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5 Questions with Maize n Brew: Where do Michigan fans stand with Jim Harbaugh?

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Ohio State State v Michigan Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Rivalry week comes early this season. The Michigan State Spartans head to Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday at noon.

To give us a better idea of what the Spartans are up against, I spoke with Trevor Woods of Maize n Brew — SB Nation’s website for all things Michigan Wolverines.

The discussion ranges from how Joe Milton looks after one week, to where the Michigan fanbase stands with Jim Harbaugh, and more.

1. Quarterback Joe Milton received a lot of hype in the offseason. What did you see from him against Minnesota that you liked and what aspects of his game would you like to see improvement in?

Trevor: His poise really stuck out. Milton didn’t act like a quarterback who was playing in his first career start. Milton showed his arm strength, touch-pass capabilities, and that he’s a threat in the running game as well. As far as what I’d like to see him improve on, I’d like to see consistently good play from him like in Week One, and quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels mentioned he’d like to see Milton ascend with pre-snap recognition.

2. Where does the Michigan fanbase stand with head coach Jim Harbaugh? Obviously, he’s won a lot more games than he’s lost, but the big games against Ohio State, highly-ranked opponents and in bowls haven’t usually gone well. With his contract situation still up in the air, I am curious to get the pulse on this one.

Trevor: It’s a fair question from the outside looking in. Most of the fanbase realizes Harbaugh is a pretty good coach that hasn’t been able to beat Ohio State to this point. But replacing him is definitely a “be careful what you wish for” train of thought. I’m not sure who could be brought in to make things better. The contract situation isn’t an issue for the team itself this season, or Harbaugh’s focus. He’s concerned about the task at hand. The Michigan fanbase likes Harbaugh, but he’s got to beat Ohio State soon.

3. Can we expect anything different from Michigan offensively or defensively this year, or is it essentially the same schemes as it has been under Harbaugh, Don Brown and Josh Gattis?

Trevor: I’d expect the same on defense. Offensively, it looks like Michigan has meshed the best of Gattis’ spread philosophy along with Harbaugh’s power-run approach. The offense looks physical, but they can beat you with speed, too. The play calls looked more diverse, due to the amount of weapons Michigan has this season. I like the depth they have at wide receiver, tight end, and running back. The offense looks more unpredictable on a down-to-down and drive-by-drive basis. It looks like Michigan actually has a wide variety of weapons that they can use to best exploit the weaknesses of a defense on a given week.

4. If you were Michigan State’s offensive coordinator, how would you attack the Michigan defense?

Trevor: Crossing routes, counter runs, play-action passes deep down the sideline. I’d try to capitalize off Michigan’s aggressiveness and hope to catch them out of position. These are all areas where Michigan has struggled in the past, and the same type of formula should be used until proven otherwise. It’s important for MSU to get the run game going early, otherwise it could be a long day for Rocky Lombardi.

5. If you were Michigan State’s defensive coordinator, how would you attack the offense

Trevor: I’d apply pressure and see if Michigan’s new look offensive line can handle it. The unit played very well in Week One, so we still don’t know how Milton will handle pressure in his face. The recipe to attack any inexperienced quarterback is to pressure him, so I believe that’s what the Spartans’ plan of attack should be: blitz, blitz, blitz. From different angles and formations. I’d stack the box and make Milton beat me, and see if he can. The Michigan running game averaged over eight yards per carry against Minnesota, so it’s imperative for MSU to clog the holes Michigan’s backs are trying to run through.

6. What is your prediction for the game?

Trevor: 44-10 Michigan. I expect a more cohesive effort from MSU in this one, and seeing as its a rivalry game, I could see this game being much closer than my score prediction. With a first year coach and a depth chart that doesn’t look as talented as Michigan’s, it’s hard for me to see Michigan State winning this one. Win or lose, what MSU should be hoping for in this game is improvement and a more fundamentally sound game without a mass amount of turnovers. If they can do that, they’ll keep the score relatively close.

Thank you to Trevor for his insights into Michigan. You can follow him on Twitter, and to keep up with news on Michigan State’s chief rival, follow Maize n Brew as well.

Make sure to check out my crossover piece on Maize n Brew as well.