The thoughts are scattered. Let’s get right to it.
1. I’m not sure I’d rush to anoint Hassan Haskins the bell-cow back just yet. Haskins’ 20-carry, 148-yard performance against Notre Dame was revelatory — it was the highest rushing total by a Michigan back since Karan Higdon tallied 156 yards 419 days ago. But Zach Charbonnet continues to quietly pace himself as the second best freshman running back in school history. Tru Wilson’s pass-protection (and rush prowess!) make getting a handful of snaps absolutely worthwhile. Not to mention, save a Higdon-esque back in a Higdon-esque 2018 situation, Jim Harbaugh tends to shy away from workhorse backs. An aside: It’s unfathomable to me that this staff ever thought Haskins should be a linebacker.
2. This would seem an opportune week to get Dylan McCaffery and/or Joe Milton some quality time. Everything now should be viewed through the lens of gearing up for Ohio State. There is no world in which the Wolverines are best positioned to compete against the Buckeyes if Shea Patterson is, in any way, ailing. Not to mention, the McCaffery/Milton battle will be “a thing” quite soon — might as well have some real-game, semi-meaningful snaps to harken back to.
Speaking of hiding in a shell until Ohio State …
3. It’s not hard to imagine Michigan’s offense dialing up a relatively vanilla gameplan. This rushing attack seems to be real, and not rooted in much deception. If the Wolverines have anything up their sleeves, they surely won’t pull it out in College Park against a reeling Maryland team. There are more important games coming soon. Run the ball 45 times. Control the clock. Win by a few touchdowns. Get out healthy.
4. Snap counts are not publicly available, but Dax Hill should continue to see them rise. You aren’t beating Ohio State unless you match — or at least mitigate — its speed. It’s no secret Hill will be an asset in doing so. Cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich practically foamed at the mouth this week when asked whether Hill could play corner for him. It’s time to gradually turn the keys over to the kids. Keeping with that metaphor, Hill is the Golden Child.
5. Zordich also said this week he saw a real team hiding under … whatever’s going on in Maryland. “I think they’re scary, because I think there’s a lot of talent there. I watched the Howard game, just got done watching the Syracuse game, they’ve just missing a click somewhere,” he said. “…Underneath whatever happened to them, there’s a good football team underneath that. We just have to come out of the locker room swinging and get ready to play a good game.”
Is he being diplomatic? Absolutely. Do I believe him? Not entirely. Is there at least a possibility this staff is a hint more concerned than the general public about going on the road and playing a team with nothing to lose? Yes.
To that point …
6. Quarterback Tyrell Pigrome appears likely to play Saturday. Ann Arbor native Josh Jackson will also certainly have some added incentive to play well. Neither of them should stoke fear in a Michigan defense that has held Ian Book to 2.9 yards per attempt. But, again, weirder things have happened.
7. Ronnie Bell’s injury has been kept mysteriously under the radar this week. Harbaugh did not entertain an update Monday. The media (yes, fingers pointed inward) have offered little interest. Call me crazy, but I think losing your leading receiver — in both catches and yards — during the stretch run of the season should cause some concern. Perhaps Bell will suit up Saturday and none of it will matter. Regardless, that’s a concerning development worth monitoring.
8. Is Josh Ross healthy? Do we have an answer as to whether he will re-assume a major role? Can he possibly play with Cam McGrone? Is this all weirdly quiet? It’s relatively clear that McGrone just Wally Pipp’d his elder at the MIKE linebacker spot, but Ross is not the kind of player worth deliberately alienating. Finding a way to get both on the field seems feasible, and Don Brown has never shied away from too much speed or physicality.
I think those thoughts are scattered enough for today. Should the Wolverines take care of business on the eastern seaboard this weekend (stunningly inconsiderate to traveling student newspapers to add a team to the Big Ten that geographically does not belong, but I digress), we’ll all be gearing up for an emotion-filled Michigan-Michigan State game soon. The Spartans appear on the verge of catastrophe, but, as we all know, that all goes out the window when Mark Dantonio gets his annual shot at Harbaugh.
First, though, a leisurely trek down to College Park.
Marcovitch can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Max_Marcovitch.