Leftwich is a former quarterback turned coach. After showing impressive growth in his first season as the offensive coordinator for the Buccaneers, Leftwich deserves recognition. Leftwich led the top offense in franchise history, which says something. Leftwich is still unproven having a mediocre season in 2018 as the Cardinals offensive coordinator. Leftwich would be an outside the box hire that could reshape the offense for the long haul.

Michigan Football Head Coach Jim Harbaugh

Harbaugh tends to set an internal limit on how long he can stay in one spot. Once the team gets back on track and competitive, he tends to head elsewhere. Prior to this season, he seemed content with Michigan, that was until the pandemic postponed the season. Harbaugh seems less than enthused with the way the Big Ten has handled the situation, so could that prompt a move? Harbaugh was floated as a candidate once before, and he could make a lot of sense this time around.

Current Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams

I firmly believe that if the Jets were to ax Gase, Williams makes the most sense as his successor. Yes, he’s been a head coach before, but that was nearly two decades ago. Williams had a 17-31 record coaching the Bills. Since then, he’s been a defensive coordinator for a bunch of different teams. He also has grown as a coach from experience, and that showed two seasons ago. After the Browns axed Hue Jackson midseason, Williams piloted the team to a 5-3 finish that set expectations incredibly high for last season. Then, when the Browns passed over Williams for Kitchens, he found a home in New York. With the lack of success Kitchens had last season, it’s fair to say that Williams was the reason that team had as much success as they did. Williams is a true leader and deserves a shot to try again at leading a franchise.

Brooklyn Nets: Top 5 Moments during the 2019-20 Season

Brooklyn Nets, Caris LeVert

This tumultuously shortened NBA season has been a roller coaster ride for Brooklyn Nets fans. From Kyrie Irving being hurt for a good portion of the year, to Brooklyn moving on from head coach Kenny Atkinson, the Nets have definitely had their fair share of low moments this year. Even Kevin Durant took a big L last night when Derrick Jones Jr. demolished him in the first round of the players-only NBA 2K tournament on ESPN. With all that said, there have been a ton of special moments this year that should have Nets fans excited headed into next season, and I wanted to highlight several of those moments here.

Listen to Fireside Nets w/ Spen & Nick 

Top 5 Moments of 2019-20 Season for Brooklyn Nets

10/25/19Kyrie Irving hits big shot to beat crosstown rival New York Knicks

After dropping 50 points in his Nets debut and losing a heartbreaker to Minnesota, Irving had a chance to redeem himself in just the second game of the season. In a back and forth battle with the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, Kyrie hit the go-ahead three-pointer with just 22 seconds left in regulation over rookie RJ Barrett to put the Nets up by two and help secure the eventual 113 – 109 victory. To many Nets fans, this was Kyrie’s first “welcome to Brooklyn” moment, since beating the Knicks is an important goal every season for Brooklyn, who often plays little brother to the historic Manhattan-based franchise in the headlines.

12/21/19 – Dinwiddie & the Nets beat Atlanta in Brooklyn despite Trae Young’s 47 points with Kobe and Gianna Bryant in attendance

This was a special game for many reasons. Let’s start with the fact that this was one of the last times we were able to see Kobe and Gianna at a public sporting event together and spawned the popular video of the two breaking down the game together. The 2nd major story-line was that this was most likely Vince Carter’s last appearance against the Nets in Brooklyn, a player who provided many highlights and stellar play for Nets fans during his tenure in New Jersey earlier in his career.

And last but not least, the game itself was incredible! The Nets came back from 13 down headed into the 4th quarter to win in a tightly-contested battle, despite a 47 point effort from Trae Young. Dinwiddie played one of his best games of the season, dropping 39 points in their 122 – 112 win. Spencer had extra motivation that night, mentioning that before the game, Bryant, who was Dinwiddie’s favorite player of all time, had told him he was “playing like an all-star.” In the post-game interview, Dinwiddie spoke about how special the win was in front of Kobe and even joked about how he was mad at himself for not getting to 40.

