Best and Worst: Wisconsin

Submitted by bronxblue on November 19th, 2017 at 2:14 AM

This is going to feel a bit listless of a column. It's just...this was exactly how I expected this game to go. It was a game of football played between two teams, and other than "Michigan is better than the last time they played a ranked team on the road this year", I'm not sure what else can be divined from the outcome.

Best: Road Work

The last time Michigan went on the road to play a top-5 team that had basically not seen a credible challenger all year previously...this happened. Michigan got run over, walloped, taken to the woodshed, curb-stomped, whatever euphemism you prefer for describing what PSU did to Michigan that night. I’m partial to saying Penn State stomped a mud-hole in Michigan and then walked it dry. But regardless, PSU trounced a healthier Michigan, and even the token resistance/hope they generated getting within 1 was a mirage. Penn State exploited every one of Michigan's weaknesses and could have won by even more had James Franklin had a couple more seconds at the end of the game.

So fast forward about a month, and Michigan headed to Madison down to their third-string QB (based on the depth chart at the time; I'm not going to re-litigate the O'Korn-Peters ranking), down maybe the best corner in the conference (Hill), and with a number of injuries that hobbled key performers like Higdon, Onwenu, and Isaac. Wisconsin has not really played anyone this whole year; while FAU is a top-20 team to S&P+ now, that was a club coming off a drubbing by Navy and wasn't close to being the team first-year coach Lane Kiffin turned them into. Beyond that, they share a victory over Purdue with Michigan as their other signature win, which says something considering Purdue is 43rd in the country and that's probably a bit generous. So this was going to be their signature game until the conference championship, their one chance to play a ranked team on national television. Like with PSU, Michigan was walking into the lion's den, a rabid stadium full of all the senior day pageantry and mid-November cheese- and beer-infused vittles that Wisconsin can provide. A similar outcome, perhaps not in amplitude but in severity, would have been reasonable to assume.

And yet, Michigan played with a poise and talent they didn't showcase against Penn State. Like PSU, Wisconsin isn't as good as their ranking suggested, but they are a good team, especially at home. They are a fundamentally sound defense and a competent offense; their record is inflated by playing in probably the worst division in Power 5 football. And yet, Michigan led this game midway through the third quarter and, perhaps more impressively, should have been ahead by more than 10-7. For the first half of the game, Michigan's average starting field position was their 30 yard line; for Wisconsin, it was their own 11. Michigan had converted 4 of their 9 3rd-down opportunities; Wisconsin was 1-6. Michigan had 170 yards of total offense to the Badgers' 99, and were largely holding Jonathan Taylor in check. And Michigan had suffered from some bad turnover luck, as Peters fumbled the ball at the 1 yard line while trying to stretch for a score. On the other side, Wisconsin's lone first-half score was a fluky-ish punt return in which the ball bounced and multiple Wolverines ran past the returner before he picked the ball up.

And yet, Michigan could never really take much advantage of their good fortune. The Badgers are not built for large deficits, and had Michigan been able to score on a couple of these drives they could have pushed Wisconsin out of their comfort zone; despite his solid play in the 2nd half, Alex Hornibrook and the Badgers are not going to throw themselves successfully back into a lot of games. But Michigan could never string drives together consistently, and so Wisconsin never had to deviate from their gameplan much offensively or defensively.

To Wisconsin's credit, they kept coming, and Peters kept getting blown up until he was finally knocked out by yet another unblocked Wisconsin defender. At that point, even though Michigan was only down 14-10, it felt like the game was over. The defense that had been leaned on all season was worn down by a relentless, Novacaine-like Wisconsin rush offense. Down Peters and with a hobbled backfield (Higdon limped off the field the play earlier, while Isaac had left in the first quarter), it was mostly academic after that. Michigan's defense gave up chunk plays to Taylor and the rest of the Wisconsin run game, Hornibrook suddenly couldn't miss, and the offense couldn't do a thing. In the end, Wisconsin won comfortably, the type of performance you'd expect from a top-ranked team at home.

Still, this felt like a good sign for such a young team. They 100% could have taken this game on the road with a couple more bounces, and while I'm sure there are people rushing to the comments to complain about whatever definition of "settling for mediocrity" they ascribe to, I really don't care. Michigan came into a year a flawed team, and due to untimely injuries, bad luck, and poor play, have suffered through an uneven year. But last year Wisconsin came to Michigan looking not unlike the Wolverines this year, with uncertainty and youth at QB and issues along the offensive line. They put up 159 yards of total offense and were thoroughly dominated. This year, Michigan played them even for most of the day, and it didn't feel like the mismatch some assumed coming in. This season is going to end, in all likelihood, with a thump at the hands of Ohio State; whatever optimism you can perceive from this column isn't remotely applicable to the angry buzz saw coming next weekend. Still, this is a talented team taking their lumps this year, and seeing them play well on the road against Wisconsin when a far worse effort would have not be a surprise is encouraging.

Best: The Defense

I know - Wisconsin put up 325 yards of total offense and averaged a healthy 6.1 ypc. That's more yards than Northwestern and (inexplicably) Illinois gave up in their games against the Badgers. They gave up a number of long plays, especially on third down during that decisive 3rd quarter, that snuffed out any hopes of a win. They missed tackles, blew coverages, and weren't world-beaters by any stretch of the imagination.

The safeties in particular had some adventures. Metellus and Kinnel both missed tackles on the larger chunk plays given up, and both got victimized by Hornibrook's random NFL-level throws. Wisconsin was also able to slowly push around the Michigan front 7; when your top 3 tacklers are your two safeties and the Viper, that's usually a sign that your opponent is getting to the second level somewhat consistently. And in the second half, Wisconsin got into a bit of a rhythm, scoring 17 points on 3 of their last 4 meaningful drives.

And yet, I find myself pleased with their performance overall. Michigan picked up 8 TFLs, about double the total Wisconsin usually gives up in a game this year. They picked off one pass, and probably could have snagged another, despite being without their top corner and enlisting true-freshman Kelly-Powell to play meaningful snaps. They were victims of some questionable officiating in terms of pass interference; both Kinnel and Metellus were dinged on throws that were probably uncatchable, while Wisconsin's Tindal basically tackled Michigan players on multiple routes and was only called for a single hold on the first drive of the game. And while Taylor's box score shows a solid performance, he was mostly held in check save for a 52-yard bust late in the game. Credit should go to Hornibrook for making some nice throws (his two throws on their second scoring drive, in particular, were great), but for the game he completed under 50% of his throws.

In these last couple of games, judging the defense may be a bit like judging Michigan's defenses toward the end of the Hoke regime; in a vacuum, somewhat divorced from the offense. That may seem harsh, but we've seen what this offense will probably look like the health of the personnel available. It's going to be a grind for this team to move the ball, and that likely will lead to limited drives that will task the defense with keeping games close. And against OSU, "keeping it close" still isn't probably going to be pretty. So I'm going to look for Michigan's defense to show its growing maturity at the fringes, in limiting breakdowns and generating some pressure on Barrett. It's maybe a sad commentary on this season that I'm not expecting more, but this two-game stretch to end the year was never going to be that pretty.

