Embed from Getty Images When Jim Harbaugh took over the Michigan Wolverines coaching job, the offensive line was in shambles. Now entering his fifth season what was once a sore spot is now a position of strength for the Wolverines.
Michigan ran a running game, ball control offense that saw the team increase its win total to ten last season. This spring there’s a lot to still like about the offensive line,such as players who have been known quantities, as well as those who are emerging from the depth chart as they improved their game , It seems the unit on the whole has taken their game to the next level.
“Offensive line has been really good,” coach Harbaugh said. “Mike Onwenu is really standing out as is Cesar Ruiz and Ben Bredeson. That’s the real strength for our football team. Both left and right tackles Jon Runyan are having real good springs so far and then Andrew Stueber and Jalen Mayfield who are currently battling it out for starting right tackle.
The lines are getting blurry as far as starters, backups and third string. That is very good news for the Wolverines. The means that depth has become a strength. If a player is injured or needs a breather, it truly is next man in. Unlike the past Michigan should not miss a beat offensively.
Michigan and Jim Harbaugh are a long ways from the group he inherited four years ago. Now there is a building buzz and excitement about the depth that has been built. “I think this offensive line starting group has got a chance to be the best that we’ve had since we’ve been here,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh’s excitement about the offensive line, seems somewhat understated, given, not only the ability of the four returning starters. It goes without saying this is the most athletic group Michigan has had up front in some time.
Embed from Getty Images Fans and media had their doubts. Doubts about would Jim Harbaugh a hands on quarterbacks coach, hands on the offensive coach would really give up control. Shortly after being named Michigan Wolverines offensive coordinator, Josh Gattis hit the recruiting road with his new boss.
Entering his fifth season as Wolverines head coach, Jim Harbaugh made his most intriguing and bold move to date. Not only bringing in a new offensive coaching mind. But giving him absolute control. In a recent media, meet and greet Gattis said “Jim has been so open, he has given me the freedom to run the offense, he has given me input to help me.”
With three spring practices complete, players are still learning the new playbook. It is clear that changes have been made. Gattis and the Wolverines offensive coaching staff have stripped all of the old away and are starting from square one. “We are not patting ourselves on the back, we’re not ready yet.” This is the design of spring practice.
“We will find ways to get playmakers the ball,” Gattis said, “We will be a tempo, no-huddle team.” The new offensive play caller stopped short of saying his offense is a spread-style offense. It is not. At least not a true spread-style.
The big difference in Josh Gattis’s offense and a spread-style is while both offensive styles attack defenses. Gattis and the system he runs is much more physical. Also the days of the dink and dunk are gone. Michigan will now attack defenses. They will take more shots downfield.
“We want to dictate what the defenses do. How do we do that? Control the line of scrimmage, get the ball to players who can get in space and make plays.” Gattis is offering a new philosophy, at least at Michigan.
Josh, was blunt as he told the fans and media “We need more depth at wide receiver, we are good at tight end.” Until There is depth at receiver, expect Michigan running backs to catch passes out of the backfield.
Embed from Getty Images Michigan Wolverines head football coach Jim Harbaugh has three quarterbacks on his roster who are all highly regarded. Last season starting quarterback Shea Patterson returned for his senior season after starting all 13 games and complete 64.6% of his passes for 2,600 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2018. Patterson is only penciled in as the starter.
Competition is what Jim Harbaugh has harped on during his time in Ann Arbor. Both Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton are said to be putting the heat on Shea Patterson this spring leading Harbaugh to say “There’s no possible way that Shea Patterson will be able to put his feet up, in my opinion.”
This is how far the quarterbacks at Michigan have evolved. From one good one, to three above average quarterbacks on the roster all battling for for roster positions on the depth chart. It has been a process, but it paying off.
Dylan McCaffrey, was a 4-star recruit who will be a redshirt sophomore in 2019, Dylan saw plenty of time as Patterson’s backup last fall. He threw his first career touchdown pass the next week against Western Michigan. Dylan also showed he can use his legs to make plays a 44-yard touchdown run on a zone read against Wisconsin was promising.
While Joe Milton who also was also a 4-star recruit showed he may have the strongest arm of the Michigan quarterbacks. Milton played in three of the Wolverines final four games of the season and was able to preserve his redshirt status.
Harbaugh said that offensive coordinator Josh Gattis is giving the three players equal reps this spring. All three players are looking good so far. It is fair to say the Wolverines starter will be the player who steps up into a leadership role. Who can command the huddle as well as not get rattled when things are not going well during the course of a game. Shea Patterson was that player last season.
This season appears to be different at least in the now. All eyes will be on the three quarterbacks to see if anyone separates from the rest.
Embed from Getty Images It seems like forever since the Michigan Wolverines bullied teams the way they are this season. Jim Harbaugh’s team is not only dominating teams they are flat out suffocating them on both sides of the ball.
Jim Harbaugh is not an elite coach they said. Jim Harbaugh can not beat rivals they said. After beating Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State by a combine score of 101-20 that can be tossed out the window.