1/31/20Kyrie drops 54 on Bulls in Nets Win following the tragic death of his friend/mentor Kobe Bryant 

We all process grief and mourn differently. When news circulated regarding the shocking death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, Kyrie Irving chose to take some time off from basketball, a decision completely understandable given the relationship between the two. Kyrie viewed Kobe as a mentor; Kobe was actually the first person Irving called after he won his NBA championship in 2016 with Cleveland. When Kyrie decided he was ready to come back and play, he put what Bryant had taught him to good use.

The Nets point guard was electric in his return against the Bulls, scoring 54 points on 19-23 shooting in a convincing 133 – 118 win. He even received MVP chants from the crowd at Barclays. After the game, Kyrie spoke on how he was able to play through the grieving process: “It’s an open wound. But I think just coming out here knowing that this is a place where we connected on a deeper scale, it makes a lot of sense, what’s happening.” ESPN Game Recap by Associated Press

3/11/20Dinwiddie and the Nets shock Lakers in the final game of the shortened season

Coming off a three-game home stretch in which they went 2-1 against lesser competition, critics did not expect much from the Nets on the road against a Lakers team at full strength, especially with an interim coach in Jacque Vaughn still figuring out his rotations. In what would turn out to be the final game of Brooklyn’s shortened season, the Nets delivered with one of their best team wins in recent memory.

The momentum in the game went back and forth the entire night, with the Nets winning the 2nd and 3rd quarters to build a substantial lead heading into the 4th.  Being the elite superstars that they are, Lebron and AD stormed their way back into the game, tieing Brooklyn down the stretch at 102. Spencer Dinwiddie, who had 23 on the night, hit the go-ahead jumper over Avery Bradley with 28.3 seconds to put the Nets up by two. Anthony Davis had a chance to win the game for the Lakers with a wide-open look from three, but he clanked the shot off the back of the rim, and the Nets were able to hold on for a 104 – 102 victory. LeVert added 22 points of his own and finished the shortened season on a high note, playing the best basketball of his young career. Moving forward, LeVert will either be the 3rd star on this Brooklyn Nets team next year, or he will be a valuable trade asset for Sean Marks in the off-season.

Caris LeVert goes off against the Celtics for 51 points in Overtime Win

With the Celtics up double digits in the 4th and as much as 21 points in the second half, Nets fans (myself included) were ready to chalk this game up as a loss. The team had been defeated in their last four games, and Atkinson had most of his bench players on the court, basically surrendering the game, before subbing Caris LeVert into the game in the 4th. And then something magical happened.

Levert turned into a scoring machine in the 4th quarter, pouring in 26 points, including nailing all three free throws (after Marcus Smart had fouled him attempting a three) to tie the game up with .02 seconds left and complete their comeback in regulation. In overtime, the former Michigan Wolverine would go on to score all 11 points for the Nets to close out a 129 – 120 win, and LeVert finished the game with a career-high 51 points on 17 of 26 from the field. The Celtics had zero answers on defense, as LeVert torched the Celtics possession after possession by scoring in a variety of ways. Three-point shot off the dribble? Money. One-footed step back from the elbow? Cash. Finishing at the basket with contact? You betcha. LeVert single-handedly won a game that easily should have been a loss for the Brooklyn Nets.

The lesson here? No matter how much you’re down in the fight, don’t give up – there’s always a chance.

BONUS MOMENT: All 4 Nets players diagnosed with Coronavirus in mid-March, including Kevin Durant, are now all symptom-free after self-isolating for the last 14 days. While they will continue to quarantine themselves, this is the best possible news we can receive regarding the health of these players.

Stay tuned for the date of the tournament to be announced. Follow @firesidenets on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your latest Brooklyn Nets news and listen to the Fireside Nets w/ Spen & Nick podcast!

John Beilein Reacts To Being Ejected In Upset Loss To Penn State

Can you imagine Michigan basketball head coach John Beilein getting ejected due to technical fouls? It’s not something that generally happens, so it’s understandable to be surprised or even shocked that it happened in Michigan’s upset loss to Penn State, which has been at the bottom of the conference all season and could be called the Big Ten’s most disappointing team.

Despite their disappointing season, however, Penn State was up 40-27 at halftime on the #6 team in the nation, Michigan. Beilein, however, disagreed with the buzzer beater that put the Nittany Lions up by that margin going into the break, and after voicing his opinions to the referee, picked up not one but two technical fouls in quick secession. The fouls resulted in Beilein being thrown out of the game, and Michigan would fail to bounce back without their head coach.

