Silver Lining?

Submitted by Carcajou on October 23rd, 2017 at 12:27 AM

There will be no playoff this year, and short of a few minor miracles, no division championship. Here's the good that I believe can come from this disappointing loss:

This will allow the coaches and players to reevaluate, and evolve to be able to beat better teams.

It wasn't just the offense that lost that game. The defense was whipped as well. For two seasons, Michigan has been mostly relying on a defense that is so effective with its man pressure that overwhelms every opponent. But that defense finally met its match. So they will have to improve and evolve.

PSU was unusual in that it had playmakers at four positions on offense. Mismatches in the passing game and over-aggressive 2nd level flow in the run game were exploited. This time, the pressure didn't seem to rattle the QB- he was on the money with almost every throw. It was painful. I believe the experience will serve Michigan well in the long term preparing for teams with higher talent levels.

Maybe more importantly, the offense now has license to stop playing so conservatively. To develop and work on the vertical passing game one way or another, even if that is riskier. Just as teams seem to get a little bolder with their playcalling in bowl season, the offense can explore a few more possibilities as they try to get better on the OL and at receiver.

In a way, they are now free to develop (what is still a fairly young team) for the long run. They can also beging playing some younger players at various positions (including QB) that they may not otherwise take a chance on.



October 23rd, 2017 at 12:33 AM ^

do you mean the OL has been "holding back?" Wasn't Frey hired to coach the tackles and TEs. so now they'll be playing better? I guess, from your post, the WRs will now separate more often. Lets's go balls out on defense and maybe give up 52 the next outing because Brown didn't bother to chance his schemes from a year ago.

I'm eagerly anticipating the silver lining of getting our asses kicked so we can get better for Rutgers.


October 23rd, 2017 at 12:48 AM ^

No. But I think the offensive game plans and playcalling have been rather conservative and predictable- risk averse- perhaps to a fault, in part because the team was too reliant on a smothering defense. So on a game to game basis, minimizing risks on offense seemed to make the most sense. With championship games out of reach, a longer-term view can be taken with a little more emphasis on developing various areas. Will that automatically fix problems at WR and OL? No. But there is a possibility that things might now be opened up a little.


October 23rd, 2017 at 12:58 AM ^

It's not a matter of being conservative or aggressive. It's the fact that the offensive line can't block anything. O'Korn is getting pressure before he even completes his drop. You can't playcall your way around that. If it were that easy, the Patriots would've just called more aggressive plays and beat the Giants in both Super Bowls they played each other in. Unfortunately, even the greatest QB ever couldn't do anything with pressure right in his face all game. I'm sure he would've loved to throw 60 yard bombs to Randy Moss or whoever, but when Justin Tuck is in your lap in 2 seconds, the play call is irrelevant. Our right tackle position makes every team look like they have the Superbowl Giants pass rush.


October 23rd, 2017 at 5:42 AM ^

can’t play call your way around that.” Actually, I think really good offensive minds can “play call around that” to a certain extent. And while we have some young talent on the OL, it looks like more of a long term fix. It is abundantly clear now that we don’t have OL talent that is going to go head to head with other stout defenses and just push them around. I really think that Drevno has the rest of this year to show a “plan B” or Harbaugh has no choice but to let him go. Harbaugh has a ton of leash, but even he is not untouchable. If this teams continues to regress on offense and again shows nothing next year legit questions can and will be asked to him about how he plans to win here. There really is no more time to waste. They need to start scheming around what they have or things are going to get complicated.

I Like Burgers

October 23rd, 2017 at 9:17 AM ^

Its not just the OL. Outside of the WRs -- who have been completely underwhelming, but are all freshman so I'll give them a tiny pass -- there's no talent on the whole damn offense.  Harbaugh's offensive recruiting has been fucking AWFUL.  Two full classes and not one damn difference maker. 


October 23rd, 2017 at 9:32 AM ^

That's an overreaction, we have plenty of talent on offense. Harbaugh recruits who have seen meaningful playing time and produced: DPJ, Black, Higdon, Evans, McKeon, Gentry. Harbaugh recruits who come in with moderate to high expectations, but are unproven: O'Maury Samuels, Kareem Walker, Nico Collins, Oliver Martin, Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffery. To say the offense is devoid of talent or difference makers is not accurate. Now why we choose to throw it 4 times to Khalid Hill instead of at any running back is a legitimate gripe.


October 23rd, 2017 at 5:27 AM ^

Nobody is saying "losses are good". There is some good, however that can be salvaged from reevaluating after getting beat on both sides of the ball if you decide to learn from it and use it as motivation to get better. Apparently that's what Penn State did after Michigan beat them up last year.

But if you prefer to wallow in misery, be my guest.