Meh: The Offense

Yeah, this is going to be a broad-strokes couple of topics, the offense and the defense. I'll be honest, watching this game felt like how I envision most of Wisconsin looks like: repetitive, mushy, cold, and angry, with a couple of interesting spots along the way. Trying to tease out meaningful nuance is left for someone willing to rewatch this game with an eye for it; Godspeed to Brian in the UFR.

In a bit of an inversion from the past couple of games, Michigan was pretty good throwing the ball (Peters was 9/18 for 157 yards a nice 8.7 ypa, and no picks) and could do basically nothing on the ground (2.2 ypc without sacks). But overall, it was sort of what I expected based on this Wisconsin's strengths along the front 7 and Michigan's complete inability to block defenders capable of any form of trickeration. I know Wisconsin only recorded 2 sacks on the day, but they hit Michigan QBs seemingly at will, officially finishing with 5 QB hits and that number probably could have been 2 or 3 more. I know the offensive line has made strides run-blocking this year, and I honestly believe had Higdon and Isaac been fully healthy they probably nudge over 100 yards rushing in this game. But Michigan has lost 3 QBs this year to various "getting run over by marauding 250lb+ defenders", and that's at least partially on the guys in front of them.

DPJ finally broke free for a long ball, and Gentry snuck behind the defense for a long catch. You can see the skeleton of a good offense here, and with another year of seasoning and some maturation by guys like DPJ, Peters, and Gentry, and I wouldn't be surprised if this was a top-20 offense next year. The offensive line will probably hold them back a bit, but at the same time they could get by with 2 competent tackles; at some point, the mass of bodies fighting for one of those 2 spots will return with a winner.

Before his injury, Peters looked solid at the helm; he was directing the offense efficiently and didn't look flustered playing on the road in such an environment. Yes, his throw to McDoom in the endzone probably should have been picked off, and his fumble at the goal line was a by-product of poor ball security, inexperience, and bad luck. At the same time, he was decisive when throwing early and really spread out the ball, and his throw to DPJ in the endzone should have been a TD had anyone in the booth actually been paying attention to the game and not, I don't know, looking forward to a bunch of drunk Wisconsin coeds jumping around on bleachers to a a House of Pain song released between 5 and 8 years before they were fucking born. But I digress. Peters likely being out for the OSU game is perhaps a fitting coda on this year, but it's sad to miss out on him getting a chance to take on OSU and (hopefully) continuing his maturation as a high-quality signal caller.

I'm not optimistic about this team's chances against OSU offensively, as the Buckeyes seems angry again and have stymied similar offenses these past couple of weeks. If O'Korn is under center I assume the running game will see a health dose of 8+ men in the box on most plays, so a repeat of this game's performance in the box score is likely.

Best: Kicking the Ball

Brad Robbins had a Blake O'Neill-type game, in which he pinned Wisconsin within their 20 repeatedly, including one at their own 3 yard line. For the game, he averaged 40 yards per kick and 30 yards next, which is pretty impressive considering he got dinged for a 50-yard return that had nothing to do with the quality of his kick. And Quinn Nordin demonstrably rifled his one attempt through the uprights to give Michigan their sole lead of the game. Hopefully this is a sign going forward that his slump has passed.

Worst: Piping Hot Takes

No fanbase handles losses particularly well, and Michigan is no different. Usually after a loss like this, you'll maybe get some high-profile knuckleheads chiming in with inane comments, a whole slew of naysayers with the pitchforks and the memes (10 years without a road win against a ranked team! was the new one this week) aplenty, and a heavy dose of trollish "fans" who have super-detailed opinions about the quality of the Nike uniforms and how often they've beaten their rivals but couldn't name more than 3 starters on the team. It's the nature of the beast, and Michigan being one of the most prominent programs in country, you'll get a surplus of them.

And I'd love to say it's best to ignore these voices, not because every negative opinion should be treated as invalid, but because they tend to be lazy and without anything meaningful behind them beyond stunted anger. Braylon Edwards questioning why John O'Korn got a scholarship is just him being an asshole; his attempts to walk it back were about as lame as you'd expect from someone claiming "Wtf approved his scholarship and transfer????????" was cogent college football analysis. Of course, he's also one of the few Wolverines I've seen with his own detailed "Legal Issues" entry in his Wikipedia bio, so perhaps none of this should have been a surprise.

What bothers most fans is Michigan hasn't beaten OSU and to a lesser extent, MSU, for a long time. I'd argue that MSU's recent wins have been of the "pull it out of your ass" variety; I said it after this year's MSU game, but these games under Harbaugh feel like those random wins Sparty used to get in decades past. It doesn't feel overly sustainable, as punts usually go unblocked and 5 picks in rainstorms are not meteorologically common. But OSU continues to be better than Michigan, and waiting for the Buckeyes to come back to the pack isn't a viable strategy. So I get the consternation on that front. But there's this pervasive stench emanating from a part of the fanbase that Harbaugh is not meeting expectations and that a change should happen if some (usually somewhat arbitrary) threshold is not met. And to me, that seems insane. For one, Jim Harbaugh has proven to be a great coach literally everywhere else he's landed; it's hard to imagine he suddenly lost that ability when he arrived at Michigan. His first two years were solid showings for a program that hadn't enjoyed any sustained success for nearly a decade. This year, with one of the youngest teams in the country and a rash of injuries, he's taken some lumps but also should finish with 8 or 9 wins; I'm sure Florida and FSU, to name but two recent opponents, would kill to have Michigan's "underperformance" this year. Expectations get raised with the higher profile coaches and positions, and I get that, but in the end you are relying on college students and that can be highly variable; look no further than Iowa blowing out OSU in what is otherwise a down year for the Hawkeyes. And secondly, who is the replacement for Jim Harbaugh? I've said this before, but he's the "in case of emergency" hire; if he can't make Michigan a national power again, you might as well just hibernate for the next decade and check back.

There will need to be changes made to the coaching staff. The offensive line remains a sore point for the umpteenth season; you can explain some of it away with recruiting issues from previous regimes, but at some point having Maryland's depth chart at QB because guys are getting destroyed in the backfield falls on the sidelines. I'm more sanguine about the overall offensive performance this year because of the line issues and also because of the upheaval at QB and the youth at key spots. But every position and coach needs to be evaluated, and I assume some changes will be made.

Worst: These Injuries

This is bleed-over from the last topic, but I thought it was worth discussing a bit on its own. Michigan started the year with something like 5 returning starters total, and that included Cole, who switched out to left tackle from his center spot. Coming into this game, Michigan was without their original starting QB (Speight), starting corner (Hill), top-3 receiver (Black), and as the game progressed, 2 of their 3 leading rushers (Higdon and Isaac) and their current starting QB (Peters). Just think about teams like Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, etc. missing so many top players. They'd be shells of their current selves; remove Lewerke and Scott from MSU and they're probably a 3-win team; put McSorley on the sideline and Franklin is probably back on the hot seat instead of just being a disappointment. Alex Hornibrook leads the conference in picks and (last I saw) was tied for pick-sixes; I'm not sure who is the 3rd-string QB on that team, but he'd be 2 steps below that performance. Michigan has suffered from a rash of injuries that they had (largely) skirted the past couple of years; yes they'd lose a Glasgow or a QB, but Michigan has played guys like Collins and JKP because they have to, not because they feel those guys are ready to constructively add to the team.

