Penn State Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 22nd, 2017 at 12:00 PM



You’ve been around a while. Have you seen a more diverse offense than that in your experience that gave you more challenges and little quirks and had to worry about more aspects of it?

“Yeah, thought their offense played extremely well. Understatement. They were hitting on all cylinders. The back is really good, as advertised, and the quarterback, McSorley, played extremely well. Yeah, they were hitting on all cylinders. Quarterback was hot and receivers made plays downfield and it was impressive.”

The way Penn State jumped out like that, did they hit you guys with some things—the Barkley direct snap, stuff like that where they popped you—that you guys didn’t expect?

“Yeah, I mean, they hit us on quite a few plays that we’ve defensed well this year and I thought their execution was really good tonight right from the beginning. Then we got it a little bit under control and then they came back and hit the quarterback sucker play, hit the inside fade, downfield balls, really good throws, well played by the receivers, et cetera. As I said, it was a good performance.”

After the first five minutes it was like an avalanche but your team was able to answer and get one point away from them and then it went away from them. Explain how you saw the flow of the game and why that was.

“Eh, it’s just—the flow of the game, I think everybody saw the flow of the game. Thought they were really executing well and we had our difficulties scoring, moving the ball, and getting them stopped.”

Fans will want to extrapolate more than just this game to the importance of this game but I’m assuming you don’t buy into that for recruiting and all the other reasons but I don’t know. Does a game like this have impact more than one game or is it just a game?

“I don’t know either. We’re going to regroup, we’re gonna refit, retool, and get back to work. More opportunities ahead of us.”

Seven sacks Penn State had defensively. Did they do anything systematically to surprise you?

“No. They did a nice job on the edge. They beat us on the edge multiple times.”

With two losses in the Big Ten it certainly seems to be problematic whether or not you can—what do you lean on going forward because the defense has been something you’ve leaned on and it got picked apart by a good team today, the offense still seems to be—what do you lean on with your team going forward? What do you hope is the strength of this team going forward?

“We endure and be better. We’re gonna regroup and come back.”

John said something about how after the game they got told there’s no more bandwagon, fake love’s gone, it’s just on you guys now. What does that mean when you say something like that? How do you solve this, I suppose?

“I mean, they’re our team. We solve it with our team. Nobody else can help us but us. We put our best people on it, our players and our coaches.”

Can it be solvable this season? You’re seven games into the season; can it be solvable this season?




October 22nd, 2017 at 12:10 PM ^

This is not a fan issue. Most of us continue to be fans in spite of the fact that this has been a largely dysfunctional program for over a decade. We're still here, but its time for the program to turn a corner. The fan's mistake was that we believed the corner was turned the moment we hired Harbaugh. That's obviously not the case.


October 22nd, 2017 at 12:39 PM ^

I love it.  It's reality - he's being frank with his team in letting them know what they're going to hear.  The same people rubbing their bellies and composing odes to Don Brown a few weeks ago are saying We Suck today. 

This team's problem is not the last decade, they had nothing to do with it.  If you're hurting because M "is X out of Y bad record since 2006" you need to come to terms with the RR and Hoke eras.  Yes this year is disappointing against some probably unrealistic expectations.  Because you're hurting and lashing out is the reason Harbaugh needs to be honest with his team.  I want to see them fight like hell and win some opportunities the rest of the way . 


October 22nd, 2017 at 1:19 PM ^

Yep.  For whatever reason, people dwell on what happened years ago as if it was yesterday, yet ignore the past couple of years and the turnover this team experienced from last season.  I think Harbaugh is guiding his team toward improvement, and it isn't hist job to make a bunch of people on the internet/sitting at home feel better because they derive an outsized sense of self-worth out of the performance of people who wear the school colors they like.

Blue Velvet

October 22nd, 2017 at 4:59 PM ^

For a lot of us we grew up with Michigan football and teams that, whatever their faults, usually controlled the trenches and played better in the second half than in the first. I’m also in the take a breath and get a life crowd but this isn’t just an attachment to team colors for a lot of folks.


October 22nd, 2017 at 8:01 PM ^

With the exception of last year, MSU has been good for almost a decade. They are still well coached. This is not the MSU of the 90s, when are you going to accept that? Having said that, It was a bad loss for sure, but everyone (even Alabama!) Has bad losses. Pretty much anyone with a brain could see this year coming. The QB situation has just made it a little worse.

This year has been a little painful, but has not shaken my faith in Harbaugh one bit. If we are having this conversation in 2019, Harbaugh will deserve the heat. Not until then IMO


October 22nd, 2017 at 8:36 PM ^

I’ve seen the “even Bama has bad losses” statement a few times since the game ended. Please let me know what those are over the past 8 years, because I haven’t seen them. When they have lost it has been to very competitive teams and they have basically steamrolled everyone else. They are not going to overtime with the likes of Indiana two years in a row. I’m not even harping on Harbaugh or the team, but saying Bama has had its share of bad losses is silly.


October 22nd, 2017 at 10:34 PM ^

In 2014, Ole Miss was ranked #11 at the time and it was a six point game.
In 2015, Ole Miss was ranked #15 at the time and it was a six point game.
In 2016 Ole Miss was ranked #19 at the time and it was a five point game.

I’m amazed Ole Miss won three in a row, and you could argue that was a bad mark against Bama. That said, five and six point games against teams ranked in the top 20, to me, does not constitute a bad loss.


October 22nd, 2017 at 1:49 PM ^

So you want the guy to telegraph his game/team development plan to our future opponents just to satisfy your curiosity be to assuage your impatience?

I don't need to know the detail. I just want to see the product on the field improve over time, which we have.