Penn State is the latest big name team to get hammered by the Wolverines. Last season Penn State had the ball in the waning seconds of the game. They chose not to take a knee and scored a touchdown to run the score up. Fatale mistake.
In this seasons tilt Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson said he was not here last season. But, if Michigan had the chance to run the score up they would do it. Check that. Michigan dropped the hammer. 42-7.
Jim Harbaugh’s team did not want to just beat Penn State, they wanted to embarrass them. Sacking Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley 6 times and intercepting 2 passes Michigan’s top ranked defense was relentless.
As the “Revenge Tour” rolls on. It is a safe bet the Michigan Wolverines have their sights set directly on Ohio State. The game is in Columbus. Michigan would have it no other way.
Like Penn State, Harbaugh’s boys will want to embarrass the Buckeyes on their home field. Given the glaring talent gap. Michigan will be favored. This will be the game that changes the guard in the Big Ten. It is the game that will show Michigan is back and ready to stand on the national stage again.
With a very talented team and Harbaugh not being afraid to agitate fellow coaches. Michigan is set to both irritate opposing fan bases while enduring themselves to Michigan loyalists.
Embed from Getty Images He was questioned. All good coaches are. He was booed from a fan base that demanded more. Yet through it all, Jim Harbaugh was building the Michigan Wolverines to win. Not just for one season. To over-take the conference elite. The time is at hand.
Ohio State has owned it’s fair share of Big Ten titles for 17-18 years. Michigan State had a nice little run in there as well. Jim Harbaugh was brought to be the savior of a university he played quarterback for in the 1980’s.
While the aforementioned Ohio State continued to win and as Michigan State continued to beat the Wolverines. Harbaugh did not flinch. Like a mad chemist he kept adding. a three star recruit here. A four star there. While releasing troubled players from the school.
Other teams kept winning. But history was on Jim Harbaugh’s side. History of building championship programs. He did it in college at Stanford. He did it in the NFL with San Francisco. Interesting both places fell on hard time when Harbaugh left them.
He accepted the Michigan coaching job. Upon his arrival in Ann Arbor he gave a warning. “It takes time to build a sustainable program. That is what I am going to do.”
He has done it. Never listening to the media, fans and critics. Sticking to his guns. Allowing other schools the false sense of security. When you have a coach who has accomplished as much as Jim Harbaugh it is a bad idea to fall for such thoughts.
Now the Michigan Wolverines football team is loaded. Not just for this season. But this is a return to glory. Michigan is here to stay. They will continue to grow and beat the teams that once “owned” them. Jim Harbaugh has done it under the radar.
Teams that were winning, he was building. Now Michigan is winning the recruiting battles. Players are not jumping at Ohio and Michigan State they way they once did. Those programs if they have not already soon will begin to feel the sting of Harbaugh’s work.
The kicker is Jim Harbaugh wears glasses that are a direct tip-of-the-hat to Woody Hayes. The former Ohio State coach. Sort of a shot at the school he beat 3 times in his playing days.
The Big Ten should brace for it. Michigan Wolverines football is back. With a coach that built the program the only way he knew how. His way.
Embed from Getty Images The team that began the season in South Bend against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is not the same team that just beat the Wisconsin Badgers. Jim Harbaugh has molded this team into a power again.
The Michigan Wolverines offensive line that was a sore spot last season has grown into a huge area of strength. Pass and run blocking has taken a huge step forward.
The defense is ranked #1 in the country. It was never going to be an issue. It is the linebackers that have shined the brightest. They swarm to the ball. This group is flat out nasty.
However, what has been missing from a Jim Harbaugh lead Wolverines team have been two key factors. Quarterback. Running back. They have had ok players at those positions. This year they have game- changers .
Quarterback Shea Patterson has been as good as advertised. Dangerous in the pocket, Patterson unleashed a new side to his game vs the Badgers. Shea Patterson, can run. He had an 81 yard TD that now puts fear in the rest of the teams on the Michigan football schedule.
Running back Karan Higdon has become a go-to player. Chris Evans was supposed to be “the guy.” However Evans has missed games due to injury. Giving Higdon, an opportunity to take control of the job.
This years Michigan football team has become a well rounded group. They have a big game Saturday vs Michigan State. It will tell us how far the team has come. Michigan opened up as a 7 1/2 point favorite.
Should the Wolverines beat Sparty. They will become the team to beat. Even over Ohio State who this year has a flawed defense.
This is what Michigan fans have waited for. A return to the limelight. The time is at hand
Embed from Getty Images After a week one meltdown in South Bend to Notre Dame. The Michigan Wolverines have bounced back. Only it has been against sub par teams yet again. That said Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has made adjustments.
Playing his college football at the University of Michigan under Bo Shembechler, Harbaugh understands the slam the ball mentality that he carries with him today.
The problem is when the defense crowds the box. Harbaugh still calls for the run. That all changed Saturday when Michigan hosted the SMU Mustangs. When the defense lined up eight in the box. Michigan passed.
