Phew. I saw people mentioning the 2007 Appalachian State game on Twitter. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about the 2013 game against Akron. As the game went along, I felt like Michigan was going to pull it out with a goal line stand or just an outstanding play by the defense. Not because they’re great, but because they’re better than Army. In that 2013 Akron game, Jarrod Wilson ended the game with an interception. In the 2019 Army version, it was Kwity Paye with a sack and a fumble.
Hit the jump for more.
No national championship is coming to Ann Arbor. Regardless of whether Michigan won or lost that game, this team isn’t winning a national championship. It’s not just about the ranking, either. Yes, Michigan will probably drop in the AP poll, but there would be plenty of opportunities to rise back up in the rankings. But this team has glaring weaknesses on the defensive line, on the offensive line, at running back, and in the coaches’ box. I’ll stand by my 11-1 prediction from the pre-season and take the heat for it when it proves to be overly optimistic.
The left tackle play was horrendous. Army figured something out about Michigan on passing downs that will need to be fixed. On passing downs, if you don’t send anyone at Ryan Hayes, he won’t block anyone. There are a few ways to attack young offensive linemen, and one is to paralyze them by not giving them anyone to block. Veteran offensive linemen know when to help someone and find work. Young offensive linemen are so terrified to miss an assignment that they will keep looking for someone to come to their gap. Army caused two Shea Patterson fumbles by leaving Ryan Hayes abandoned in space and attacking other gaps and running back Christian Turner.
Injuries are mounting. The lame effort against Army wasn’t due to injury. That’s no excuse, because obviously Michigan is way more talented at football than the Black Knights. But Michigan needs to get healthy, and fast. As of post-Army, Michigan was missing two (or three) starters on defense (Mike Dwumfour, Josh Ross, and Donovan Jeter) and three (or four) starters on offense (Jon Runyan, Andrew Stueber, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tru Wilson). When you start a season missing 5-7 starters going into Big Ten play, things are bound to get ugly. That doesn’t even include Shea Patterson, who looks shaky and unwilling to keep the ball on zone reads.
It’s time to retract your negative thoughts about Ronnie Bell. Everyone who was down on him last week needs to thank their lucky 3-stars that Bell wears a Michigan uniform. On a day when very few Michigan players showed up to play offense, Bell saved the day as the only reliable passing target. His 7 catches and 81 yards dwarfed the next highest totals in both categories (Tarik Black’s 3 and Sean McKeon’s 35, respectively), and he accounted for about 40% of Shea Patterson’s passing yards.
General offense complaints. The offense isn’t humming along, so I’ll lodge a few short complaints here:
- There’s no variety in the running game. If Zach Charbonnet is lined up on the QB’s right, the only place Michigan is attacking is up the middle or to the left. The QB has to be the option to the right, or there has to be some sort of jet or bubble or orbit motion to outflank the defense to the right. One reason I was excited about Mike Sainristil was his ability to run jets or at least fake jets, but there’s no speed threat to provide misdirection.
- 3rd-and-3 equals inside zone. Surprise!
- Get the ball to your guys. Michigan’s wide receivers have been hyped up all off-season, and Josh Gattis is renowned as a wide receivers coach. I don’t understand how the staff isn’t finding ways to get the ball to Nico Collins and Tarik Black. The “best wide receiving corps in the country” (according to some) touched the ball 5 times in a game that never got more than 7 points out of reach for either side.
Jim Harbaugh wants to be James Franklin. Are you in a tie ballgame with less than three minutes left? Are you within field goal range? Do you need 3 yards when you’re averaging 2.4 yards per carry? I have an idea! Run the ball up the middle instead of kicking a field goal.
The greatest trick Harbaugh ever pulled was convincing the world this isn't 3 yards and a cloud of dust.— Touch the Banner (@TouchTheBanner) September 7, 2019
Be careful what you wish for . . . Everybody wanted to spread out the ball and line up in shotgun with no fullbacks and no tight ends, but then Michigan struggles in short yardage. What’s the solution? There should be the ability to get up under center in certain packages. I’ll tell you from experience that the answer is not going shotgun to run inside zone with a short edge. There wasn’t much doubt that Army could get a 3rd-and-1 or 4th-and-1 at will. There’s no reason Michigan can’t have that as a possibility. That’s one area where Jim Harbaugh should have been a little more hands on with the installation of the new offense.
Zach Charbonnet thankfulness. It’s a good thing, too, that Zach Charbonnet signed with Michigan and healed up from off-season knee surgery. Christian Turner (3 carries, 20 yards) biffed a pass protection that turned into a fumble, and Ben VanSumeren had as many fumbles as carries (1 each!). Because Michigan’s offensive line made a habit of getting its butt kicked by slants and 260 lb. guys, Charbonnet had to churn out 3.0 yards a carry on his path to 100 yards on 33 carries. Those numbers aren’t gaudy, but he did manage to score all 3 of Michigan’s touchdowns.
Offensive line blergh. Between Cesar Ruiz not blocking anyone on inside zone to his falling on his butt for no reason, I’m not impressed. There has been talk of him leaving college early, but he needs to step up his play. The same goes for Ben Bredeson and Michael Onwenu. On the plus side, Michigan’s offensive line improved significantly throughout the 2018 season, but now it seems they’re back to square one.
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