This is not making excuses for a loss; other than the inexplicable MSU game, Michigan has lost to better teams and probably would have even with a full squad. But when judging Michigan this year, it shouldn't be overlooked that they are a young team that somehow got even younger and less experienced as the year progressed. The fact they've been some competitive despite that portends a bright future, but the present is certainly less exciting.

Quick Hits

  • I'm sort of hoping Wisconsin gets into the playoffs because I'd love to see the B1G scoreless streak continue. Depending on the matchup, I could see the Badgers getting some cheap 3 or 7 point score down 28, but if this team is the best the conference can offer, they should just sit the year out. Taylor seems like yet another in a long line of perfectly fine Wisconsin running backs, but he certainly doesn't seem to generate many yards beyond what the line and formation get him. And their passing game seems about as robust as Michigan's this year, even when you factor in the injuries. Hornibrook has his moments, but even in this game a number of his best throws were either on busts or into tough windows; nothing seems to come all that easy or consistently for them. And since I saw this mentioned a couple of times how Paul Chryst has about the same coaching record at Wisconsin as Harbaugh has a Michigan and how underrated Chryst is as a coach, the last 3 coaches since Alvarez at Wisconsin (Beilema, Anderson, and Chryst) have a combined record of 81-98 at every other stop in their career, while 118-37 at Wisconsin. And the two previous coaches ran away screaming from that place despite the success they enjoyed. So it really doesn't seem to matter who's the coach at Wisconsin; they'll feast on a bad division and have an offensive and defensive philosophy that works for available talent. But at times the West almost feels like a really good G5 conference and not a P5 division; the division has had more than 1 team finish the season ranked exactly once (2015) in its existence, and even if NW sneaks in this season you are reminded just how lopsided these divisions are.
  • Both teams were only flagged for 4 penalties, but it felt like the two big pass interference calls against Michigan were incredibly suspect. Much like grounding, I don't know what is considered the "catch radius" for a receiver in college football. On the DPI assessed to Metellus, the ball seemed to be about 4-5 yards yards behind both players at the time of the flag; contact at that point is irrelevant. Similarly, Kinnel grabbing a guy's hand when the ball is over his head and yards downfield is equally irrelevant. Coupled with the inexplicable DPJ TD review and it was just a day where the couple of times the refs inserted themselves into the game were almost uniformly bad ideas. They didn't change the outcome of the game in all likelihood, but it was still tiring to watch yet another game in which you just sort of assumed the refs were going to screw something up.
  • In another example of "how did Michigan lose to these guys", MSU won their game against Maryland despite completing 2 of 14 passes for 20 yards. Snow and all that, but maybe pump the breaks on the "Brian Lewerke for Heisman" campaignin 2018.
  • In a more positive outlook, it was nice to see the WRs, especially DPJ, assert themselves a bit more in the passing game. These guys are all coming back next year, and all of them look to be making strides despite the upheaval at QB. In particular, DPJ has gotten to the point where he's consistently getting open and then getting screwed by bad calls or bad throws, as opposed to earlier in the year whe he couldn't even present a target.

Not in the Face

I want to be optimistic about next week's game. OSU isn't a great team, and teams that can get some pressure on Barrett have had success this season. But I'm not that naive. OSU knows if they win out they'll have a shot at the playoffs; beating the snot out of Michigan is another step in that direction. Michigan will likely be starting O'Korn and have a number of dinged-up running backs, and against this OSU defense that's going to probably go about as well as you expect. It'll be close for a bit, and maybe the turnover gods will look favorably upon Michigan and give them some free possessions, but Wisconsin felt like the big game Michigan could have won, and even at home OSU is just a different beast. I know it's a sour note to end the week, but I'm just looking for a competitive contest going into the 4th quarter, and then we'll see from there.

Comments

taistreetsmyhero

November 19th, 2017 at 3:23 AM ^

It's a lot easier for FSU to swallow this season (even though they are doing far worse than us) because they have recently enjoyed major success. Noles fans can brush off this season as a horrible fluke considering JimBo won a national title just 4 years ago, and they finished 8th last year. So that comparison isn't really apt.

This season is much harder to brush off for Florida, as they've been floundering for a while. But they just canned their coach in response, so that comparison also doesn't really support a call for calm.

Additionally, the idea of coaches "losing the ability to coach" is a poor strawman. The reality is that replicating success at a new school, regardless of prior track record, takes a huge dose of luck. Compared to previous tenures, Harbaugh does not have his same coaching staff, nor is he competing in the same recruiting battlefield, nor did he acquire the same cupboard. Also, football is a game of inches, and those inches going one way or another can make or break seasons. And we all know that those inches tend to go against Michigan. There is a very real chance that Harbaugh, for numerous reasons, won't be able to replicate his previous successes here at Michigan.

Last rant: the preseason record prediction argument needs to stop. This season has not lived up to expectations. Point blank. You're lying if you expected that Florida would be so god awful. You're lying if you expected that Michigan would lose to a mediocre MSU team. You're lying if you expected that Michigan wouldn't have a win against a team with a winning record. You're lying if you expected that Michigan would be thoroughly dismantled by the only good teams they faced. You're lying if you expected that Michigan would have historically bad pass protection. You're lying if you expected that Michigan would have such a terrible offense.

Allllllllllllllll that being said, there still isn't any reason to "panic." There is nowhere near enough information to conclude that Harbaugh can't take that final leap here. And while this season has been a bust, given the context of the youth and injuries, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic moving forward.

Unfortunately, looking forward to next year's schedule, I envision that the record projects to be uncomfortably close to this year's one. And even if improved play sets Michigan up in 2019 for another real run for the CFB Playoffs, I fear the hot takers will make Harbaugh's seat toasty by then.

teldar

November 19th, 2017 at 7:18 AM ^

I think you're a good poster so i don't want you to think this is a personal attack, but i think you're way off base with your offhanded pass for FSU being terrible.

They were supposed to be in the title hunt this year. They lost their starting qb now they're quite bad. Michigan was supposed to be mediocre this year, now they have lost TWO starting qb's and are quite bad. It's OK for FSU to be bad without their qb because they've had good coaching and recruiting for years but is not OK for Michigan, without their two best qb's, who had terrible coaching for years and some spotty recruiting in there? I'm not even going to go into the fact other than Perry, all Michigan's talented receivers are freshmen and DPJ at least is starting to look the part of a high end wr.

bronxblue

November 19th, 2017 at 12:20 PM ^

It's been 3 freaking years.  FSU needed 4 years to get to a title game.  ND had one title appearance that they now have to vacate because of academic impropriety by their starting QB, amongst others.  MSU made an appearance in year 9.  

Michigan is going in the right direction.  They are flawed.  Both are true.  But all of this "why aren't we as good as X" without any context or perspective is just screaming at trees.

