What's Past Is Prologue: The QB Guru

Submitted by Mo Better Blues on January 11th, 2018 at 12:19 AM

Long time lurker, first time poster, so, please, not in the face. I really do apologize in advance if this is lame. But like many, I found this season deflating, despite my acceptance of the preseason conventional wisdom, (debated here of late; for my part, count me in the camp that expected a floor of 8 wins and a ceiling of maybe 10), that this year would not be "The Year".

Count me also in the camp that buys the narrative that lack of signature wins over quality opponents/rivals has made an 8-5 season feel emotionally closer to a 5-8 season. 

So, despite landing on the roughly expected 8-win number, in the days following the Outback Bowl, I doubted something I didn't think possible: the Inevitable Glorious Future we were sure to have under Jim Harbaugh. While the larger idea that he was the best possible coach for this program remained intact, my belief in what could actually be *achieved* was shaken.

Some of the situational coaching and uninspired playcalling in the bowl played a role certainly, but (hot take time!), it was our profound QB struggles in Year Three that most undermined. As a math expression, (if that's even the proper term), the perfect storm of my negativity might look something like this: 

Losses To Rivals : Disappointment In Michigan Football Generally : : Serious QB Struggles : Doubts About Harbaugh Specifically

(And forgive me if that's wrong, MGoActualMathPeople.)

And then I looked inward a bit and remembered what life under RichRod and Hoke was really like, and how this program has been fundamentally transformed already in terms of not being a huge joke (or at least a much less funny one), and how spoiled and entitled I've sort of been as a fan recently, (even if traumatically abused historically), and just how goddamn loud and annoying our rivals' taunts can be. I also remembered a video I watched a few years ago that made me feel giddy about the then-prospect of a Harbaugh Era and the critical attention that would be paid to quarterback development should it materialize.  

TL;DR? Watch this (surprisingly underviewed) video and feel better--all over again--about the future of this program; how QB depth chart decisions have been/will be made, how recruiting is approached and what kind of guys he's going after, what will be expected of this team and the QB position in specific, and just the total football joy of football that beats in Coach Harbaugh's football heart. Football!

SPOILERS: Jim Harbaugh breaks shit and laughs! Jim Harbaugh puts knuckles in assholes (and I don't just mean Jim Kelly!) Jim Harbaugh with feathered '90s hair and khakis but NO horn-rimmed-bad-luck-Woody-Hayes-cursed-hipster-f*ck glasses! Living in the past but a more recent past! Football!

And after all this, if this f*cking link doesn't work, I will slink away in abject shame and lurk forevermore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7-9kQJ1_sI



January 11th, 2018 at 1:06 AM ^

While I agree with the overall point of your post, and great first post btw! I personally was in the camp that though 9 wins was the floor, and 11 wins was the ceiling. So no national championship, but possible an appearance in the conference championship.

I am not sure where all these recent revisionists (not you OP) on the board came from that are claiming that EVERYONE predicted and accepted this would be an 8-win season from our numerous preseason threads (1, 2, 3, 4). Michigan was a consensus preseason top-15 team (#4 USAToday, #9 Coaches, #11 AP), and the majority of posters were predicting a 9-11 win season.


January 11th, 2018 at 1:27 AM ^

I thought 8 wins was possible but only if everything that could go wrong, did. If we won the Florida game I was certain 9 wins was the floor and maybe the permanent floor under Harbaugh. I still feel this is the worst season Harbaugh will ever lead us to.
The msu loss was soul crushing. If we lost to Florida and beat sparty I'd feel irrationally better. Our offense was a catastrophe this year. Something I never thought possible to say about a Harbaugh led team. I still have faith in Jim but if the offense craps the bed again next year I'll mentally check out against my own will.

Mo Better Blues

January 11th, 2018 at 2:45 AM ^

Agree with everything you just said. I guess it's just that, as a lifelong Michigan fan, I am exceedingly well-trained to expect that everything that can go wrong, will. Because it quite literally always does. Always. Except 1997. (Because: bait.)

