MLive: Harbaugh – Blaming QB for struggles “low hanging fruit”

MLive: Harbaugh – Blaming QB for struggles “low hanging fruit”


October 18, 2017

Jim Harbaugh pushed back at people who have been criticizing Michigan’s quarterbacks (LINK).

Hit the jump for some good looking women, including a gif of Lindsey Pelas.

28 comments

  1. Comments: 502
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Oct 19, 2017 at 1:50 AM

    Yes. Coach Harbaugh is correct. Offense is complicated but lets ask the obvious question. If the run game is very good on a particular day and the passing game isn’t very good then what does that mean?

    If the qb has a bad day and the rb has a good day then how does that happen?

    I understand what coach Harbaugh is doing but can someone explain the above. Does it mean the line is just good at run blocking but bad at pass blocking. Does it mean the wr’s are bad? Should coach Harbaugh acknowledge that most of the offense is poor? If not, is anyone responsible for the performance. Are the coaches at fault?

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 19, 2017 at 2:08 AM

      defensive strategy is one answer.

      • GKblue
        Comments: 218
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        GKblue
        Oct 19, 2017 at 9:22 AM

        If I am reading you correctly that is exactly what he is doing. Coach speak defense of his QB. Low hanging fruit implies there is other fruit to be picked or in this case it just isn’t that simple (legitimacy to other offensive problems).

        LK, ” Harbaugh’s point seems to be that the problems run deeper than QB (not that QB is blameless.)” Agree.

        This does not feel comfortable to the fan who wants to look to the future and see Peters get some time. Or the fan who is absolutely flabbergasted at the play calling in a monsoon during MSU. Or the fan who isn’t happy about the development of our OL, etc.

        Fans bitch, that’s what they do. I have my concerns about the offensive coaching for sure. Coaches obfuscate especially in mid season that’s what they do..

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 19, 2017 at 11:41 AM

          I questioned the playcalling against MSU but it has to be acknowledged that they’re down 14-3 and the run game isn’t getting you anything but punts against the MSU D. You’re also coming off Purdue success.

          Throwing with O’Korn felt like the right strategy…at least in a dome.

          Likewise, playing conservative felt like the right strategy against Indiana.

          • Comments: 725
            Joined: 1/19/2016
            je93
            Oct 19, 2017 at 1:39 PM

            I get the logic in game planning, but three INTs, none forced by pressure or a great play by the D. JOK was off (understandable), and we should have adjusted. Get the first downs that are there, punt, and trust your D to get you better field position

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3600
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Oct 19, 2017 at 3:56 PM

              Agree gameplan should have been adjusted to account for weather. I’m just saying it was a rational approach and there’s an element of hindsight to this.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 3600
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 19, 2017 at 2:06 AM

    “That’s the facts. They’re stubborn.” – Harbaugh

    Good one.

    I wouldn’t use the phrase about fruit because while it is the easy way out, it also implies legitimacy. Harbaugh’s point seems to be that the problems run deeper than QB (not that QB is blameless.)

    This has been my point all year. You can approach it logically – why would a solid starter “regress” in an offseason? Why would his backup come in and also appear to struggle badly? Does it make sense that Harbaugh has lost his QB coaching skills – bonafide as bondafide gets? This week I read mgoblog’s take that keeping extra blockers in against Indiana was a sign of lack in faith in O’Korn – somehow, not the OL?

    People are tripping over themselves logically to blame the QB because it’s the easy explanation with an easy solution – bring in the backup. There is a much cleaner answer to the offense’s woes.

    • Comments: 502
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Oct 19, 2017 at 3:54 AM

      O.k. LK. I don’t think most people are laying all the problems at the feet of the qb. That being said, how would the offense be if the Oklahoma qb was starting for UM or the USC qb.

      Would it be better? I would think the offense would function better. So, as discussed in another thread, it’s that UM has a mediocre qb situation that exacerbates other offensive problems. If UM had run Evans and Isaac during the IU game because Higdon was hurt do you think UM runs for 271 yards? Does UM win the game?

