For this weekly column, the Minnesota Daily talks to somebody knowledgeable on the Gophers next opponent. This week, Minnesota will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan to face the Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. We talked to Orion Sang, who covers football for the Michigan Daily.
Sang has covered Wolverines football, basketball and is the senior sports editor at the Michigan Daily.
How has the season been so far for the Wolverines?
I think going into the year, you could expect there to be a lot of variation, especially considering the youth. The less experience there is, I think, the more swings you're going to see from high to low, but I don't know if I was expecting quite what we've seen this year, on either side of the ball. I think the offense has struggled more than I expected it would, but that's been partly due to injuries, and a lot of it has to do with youth as well.
There has been some controversy at quarterback this season, how did the situation arise and what has been the decision so far?
Last year's starting quarterback Wilton Speight was the incumbent through spring practices and fall camp. There was open competition between him, fifth-year senior John O'Korn, and redshirt [sophomore] Brandon Peters. Speight won that job, I think pretty handily. I think there was no question he'd be the starter heading into the year. Against Purdue, he took a shot to his back that broke three of his vertebrae, O'Korn was the backup, so [he] came in and played really well against Purdue ... but then, in the following three games, he just really struggled, it was really bad. He threw three interceptions against Michigan State, he averaged 2.9 yards per attempt against Indiana, and this week against Rutgers, he was 3-6 for  yards, with one interception and two fumbled snaps, at that point, after the fourth drive, they brought in Peters, who became the backup after Speight's injury. Peters is the most talented quarterback on the roster, when it comes to natural talent, and arm strength.
In Michigan's victories, what is one aspect of the team's game that has shined more than others?
With Michigan, it all starts with their defense, and on the defense, it all starts with the defensive line. [Defensive lineman Maurice] Hurst has been the constant. He's always in, he's an ironman, plays almost every snap, he's been just absolutely dominant on the interior of the line. I think it all starts with the defensive line, they create pressure, they get sacks, they force quarterbacks into throwing bad balls for turnovers, they create hurries, and that's really been the strength of this team.
[Michigan lost] to Michigan State and Penn State, what looked different from the six victories in those two losses?
Michigan State, that was one of the better performances by the defense all year, they were just in a rough spot thanks to the offense's struggles all night, and they performed admirably. That [loss] was really just on offense, [they] could not execute, it started raining a ton in the second half, and that really prevented what Michigan could do, and yet Michigan really tried to throw the ball in the second half. Against Penn State, they just got bombed. Penn State is so talented, [they] were able to find the matchups they wanted against Michigan's defense, and, simply, they were just more talented.
Losses came late last season, how does the team look different from last season's 10-3 record?
There's a lot more that's unsettled with this team. Last year, you knew what you were getting with that team, you knew who came back. ... you knew what you were getting. This year, it's been guys on offense particularly, it's been a different guy each week. What will this team look like down the road? It's hard to tell.
What is the most effective position group on the offensive side?
Right now I'd have to say either the running backs or the tight ends.
What is the most effective position group on the defensive side?
I think it's the defensive line. That group has just been so dominant this year.
Best offensive player?
Mason Cole, left tackle
Best defensive player?
Mo Hurst, defensive tackle
Player flying under the radar?
Mike Onwenu, right guard
End of season record prediction?
Score prediction this weekend?
Michigan wins, 27-13