Mods, feel free to delete if this should be in the Snowflakes threads.
As awful as that ass whipping was, I don't think it's a sign of major structural deficiencies within the program. It looks like the team as currently constructed has three issues:
1) The DTs are bad. Losing Mo Hurst absolutely killed us in this game. The bucknuts doubled Gary or Chase and then had their guard and center single block the DTs. And they absolutely handled us. So the line was giving us no rush, and then our blitzes were either negated via quick passes or <cringe> successfully picked up. Don Brown's defense is heavily dependent on pressure, and we got nothing.
2) The passing game is poorly designed. We have few plays in the short/intermediate area that actually scheme a guy open. Or if we do, it's obvious and the defense adjusts to it. We exclusively rely on our guys to win their routes, and we rarely use misdirection to force safeties and/or LBs to make difficult choices. It's too bad, because both the OSU LBs and safeties have shown all year that they suck at making difficult choices. One of our TDs was when we stacked our TEs, ran crossing routes with them, and then sent Chris Evans on a wheel route which was wide open. Next time we ran it, Higdon got smacked. No adjustment at all to punish the overreaction to it <shrug>. And I won't even get into how we criminally misuse our RBs in the passing game.
3) We don't have a gamebreaker. We currently do not have a guy on offense that is a threat to take it to the house at all times a la Rondale Moore, Anthony McFarland, and Paris Campbell. A guy like that can make up for numerous inefficiencies elsewhere.
The good news - Problems 1 and 3 seem to be well on the way to being solved. Another year of seasoning for Dwumfour, Kemp, and Jeter, along with the return of Aubrey Solomon and additions of Chris Hinton and Mazi Smith, should solve our DT issues. Additionally, we are recruiting guys like Giles Jackson who have that ability to take a 5-yard out route 80 yards to the house. In fact, we're recruiting a bunch of slot ninjas who turn short routes into solid gains. So you can see where the offense is going.
And here's the bad news - I think the best way to fix Problem 2 is to tell Pep Hamilton to kick rocks and bring in a more dynamic, innovative passing coordinator. In fact, I'd be thrilled if we could get Jedd back in place of Pep. Problem is that I don't know that Harbaugh would go that route. The play designs are just not smooth right now; every time Shea goes back to pass, it's a fucking adventure. That being said, we also dealt with a new QB, an improving but imperfect OL, and youngish WRs. It may be better to give these kids offensive consistency.
Silver lining - Even if nothing in the passing game changes, we should be in much better shape due to Problem 1 getting fixed, and the OL taking the next big step forward. Another year under Warinner plus Jalen Mayfield stepping up and becoming the next stud OT at Michigan. By their own admission, Warinner and Harbaugh limited the information load to the young linemen. They should now be able to download more information and do a lot better, especially with pass protection. One way to spice up basic routes is to make them option routes. We already know Pep loves these, and, when executed properly, they are damn near impossible to stop consistently. The rub is that it requires both QB and WR to read the defense the same way and be on the same page. When that doesn't happen, you have John O'Korn's game ending pick against the bucks in 2017. I don't think we really ran many option routes this year; we had a first-year QB (in the system) and underclass receivers. Next year, all the receivers will be upperclassmen, and Shea would be in Year 2 (or Dylan in Year 3). So option routes should be feasible. This all to say that if we don't replace Pep, we really should still be much more explosive on offense given the other changes. I really believe that the whole "body blow" strategy was due to Jim's lack of confidence in the consistency of a new QB with underclass receivers. A fully operational Harbaughfence can smack you in any possible way - see Stanford 2011. You're going to load the box?? Andrew Luck will drop dimes to the TEs and Doug Baldwin. You're going to protect against the pass now? Here, eat this ogre formation and watch Tyler Gaffney run it down your throat. It's run-heavy and relies on toughness, but it's more than happy to light you up in the air to get you to back off the box.
In short, we are not as far as it we may think right now. There is certainly wood to be chopped, but it's not insurmountable.