Beilein reacted after the game to the ejection, and said that he’ll be dealing with the league office soon about it. “I haven’t been thrown out of a game since… I think it was 78-79? So about 20 years before most of you were born. And you know me, I very rarely get a technical, so I’ll deal with the league office going forward and see what I can do differently.”

Beilein went on to take a cautious approach and avoid talking about the call that led to the technicals in the first place. “I’m not going to comment on that, that would not be good... There will be some pretty interesting discussion with the Big Ten office, I will say that.”

Bad call or not, Penn State ended up winning by a margin where it doesn’t matter. The result has some very interesting implications for the Big Ten because it puts the Wolverines under their in-state rival, Michigan State, in the standings. With both teams holding an 11-3 conference record, the final stretch of the season will be much more important.

Michigan Football Will Have A Subtly Different Staff In 2019

New York Jets, Jim Harbaugh

If you were asked about the Michigan football coaching staff, the names that would come to mind would of course be Jim Harbaugh, or perhaps defensive coordinator Don Brown. Maybe even new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, who only recently took the job in what looks from the outside to be a somewhat strange lateral move from another blue blood program, Alabama.

However, those aren’t the only faces on the coaching staff and if you aren’t paying close attention, you might even miss the fact that the team has recently made multiple changes lower down the ranks. All of these stories broke within the last couple of days, and are for relatively minor positions.

However, it shows the stature of the Michigan program when coaches who are currently working positions such as offensive coordinator for smaller schools will take a minor position just to make the move to Michigan. According to Bruce Feldman, the Wolverines are bringing in Ferris State offensive coordinator Steve Casula as an offensive analyst, with Casula having previous experience with offensive coordinator Josh Gattis at Western Michigan.

Feldman has also reported that Bethune-Cookman special teams and recruiting coordinator Aashon Larkins is set to join the Wolverines staff as an analyst, but whether Larkins will be an analyst for special teams or for recruiting is unknown at this point. It seems that Michigan looked far and wide to find the candidates for their recent hires. Bethune-Cookman is an FCS school, while Ferris State isn’t a D1 school at all but rather a D2 one.

The last of these minor hires is Pat Perles, the son of former Michigan State head coach George Perles, according to Field Yates. Perles will act as both an analyst and an assistant offensive line coach. Perles previously coached at Syracuse as an offensive line coach but also has NFL experience with the Kansas City Chiefs, which may help somewhat in running a professional style program in Michigan.

This news comes after Michigan hired Josh Gattis as offensive coordinator last month, ensuring that things definitely won’t be the same when it comes to 2019’s coaching staff.

Michigan, Not Ohio State, Is In Driver’s Seat For Big Ten

Michigan and Ohio State are rivals on two completely different paths. It’s strange to hear, because of Michigan’s lack of success as a national contender in recent years, but the Wolverines are the ones that are in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten and the College Football Playoffs. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes let their earlier mistakes catch up to them, and were dealt their first conference loss. Michigan, on the other hand, has none.

At the beginning of the season, Michigan lost to Notre Dame and many wrote them off. It seemed understandable. Not a lot of people predicted Notre Dame to be this good at this point in the season, and Michigan is in one of the toughest division’s in the country. But since then, they haven’t lost a game, and their wins include every conference game that they’ve played so far.

Ohio State started off much stronger, but their out of conference schedule wasn’t anything special and they would have more adversity when they faced Penn State. The higher ranked Buckeyes team won but they played a sloppy game where their offense just didn’t execute consistently and their defense allowed big plays. They only did just enough to win, and absolutely nothing extra.

Some thought their problems in that game would be fixed, but yesterday, the Buckeyes lost to Purdue and allowed 49 points to give the Boilermakers their highest scoring game of the season. Ohio State was the second ranked team in the nation, while Purdue was unranked and only had a record of 3-3. In other words, the loss was the type that kills morale and, more importantly, looks bad to the Playoff committee.

Michigan’s fate on Saturday was the opposite. They played their local rivals from Michigan State, and didn’t falter despite a bad recent history against this team and despite an altercation before the start of the game raising the intensity level a bit. They only put up 21 points, but their defense proved their credentials by shutting down quarterback Brian Lewerke.

