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After three weeks of silence, Jim Harbaugh climbed out the hatch to his so-called "submarine" to address media last Thursday, saying he'd share Michigan's depth chart when he saw Utah's on Monday.
"In the interest of fair, healthy competition," he said.
He was true to his word.
Quarterbacks Shane Morris and Jake Rudock are listed as co-starters on the document sent to Utah's sports information staff, as are wideouts Jehu Chesson and Grant Perry and defensive tackles Chris Wormley and Matt Godin. There's no resolution at any special teams position except long snapper. It's a slightly more ordered version of the roster.
So, in terms of disclosure, Thursday's opener is still nothing close to "fair" competition.
Utah has been a comparative open book, providing daily access to media during fall camp and weekly depth charts plus tape from 13 games last season that Michigan's staff can analyze without any deep calculus.
That's OK, Kyle Whittingham said. He puts no stock in opponents' depth charts and last week joked that his secretary had filled out Utah's latest.
"We look at the film and see who's playing and who's doing what."
But that's tricky, in Michigan's case.
Utah has watched Stanford and San Francisco 49ers tape to get a feel for Harbaugh, Florida tape for new defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, Jacksonville Jaguars tape for new passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch, USC tape for new special teams coordinator John Baxter, Michigan's spring game tape and Iowa tape for Rudock, a graduate transfer.
"It's kind of weird when you watch Stanford film and you're looking at Andrew Luck and all them," said senior Jared Norris. "And you're like, 'Well, we're not gonna see them.'"
Regarding the "submarine," Whittingham didn't knock the strategy. "There's so many unknowns whether they're talking to the media or not. ... I don't know that going completely silent has a huge impact, but any little thing helps."
Whittingham's Utes have won seven straight season openers, dating back to 2008, when they spoiled the Ann Arbor debut of now-Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez.
They return 15 starters on offense and defense, their health is as good as Whittingham can remember it ever being at the end of fall camp (senior wideout Tim Patrick is the only notable absence from Monday's two-deep) and they were 5 1/2-point favorites as of Monday afternoon.
Utah thinks it has "a general idea of what to expect," Whittingham said.
From Harbaugh • Two-back, two- or three-tight end formations the likes of which you hardly see nowadays, with a "West Coast flair" to the passing game, Whittingham said. He'll try to do damage with the play-action pass. Most of all, he'll field a team that is tough, but that was also Brady Hoke's M.O., and Whittingham felt "we matched up pretty good against them physically" in last year's 26-10 victory.
From Durkin • A similar approach to what he ran with the Gators, with a mixture of odd and even fronts, pressure in the box and zero-man blitzes in the red zone. "Things that aren't really out of the ordinary," Whittingham said.
At quarterback • "From what you hear," Whittingham said, "it looks like" Rudock will be the starter. He passed for 2,436 yards, 16 touchdowns and just five interceptions last year at Iowa and wears the "game manager" label, though Michigan coaches have said he's a capable downfield passer. The left-handed Morris played against Utah last year, going 4-of-13 for 42 yards and an interception.
Utah won't dramatically alter its approach for either, Whittingham said. "It's not like they're radically different from each other."
Predicting is one thing, but it will be most critical that Utah adjust nimbly, he said. Coaches have tried to expose the Utes to every wrinkle they can think of and even if Harbaugh plays against type with a spread offense, they're ready for that, too.
And how about Alex Smith, whom Harbaugh benched in San Francisco after he'd gone 19-5-1 at the helm of his offense? Might he provide some insight?
Whittingham chuckled before saying, seemingly in earnest: "I haven't talked to Alex for a little bit, but I plan on talking to him this week just to visit with him, see how he's doing."
Season opener Michigan at Utah
P Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
TV • Fox Sports 1