In some of his breakout sessions at Big Ten Media Days, Jim Harbaugh offered a number of tidbits about Michigan football’s depth chart.
While it doesn’t necessarily matter what a coach says at media days, most agree that Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh had a good outing on Thursday.
Harbaugh said what he needed to say about Ohio State and it’s clear that the Wolverines are making the Buckeyes an even greater priority going forward.
Aidan Hutchinson said it wasn’t that Michigan football wasn’t focused on other programs, but essentially, his point was that if you can beat Ohio State, you can beat anyone, including fellow rival Michigan State.
I loved what I heard from Hutchinson, Josh Ross, and even Hassan Haskins. They all talked about how hungry the players are to turn this around. Ross even said about the 2-4 campaign in 2020, “That’s not Michigan football.”
Those are powerful words and you could sense their motivation to get it right. As Harbaugh said: “We will get it done or die trying.”
That has to be music to the ears of every Michigan football fan. However, all this talk won’t mean much if the results don’t change on the field.
So while Harbaugh made headlines during his press conference with his talk about the need to beat Ohio State, the real meat of his session came when he met with reporters.
Harbaugh is pretty tight-lipped when it comes to the depth chart and things like that, but he offered up some real information on Thursday and some of that will also be music to your ears, or at least, it should be.
The big takeaway of many on Thursday, outside of the Ohio State talk, was that Harbaugh named Cade McNamara as the starter going into camp. He spoke highly of Cade’s leadership skills and I truly believe he’s going to start Week 1.
J.J. McCarthy is pushing him and he will play this season. Alan Bowman and Dan Villari can’t be ruled out as having a role too, but I’m actually more intrigued by what Jim said about the O-line.
Following spring ball, Harbaugh said that Ryan Hayes, Zak Zinter, and Andrew Stueber had essentially locked down starting jobs. Hayes is the left tackle, while Zinter and Stueber have position versatility but were expected to be the right guard and tackle.
That would likely mean Andrew Vastardis would be the starting center again. The former walk-on is nice to have on the roster but to me, it prevents Michigan football from putting its “best five” on the field so when Harbaugh talked about Zinter playing center, it got me excited.
This offensive line needs a breakout season and it has the potential to be really good. Zinter is going to be a future NFL player and Karsen Barnhart is also a stud and he’s one pushing for the change.
With Barnhart or Trente Jones — another name Harbaugh mentioned — starting at right tackle, Stueber could move to right guard and Zinter would play center. Hayes would be the left tackle and either Trevor Keegan or Chuck Filiaga would start at left guard.
“If Zinter plays center, Stueber moves to guard … then maybe Trente Jones or Karsen Barnhart plays right tackle,” Harbaugh said via the Wolverine. “Chuck Filiaga has had the best summer of all the offensive linemen,” Harbaugh said of the redshirt junior left guard … but he’s still behind redshirt freshman Trevor Keegan on the depth chart coming out of spring.”
I’ve said this before, but a line of Hayes, Keegan, Zinter, Stueber, and Barnhart would be the best five and while camp battles will determine it, it sounds like a real possibility for the first time.