      See a player can make a huge difference. Think Jeremy Gallon would make a difference on this team? Harbaugh is trying to protect an individual player. It’s what a good coach does. It’s a team sport but there is no question that the qb is the most important player on the field and which is why UM tends to struggle on the road.

      No matter how many rationalizations fans want to come up with, a good rb and qb are necessary to win at a high level in college. Put the Okla qb on this team and UM is undefeated and probably ranked #2 or #3 in the country.

      • Comments: 154
        Joined: 12/24/2016
        INTJohn
        Oct 19, 2017 at 7:15 AM

        Why stop with OK’s QB and No. 2 or 3?
        Exchange with Alabama’s entire roster & Michigan is ranked No. 1!

        Stop this ^. You play the game with who you have and great coaches can beat you with their team and then beat you with your team. This is the last of the transitional Hoke years and given the Offensive struggles of this year (which I attribute to COACHING) I think its time for Harbaugh to let go and move to the future with his recruits.

        At some point SOON! a QB other than Sp8 or Korn will have to play and its better if they (Peters?) has some decent amount of experience. The 3 games after PSU affords such an opportunity lest one desires to throw him to the wolves in South Bend to start ’18. Jus sayin.

        Regarding Harbaugh’s “That’s the facts. They’re stubborn.” Lol, this is the kind of keyhole response I would expect from someone who has no creativity, ingenuity or adaptive ability to invent their own world and re-shape Reality to its advantage as any evolving healthy Lifeform manages to do! More data for me to recognize that Harbaugh is simply a brainwashed football traditionalist! Haha.

        )……………INTJohn

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 19, 2017 at 11:13 AM

        I think Alabama has won some national titles with mediocre QBs. Oklahoma did work with Jason White at QB. You put talent around a mediocre QB you can make him look very good.

        The question with WS is if last year’s talent was lifting him up to his ceiling. I would argue not. I think this year’s talent dragged him down, because you also see it dragging down O’Korn.

        No way to prove this stuff. Circumstantial evidence. My argument is you think about what makes sense.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 19, 2017 at 11:10 AM

      I understand and agree that nobody is putting ALL the blame on the QB. It’s a matter of degree.

      Far fewer words are spent saying Ruiz needs to be starting because Kugler is mediocre at best or Filiaga needs to be in at RT. Even though Speight/O’Korn are far better players objectively than Kugler/JBB/Ulizio. Nobody is saying stuff like we’ll go undefeated if only we had OSU’s center.

      Scrutiny is not the same, which is understandable given QB is most important position.

      We saw Harbaugh replace a 5th year senior QB who is now a NFL backup with a RS Soph that nobody expected anything from – with very little to no dropoff in season performance despite a tougher schedule etc. We saw him work his QB magic, just last year. Did that disappear? I think any reasonable person says No.

      So the struggles this year. You stop to think. Does it make sense that these QB vets are both taking steps backwards because of poor coaching, lack of talent, whatever else you want to blame on them or their coaches? OR does it make sense that the rag-tag OL and young inexperienced WRs are simply not up to the job. Is it a coincidence that the positions where we return experience otherwise (RB, TE, FB) are the ones that look to be expanding their roles and abilities?

      That doesn’t excuse the QBs entirely of course. We wanted them to rise up. To carry the team. Some of their mistakes are entirely on them. But also every player makes plenty of mistakes.

      I have no answer to the Mayfield hypothetical. It is unknowable. Somewhere between his current numbers and Speights numbers you’d think. Maybe you think 90% towards the good and I think 10% above Speight. There are no answers. My opinion is that Oklahoma is a bit of a ‘system’ offense and I am not convinced Mayfield will be a special player at the next level. I plead ignorance but that’s my guess based on the majority of these Air Raid-type guys doing not much at the next level despite big numbers in college. So put him in a traditional pro-style offense with a OL that is among the worst at pass blocking in the country and one of the least efficient run games in the country and it’s a tall task. Better than what we have – yes. But you can play that game anywhere. Put Barkley in the backfield. Put Pettis at WR.

