It finally happened
Lots of folks out there interpreted the "Persistent Underachievement" diaries as a call to fire and replace all or a portion of our offensive staff. That is not the case. You can criticize a person or group and still believe they are good at their jobs.
After watching this weekend's game live, I thought the playcalling was terrible. After a rewatch, I actually believe the playcalling was pretty good. But the scheme was not.
What I mean by that is that, given the set of plays we came prepared to run, I like that the play calling was more pass-oriented and aggressive. The deep shot to DPJ felt like a long-delayed relief, like that bathroom trip after too many hours in the car. McKeon dropped a big-gainer from JOK. Gentry had a long completion dislodged by a big hit. DPJ had a TD erroneously called back (though he could have done better with his feet there).
That said, I noticed some fundamental flaws with our scheme. Before I list them, please know that I understand and sympathize with the predicament we face--very young team with insanely young receiving options, young OL, freshman (or 3rd string) QB, etc. Even knowing these limitations, and perhaps even because of these limitations, I do not believe our scheme is giving us the best chance to win.
- The early wrinkle was having McKeon on the outside. Presumably the coaches saw match-ups they liked with him against the UW CBs. It had some success, but it was clunky and did not help us score.
- The reverse to DPJ was a great idea. Why not more of that? One jet sweep to McDoom was the only other play I noticed that really moved the ball aggressively horizontally.
- Their CBs were frequently giving healthy cushions. Where are the WR screens?
- The empty wildcat was silly.
- UW's hyper-aggressive LBs (like ours) shoot gaps early in a play. They attack quickly and aggressively, often arriving in the gaps before the pulling players can get there. We did not run away from flow nearly often enough in this game, nor did we use horizontal attacking plays to force their LBs to think twice about blizting gaps.
- UW's TD on the end around is a prime example of exactly what we need more of: a play that punishes the defense for using discipline and reading their keys. Both guards move towards the RB's lane while the center and weakside tackle move out into space to wall off the pursuit. It is a beautifully-designed play, and they have scored TDs off of it at least two weeks in a row.
- In summary, there is not enough deception in our offense. Whether we are running or passing, we fail to use many of the staples of successful college offenses to confuse our opponents. Even 3-star athletes are fast enough and strong enough to disable an offense that's predictable. We don't use RPOs, QB option (we run these but the QB never keeps--a keeper was open for a big gain this week), and we rarely use jet motion, WR screens, throwback screens, or run away from the line action/pull.
I don't want to fire Harbaugh. To borrow from Craig Ross, I want Michigan to stop playing like Red Coats and start playing like Revolutionaries.