Michigan Arrogance

November 19th, 2017 at 12:58 PM ^

I'm not arguing agasint you - maybe I didn't complete my point, which is - the "unacceptable" crowd loves to point to FSU, UF, MSU, ND, etc as examples of those teams doing well and winning a div title or getting to a playoff (or contending at times). And that 8-4 is unacceptable. Well, JFC, had M gone 3-9 like MSU last year or 4-8 like ND or 6-6 like UF and FSU this year, what would you call that?! SUPER-ULTRA unacceptable !!!!??? 

this 8-4 season was the reasonable floor and we hit that, but only b/c of youth, poor Hoke recruiting, some crazy injury luck and yes, JH adding IZ to the OL's plate. But what was MSU's "reasonable floor" last year? Dantonio got them way worse than that. and with an experienced team. How about FSU/UF's floor this year? or ND's floor last year?

bronxblue

November 19th, 2017 at 1:27 PM ^

Yeah, sorry.  I wasn't going after you specifically.  I was more angry at the complaints that "THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!" by people who seem to change the goalposts depending on the point they want to make.

I feel like a season like this is the floor.  It really has been a mash unit out there combined with a bunch of guys getting their first sustained play on the field.  I am cautiously optimistic that Michigan won't have this level of injury + inexperience issues at some many spots again.

bronxblue

November 19th, 2017 at 6:56 PM ^

They went 10-3 just like Michigan. plus, they got blown out once and beat two ranked teams. Michigan beat 3 ranked teams last year, including the conference winner, the other division winner, and the Pac-12 south winner. Michigan had a perfectly fine season, probably better than FSU's last year. And as a bonus, they didn't shit the bed this year.

jackw8542

November 19th, 2017 at 10:08 AM ^

"You're lying if you expected that Michigan would be thoroughly dismantled by the only good teams they faced."  We were not "thoroughly dismantled" by UW or by anyone other than PSU.  The PSU game got away on the road, at night, in a hostile environment by a team that was perhaps playing over its head with its QB having a career game.  It happens, as it happened to OSU at Iowa.

This team has played its heart out in every game.  It could have won yesterday, and it did not fail to win because its coaching was in any way inadequate.  The coaches called plays that put it in position to win.  It did not win because DPJ did not get his in-bounds foot down long enough in advance of the other foot to satisfy a blind reviewer, because our WRs and TEs did not make catches that were there to be made, because Evans did not make cuts or break tackles when he needed to do it and because every UW player given the same opportunity to make a play DID do it.

Why does everyone think UW is worse than OSU.  I know games don't necessarily translate when outcomes versus common opponents are examined, but OSU got destroyed by the same Iowa team that was absolutely obliterated by UW.  So why is UW so much the lesser team than OSU.  It may be that UW is the better team.

If we are playing JOK next week, it will be tough, particularly if Hill, Onwenu, Higdon and Isaac are still out.  If we have our best players back, it should be a contest.  If you take out Barrett, Weber and Dobbins, how great would OSU's offense look?

newtopos

November 19th, 2017 at 3:03 PM ^

I'm going to disagree on one specific point: those wildcat plays, with Evans alone in the backfield and Peters split wide, against Wisconsin's run defense, did not put us in a position to do anything except burn a down and lose yardage.  If that's Pep/Drevno's idea of creative, modern college offense, we are destined for a lot of heartbreak (against very good opponents), no matter how good our defense is.  

You Only Live Twice

November 19th, 2017 at 10:44 AM ^

After such a lengthy rant (thanks for bringing it over to someone else's diary btw) which of course will draw in your followers such as new account Occam... you'd have been better off to click the back arrow instead of "save."  

What strikes me about all the haters is the heavy reliance on nonsense.  People aren't "liars" if they see things differently than you.  Of course I don't "expect" any negative result.  I hope to win every game.  If we don't win, the fact that I don't join your hate bandwagon doesn't make me a liar.  I've stayed with this program through ups and downs - loyalty takes a lot more strength, believe me, than jumping on this or that hate bandwagon.  

And yes I think it's shitty to attack the program. I am sickened by all the "me-too" types having to demonstrate to this or that radio host how tough they are.  Wouldn't it be better for would be recruits and their families to have a more favorable impression?  May I suggest that instead of posting rants, take your rage and do something physical, if you can, and preferably outside.  

bronxblue

November 19th, 2017 at 12:15 PM ^

I disagree with the fact that both FSU adn UF seasons aren't relevant.  It seems like you are grading on a curve that says "is this Michigan or not". 

FSU was a title contender coming into the season, but they've had issues along the offensive line for years now.  They've allowed 30 sacks this season, 36 last year, 26 the year before that, and 23 the season before.  With respect to TFLs, it's 78 this year, 86 last season, 71 the year before, and 68 the season they won the title.  For a team with immense recruiting advantages, top-notch coaching, and historical success, it's fair to say they've been slightly underwhelming since that title and have been stuck for years trying to paper over a fundamental flaw with their team.

As for Florida, yes they fired their head coach, but that's after 2 straight division titles and 19 wins in 2 years.  Thsi wasn't supposed to be a year where they struggled to get bowl eligible and get creamed by a lot of bad teams.  

Looking a bit further back, ND entered last year ranked #10 in the polls.  They 100% had expectations, and proceeded to go 4-8.  So that's another team that had a "down" year that looks a hell of a lot worse than this season.  And in all three of those cases, those teams returned a hell of a lot more talent and experience compared to Michigan this season.

You talk about inches and how luck figures into a good coach, but that feels reductive in order to prove a specious point.  Jim Harbaugh turned Stanford into a national contender.  He took the 49ers, a train-wreck of a team before and after his tenture, and took them to a SB and to multiple conference championship appearances.  He came to Michigan, which hadn't enjoyed back-to-back 10-win seasons since 2002 and 2003, or in other words, when most of the guys on the team weren't even in grade school yet.  He's been able to replicate his success everywhere, and he's done it at Michigan.  Good coaches do that, even if it takes a little time and may not immediately look like their last stop.  I reject the argument that somehow the Jim Harbaugh era at Michigan hasn't been an example of replicated success.

As for the preseason predictions, that seems like more an issue with your expectations.  I figured this team would win 8-9 games this year, maybe 10 if they got a break and maybe 7 if everything went badly.  They had 4 big games coming into the season - Florida, PSU, UW, and OSU.  I figured they'd go 2-2 in those contests, and lose another game to a weird opponent.  And sure, I never expected Michigan would lose Speight, but I didn't think the offense would be all that impressive.  It was replacing so much talent at WR, TE, and on the offensive line that expecting the guys who were in HS last year or were worse than the starters would suddenly be demonstrably better.  Michigan's offense last year finished 41st in S&P+; this year, they're holding steady at 53rd.  That will likely go down a bit playing UW and OSU, but that's also without their starting QB for most of the year.  So no, this offense is about where I expected, give or take the inability of the passing attack to have a consistent downfield threat.  But anyone who thought Michigan would be some juggernaut with 3.5 new offensive linemen, the loss of their leading rusher, 4 of their top 5 receivers, and (as the season progressed) their former starting QB was being a wild homer.