October 23rd, 2017 at 5:42 AM ^

Because no team in history has done reevaulation after defeat. Maybe the coaches will get the team together and watch some film to try and find out what went wrong, fix issues, and maybe try and win the next game. I think you are on to something here. I think the coaches read this blog so there is another silver lining. Improvement soon to follow...stay tuned.

Dr. Sap

October 23rd, 2017 at 7:37 AM ^

One of Michigan's greatest defensive coordinators, Bill McCartney, told me that he re-evaluated everything on defense after Warren Moon picked apart his zone, bend-but-don't-break, defense in the 1978 Rose Bowl. That re-assessment started from the top and went all the way down to how players & positions were evaluated. That re-evaluation spawned the 1980 defense, the use of more blitzes and more offensively talented players moving to the defense. Marion Body QB & Tony Jackson WR are two that come to mind.
Want another example?
After Michigan lost to ASU in the 1987 Rose Bowl, once again the defensive strategy & personnel were all re-evaluated. WR John Kolesar was given serious consideration as a defensive back because it was felt more speed was needed in the defensive backfield.
So ya, it happens - more than you think.


October 23rd, 2017 at 8:35 AM ^

I don't think that's quite where the OP was headed though - I mean, I can only speak for me, but I've learned the most from the shittiest moments in my life. They are still shitty moment, nothing can take away from how shitty they were, but in the long run, there were good lessons.

I think that's where the OP was going here, and it's true in football - losses suck, especially lopsided ones. There's nothing that will make them suck less really, but the hope is that this team learned something about itself in that loss. It's when you go out there and - heaven forbid - do this again and appear to have gleaned nothing from the previous experience that it gets truly maddening. 


October 23rd, 2017 at 12:47 AM ^

Even elite defenses need to win shootouts from time to time (Bama-Clemson for example). Until we get an offensive line, a quarterback, or both, we won't be winning anything that matters. Hopefully the defenses can stay in the same realm until that time. We've wasted some stellar defenses the last few years. The only silver lining to anything lately has been Don Brown. I'm not going to bus toss him bc he needed the offense to have his back for once.


October 23rd, 2017 at 5:13 AM ^

We could've sat in a zone all day and it wouldn't have mattered.  Two TDs were not going to win this game.

Bama-Clemson is a perfect example.  Both of their games were shootouts despite having top defenses.  Football is a complementary game.  To win a title, a good offense has to complement a good defense.  We do not have the offense to compete for a title.



October 23rd, 2017 at 8:25 AM ^

Did you see that when Barkley went in motion, ALL of the linebackers went with him? That was insane and what allowed all those QB runs.

Also, while some here incorrectly thought of the downfield passed as arm pints, the reality is our dbs do not generally play the ball. This could be inexperience, but is not a 50/50 ball if the db never turns his head. You are also way more likely to draw a flag when you don’t play the ball as well.

I’m in favor of man-to-man coverage but it seems our guys keep their face mask stuck to the receivers numbers, giving up a free try to high point the ball with next to zero risk of interception.

Could be inexperience but that’s gotta change. Both these severe issues are on film now.

Ghost of Fritz…

October 23rd, 2017 at 9:03 AM ^

that the D game plan was not really the best. 

Overreaction to Barkley by the 2nd level too often left no one in the middle on McSorley runs.

Too slow to react to PSU's smart use of motion and alignment to mismatch McCray.

I don't really blame the safeties.  They got beat, but almost always were blanketing guys.  Fact is PSU has a bunch of tall receivers that are able very hard for safeties to cover as well as DBs.

I wonder if the following would have worked better...

1.  Play with 1 safety and 3-4 DBs on the field on most/many downs.  Solves the LB/safety mismatches, but makes it easier for Barkley/McSorley to run.

2.  Put Bush in coverage and McCray in the middle.  Solves a receiver mismatch, but again makes Bakley runs more dangerous, as Bush is better as in reacting to a RB like Barkley than McCray. 

3.  Play more zone.   Would have worked better to mix in a healthy dose of zone coverage.  Better for limiting runs that get beyond the LOS.  Better for defending against the kind of passer that McSorkey is by eliminting safety on tall receiver jump ball and allowing two or more defenders to converge. 

4.  Just coach the 2nd level to not overreact to Barkley pre- and post-snap stuff. 

I wonder if we will see any of the above when we play OSU.

Indiana Blue

October 23rd, 2017 at 9:18 AM ^

because our corners played those arm punts very well, with the exception of the one to the tight end.  Truth is they were great throws and the receivers made plays on them.  We even had one of those arm punts when (Crawford, IIRC) made a great catch inside the 10.  

Just stop with commenting on what Don Brown should do.  Don Brown is a premier defensive coordinator and you are nothing but a blogger.

Go Blue!