Michigan State had their worst offensive performance since 1947, with only 94 yards. It makes Michigan’s defensive performance contrast with Ohio State’s even more.

Going into The Game, everyone thought just a few weeks ago that OSU would be the favorite. Now, it’s impossible to see things that way. Their offense just doesn’t do enough against top teams, and the running game is showing that it isn’t as advertised despite better performances against weaker teams.

Ohio State had a number of times during the Purdue game where they weren’t far from the end zone but couldn’t come away with scores. That’s not going to do when they face Michigan at the end of their season. And after their first conference loss, they’ll need the Michigan win if they want to stay in contention for the playoffs.

It turns out Ohio State couldn’t make adjustments quickly enough after their poor showing against Penn State. And now, just like that, they’ve lost their position at the top that they spent all season building up. A strong Michigan team means that they have no cushion or room for a loss here… Because of this result, the road to Indianapolis is going to run through Ann Arbor, and Ohio State can’t blame anyone but themselves.

Jim Harbaugh Quiet Going Into Michigan vs Michigan State

Michigan versus Michigan State is the biggest game of the week. Not just because it’s a rivalry and because it will decide bragging rights for the state of Michigan, but because of the implications this game has for the conference standings. The winner of the game will still be in the running to catch Ohio State, which is second in the division at the moment but higher in the national rankings. The loser, however, will have been dealt a crucial conference loss.

For Michigan, it would be their first of the year and would severely hurt their chances. For MSU, that second conference loss would kill their hopes. It’s a big game for a reason, but going into it, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh hasn’t given much away or provided any quotes that will be bulletin board material.

While the last press conference wasn’t exactly exciting, some interesting things were said.

“Again, better each week. He finds another thing to be really good at every single week. This past week, his running ability, his ball-handling was superb with the fakes, with the carrying out the fakes, with the decision-making, ball security,” Harbaugh said about his quarterback, Shea Patterson.

The Ole Miss transfer threw for only 124 yards and no touchdowns against Wisconsin, but had three touchdowns the game prior against Maryland. During the Wisconsin game, Patterson had no turnovers, and that’s another point that Harbaugh mentioned. “He does a great job of taking care of the football. He had one that he forced in this ball game last week, but that’s the first one I can remember in a while, in several games anyway. Does a great job making decisions. Team trusts him.”

Harbaugh also said a little bit about his team’s quietness coming into this important matchup. “I think we could all use a break from the clichés that have been plowed so thoroughly on both sides.”

However, fans will have to wait until the actual game to find out more specific details. Harbaugh stated that he wouldn’t talk about injuries or schemes, meaning we won’t know which of Michigan’s injured players could show up for this game. Rashan Gary is the most notable of those players, and the star defensive lineman is listed as questionable.

But even with the high stakes, and with Gary potentially being out, Harbaugh isn’t panicking. It remains to be seen how much of that calmness is real, and how much is coach-speak. “The way it always has been, the way it is, the way it always will be. Approach it the same as it always has. Big game.”

Big Ten: Meyer, Harbaugh, And Frost Lead Conference In Salary

College football head coach is a well-paying job, at least in the FBS. In major conferences like the Big Ten, that’s doubly true. USA Today recently released their list of head coach salaries for 2018, and two of the three highest paid coaches in the entire country are from the Big Ten Conference.

Nick Saban takes the top spot, but behind him are Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh. It makes sense, considering that Ohio State and Michigan are two of the most popular and wealthy teams not just in the conference, but in all of college football. The SEC has the most coaches in the top ten for salary, but Michigan and Ohio State pay more than any of those schools with the exception of Alabama.

Surprisingly, the third highest paid coach in the Big Ten is Scott Frost, who has lacked success so far with Nebraska after an 0-4 start to the season. However, Frost was coming off of an undefeated season with UCF at the time that the contract was signed, explaining the high dollar amount. While Frost is the third highest paid coach in the conference, he’s the tenth highest paid coach nationally.

