Areas of improvement you want to see this season?

Submitted by garde on August 28th, 2018 at 9:20 AM

Outside of the obvious (better OL, WR, and QB play), what areas of improvement are you looking to see this season?

For me:

1. Clean up the mental mistakes. Too many missed assignments, penalties, etc last season. We looked like a Brian Kelly team and not a Harbaugh team on that front. Hopefully that was due to youth and a bad OL, rather than not coaching the fundamentals.

2. Special Teams. After having some success in Harbaugh's first few years, last year was a let down. We brought almost no pressure on punts and the punt return game was iffy with DPJ (Although, I think Ambry is going to be a star this year on kickoffs. He might even take punts now after Tarik's injury). Nordin was also wildly inconsistent and so were the punters. (Special teams is a HUGE concern of mine going into this season).

3. Better play calling that will hopefully give this team an offensive "identity." Also, I want to see Harbaugh take more control on the sidelines and not rely on the committee approach during games.

4. Jim's demeanor on the sideline. I want the crazy, fiery, piss & vinegar coach back. Despite the refs hating it.

5. Defensively, and kind of obvious...limit the big plays.


yossarians tree

August 28th, 2018 at 2:45 PM ^

I too think they are being overrated. They've lost a LOT of experience on Defense, and as much as I must begrudgingly give McSorley his due, he is going to notice the lack of Barkley and Gesicki and the wideout that left. Plus any QB that runs that much is going to find it hard to finish the season. And I desperately want somebody on Michigan (would probably have to be Winovich) to lay his ass out on a sack and then mimic that stupid fucking baseball swing/salute dance McSorley does. He looks like Shirley Fucking Temple when he does that.

Also let's beat Ohio State. And for the love of God and all that is holy let's blow out Sparty by three touchdowns at least.


August 28th, 2018 at 9:50 AM ^

UM Proud has the correct and only answer IMO.

I mean what if the OP got everything he's asking for but we finish 8-5 again cause everything else went to hell.  Think he'd be happy?

And on the other hand let's say all the stuff he's looking to improve sucks balls and we go 12-1.  Think he's gonna be mad?

Wins.  Improve wins.   Everything else is just the pretty white doily at a fucking tea party.



August 28th, 2018 at 10:37 AM ^

No, of course not and of course we want wins. However, some of the things I want to see improved (again, outside of the obvious) lead to those victories. It's all in the details. If we can't kick FGs or punt, we keep points off the scoreboard and give teams field advantage every game. If we can't handle punts, same thing. That's not a recipe for success. Also, if we don't clean up the mental mistakes (penalties and missed assignments), we will shoot ourselves in the foot on drives.

This is all for naught if the OL can't pass protect and the receivers can't get open, but I think we will see notable improvement in both areas (not to mention the addition of Shea). Again, good teams play mistake free football and pay attention to the little things. Successful teams don't usually consistently win (or win the tough games) in only two phases of the game. How do good teams separate themselves from the other best teams? Play mistake free, limit turnovers, and have very good special teams. Just look at 'Bama. They had arguably the best punter in CFB the last couple years who consistently put their defense at an advantage by pinning the other team inside the 20. That's huge!

So I don't think its realistic to say we that if we make the improvements stated in the original post, then we will finish 8-5 (despite the difficult schedule).  Obviously, seeing a fiery Harbaugh isn't going to make or break this team.


August 28th, 2018 at 9:23 AM ^

The only one I care about is in the wins column. I don't care if they have 7 TOs and 18 penalties. If they beat Notre Dame this Saturday night, it's a job well done.


August 28th, 2018 at 11:22 AM ^

I could be wrong, but I believe Brian covered that at some point in a podcast, but it may have just been somebody's post on the site. As I remember it, an argument was made that maybe they had certain PA plays they really liked for that situation. On the surface it looks like a stupid call because the defense isn't worried about you running the ball, but the rest of the play may just be a good combo of routes and personnel that they want and it just happens to be play action. I think you're reading too much into the PA part of the play.

You could also make the argument that, sure the defense may not be thinking you're going to run, but at some level seeing the play action at any point could have some impact on the defense in that moment. Even if it's just a minor hesitation from one LB, it could help. I'm not going to claim any knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes, but I think at the very least it isn't as big of a deal as you think it is. 


August 28th, 2018 at 5:18 PM ^

Our QBs were not good enough to turn their backs to the D and then look back at the D after the fake and be able to read what was going on. The RBs did not block well enough to carry out a fake and then find their block after. 

Any potential positives of us doing this was greatly outweighed by the negatives. 


August 28th, 2018 at 9:29 AM ^

I'll second the "play calling" piece of things, and add on "strategy." Last year it was mind-boggling how we failed to notice and game plan around our weaknesses. The number of rushing plays set on fire early in the season had me screaming at the TV.

You can plan around a bad OL. You can plan around an iffy QB. But instead, we had an almost Hokeian insistence that we ask our team to do that which they were worst at.

I don't know whose fault it was. But I hope it's fixed this year.


August 28th, 2018 at 9:36 AM ^

I think think everything will be better - OL, QB, offense as a whole, and defense.  I think the special teams will stay as they were last year - mediocre, but passably competent.  I believe the OL will show visible improvement, but will be the least improved of the all the units, special teams aside. 

Do this, and there is no limit to where the team ends up.  The only question will be where and when the inevitable brain fart shows up.  Will it be at a bad time, costing a win?  Or will it come at a time/place where recovery is possible?


August 28th, 2018 at 9:39 AM ^

I'm in the better play calling camp.  More creativity and deception, and play calls similar to those we saw against OSU.  Maybe a few more screen plays.


August 28th, 2018 at 9:40 AM ^

1. A cohesive OL, one that doesn't miss their assignments more than a normal one would. 

2. WR/TE getting open consistently

3. Decisive, accurate decisions by Qb

4. Making that game deciding play on defense and not getting unlucky (4th down in OT vs OSU in 2016; Metellus drops INT in 2017 etc). 


August 28th, 2018 at 9:41 AM ^

Harbaugh is the best coach in college football and he turned this program around. What I truly to see, is him taking FULL control of the offense. He is also a QB whisperer so Shea needs to look like a twin of Kaepernick. Our offense is loaded from sideline to sideline. DPJ and Nico will do big things if Runyan can hold a flippin block! I am excited to see what this team can do with Shea at the helm. I wouldnt be surprised if we won it all this year.


PS: ....... DPJ should never return a punt again after watching him in the SC game. Put someone like Ambry or Ronnie Bell back there. GO BLUE


August 28th, 2018 at 9:42 AM ^

Better play calling that will hopefully give this team an offensive "identity." Also, I want to see Harbaugh take more control on the sidelines and not rely on the committee approach during games.

I think some of the problems - not all of them - on offense last year could be in part attributed to lacking any identity on offense. Granted, finding an identity hard when you are weighed down by the overall play at certain positions, but I feel like sometimes it was overthought even at that. I would never say "be predictable", because we've been that before and we know how that ultimately ends, but hopefully some more overarching consistency in playcalling is now possible with Shea Patterson in there. 


August 28th, 2018 at 9:45 AM ^

There are so many little things, but the biggest thing I want to see is the look of fun on their faces.  Last year, game in and game out, there was always a look of dejectedness/worry/sadness.



August 28th, 2018 at 9:51 AM ^

I would like to see one or two receivers that can go up and get a 50/50 ball. I think Patterson had a couple of really good WR's at Ole Miss who not necessarily bailed him out on some of his scrambles and throws but made those types of plays viable.

Patterson will scramble. I'm hoping to see receivers who know how to react when a play breaks down, get themselves open, and can outfight a defender.