      Give me whoever the all american LT is and I would argue that’s a bigger game-changer. But all we want to talk about is Mayfield and Peters, because we fans (me, you, and mgoblog included) know jack about OL play.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 19, 2017 at 11:33 AM

      My confidence in the coaches (well, Harbaugh) is shook a bit but mostly about the failure of the 3 WRs in the 2016 class. Even that is mitigated by promising starts from Black and DPJ. But where is Martin and the others? And who led the charge on recruiting McDoom, Johnson, and Crawford? Fisch, Drevno or one of the Harbaughs?

      The big issue to me is still the one we were asking in the offseason. It’s Drevno’s chance to stand up. First 5 games looked like total failure. Run game progress against Indiana looked significant but it’s crazy to look at one game and draw conclusions.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 3600
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 19, 2017 at 11:36 AM

    Q for the board. Let’s say the gameplan was to mitigate JBB’s known weakness and strengths. This means a lot more run running. In pass protection this means a lot more TE/RB/FB staying in to block near him. Lets say fewer receivers going out, combined with a solid D in general but particularly an NFL corner on one side, made it harder to complete passes compared to Purdue. Let’s say coaches new this was a tall task of O’Korn so they kept it simple for him, not out of a total lack of confidence, but in acknowledging that his nature was to take risks make plays and that this wasn’t going to be the game for that.

    A hypothesis worth considering, IMO.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 19, 2017 at 11:37 AM

      Not really a Q I guess. Just a thought.

      • Comments: 725
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Oct 19, 2017 at 2:09 PM

        And your thought makes sense. Also agree on shaken confidence. I think we’re all there a bit, considering OTs, QBs, WRs, even RB. Compared to the success we have on D, the difference is in coaching (IMO)

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 19, 2017 at 4:02 PM

          Not to give Drevno and Hamilton a free pass but, I will play devil’s advocate for a minute.

          The D did inherit Hurst & Winovich & Mone & Furbush & McCray. That’s a helluva foundation considering Hurst might be a top 10 overall draft pick.

          The holdovers on O are Cole & Kugler (barely playable) & Hill/Poggi &…whatever’s left of Speight’s vertabrae.

          Again, not excusing the O coaches 3rd year in but that’s a difference in talent.

          Still – there’s no equivalent to Gary, Hudson, Bush, Hill, Metellus, etc. on the offensive side of the ball. Bredeson and Onwenu look good for sophs but then you’re talking Evans, Gentry, McKeon?

          • Comments: 502
            Joined: 9/13/2015
            michymich
            Oct 19, 2017 at 4:31 PM

            But wasn’t Peters supposed to be sort of a can’t miss qb? He is in his 2nd year. QB is a more complex position. What about Walker?

            I think the point you are making is valid but it’s not like there is no talent on the offensive side of the ball but they haven’t had big contributions from their guys. The defensive side has Gary and Metellus and Bush and Hill and Long who are all contributing in year #2 at a high level.

            • Comments: 502
              Joined: 9/13/2015
              michymich
              Oct 19, 2017 at 4:38 PM

              I agree that the defense was in a much better position to succeed LK. It’s true but that doesn’t explain the above players.

              In fact, why is McKeon and Gentry contributing or Onwenu or Perry from last year. It seems more likely that these guys aren’t being developed or were overrated to begin with by this staff.

              In fact, was Higdon being held back in the development area by not playing more last year? Although I agree with your points LK, a reasonable person has to wonder about the lack of development of clearly very highly thought of recruits in their 2nd year even outside of qb.

              I do for the record really like Harbaugh and don’t want anyone else. I do believe the UM offense is complex and will take some more time and I am willing to wait for further development.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3600
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Oct 19, 2017 at 5:05 PM

              That’s the point. Where is that elite talent on O?

              QB and OL — it takes time. OK.

              Walker, Crawford, Evans, McDoom — maybe around a few more cornerstone vets they look better. Maybe not.

  4. Comments: 502
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Oct 19, 2017 at 2:05 PM

    My main point is that teams with very good qb’s tend to do better offensively. Surprise. LK makes a good point about the regression of Speight which I think definitely had something to do with the OL but it still doesn’t explain why Speight was mediocre last year for the most part. Youth and inexperience?