After Frost, the next highest paid coach is Lovie Smith, of Illinois. He surprisingly makes more than Penn State’s James Franklin, who rounds out the top five for the Big Ten. There’s two more coaches from the Big Ten that are in the national top twenty, Kirk Ferentz of Iowa and Mark Dantonio of Michigan State. They come in at number 17 and 18 respectively, giving their schools a lot of success over the past years for the relatively low salaries.

The Big Ten is certainly interesting when looking at the contracts, because while the most valuable schools are no stranger to paying their coaches almost eight million dollars a year, the conference as a whole has performed well in comparison to the SEC despite the SEC generally paying more to its coaches, even at middling programs such as Texas A&M and Auburn.

Three Big Ten Games To Watch On Opening Weekend

College football has been going since the end of August, but the first Saturday in September marks the start of the real season. It’s the day when most of the country’s teams will begin their seasons, and that includes the majority of the Big Ten. Plenty of teams are playing, with the games starting at noon, but which games are the ones worth watching?

Three Games From The First Saturday Of Football

Northern Illinois @ Iowa, 3:40 PM on the Big Ten Network

This one is on BTN rather than ESPN or FOX, but don’t let that fool you. It should be an interesting matchup between a hopeful Big Ten West contender and an underdog that enters the season renewed after losing ground last year to quarterback injuries.

MAC Defensive Player of the Year Sutton Smith, who had 14 sacks last season, returns for Northern Illinois as a junior, and quarterback Marcus Childers will have more preparation for a starting role as well as more experience. Safety Mykelti Williams is another player to watch on the underdog team. As a sophomore, he had the third-most tackles on the team, with 73.

Northern Illinois only managed an 8-5 record, but they did have some bad luck during the 2017 season and that might cause the Hawkeyes to sleep on them heading into the opening game of the season for both teams.

Oregon State @ Ohio State, 12:00 PM on ABC (Or Texas vs Maryland)

Alright, there’s a decent chance that this one isn’t actually a good game. But it’s one of the first games of the day, and there’s more intrigue around it than, say, Texas versus Maryland. No offense, Maryland.

The reason this game is so interesting is that head coach Urban Meyer is suspended for it. Not that the talent level of Ohio State is any lower because of it, but stranger things have happened in college football than a team losing to a big underdog on opening day because they don’t have their head coach for whatever reason. Coaching is one of the most important aspects of the game, and once you remove a successful head coach for even one game, anything can happen.

Oregon State, though, did not have a good time last year. They only won one game, and head coach Gary Andersen felt bad enough about the situation there to leave 12 million dollars on the table and leaving the program of his own accord. While there is a chance that the off the field drama affects Ohio State, there’s also a chance that the Buckeyes run riot on their opponent and start Dwayne Haskins’ career as a starter off the right way.

In that case, it might be a perfectly good idea to flip the channel to Texas versus Maryland, assuming you aren’t a fan of either team and just want to see action.

Michigan @ Notre Dame, 7:30 PM on NBC

Did you really think this game wouldn’t be on the list? This one isn’t just the best Big Ten game of the week, but one of the best games in the nation, period. For those who have been complaining about neutral site games, and top programs not wanting to play each other home and away anymore, this one is for you.

Jim Harbaugh needs to get results at Michigan, after having a few years to bring in some of his own players, and this game should be a make or break one for him and his staff. Except, it’s not a late season game within the conference. It’s on the first Saturday of the season, and you don’t see too many openers with this much on the line for both teams.

Both of these fanbases are very large and vocal, and you can bet for sure that the loser will have a decent amount of people calling for the head coach to be fired. Also, Shea Patterson will make his Michigan debut. That’s not something that you’ll want to miss, especially if your favorite team plays the Wolverines later in the year.

Harbaugh hasn’t had a star quarterback since coming back to the University of Michigan. Will having that, plus a tough defense, be enough to knock off a top fifteen ranked rival? We’ll all find that out soon, with the top night game of the first weekend.

Big Ten: Michigan vs Notre Dame Is A Game To Look Forward To

There’s been plenty of complaints in recent years about the quality of non-conference matchups in college football. Some teams schedule cupcakes and head into conference play undefeated every year. Others risk their records against tough opponents, but do it at neutral sites.