Sure, I thought Florida would be better. I didn't think MSU would be an 8-9 win outfit; I figured they'd be 6-6.  So basically Florida.  But they've only been "dismantled" by PSU; how anyone would look at the MSU game and think that was MSU having some master-class in beating an opponent just wants to fight.  Which is fine - that's your right.  But excuse me if I don't join in. 

 

 

taistreetsmyhero

November 19th, 2017 at 6:40 PM ^

to mean that FSU, Florida, and ND are having down years to mean that we can't go screaming with our heads cut off just because of one down year (under Harbaugh) and call for Harbaugh's head.

But these were make-or-break seasons for Florida and ND, which is sort of the exact opposite of what you're trying to argue (that Harbaugh shouldn't be on the hot seat).

JimBo has already proven that he can win at FSU. Yes, it took a Heisman QB, but why is that relevant? Harbaugh had Luck at Stanford.

I ultimately agree 100% that the idea of Harbaugh on the hot seat is idiotic, I just don't think that your arguments regarding FSU and Florida really made that point.

Gameboy

November 19th, 2017 at 4:07 PM ^

Yeah, let's rant...

"the preseason record prediction argument needs to stop. This season has not lived up to expectations. Point blank. You're lying if you expected that Florida would be so god awful."

Not sure what Florida being so awful has anything to do with us and how that is the fault of Harbaugh.

"You're lying if you expected that Michigan would lose to a mediocre MSU team."

No, that is why Michigan was favored. But I expected us to lose a game where we were favored this year so I guess I did expect it, I just didn't know to whom. Most teams lose a game where they were favored. Not sure why you should not expect it from your own team.

"You're lying if you expected that Michigan wouldn't have a win against a team with a winning record."

Again, how is this fault of Harbaugh? We beat everyone we were supposed to beat (sans MSU). The fact that they all would have a losing season is something that we should have expected is ludicrous. It is just a quirk of scheduling, get over it.

"You're lying if you expected that Michigan would be thoroughly dismantled by the only good teams they faced."

You would be lying if you expected that OSU would be thoroughly dismantled by a mediocre Iowa team. At least we got dismantled by a better team.

"You're lying if you expected that Michigan would have historically bad pass protection."

You need to stop listening to everything Brian says. I expected our OL to be pretty bad coming into the season. We lost several guys who are with NFL teams right now. I don't know in what world replacing those guys with freshmen and what not would produce better result. I never believed Brian's Ewing Theory on our OL. I expcted them to bad, full stop. They have been actually a suprise to the positive side on the run game. You need to adjust your expectations if you thought differently.

"You're lying if you expected that Michigan would have such a terrible offense."

See above. With a terrible OL, there is limit to what you can achieve as a offense. Add losing your starting QB on top of that, they are actually surpassing my expectations.

You really need to stop blowing in the wind like leaf and grow a friggin back bone. First it is all about how Speight is terrible and O'Korn is the answer. And then you were all about how Peters is the savior. Give it a rest. Step back. Actually think before you start ranting.

taistreetsmyhero

November 19th, 2017 at 5:46 PM ^

We should move to Peters after the Air Force game because it was clear the offense was not good enough under Speight to lead this team anywhere, and we should be playing for the future. The take was super hot, but I wasn't wrong in that this team sure didn't outperform any expectations, so making progress towards next season is all-important. I was wrong about O’Korn being better than Speight, but I don’t think he lost us any games that Speight would have won.

And wrt to your points:

1) Florida being bad matters in terms of readjusting preseason expectations. 8-4 with 1 quality win is a lot better than 8-4 with no quality wins.

2) If people had known that Florida would be shit, preseason expectations would have been 9-3.

3) There's a huge gulf between a pretty bad OL and a historically bad pass protecting squad.

4) Even though OSU got blown out by Iowa this season, if they beat Michigan as expected, their season will be better than our best season in years.

peterfumo

November 19th, 2017 at 6:21 AM ^

My Monday mornings like many others are manic, so seeing this on Sunday means I can read it and digest it more easily. Was wondering from a coaching standpoint who you think should go. My own preference would be to demote Drevno to OL coach, get rid of Frey, get a true OC and WR coach and/or RB coach, and give his son TE. I know Drevno would never accept this. I am also unclear on how good Pep is. What are you thoughts?

bronxblue

November 19th, 2017 at 10:15 AM ^

I honestly don't have strong opinions on who should go because oftentimes coaches seem to share multiple duties, so for example I'm not sure if Drevno or Frey are most responsible for the poor pass protection. But I think they need to figure out an identity there (are they power or zone running as the base) and set coaches up to implement that. And while I'm not sure of the issues passing the ball are due to scheme or personnel, but this has been one of the most anemic passing offenses I've seen at Michigan, and has never been consistent even against mediocre competition. I'm inclined to give Pep Hamilton a pass for a year, but again it seems like Drevno may be the odd man out.

NateVolk

November 19th, 2017 at 6:27 AM ^

I want to talk about criticism. First of all very very little of it this season has been thoughtful or backed with facts. It's been mostly spoiled brat ranting using the personal preseason win predictions as the basis.  Weak analysis based on shakey at best "predictions".

It's made for a low point in quality of discourse on this blog in my years. I've been shocked by it.

IMO: I think it's all because of Michigan State and no one wants to admit it. A. Losing a game to a rival we clearly shouldn't have. B. Their relative success this year putting us and the Harbaugh era on the defensive in the third year.

Two things we were sure we we're done dealing with after last season. 

This idea that people, such as the the diary author who are dealing in measured facts in the face of the foot stomping and basic whining, are being shallow homers firing off weak excuses, is just odd. It's a twisted perversion of reality.

The reality is good analysis on here is being drowned out. It is neither being contemplated nor discussed by overly emotional fan types who now mostly dominate the post loss threads. It's made for a vastly diminished user experienced on here. 

The quality brought by the users has been way more disappointing than the 8-4 with a very young team using back up quarterbacks for most of the year.

Moral of the story: to the fan who can't get past the whining "I want I want I want and anything less than my expectations is unacceptable" attitude, no facts will ever be enough.

Goggles Paisano

November 19th, 2017 at 8:37 AM ^

After a loss, I can only read this and the gamer.  After the gamer, I can't read the comments as 90% of them are just plain trash by the dipshit posters that come out to whine. 

We controlled that game for 2 1/2 quarters yesterday until a couple ridiculous 3rd and long throws by Hornibrook to guys covered like blankets.  Not sure what happened on that play where JKP was badly beat, but I did see Mettelus mis-time a blitz and completely take himself out of that play.  Seemed like an odd time for him to blitz as he could have been deep to help out in coverage.  Stop that conversion and it's a totally different game. 

Having Evans as the main tailback in this game was less than ideal.  He has a role but it's not to be running between the tackles in this game.  Higdon not healthy for this one was a big problem.  We needed his tough running between the tackles. 

Peters looks about as calm as you can be.  I thought he played well given the circumstances of the venue and the lack of RB production.  JOK came in slinging it, which I appreciated.  If Gentry and McKeon can hang on to those balls, maybe it is a different outcome. 

