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Westsider Rider

Friday, April 14, 2006

Blogger Roundtable from Schembechler Hall

I've been too into the Lakers recently to post this up and since Spring Ball is in full effect with the Spring Game/Practice or whatever they're going to hold taking place tomorrow I figured it was finally a good time to post my responses.

1) It's early, but thus far, which offseason change or changes in college football are you most excited about?

Of course being a Michigan fan the changes that I'm most excited about are the changes in the coaching staff that took place in Ann Arbor. Ron English takes over the Defensive Coordinator role and we have new DB and LB coaches as well, so I am eagerly awaiting the new look aggressive defense that we are supposed to see this upcoming season.

The other change I'm definitely looking forward to is the decline of USC. Everyone knows how much I can't stand them so I will be glad to actually see them lose a game or two during the season, although I still think they probably win the Pac-10, unless Nathan Longshore turns out to be the great QB that he is supposed to be. Along with that comes the absence of a true favorite for the national championship this year. It will be fun to watch as there is no overwhelming favorite like there has been the past few years with USC.

2) With spring practice underway, what are the three concerns about your team that are causing you the most anxiety? (USC fans can't just list the departures of Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, and LenDale White.)

1. Offensive Line - the line needs to step up for us to have a better year, last year there were problems all over the place and like they say the games are won in the trenches and we weren't doing that. One of the big reasons why last year was so bad.

2. Defense - The other reason for the sub par sesaon, as the Defense continued to blow leads throughout second halves and it was frustrating to watch. I know just saying Defense is really vague and I could go into more detail but my brain is just too tired from working over 13 hours a day the past two days.

3. Go to WR - We've had go to WR's for years starting from David Terrell to Marquise Walker to Braylon Edwards to Jason Avant, the one guy the QB looks towards when they need a big catch. For once we do not have that go to guy and I am curious to see who steps up. Sure we have plenty of talent but none of these guys has shown to get the ball when necessary. Will it be Breaston or Manningham? Will Arrington finally live up to the praise he's always received? It'd be nice if one of these guys steps up to be the Man when it's needed.

3) Care to take a stab at a preseason top five?

I'll probably look like an idiot in a few months but here goes...

1. Auburn - the Tigers finished last year with a disappointing loss to Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl but return plenty of starters most notably Brandon Cox and Kenny Irons. The Tigers are loaded and ready to go with a favorable schedule which includes games against LSU, Georgia and Florida all at home.

2. LSU - loaded with talent, the only question is which QB will be the starter. Jamarcus Russell, Peach Bowl winner Matt Flynn or super redshirt frosh Ryan Perrilloux. Doesn't matter who they choose it will be a talented signal caller under center and Les Miles has plenty to work with. But the schedule does look brutal with games at Auburn and Florida.

3. Oklahoma - The Sooners will be back next season as they closed out last year strong with a victory over Oregon in the Holiday Bowl. The biggest thing is Adrian Peterson will be healthy which makes a world of difference. Rhett Bomar also has a year of experience under his belt and should be much improved, as long as he doesn't continue to let all his underage drinking get in the way. There is a potential stumbling block as they must travel west to face the Oregon Ducks but I think it's only Michigan that blows games on the west coast.

4. Notre Dame - a lot of teams have the Buckeyes and Irish 1 and 2 in their preseason polls but I just don't see it, probably partially due to my bias but ND didn't really beat any really good teams last year, all their supposed tough games weren't all that tough and they got a lot of credit for coming close to winning a game. The Fighting Irish add games against Georgia Tech, UCLA and Penn State this year so we shall see how they handle it, although all their tough games are at home, minus the trip to USC.

5. Ohio State - after beating up on the Irish in the Fiesta Bowl as well as returning all of their offensive firepower, the Buckeyes are another one of the early favorites for preseason #1 but they also have questions marks as well. Troy Smith and Ted Ginn provide the offense but what about the defense? The trademark of Ohio State teams has been their great defense but they have lost 9 starters from last year's D. Sure there will be some kids stepping up but I think that's too much lost on that side of the ball for them to be considered #1. The schedule is another concern as they must travel to Austin and Iowa City, but if they pass those tests they should easily be undefeated coming into the season finale at the Horseshoe against Michigan.

Just missed: Texas- who will be the QB?, West Virginia - will they live up to the hype?

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