It worked so well that Michigan running backs had a big day rushing the football. It seems the Wolverines coaching staff is coming to an understanding the fans have come to a while ago. The passing game and the running game need to compliment each other.
Even though it was against a lesser foe. The progress was much needed. Michigan still gets flagged for way too many penalties. And most are bone headed that can and need to be cleaned up.
With Big 10 play starting this Saturday it will be a better test as Michigan sees Nebraska invade Ann Arbor and the Big House. Adjustments are part of any sports. In game adjustments are critical to the outcome of games.
For the first time since taking over as head coach Jim Harbaugh has begun to make those all important adjustments. The offensive line still needs to be upgraded the tackles both right and left are still a sore spot on the roster.
It is now more interesting to watch Michigan football knowing the coach is going to make some micro moves to help his team. The days of running a play just because that is the one that was called appear to be over.
Michigan fans and media should know more after this weeks Big 10 opener.
Embed from Getty Images 1-6 in rivalry games. Including the 2018 game one loss to Notre Dame. No matter how you slice it that is unacceptable. Perhaps the expectations need to be lowered.
Jim Harbaugh should be on a burning hot seat. He was brought to Michigan to win big games and has not done it. No matter his “this is the beginning” comment he made after yet another loss to a ranked team.
Shea Patterson, looks the part of a solid quarterback. However, Michigan still can not run the ball. The offensive line looks the same it has for 4 years now. Bad. Horrible.
Jim Harbaugh wants to win his way. That is good and all. But his way clearly does not net the results. All the talk this offseason was centered around how improved the offensive line was and how good the defense was.
That is simply not true. Notre Dame sliced through the Wolverines defense. The team was flagged time and time again for all sorts of penalties. The offensive line was aweful.
Big mistakes have over-shadowed the Michigan football team for 4 years now. The fan base is uneasy. For Harbaugh to keep his job the team building needs to amp up.
The losses are mounting. 4 years in they should be easing up and the bleeding coming to an end. They are not. The bottom line is Michigan football is nowhere close to being a contender for anything.
That should not be the focus. The focus should be improving. All over the board. Jim Harbaugh, may find the heat turned up as the season goes on.
Embed from Getty Images Michigan Wolverines head football coach Jim Harbaugh is known for developing quarterbacks. As he enters his fourth season on the Michigan sidelines Harbaugh finally has his guy.
Jim Harbaugh, the quarterback whisperer. Sounds silly. Yet, look what he did at Stanford with Andrew Luck. Ok, that is not entirely fair. How about as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Colin Kaepernick. Before he refused to stand. Harbaugh, coached him and went to the Super Bowl. Jim Harbaugh left the Bay area and Kaepernick’s play took a dive.
In his time at Michigan, coach Harbaugh has been searching for his quarterback. Oh he did well with what he had. The Wolverines went to Bowl games. But now enters Old Miss transfer Shea Patterson.
Shea Patterson, is the best quarterback talent Harbaugh has had since the aforementioned Andrew Luck. Patterson though has a stronger arm. He can run. He does not turn the ball over.
Teammates, want a quarterback who is a leader. Jake Ruddock, Wilton Speight and John O’Korn ok quarterbacks. None none of which were leaders. In 2017 Shea’s last season at Old Miss he threw for 2,259 yards, 9 int’s with a QBR of 63.8.
In my opinion, Jim Harbaugh picked Shea Patterson over Brandon Peters for two reasons. Given the fact Michigan football has the toughest schedule in the Big 10 and Peters lacks experience and also the fact Patterson comes from the SEC and has beaten top programs it was a rather easy pick.
Brandon Peters will be the backup. Shea Patterson will be under center week one. September 1st when the Wolverines invade Notre Dame. Given the Michigan Wolverines #1 rated defense heading into the season. Patterson now gives the offense better balance.
As tough as the Big 10 East is. The Wolverines should give teams fits. It all starts soon. Hail to the Victors.
Embed from Getty Images Jim Harbaugh, brought in to be the coach to return Michigan football to the forefront of college football. For 3 years Harbaugh has been building his program. This season Michigan very well could unleash.
He is viewed as quirky. Known to throw a wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth on the sideline. Satellite camps for recruiting. Sleeping over at a recruits houses.
Jim Harbaugh has a terrible record against the Wolverines major rivals Michigan State and Ohio State. Do not be fooled. He is a brilliant coach. With the Michigan Wolverines nearly up to his specks it is only a matter of time before they catch their foes.
In his first two seasons at Michigan he lost a large amount of players. Yet, Harbaugh and his coaching staff managed to keep the team in most games. That should not be overlooked. I have little doubt Big 10 coaches know this.
Last season the Michigan Wolverines finished 8-5. Yet that looks like it will be a bridge season. To a brighter Michigan football team. This seasons schedule is brutal. Harbaugh has the track record and motivation.
Teams should enjoy beating Michigan right now. Because those days are about to come to a sudden stop. Jim Harbaugh enter the season ranked #14 nationally.
The Big 10 East, is a juggernaut. It should be a fun 2018-19 NCAA college football season.