Baumgardner Doubles Down

Submitted by MGlobules on October 2nd, 2018 at 4:20 PM

As I read him, a certain critical edge has been creeping into Nick Baumgardner's reporting on Michigan, particularly on Jim Harbaugh's unexciting play-calling. This tends to confirm what a relatively unsophisticated watcher like me THINKS he's seeing, but I am really more interested in what other, more knowledgeable fans think. 

The thing about Baumgardner is that he really seems to know his stuff; he breaking down last Saturday's play-making here with a sophistication that puts many other football writers to shame. 

The bottom line is interesting--not wildly critical, certainly, but more measured: 

"This offense puts a lot of pressure on everyone on the field to do their job perfectly on every play. That's why it's called pro-style — professionals run it. 

Whether or not Michigan can accomplish that will determine how this season ends."

The piece seems important to me, for two reasons:

1) It tends to confirm the lessons and wisdom I have observed from some of the better posters here. But

2) if correct it really suggests that what Harbaugh's trying is something of a gamble. He's going to need bright and talented players, a little luck and continuity to succeed. (Learning his big-a** playbook takes a while.)

Does Baumgardner have it right? Are the risks Harbaugh's taking worth it? Or is the NFL style he's trying to roll out just too damn boring, with too many variables to ensure success? 

I can see quite a lot of potential upside (long-term powerhouse in the making?). I can also see how all these things tend to suggest it might take Harbaugh longer than, say, an Urban Meyer, to start rolling up wins. . . But how do others see it? 



October 2nd, 2018 at 4:21 PM ^

Okay, of course I can't go back in to edit. Apologies, and here's the link:


October 3rd, 2018 at 12:04 AM ^

I full heartedly disagree. They helped set our program back 10 years with terrible journalism and failing to understand or put any effort into understanding what a countable hour is.

Is noone else outraged at the lack of coverage for actual scandals at the other state school in the last 10 years?

How quickly everyone forgets.

I respect and am thankful for the many posts you share on this blog and this is not just a hot take aimed at you but imo everyone with this opinion "is bad and should feel bad" or whatever the cool kids are saying these days. 


October 2nd, 2018 at 4:28 PM ^

Baumgardner is another armchair QB like me and many on this forum.  Not saying he is wrong. Just saying that his coaching pedigree is the same as mine. Much of what he points out is obvious. Yes, the 1st down play calling late in NW game left me scratching my head.  However, it is not just Harbaugh. It is Pep, Mcelwain and many other analysts.  There are some good offensive minds at Michigan, including Harbaughs.  Again, let me repeat, I share many of his frustrations.  But to suggest he or I know more than the people on the sidelines is simply not the case.


October 2nd, 2018 at 4:29 PM ^

I think they could have better survived a poor OL last year (jury is out on this years line) with a different scheme but at Michigan you expect to be able to recruit and develop well enough to field a better OL if you're not cratering the position group with coaching transitions every four years.

But the jury is still out on how good they can be with an actual experienced OL mostly consisting of guys that redshirted and are playing in their 4th or 5th years.  This is essentially what Wisconsin and MSU have done during their runs of success so this type of offense can work with continuity. Remains to be seen whether this is the coaching staff to make it work with proper execution (EDIT: by coaching staff, I mean offensive staff, particularly OC).


October 2nd, 2018 at 4:30 PM ^

No offensive style ensures success, and all are variant. When done poorly each style brings it's own style of horror. I would like to see this style when there's a dominant OL, with a good QB and good skill players executing it. UM has lacked 1 or 2 of those three each year.


October 2nd, 2018 at 4:31 PM ^

I mean is it too much to ask for our offense to look like 15 and 16? People will say "well it was good against bad teams"'s struggling against bad teams at this point. We beat NW 35-0 in 15. We're not playing Brady Hoke sludgefart, but it's not that far off running for 2 yards every first down. 


October 2nd, 2018 at 5:18 PM ^

S&P adjusts for opponent, which is why it's such a valuable metric.  The math knows we haven't beaten an opponent with a winning record, and it doesn't care (because it's math and does not feel). 

The offense is better right now than it was then.  May end up worse, who knows.  You don't know that.  Based on what we know now it's better, so revise your complaint. 


October 2nd, 2018 at 5:46 PM ^

Well, we've only played one team with a winning record and that team is a top 5ish team that we played on the road. So, like, if winning that game alone is your measuring stick at this point, you're ignoring a lot of data.

Besides, good chance SMU and Northwestern end up with winning records or at least 6 wins.

EDIT: WMU actually has a winning record.  BOOM.  The mighty Broncos.

G. Gulo of the Dale

October 2nd, 2018 at 11:48 PM ^

I agree with your first point, and I agree that Northwestern might be (somewhat) better than their record will indicate...

But it is highly unlikely that they even get to six wins now that they've lost to Akron and Duke.  Unless they pull off a couple of minor (or major) upsets, they will beat Nebraska, Rutgers, and Illinois and finish 4-8.  They might beat Minnesota on the road, but anything more than five wins is extremely unlikely.

In more bad news, SMU is expected to go 3-9, as they are significant underdogs in most of their remaining games.


October 2nd, 2018 at 10:56 PM ^

I was speaking only to his observation. Big picture is UM has lacked OL, QB and or skill players since 2007. Harbaugh’s O requires a complete roster, and UM is close. OL is the biggest deficiency this year. We’ll see about their development. Can they answer the bell vs WI, MSU, PSU and OH? We’ll see. 


October 2nd, 2018 at 4:38 PM ^

In 2015 we beat Northwestern 38-0, but one TD came on a kickoff return and another came on an interception return.  So, 24 actual offensive points, in our own stadium.

Some other 2015 point totals against weak opposition: 28 against UNLV, 28 against Maryland, 29 against Minnesota, 31 against BYU, 34 in regulation against Indiana, and 35 against Oregon State.


October 2nd, 2018 at 4:45 PM ^

No, and you're exactly right. This team doesn't seem to have the same tricks up its sleeve as it did in those seasons. Two plays that stick out in my mind are the Sione Houma big run against NW and the double bubble screen fake that got Jake Butt wide open over the middle against BYU. We haven't really seen that the last two years (and maybe even going back to the Iowa 16 game).  A part of me is hopeful that they are trying to play it safe against weaker opponents but I also realize that is just homer speculation

snarling wolverine

October 2nd, 2018 at 4:49 PM ^

People are romanticizing the 2015 offense too much. That actually was a pretty bad unit most of the season.  Defense and special teams carried the load until the final few weeks when Rudock finally started connecting on downfield throws.  Until then we had to manufacture points through field position, as we couldn't really run or pass effectively.


October 2nd, 2018 at 5:16 PM ^

Agreed. People are just remembering the last few games of the season when Rudock was playing great. They remember some of the basic old-school power plays hitting because that style was all-new to our opponents - even then a lot of it got stuffed - so again with the selective memory. There was a lot creative pass plays that I think were because of Fisch, I definitely would trade Pep for him in a heartbeat. Overall the offense was underwhelming for most of the season outside of a handful of games toward the end.