I have to give credit to Wisc.  They are a solid football team, even with their QB limitations.  That LB crew of theirs is as good as I've seen in the country this year.  Hard not to like Paul Chryst  - I'll be rooting for them to run the table now.   

bronxblue

November 19th, 2017 at 10:22 AM ^

They got them last year. And they crushed PSU last year as well.

I mean, be mad if you want. But it drives me crazy that fans only accept that their team winning is expected and any losses are inexcusable and a sign of weakness. Michigan has an incredibly young team and have lost badly in exactly one game this year. It's completely reasonable to believe Michigan will be better next year when they have more experience and maturation. But I guess if you want to be angry, context doesn't matter.

DELRIO1978

November 21st, 2017 at 4:43 PM ^

The "ESPN Guys" make a big deal about 1-6 against top 10 teams the last 3 years.  But IF J. T. Barrett didn't get that extra inch and Michigan had beat MSU this year the whole narrative would SEEM different, but really it would be no different.  Paul Finebaum can go jump in the lake,  quarterbacks REQUIRED to play the right way do not grow on trees.  So far Michigans' only "bad losses" in 3 years were two against MSU.      

UM Griff

November 19th, 2017 at 8:40 AM ^

Thank you for your reasonable analysis of a game no one was happy with. I am dusting off my disappointment to get ready for Thanksgiving with the family and The Game.

MadMatt

November 19th, 2017 at 9:24 AM ^

Thanks to BB and the other posters trying to insert a dose of reality.  Most of the other threads on this site make me want to take a sleeping aid and go to bed at 5:30, while wondering if there's a Div 3 program I can follow instead.

BUT,

There is one thing that troubles me about this coaching regime, in three years they have failed to do nearly all of the things everyone thought they would be good at doing.

- Jim Harbaugh is the QB whisperer.  Any sign of that?  I'm not talking about running up the score on Rutgers; how about late in the season against ranked teams?  Ruddock against Florida is about the only counter-example I can think off.  Speight clearly regressed from last season before he got hurt, and even last season ended with a thud.

- The O line will be road graders in the running game and able to protect long enough to take advantage of the down field shots that play action opens up.  [cricket noises]

- Michigan will have another 1000 yard rusher.

- This team will show spines of steel overcoming adversity late in games and late in the season.

Moreover, this is now the third time in a row we've been to this particular circus.  Rich Rod was going to revolutionize offensive football in the B1G.  His offenses piled up yards, but couldn't score, except against ND.  (Meanwhile, Urban Meyer acutally installed what Rich Rod was supposed to install.)  Brake Hoke was going to reinstall Man Ball and emphasize toughness in the offense [eye roll].  The fact that this is now the third coaching regime in a row that has been bad at the thing that is supposed to be their signature (and in Rich Rod's case, that he has actually done before and after coaching at Michigan) has triggered all of our PTSD.

Like Bronx Blue said, if Harbaugh can't fix it, no one can.  And, I'm confident he is self aware enough to make the adjustment.  But, the clown show on the offensive coaching staff needs to be addressed.  Not sayin' everyone needs to be fired, but reassessing assignments, and perhaps having one experienced position coach with no other responsibilities in the biggest problem area, O line, might be a good idea.

Michigan Arrogance

November 19th, 2017 at 10:21 AM ^

re: QB whispering, M just doesn't have the talent yet- Speight (middling 3*, OKorn (a straw grasping grad Xfer) and ??? among non-FR QBs - they don't have the mobility/playmaking/talent. The guys that do are RS FR and True FR or won't to sign the LOI for 3 months. I think the fact that Speight has done as well as he has last year says something. it's nice to hope JH can turn chicken shit into chicken Cordon Bleu, but turns out he can only turn it into chicken salade and that's partly b/c of injuries to the starter. and the RS FR.

 

re: road grading OL, well - haven't they been much better at power this year? the pass pro is awful, but given the patch work of Cole at LT and ??? at RT I'm not sure what else there is to expect. Next year there are 4-5 guys coming off RS seasons to provide depth and they are mostly top rated recruits. Now, one could certainly argue that M could have taken another 1-2 Tackles 2-3 years ago.

 

the fact remains that M doesnt have much NFL talent in the 5th, 4th or 3rd year classes.

2018: Hurst, Cole, 

2017: Winovich?, Mone???

2016: starting to be difficult to judge b/c of youth, but here's where JHs recruiting started and there's Onwenu as a true Soph starting at RG, Gary obs, Hill, Bush, Hudson, Bredeson, Wheatley as Sophs starting.

I think the main issues to complain about coaching performance falls on the offensive decision to add IZ this year. That's been shown to be a disaster in hindsight and a poor one IMO is foresight 1 year ago. Given the youth and inexperience and depth of the OL, why teach them a new scheme? focus on pass pro and power FFS. What's the result? every QB they put in there get's his head knowed off b/c of pass pro fuck ups. 

 

before the season, everyone said it was a B&W schedule- we know the 3-4 games they won't be favored in, we know the ones will weill be 10+ pt favorites. that's gone as expected but swap UF for MSU. So I agree with the guy who said it all comes down to that MSU game. I think everyone would trade the UF W for an MSU W and the saeson would look much different.

jackw8542

November 19th, 2017 at 10:22 AM ^

As to QBs, Rudock showed dramatic improvement during the year, Speight showed much greater talent last year than anyone expected and Peters looked quite good for a redshirt freshman this year.  Trying to blame Harbaugh for the perceived regression by Speight is totally unfair, as it is more likely a result of his mental issues in recovering from last year's injuries than anything to do with Harbaugh.  Sometimes it takes a while for a player to stop fearing another injury and sometimes the player can never overcome that, but you cannot blame Harbaugh.  (I also do not blame Speight, who has shown himself to have courage and character.)

The running game has progressed as this season has progressed.  Neither Higdon nor Isaac could really play yesterday, and to my eyes they are both far better than Evans.  But the line blocking has steadily improved and generated holes yesterday that Evans sometimes found and sometimes did not find.  Regardless, Evans never seemed to get anything more than what the line got for him.

Higdon would have been a 1000 yard rusher this year if he had not been injured.  It is likely that he would have been accompanied by Isaac.  Injuries happen.  They have happened to this team a lot.

This team does have a spine of steel.  Anyone who cannot be proud of the effort and character displayed by this team lacks judgment.

The coaching has been great.  It is not the coaches fault that DPJ did not DEMONSTRABLY get his foot down.  It is not their fault that a number of balls were dropped at critical times. It is not their fault that Evans did not find cutback lanes or stay upright on a couple of runs where it looked like they might break big.

bronxblue

November 19th, 2017 at 10:33 AM ^

The QB whisper stuff absolutely applies. Jake Rudock was cast out of Iowa and he became an NFL-level QB in a year. Wilton Speight went from a no-name QB to a guy who was one of the better QBs in the league last year. Peters looks pretty competent despite being a RS Freshmen thrown into one of the worst blocking situations in college.

The offensive line is an issue, but they were a decent run team last year all things considered. But this where I think the staff has struggled the most, hurt in part by bad recruiting but Hoke that left them with, what, 3 upperclassmen linemen in two classes?