    There is going to be very few teams that doesn’t have some sort of flaw on their team. A qb can either make flaws somewhat disappear or make them seem even bigger. I think Harbaugh was trying to say my qb is not entirely responsible for the struggles of my team but in fact his qb’s are not good enough.

    JOK at PU was a good example in the 2nd half of good qb play. Higdon made the offense look better. Guys handling the rock can make your team look better. A good OL and good wr’s can make everyone look better but there is no way around this, qb’s and rb’s are the most important guys on the field.

    The best qb I ever saw play for UM was Harbaugh. I remember him like it was yesterday. Do you know what made Harbaugh great? He didn’t have the biggest arm but he was accurate. What really made him great was his ability to scramble and make something out of nothing. He knew how to find his open wr’s. He was a very good qb. When he got hurt the team went down the tubes the one year because Harbaugh was covering up the other problems with the team. It wasn’t a great team but Harbaugh was very good if not great, hence they did well.

    Players make plays. Manningham was a difference maker. Edwards. I could go on and on. Maybe Higdon will become that guy. He was a difference maker on that last OT td run. A great play with lousy OL blocking. UM has struggled now for a long time because they haven’t had great offensive players. The only guys that come to my mind are probably Denard, Gallon, Junior, (maybe Fitz) and I wouldn’t put them in the category of Edwards or Manningham.

    When winning time comes, who is the go to guy? It wasn’t Darboh at Iowa. It was Higdon at IU. It was Grbac and Howard against ND. It was Henne and Edwards against MSU. It was Henne and Manningham at MSU. You can talk all day about balance and this RT and then LT which obviously help contribute to a consistently good offense but it’s the main actors. It’s the HC.

    What made Godfather I great? Was it Talia Shire and Robert Duvall or was it Al Pacino and Marlon Brando? Lol. 🙂 As in college football, somebody is the main character in the movies who makes or breaks the story. It’s usually a hero or villain. Somebody is the star. Hopefully Higdon becomes a leading man in this film of ours. How did you like the film analogy?

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 19, 2017 at 5:03 PM

      QB matters is not anything anyone would disagree with. I think the thing worthy of debate is how much blame the UM QBs should get for M’s offensive being woeful this year.

      These guys are both a lot better than Morris and Peters and McCaffrey. These guys were able to replicate the 2015 production of Rudock as a whole with basically the same personnel less Glasgow.

      “Speight was mediocre last year ” is revisionist history. Some call the 2015 and 2016 QB seasons mediocre others call that excellent. Semantics. Speight was 3rd team all conference Rudock was honorable mention. Not great, better than average. Speight had his ups and downs but they fell more in line with opponent strength and injury, whereas Rudock’s up and downs correlate with his time in the system. Maybe that means something but results are results. Great defense 10-3. Lost to OSU while barely moving the ball. Same.
      ————————–

      If you’re expecting Higdon to be a difference-maker you are going to end up disappointed I think. He’s a fine player. Like QB – not THE problem. But also not the kind of guy who carries the team on his back. Like QB.

      —————————

      You say OL is not a “main actor”. I disagree. It’s the foundation. Like QB you can win with a mediocre one, but only if you are great elsewhere. OL is why Stanford won and continues to win. It is why Michigan won under Bo and Carr. It is why Alabama can put anybody at RB and still rip.

      We need the OL to get better – it’s really that simple. The season hinges on it because we know we are going to be mediocre at best at QB. We know we have 3 quality backs but no great ones. We know WR is a work-in-progress. The OL is (or was) a disaster. Going from awful to OK is everything.

      Hopefully 2nd half of Purdue and Indiana indicate that is happening. I would not bet on it.

    • Comments: 725
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Oct 19, 2017 at 7:20 PM

      Points for the Godfather reference!

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 19, 2017 at 7:50 PM

      Harry Dean Stanton said anybody can be an actor as long as they have a good director. I think this goes for football. The actors get all the press (like skill position talent) but it’s the director and writer that make great movies (like OL & playcalling).