USC Phantom TD, Touchdown Jesus FG When The Wind Just Died, That Miami Game (YTMG), Rocket Ismail Goin' HAM On Our Ass, Florida State Shellacking at The Big House, That first Washington Rose Bowl in '92, Colorado Hail Mary That Still Haunts My Dreams, That Motherfucking Syracuse Fucking Game With Donovan McNabb Where I Wanted To Just Kill Everything (TMSFGWDMWIWTJKE), The Joe Namath Is Blotto Wasted And MeToo'ing a Perfectly Nice Lady While Tennessee Romps In The Citrus Bowl-Bowl, The Horror, The Utterly Illegal Sparty Punt Block Heartbreaker Bullshit Fuck You Game, The Every Fucking OSU Game For The Last Thousand Years It Would Seem Game...yeah. You could say I follow the Team, the Team, the Team. Goddammit. :-)

And while I don't think anyone's directing their "8-win revisionism" vitriol directly my way, in my defense, I did say a *floor* of 8 wins. (If you expect Michigan to win any football games ever you're either a liar, a drunk, or a fool, and in my case, all three.) It is only through Jim Harbaugh's ludicrous competitiveness and the general awesomeness of the progress made in 2015 alone that I'm juuuust now beginning to foolishly expect *overachievement*--and yes, 9 wins this year--which is also why the end of last season and most of this season just cuh-rushed m'balls. (Edit: and why I'm legitimately stoked for next season! Go Blue! Beat me up and pee on me!)


January 11th, 2018 at 8:56 AM ^

Does anyone know of a team that is legitimately awesome against mobile QBs? Istn't that why it's typically considered a schemattic advantage to have one? That defenses aren't designed to be able to always account for a QB that can break the pocket and gain yards aggressively with his feet?


January 11th, 2018 at 9:50 AM ^

"Isn't that why it's typically considered a schemattic advantage to have one?"

... is why I chose my handle.  To emphisize SO HARD that any college team should have a mobile (or to the extreme, a dual threat) QB.

To not have one, has Michigan has not except under RR, is to tie one's hand behind one's back offensively.

I pray Harbaugh reals in more mobile QBs.  Even more mobile than we have been getting.


January 11th, 2018 at 10:02 AM ^

I agree. People are acting like this year was a complete disaster, when is reality, this is closer to the norm than being undefeated.  The main difference in the last 10 years, is MSU improving and not being the gimme game it traditionally was. 

And, while it does seem like a lot of bad luck goes our way, I think this may just be a phenomenon of those instances sticking out to us.  The plays that go in our favor seem to just be taken for granted, and assumed that's how things should have worked out.  A few examples that jump out right away...

1995: Mercury Hayes being called a catch to beat Virginia.  This was pre replay and in real time could have easily been called incomplete

1997: Washington st probably should have had one more play at the end of the game before the clock expired

2002: the final drive vs Washington, the "catch", then fumble forward for the first down to extend the drive; this led to the game winning FG

2005: After Carr argues, the officials agree to put 2 seconds back on the clock.  obviously that was huge, with the game winning TD to manningham with 1 second left

2011: the virgina tech catch ruled incomplete in OT

2012: the dileo slide Fg hold could have easily be called a false start

2015: the Minnesota QB having zero clock awareness and basically makes it so they can only run one play (THE WALL!)

...just a few instances of good luck that came to mind from somewhat recent times


Tim in Huntsville

January 11th, 2018 at 10:45 AM ^

Coach Harbaugh said about Brandon Peters earlier in the year that he (paraphased) - "Didn't take control of the huddle" or something to that effect.  After watching the NC game and how the Alabama freshman QB was a leader that increased the level of play for his entire team, it is easy to see how important that leadership quality is to a team.  Here is to having a QB that leads our team next year.


The Krusty Kra…

January 11th, 2018 at 7:16 PM ^

Inspired more confidence in teammates than Brandon Peters did. I am being completely serious, Kennesaw State rallied more around Turnover Plank than Michigan did around silent, cowardly (SLID SHORT OF THE FIRST) Brandon Peters during the Outback Bowl. Here's to D-Mac or Patterson seizing control of the room immediately.


January 11th, 2018 at 1:55 AM ^

that "everybody predicted 8-4" around here. The degree of outright lying revisionist horseshit about the recent past is amazing. It's even more pathetic when you consider that people engage in it simply to make themselves feel better about how disappointing the season was.


January 11th, 2018 at 7:02 AM ^

I don't think anyone really predicted 8-4, but the majority of us did think the floor was 8 - in the worst case.  The team experienced the worst case in spades.  So yeah, I agree that 8-4 wasn't the prediction, but it certainly was the absolute floor anyone thought might be realistic with a worst case situation.


January 11th, 2018 at 9:05 AM ^

Don't know where all of this '8-wins is expected' BS is coming from. Especially including the 13th/bowl game. Most here were predicting a 9-10 win reg season floor with possible 11-1 with a few breaks.  Too lazy to go back to late August to prove this, but I'll bet less than 10% predicted 8-4.


January 11th, 2018 at 9:42 AM ^

play I will say this and it's my only problem I have had with Harbaugh. I think he is too loyal to the guy he names the starter at the beginning of the season. My guess is he understands the complexity of the position and doesn't want his QB always looking over his shoulder and playing tight.