The steely resolve is there, as hard as that is to quantify. Michigan came back against FSU in the book game despite injuries and getting down big early. They won a late game against Minnesota a couple years ago despite playing on the road and giving up some huge plays. They fought hard against Wisconsin, on the road, down to their backup/3rd string QB. And in 3 years, they'll win between 28 and 30 games, something Michigan hasn't seen since the middle of the Carr era.

Harbaugh and co. are building Michigan back into a good college football team. I'm not sure if they'll ever be consistently dominant, but that's for a future discussion.

MadMatt

November 19th, 2017 at 12:31 PM ^

Let's review the QB situation in year 3. There are two upper classmen who have been in the program all three years,and an NFL talented QB Harbaugh recruited who is in his second. Every one of those guys has been unable to provide average or better QB play, and their mistakes have consistently limited the offense. (I won't go down the list of killer offenses with RS Frosh QBs, or that special someone who won a National Championship with a 3rd string QB; we know.)
I'm not saying Harbaugh is a bad QB coach; I just think it's absurd to consider him some kind of genius based on the play of his QBs so far. When he was hired, EVERYONE (friend, foe or neutral) thought we'd get better than this, and I'm confident we will in the future. But, I think we might adjust our expectations from Andrew Luck to Chad Henne.
I don't blame the players, nor do I blame the offensive coaches individually. I blame the parsing of responsibilities into an incoherent mess, and an unrealistic expectation that a young team for college football can execute an NFL offense. That nonsense needs to end.

You Only Live Twice

November 19th, 2017 at 10:56 AM ^

For people who back up each other's hate speech.  assuming one is a frustrated fan and not some troll from another fanbase, why not focus your anger on the single greatest injustice we have seen this season?  Speight and Peters were both blatantly targeted and no flag, no ejection, nothing.  Before anyone breaks out the textbook rule, consider the intent of the rule.  Everyone knows the hit on Speight was pure dirt.  Peters had already thrown the ball - after the hit, what PURPOSE was there in forcing his head into the ground?  How can anyone call that a clean hit with the result?  Simply because the initial contact wasn't TO the head?  

The rule may actually be causing the dirtier teams to look for ways to circumvent the rule as written, and Wisconsin was probably quite frustrated with the possibility of losing. Don't tell me teams don't try to take out the other team's QB. 

 

Ramblin

November 19th, 2017 at 4:28 PM ^

There are a few folks in the press that agree.  Sparty/Wisconsin's narrative is the same "they are whiny wussies" that you might expect...  A lot of our own fans have claimed it "wasn't that dirty" and blamed our offensive line/coaches for the injury.  

I guess it's true in a way...  If the LB doesn't win on that stunt, he wouldn't have been able to wrap, lift, and purposefully drive Peter's head into the ground when he didn't have the ball any more...  

Here is the truth when you look at it objectively.  The hit on Peters was dirty.  Most honest people that have played football would agree.  That is a textbook way to quasi-legally injure someone.  The tackle was made, he didn't have a ball to jar loose, there was no need for the extra twist and drive that caused the injury.  It's basically the definition of "unnesessary roughness." 

No flag, of course.  That doesn't really matter though.  Even if you want to argue that it was technically legal, it was still dirty and done with the intent to injure.

The media narrative -  even outside of Riottown, Worst State Ever, and Wisco - is for the most part "whiney Michigan pussies."  Although, one Sparty fan agreed it was dirty on a Tweet. 

Some of us on the blog are saying things like "don't give them fodder and complain, just hope OSU doesn't do the same thing to O'korn.  They will call us pussies if we complain!  Also, don't retaliate in any way because that is mean-spirited and not Michigan Man esque."

So, that is where we are with the Peters thing...  Another dirty hit, another injury, no consequences, debate over whether a classic way to break collarbones is dirty on Mgoblog.

Let's not forget that Speight is likely out for the season after Purdue's dirty bullshit that they suffered no consequence for.  Not in the media, or in reality.  The BIG ten's final verdict was "fuck Michigan, he deserved it."  Broken vertebrae from a hit on an player that is sitting on the turf is part of football.  Toughen up buttercup!  Enjoy your ride to the hospital in an Uber you arrogant Michigan bastard.  Boiler Up!

MSU suplexes O'korn.  No flag.  At least most of the blog agrees that was a bit much because Michigan State...  Although I'm sure someone is going say "that's football."  Or, "Michigan did it too when Woodley was here!" as if that makes it ok.

The Refs were obviously biased in the game last year.  Again, complain and you are a whiner.  Never mind that anyone with a brain could see it.  What was it?  2 penalties on OSU?

Newsome is likely out for good. Again, it was another quasi-legal play from those wholesome cheese eaters where a guy dove, purposefully, into Newsome's fully extended plant leg causing him an injury so gruesome that it nearly cost him his leg.  The play was legal though so all is well.  Just Michigan being Michigan and complaining.  "This is why people hate our fan base!!!"   Nothing to see here.  Let's move on...

It's clear to me that with Harbaugh (and maybe without him) we are a despised franchise like Duke, only they win a lot more.  It's also clear that other teams are willing to head hunt and play us dirty and we are willing to take it.

No easy solution I suppose.  Let's just play nice and hope it stops.  Oh, and let's also run Jim Harbaugh out of town like we do everyone else.

Very frustrating.  

 

 

You Only Live Twice

November 19th, 2017 at 5:28 PM ^

even though your avatar is a little creepy.

I was respecting what you had to say last night, because you've played and gave us all some insight as to what actually happens on the field.  I can't believe for a second that ninth grade football would be any more rough than college, so if what you were describing happens on a junior varsity level... it will be happening in college.

As far as other fan bases, I don't know why some posters here are so deeply, terribly  concerned about what they think.  I would fully EXPECT other fan bases to not like us.  Not going to lose sleep over it.  It is predictible that  Pete Finebaum will say something dickish, which I won't bother to read.  

What you bring to the table, though, is something to think about.   We have to go back to 2011 to find a Michigan QB who escaped serious injury - Denard Robinson.  The injured list is long; Shane Morris, Devin Gardner, Tate Forcier, Wilton Speight, and now Brandon Peters.  Did I leave anyone out? You could almost add O'Korn to the list except he's lucky the dirty hits didn't take him out.  Michigan fans speaking up is not weakness, excuses, or making us look bad.  

 

 

Ramblin

November 19th, 2017 at 7:27 PM ^

Kinda sad really, but that was my experience. 

I was bad at football, and I only played to ninth grade...  Dirty play didn't happen all the time, but it sure as hell was a part of the game and it was taught by coaches.  You'd be amazed at the shit that goes on.  Watch Friday Night Tykes sometime for an eye-opener.

I'm really suprised that more people aren't aware of that particular cheap shot.  It's been around for a loooonnng time.  It's not as bad some others, but it got the job done on Saturday.

As for my rant/theory, I honestly hope that I'm wrong, but something seems off to me.   

As for my avatar.. yup.  That is creepy.  Funny how many comments it is getting.  I guess I'll change it if people are acually giving a damn about my oppinion.  It seemed funny while intoxicated, now it is starting to scare me a little... 

Go.  Blue!!!  Beat Ohio!  