      So to answer your question – none of the above – it was Coppola & Puzo.

  5. Comments: 502
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Oct 19, 2017 at 7:10 PM

    OL is a main actor as in actors. Multiple. It’s not the leading man which goes to the QB and the supporting actor in the rb.

    QB’s make all the difference but we are splitting hairs. Speight was mediocre last year. Let’s leave that argument alone since we have gone thru the statistics presentation, etc.

    Speight was mediocre and is mediocre now. If you gave him a strong running game then I think he has the potential to be good especially with some good wr’s. Speight is always going to be faced with a big challenge which is his inability to be consistently accurate.

    Sorry LK. He was mediocre last year unless you want to focus in on RU. I will say he was better than mediocre during the Colorado game and maybe some others.

    Let me ask you this question LK. If Speight was good last year, based on your objective statistical analysis, why is it that most UM fans seemed to be disappointed with his performance. I thought Speight would start this year and will probably start next year but I wasn’t overly happy with his performance last year. It was because he was the best option by default.

    I can’t think of any ‘good’ UM qb that fans want to have him lose his job. It makes no sense. Why would I want to replace a good qb? The only thing that having Speight get injured showed is that JOK isn’t the answer. I want Speight with Higdon. Higdon is good. Speight is mediocre. That is where I stand.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 19, 2017 at 8:03 PM

      You say leave the argument alone but you restate it.

      “why is it that most UM fans seemed to be disappointed with his performance?” – because of how it ended.

      3 losses in 4 games. If Michigan D stops FSU or OSU at the end of either game, Speight is a hero.

      When you argue for skill position value, you are restating conventional opinion as fact. But there is significant evidence against this antiquated idea. For example: teams are paying RBs less and less and they are seeing them as disposable assets. Patriots were at the forefront of this but as NFL teams get smarter everyone is getting the idea.

      https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/running-backs-are-finally-getting-paid-what-theyre-worth/

      Best OL and TE now paid more than best RB. Hmmmm

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 19, 2017 at 8:19 PM

        Speight was a hero after Maryland.

        http://mgoblog.com/content/upon-further-review-2016-offense-vs-maryland

        Then he got hurt and faced 3 of the best Ds in the country. Led offense to comeback to take late leads against OSU and FSU that D couldn’t hold…

        Then his OL, WR, TE all left and he looked not very heroic at all. But still 3-0 with a good W against Florida.

        Then he got his broke back by OL incompetence.

        What’s next? You probably get to find out in Fall 2018. Lot of crying and moaning coming between now and then though… I’ll be back on the Speight-hype-train. Don’t worry.

        3/5 starters back on OL plus Frey year 2 plus Higdon, Gentry, McKeon, Black, DPJ, senior Perry. Awwww yeah…

        My bet would be for a top 20 offense if all those guys come back and Speight is starter. Minority opinon for sure.

        • Comments: 725
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          je93
          Oct 20, 2017 at 1:13 AM

          Maybe he was a hero on MGoBlog

          But a lot of knowledge fans–who either played it coached the position–had their doubts early on. From mechanics, & armstrength to consistency & being able to hit the flats, the signs were there that he’d struggle against half-competent D

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3600
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Oct 20, 2017 at 6:36 PM

            I guess so. I didn’t see those comments then.

            But yeah, any QB save the greats will struggle against excellent Ds.

            Speight was average against Colorado and Wisconsin (elite defenses) early in the year and very good against PSU. He was elite against the cupcakes. So that was the season until Iowa…where the wheels fell off.

            Then we have 3 wheels against OSU and then FSU – up and down games against elite Ds. Injury still a factor. Massive mistakes. But also brought team back to late leads that D couldn’t hold.

            So you get very good QB for most of 2016. You get awful against Iowa. You get wobbly but productive against OSU, FSU, Florida defenses. Statistically – average.

            Then you get well below average play against 2017 cupcakes with the qualifier that it is under heavy duress without much help.

            What does it all add up to in 2018?

            All-conference starter…if you ask me to guess.

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