Well, fans of the more traditional home and home method of playing non-conference games will be happy with the return of the Michigan and Notre Dame rivalry, which will be played during week one. Michigan has perhaps the most to lose of any Big Ten team in week one, and that’s part of what makes the latest iteration of this rivalry game so interesting.

If the Wolverines pull off the win in South Bend, many will assume that it’s just because of another Notre Dame disappointment. The Fighting Irish are the higher rated team in both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll, with Michigan being unranked in the former. But their recent history of underwhelming seasons under Brian Kelly means that they’ve been devalued as a quality win.

This will become very relevant in the playoff conversation, if Michigan is still contending at that point in the season. On the other hand, however, a loss to Notre Dame would do more than just start the season off on the wrong foot. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has had a grace period with the Wolverines, but that’s coming to a close soon and fans expect results. If the team starts 0-1, you can expect a negative atmosphere to follow the team into the coming weeks.

You can also expect fans and media to ask how Michigan will beat Ohio State and Penn State if they can’t beat Notre Dame. Things are largely similar on the Notre Dame side. As the eleventh ranked team in the country, losing to an unranked rival would be an embarrassment. Even if that rival is a dark horse to contend for the Big Ten this year.

It’s not just the pressure surrounding the game that makes this matchup great, though. The keys to the game lie in opposing areas for each team. Notre Dame senior Brandon Wimbush has some hype going into the season, and could be a surprise contender for the Heisman Trophy. But Michigan’s defense is once again one of the better ones in the conference, and possibly the country as a whole.

They bring back Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich, both of whom are feared pass rushers. Additionally, Michigan’s secondary had the lowest passing yards per game average of any team in the country. That’s a very impressive stat, considering Michigan beat out a number of teams that have reputations for defense and were more successful overall, such as Wisconsin, Alabama, and Clemson.

Notre Dame lost both Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey to the NFL Draft. Can they protect Wimbush long enough for him to get his throws off? Will Wimbush even be able to throw on a defense that allowed less passing yards per game than anyone in the country?

If the Michigan defense holds strong as they did in many games last year, the improved offense should have a chance to shine. Shea Patterson will likely enter the season as a starter, and will have a chance to show a national audience why he was compared to Texas A&M Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. He’ll have the help of sophomore receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, the number one receiver recruit in the 2017 class and a player expected to step up his performances this year.

All of it makes for an exciting game where both teams will have to play to their strengths. It will all happen on week one, and will perhaps make for a better kickoff to the season than Washington and Auburn, who play in this year’s iteration of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game.

Big Ten Media Days: What Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh Had To Say

New York Jets, Jim Harbaugh

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is one of the figures that everyone was looking forward to hearing from during Big Ten Media Days, but after speaking on the first day, Harbaugh left fans without any of the controversial or bold statements that the coach has become known for.

Still, Harbaugh shined some insight on the state of the Wolverines program headed into the last month and a half or so before the season starts, speaking about his team’s offense as well as other matters such as the coaching staff this year and whether or not college football should expand further to an eight team playoff system.

“I always think of Karan [Higdon] and Chris Evans as both being really great players. Both have come into leadership roles on our team as the way it’s developed over the last nine months,” Harbaugh said about the team’s running backs. “You see them working with the younger backs, we’ve got some talented younger backs. Chris Evans in particular, grabs guys and goes over pass protections with them.”

Going into the season, though, it’s the quarterback situation that Michigan fans are more concerned with. Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson is the clear cut favorite to be the started when the season rolls around, but Harbaugh didn’t commit to Patterson one way or another and pointed out that the team’s other quarterbacks were improving.

“He went through all of spring practice with our team and got great work in there, played really well,” he said about Patterson. But he also had good things to say about the rest of the quarterbacks in the starting competition. “Brandon Peters was also improved this spring. Dylan McCaffrey probably made the most improvement of any quarterback on our roster.”

Brandon Peters’ improvement is the most intriguing, as Peters was the favorite to win the starting job before Patterson arrived on the scene and was ruled eligible to play this season by the NCAA.

When asked about what the team needed to be successful, Harbaugh chose not to go into details and instead went for a more simple explanation, one that he would repeat almost word for word when asked about the lack of success against Michigan’s biggest rivals.

“We need to improve. That’ll lead to success and that’ll lead to championships. It’s that simple.”