Michigan’s football program in trouble?
Now that would be an overreaction.
But let’s face it, the Wolverines were more lucky than good Saturday during a 27-20 overtime victory at Indiana.
Sixteen penalties. An anemic passing attack. A defense which didn’t bend that much, yet nearly broke in the end. A key special teams breakdown.
PHOTOS: See images from the Michigan overtime win in Indiana.
If the Wolverines perform like that against Penn State, Wisconsin or Ohio State, they will be destroyed. The Maryland and Minnesota games are now very much in play. Clearly, the Wolverines took a step back the first half of the 2017 season. Michigan’s 5-1 record is grossly misleading. It wasn’t a fluke the Wolverines were beaten by Michigan State.
There is starting to be push back on all that Jim Harbaugh hype. Signing day with the stars... satellite camps...a trip to Rome...who cares about that now?
“Who’s got it better than us?” Well, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State...
The luster has come off Harbaugh’s brilliance as a coach. A properly prepared football team isn’t flagged remotely that often. A commonly seen onside kick was nearly a disaster. The Wolverines’ punt coverage unit became unglued at the worst possible time. The two-minute defense was surprisingly leaky.
Mostly, though, it comes to down to how, if Harbaugh is such a master of developing quarterbacks, can a fifth-year senior, the third-year in his program, John O’Korn, pass for just 58 yards?
Running back Karan Higdon saved the Wolverines’ bacon with a 200-yard rushing performance, particularly when he bounced out of the pile for a touchdown run in overtime.
Does anyone really believe that was a brilliant goal line stand to preserve the UM victory as much as the Hoosiers getting the deer in the headlights look - again - under pressure?
Harbaugh embraced the emotional buildup to his program, and for good reason. It undoubtedly helped recruiting, and it was necessary to revive Michigan’s collective psyche, which had been obliterated by the Rich Rodriguez-Brady Hoke-David Brandon era.
The aura surrounding Harbaugh was only accented by a surprisingly good initial season in 2015, and the 9-0 start and a No.2 ranking last season.
But since losing to Iowa, the Wolverines have staggered. Michigan has a really good defense. It’s negated by a subpar offense. The offense is emblematic of a QB issue.
It’s difficult to be optimistic because there is no apparent QB in the pipe line. At this stage, it would be like throwing guppies into a shark tank to play freshmen Brandon Peters or Dylan McCaffery. Wilton Speight is injured, but was ineffective before being knocked out of the lineup. O’Korn must take care of the ball. It’s not a strength, so it means a lot of so-called “safe” throws. He didn’t even average three yards per attempt Saturday. He was under six yards per completion. Well, at least he didn’t turn it over...
The answer, of course, isn’t to jump off the Harbaugh bandwagon. The Wolverines could have a rough year in 2017 and be better in 2018.
Yet, it’s understandable if patience isn’t exactly a virtue for Michigan’s faithful. It’s been more than a decade since the Wolverines have been of genuine relevance on the college football landscape despite all sorts of expectations and ballyhoo.
It’s way to early to suggest the Wolverines are in trouble.
It’s fair to be disappointed, though.
The Wolverines should be better than this in Year 3 under Harbaugh.