M and M Boys

November 19th, 2017 at 10:59 AM ^

So—consider Michigan football to Jimmy Stewart’s role and dilemma in “It’s A Wonderful Life”.
We have recently helped a lot of Clarence types ‘Get their wings” at our expense.
Maybe this is just a bad dream and Michigan football will wake up soon and be instantly restored to the adoring rally of euphoric family and friends!!!!
I hope so, because right now we seem to be living in the controlled OSU environment of Potterville (with apologies to Bedford Falls and Ann Arbor).
I hope we wake up Saturday.
Plus, speaking of the holidays and the Buckeyes—I miss Bo and Bob Ufer and his horn—that was a wonderful life at Michigan.
Happy Thanksgiving Week and Go Blue!

funkifyfl

November 19th, 2017 at 11:10 AM ^

If the team finishes 8-4 on the regular season, it will be exactly what most reasonable folks (including myself) expected. But, the goalposts need to be set for real now - is next year the year where we expect to compete with OSU? Is it the year after? The team took its lumps this year, but I would argue that this is the last season where this is an acceptable excuse for not winning 9+ games. The conference is terrible and even winning one of Wisco/PSU/MSU this year should be the floor going forward. Competing with OSU regularly is another matter entirely.

 

And for anyone making a comparison to Hoke, consider where you think the program would be if we let both his tenure and Harbaugh's extend for 10 years instead of 5. Hoke's program had fallen apart in year 5, while Harbaugh's is hopefully on the upswing. So, even if you don't think much of Harbaugh (get your head checked), consider that the team's FLOOR most seasons will likely be 8-9 wins and his ceiling is the friggin' sky.

bronxblue

November 19th, 2017 at 12:33 PM ^

I think the team has competed with OSU as recently as last year.  But OSU never took a step back, and Michigan started way behind.  It's going to take some time to get where they are.

I think people should expect 9+ wins most season going forward; there might be some variance if, say, Michigan suffers another rash of injuries at QB, but even this year they feel like a pretty good team done in by some bad luck.  They probably don't beat PSU this year regardless, but both MSU and Wisconsin were winnable games.

MIdocHI

November 19th, 2017 at 1:34 PM ^

What concerns me, and perhaps other posters, is Harbaugh's demeanor and the complete lack of creativity on offense. Yes, Harbaugh was too over-the-top previously, but he seems to have gone the other way into a shell. It would be nice for him to be a little fiery on the sidelines.

Second, the comparisons to MSU are are very troubling. They had a terrible record last year and had an even worse off season. They should have a worse O-line than us. Yet, they completely out-coached us. We even had a bye week to prepare for them and laid an egg. We have had no imaginative game plans. We as fans keep waiting for the RPS wins, but are not getting any.

As much as I disliked the RR tenure, he seemed to get receivers blitheringly wide open a couple times a game. Our 11 million dollar coaches seem to think it is acceptable to run up the middle twice and throw or run a draw on third and long. We have seen that since the 70s from Bo to Carr and are sick of it. Dantonio can create some plays to attack our weaknesses, but we never seem to do the same to our opponents. We just continue to slog away. It makes it seem as if our coaches are too stubborn to game plan around our weaknesses and/or attack those of our opponents- like Man-ball taken to the extreme. That is what is so frustrating and why the vitriol level is so high.

Goggles Paisano

November 19th, 2017 at 2:02 PM ^

His demeanor?  Do you think that will make the team older and more experienced?  Will that help JOK or Peters?  If he starts going ape shit and getting 15 yd penalties, the fans bitch about that.  How about the demeanor of Tony Dungy or Belichick - does it really matter if you stay calm or get really animated?  His demeanor has zero to due with the 8-3 record of this team.

I don't know if you watched the game yesterday, but we rarely ran the ball on both 1st and 2nd down to throw it on 3rd.  There were quite a few 1st and 2nd downs where we used play action.  I had zero problem with the gameplan yesterday.  We had some untimely drops in the 2nd half and had a TD taken away because the official doesn't know what simultaneous looks like.  We were also missing our best option at RB in a game where tough yards were needed. 

To compare a WR running wide open with a RR offense with this team is absurd.  How many of those RR WR's were running scott free against the Wisconsins, Iowas, Michigan States and Ohio States?  We lost our starting two WR's to the NFL and had to replace them with true Freshman.  Did you see the post the other day where someone listed the 2017 output of all of the 4 and 5 star true Frosh WR's?  It wasn't pretty.  Also if healthy, Tarik Black would be far and away the leader on that board.  

 

MIdocHI

November 19th, 2017 at 2:33 PM ^

Did you see the game yesterday? Do you think the offensive play-calling was imaginative?
We rushed the ball 37 times for 1.6 yards per carry. Do you think that is good? We also passed the ball 26 times in a game in which we trailed most of the time. That is not far from a 2:1 run-to-pass ratio for the game.

Again, you pretend to be a "realistic poster," but you put words in my mouth. Did you read my post? I specifically said Harbaugh was too over-the-top previously, but he seems to have gone into a shell. Where did I say I wanted him to go ape shit? That is a total straw man and beneath you.

You and some others get too defensive about legitimate criticism of the coaches and cause the level of discourse on this site to deteriorate. I am not pining for the return of RR. I stated, "I disliked the tenure of RR..." I also gave specific examples of coaches attacking our weaknesses. Show me the RPS wins of our offensive staff. Use Brian's UFR. Go ahead. I'm waiting.

Goggles Paisano

November 19th, 2017 at 6:22 PM ^

His sideline demeanor has nothing to do with the outcome of the game.  It is like Hoke and his headset.   Who gives a fuck?  What matters is the week of preparation leading up to the game and the execution of the game plan.  Harbaugh realized he needed to tone it down a bit and he did.  

I don't know what type of imaginative plays you are looking for, but consider the personnel out on the field.  We have one WR. One!  Crawford and McDoom are not capable of being a #2 or #3.  Our #1 is a true Freshman.  Higdon and Isaac were basically out so that leaves Evans.  Evans is not built for this type of game.  Take all of that and add in Peters making his 3rd start in Madison.  I thought the offensive gameplan was fine.  They moved the ball, had tight ends open, hit DPJ on a long one, and hit him for a TD that was not called a TD.  This offense is limited this year and yet still rolled thru Rutgers, Minny and MD.  This Wisc defense is a totally different animal.  Imagination got us over 200 yards of offense in the 1st half.  It is likely not the imagination you might be looking for, but we were able to get guys open with the play action.  We needed to run the ball a bit (albeit unsucessfully) to allow the play action to work.  We had guys open in the 2nd half too for big plays but both Gentry and McKeon had big drops.  Do you want reverses and other types of trick plays?  I'm not asking that in a sarcastic tone - I'm serious.  I'm not sure what you are looking for.  I thought the gameplan and playcalling was good enough to win the game yesterday.  If Peters stays in the game and Hornibrook doesn't make a few Tom Brady type throws, we have a great shot to win even with the limited personnel we had available.  

I can't really comment on Pep mainly for the limtations I stated above.  I will trust Harbaugh will make the right decision to keep him or let him go after the season.