Last night was the AAUM Chicago Football Preview event at which Brian, Sam Webb, and Coach DiNardo spoke.
The event was hosted by law firm Jenner & Block on the 45th floor of 353 N Clark in Chicago, the views were amazing and Brian made this Chicagoan happy by enjoying a local beer, Goose Island 312.
Sam Webb spoke first regarding the freshmen that he expects to make impacts this year. If you frequent MGoBlog there weren't many surprises, but Sam does have good relationships with the coaches and he said we should expect to see a lot of Dymonte in the nickel this year, especially with Jake Ryan out. Dymonte is a capable and willing blitzer, and is definitely a new toy for Mattison to play with. The other impact freshmen were familiar names: Jake Butt (if he can block) Patrick Kuegler (Depending on his shoulder injury/OL performance), and Sam made a good point that by the middle of fall camp we'll know if Derrick Green is going to be the #1 guy. RB reps should shake out a winner. Also, Sam is under the impression that Shane Morris should/will have to play this year. Both for his own and the team's benefit when it comes to the future.
Brian had the podium next and he went through a powerpoint (that he claimed to try to make "serious" and "lawerly" but it did have a cat picture) discussing the 3 X-factors for Michigan's year. Again, nothing too shocking for regular readers, but the new faces on the OL (Brian said that last year's was quite bad, as evidenced by the non-Denard running game, or lack there of), the pass rush (or lack there of), and Devin Gardner are the 3 keys to Michigan's season. On the OL Brian expects Kalis to be a B+ player even as a RS Frosh, that Braden will impress, but not be as good a guard, and he's leery about Miller, but that's mainly because Molk and then Mealer have shown how important the center position is. This is a line that will (hopefully) grow and gel together as the season progresses.
Coach DiNardo talked through the Michigan schedule and how it really favors Michigan in most games. In terms of big games, Michigan rarely faces an opponent that doesn't have the same type of game (big/tough) right before or after. For example, after Michigan and Michigan State play, both team's next game is Nebraska. So the mental energy required is pretty equal. Except for Ohio. OSU has 3 "better than bye weeks" before the Game. DiNardo also liked to troll a bit, asking why we wanted to be in the same division as OSU, and why we don't want The Game moved. He does think that M and OSU will rematch this year in the B1G Championship.
All 3 members were asked for their record predictions, Sam and DiNardo said that 10-2 is to be expected, Brian said 8-10 wins. All 3 agreed that OSU will be tough, that MSU at MSU will be a toss-up, and that the game at Northwestern will be difficult too. The Q&A hit on a few more personnel and recruiting questions, as well as the state of the league. The panelists all agree that Michigan is 1 year away from having piles of talent and depth everywhere, and that Brady and Urban are out-recruiting the rest of the B1G by a mile. DiNardo said he never thought we'd see a Big 2 Little (8 or 10 or 12) again, but based on recruiting that's where we're heading. In terms of the B1G's reputation, the panelists agree that the diversified nature of B1G schools hurts the football prestige. DiNardo made the point that Michigan and OSU have the ability to compete on a national scale with anyone, SEC included, but what's important is the rest of the B1G stepping up as well. However, we have more schools where Football isn't the #1 priority. At Minnesota for example it could be argued that Basketball and Hockey are the #1 & 2 sports. In the SEC it's all football all the time except Kentucky.
If you have the chance to go to an Alumni Event like this I'd highly recommend it. I know Brian is headed out to an east coast event shortly, it was a good time.