However, Speight ended last season playing poorly. He looked terrible in the Spring game and played terrble at the beginning of this season.  The only reason he came out was due to injury. I don't think Harbaugh would've pulled him no matter how poorly he was playing. Then JOK comes in and plays well in relief against Purdue and went downhill quickly. But, I felt he stuck with him too long also before he finally went with Peters. Sometimes you need to make the move sooner.

I don't prescribe to rotating QB's or pulling one just because of a mistake or two, but with how poorly our QB play had been I think a change was needed sooner.  I wonder if Harbaugh would've done what Saban did in the NC game and pulled his starter at half???

I do expect better QB play next year, just hope if things go downhill for the starter he's not too slow to make a change when needed.

[email protected]

January 11th, 2018 at 3:28 AM ^

I think it's, Coach trying to appease everyone, and change what he has been criticized for in the past.

First time I sensed this was a video that came out after he first got hired here. He was asked something to the effect of, what went wrong in, San Francisco? His response sounded, and looked like he was embarrassed, and self conscience, when he replied, "Well....I guess I just wore out my welcome."

My read on a lot of this stuff is that he is just under a lot of pressure real, imagined,or self imposed , and he is feeling it.

Just my read on it.

This thing is still on track, and he will be good.

I still believe in, Coach Harbaugh. Big time.


January 11th, 2018 at 7:31 AM ^

...but I'm repeating it here (more or less) in a similar but different context: Something was really 'off' this year and I don't just mean QB injuries and youth at skill positions. Harbaugh was different (demeanor), play calling process and duties were muddled and vacillated between stubborn (running off-tackle with no room), uncreative (no deep passing game after Black went down), and proof of life (OSU game plan appeared uniquely different from every other game this season). Too many OC cooks in the kitchen. Defense was great but wore down and never fixed the difficulty covering slot receivers with safeties. Special teams were actually bad if you think about it: punting basically sucked regardless of who was back there, punt return game was a shaky mess, and Nordin went through a mid-season slump. None of this really makes sense and belies Harbaugh's track record. Harbaugh's teams typically exhibit strong fundamentals, play relatively mistake-free football, are tough and get stronger as the game wears on, etc. Not this team. I obviously don't know what's going on and I don't think any of us really do either but SOMETHING isn't right. It ain't Xanax, but where is the FIERY PASSION clearly visible in OP's video link (where Harbaugh was speaking to other coaches in a GYM setting...nowhere near the field!)? Here's hoping that next year is different...or more fans will mentally check out against their own will.


January 11th, 2018 at 9:14 AM ^

Just reading the tea leaves......  JH has shown a pattern of lasting just about 3-4 years in his previous locations.  After this apparent downturn and personality change this year, are we seeing history beginning to repeat?  Yes, here's hoping that next year is different.

I'm still on board, especially with '18 and '19 supposed to be the years we finally have the players to compete, but I'm gonna be watching closely.

The Krusty Kra…

January 11th, 2018 at 7:19 PM ^

Maybe his doctor said all the energy and fire was zapping him a bit (blood pressure, idk) and he needed to scale it back? But I do agree at times this year he seemed comatose, which is not what we need from a fearless leader. I do hope all is well and that we see some of that cagey Harbaugh from year 1 come September.

[email protected]

January 11th, 2018 at 3:14 AM ^

No problem with anything you said, Mo.

Great first post, and don't be afraid to be negged, in these types of places.

The staff here, and staff, mods, and insiders at other spots get negged all of the time. Much of it comes after they bring good news.

It just comes with the territory. Never take it personally.

Thanks, man. I do appreciate this.


January 11th, 2018 at 12:27 AM ^

when you said a 5-8 season. I know what you mean, but I can't get over the newfound possibility of a team winning it's division and losing, or making a bowl at 5-7 and losing. My mind is now going hard with this possibility.


January 11th, 2018 at 12:33 AM ^

I think one of our young QBs will step up and be half decent next season. That should win us a game or two more in this tough schedule. It may be 2019 before the OL id close to traditional Michigan OL standards.

Stringer Bell

January 11th, 2018 at 12:40 AM ^

The fact that he didn't have Peters ready to perform this year is concerning, especially when you see a guy like Darnold go in there and light the world on fire as a redshirt freshman or guys like Tua and Fromm go back and forth in the championship game. O'Korn also never got better and Speight regressed. It's very strange that the 2 biggest weaknesses of the Harbaugh tenure so far (QB and OL) were expected to be major strengths going forward. Oh well, here's hoping he figures it out, or that Shea is a demigod.