Harbaugh does need to adjust the offensive coaching staff, but mostly this is Harbaugh being victim of his own early success.

Every rational fan knew that this was going to be a good 5-7 year rebuilding project after the program was left as a smoking crater. He overachieved the first two years with the good players Hoke left behind who were upperclassmen. Those players are now gone & we are left with upperclassmen from the disastrous 2014 and 2015 recruiting classes, and a boatload of talented but raw guys from the 2016 & 2017 classes.

If our offense is still a tire fire at the end of the 2018 season going into 2019, I'll be concerned. But not before then.


October 22nd, 2017 at 3:45 PM ^

So, rationally, if there was talent left over and he’s recruited well for the last three years. Tell us where the lack of talent exists. You win 10 games two years in a row with good players from highly ranked classes under old coach, then have two years to integrate your first class of recruits. Are we to believe that the best coaches who also recruit well do not win in third year of coaching a team? This is college: if you need five years to get your players and to compete at the level with which you are expected to compete, then you are not as good as advertised. The culture was changed; the coaching staff has had three years to develop their own talent AND the talent like Hurst and Kinnell that was already here. This loss is on the coaches, and I love them still. This is on their players, not on some imagined patient timeline that makes some “rational” fans feel better about getting dominated. Somehow our #1 defense was not rebuilding until yesterday. Now those blessed most rational fans get to be self righteous about preaching patience. I’m not even mad at the coaches like a bunch of fans, but my patience with staff has nothing to do with some BS five-year plan. From a business standpoint, this team was supposed to be in submarine mode and was supposed to compete. The coaches need to evolve. If Harbaugh can build Stanford into a powerhouse in three years, why not here? He needs to be better. If he gets out-games by Dantonio and company, that’s because he’s boxing while they MMA. The offense is stagnant—the plays they call do not work outside of playing less physical teams. Speed is not used in our system enough. The talent is there, including a #1 rated RB who has two or three carries total in year two on the team.


October 22nd, 2017 at 4:13 PM ^

This is college: if you need five years to get your players and to compete at the level with which you are expected to compete,

That's a straw man. We won 20 games in Harbaugh's first two years, so obviously we were able to compete. It's just this season that's tough (and we should have seen this coming - I expected a tough season) because of the way we recruited in 2014 and '15.  That's where the talent is lacking.

BTW, Harbaugh went 8-5 his third year at Stanford.


October 22nd, 2017 at 5:38 PM ^

Yeah, well, do you have any Nick Sabans that are interested in coming to Ann Arbor immediately to sprinkle pixie dust on the Wolverines so that we can win 6 bazillion consecutive national championships? No? Too bad. I guess we'll have to go with Harbaugh. He may not be the GOAT, but he has done good things with this program over the last three years. 


October 23rd, 2017 at 12:07 AM ^

We don't need a goat coaching us; we have enough problems.

Look, I don't expect us to go Saban - but I suppose I also don't expect us to get thoroughly housed against another team in our conference.

And it's not entirely easy to absolve Harbaugh entirely of blame when the team you beat by 39 points the year prior then beats you by 32. That's a clear example of badly managed personnel and incredible improvement by your opponent.

How much blame? I don't know.


October 22nd, 2017 at 5:33 PM ^

Stanford was not a powerhouse until year 4. Michigan under Harbaugh in years 1 and 2 were better than Stanford years 1-3. Improvement is not always monotonic. There usually are bumps along the way, either from injuries or poor recruiting classes. I would still take Harbaugh over Hoke, RichRod, or the final third of Carr's era any day.


October 22nd, 2017 at 6:44 PM ^

Is that the mark we need to hit each year for people to be happy. It very well could happen this year. OSU is probably a loss, but Wisconsin is playing at about the same level as UM and MSU. I think we'll beat UW and the rest of the teams minus OSU. Then we go into a bowl with 9 wins with the opportunity for a tenth win. 10+ wins but never against OSU. What if JH is Cooper in Maize and Blue? Is that acceptable? After RR and Hoke, I'd say yes.


October 22nd, 2017 at 4:11 PM ^

first I was willing to roll with the “it is a pro-style offrsnse that is really complex so it is going to take the players a while to figure it out” to just thinking that the offense is just stale and predictable. Watching what Penn State did last night really showed me how much we could be doing with the talent we have.


October 22nd, 2017 at 5:38 PM ^

I like their scheme a lot. Moorhead’s an excellent OC. But they’ve also got fantastic skill-position talent across the board. Their passing game alone would make them tough to defend. McSorley has NFL-level accuracy and their receivers are great at high-pointing the ball. Our secondary really didn’t play that badly in coverage but their execution was phenomenal.


October 22nd, 2017 at 8:39 PM ^

That's what I like about Moorhead's system . . . McSorley is a good college QB, but he is not all that great a QB.  He'll never see the NFL, but it does not matter in PSU's system.

He makes one pre-planned read, then runs, hands off, or passes to a pre-determined receiver who is schemed open by Moorhead's pre-snap movement.

He's not making very difficult throws.  He's putting the ball in an area and letting his receivers go get it.  Like Henne to Edwards, circa 2004. 

He's perfect for that system, but he's not some kind of savant.  And when he's gone, it won't take 5 years to find and develop a viable replacement.

I hope that's a hint to Harbaugh and company when they watch the film.



October 22nd, 2017 at 5:40 PM ^

Tell me what pass catchers we have that are comparable to DaeSean, Gesicki, and Barkley, this year. DPJ and Black will be very good, but right now they are freshmen. Your scheme is only as good as your talent. I thought we all learned that lesson during the RichRod years.