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MnB staff roundtable: Rutgers week

Fix it now, or it won’t get fixed

Michigan v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Michigan isn’t good. Nothing will probably (immediately) change. They play Rutgers in a noon game. BTN’s tailgate show will be there, for some reason. This is commonly known as a “what the doctor ordered” game, but, do we have any confidence that anything will be worked on? One of the most frustrating Saturdays in all the years I’ve been watching Michigan play.

This week...whatever. Free range. Talk about the migration patterns of African Swallows if you want.

Dan P: I guess I’ll get this started off by talking about something much less interesting than African Swallows so far: the Michigan offense.

Gattis has so many weapons at his disposal, and quite frankly has laid an egg (pun intended) to this point.

I just hope and pray that he finds a way to get the ball into the hands of the most talented position group on the offense: the wide receivers. It is hysterical that Tarik Black and Nico Collins have totaled 18 receptions through the first three games. Those are two All-Big Ten talents that are not being utilized. Blame the quarterback and the offensive line struggles all that you want, but I still put the meat of the blame on Gattis.

Now, this is Rutgers. A team that Michigan should blow out of the water even if they wing it (still holding onto the whole African Swallow thing by a thread).

On both sides of the ball the Wolverines should throw everything at them and see what sticks. They need cohesiveness, stability, and a foundation to build upon to attempt to restructure this season. Finding what works is going to be the best way to do that, and Rutgers is the perfect test dummy.

Daniel A: *Puts on tinfoil hat* I’m not blaming Gattis. I’m blaming Harbaugh. Why? Well, two reasons: 1) I’m in denial that all my off-season hype has flamed out and 2) we’re still using two tight ends every friggin play.

I like Nick Eubanks. He’s a fine player. He’s probably a better weapon in the passing game than Sean McKeon is. However, he doesn’t block well enough for a tight end and isn’t fast enough to be a real difference maker on the outside. For me, I don’t see a reason why him and McKeon are ever on the field together. Neither is enough of a matchup problem to justify leaving Giles Jackson or Mike Senistril and Ronnie Bell or whoever off the field. Every single play, this team should have AT MINIMUM, three wide receivers on the field. You want two tight ends? Fine, go empty set. Christian Turner isn’t blocking anyone anyway so open it up.

The offense is a mess right now because the line can’t block, and Shea Patterson is clearly hurt. I don’t think Dylan McCaffrey or Joe Milton look particularly good this year either, so maybe those issues extend beyond Shea. I don’t know what the answer is, but short of an FCS team, there’s no better remedy than the yearly Harbaugh demolishing of Chris Ash.

I want to pivot to defense though because the offense was always going to be a work in progress, particularly early in the season. The defense is straight trash. They’ve played two opponents back to back who don’t really throw the ball, and have failed to stop either. Are the defensive tackles that bad? Did Devin Bush’s sheer talent cover up how slow and unathletic the rest of the defense is?

Why has Khaleke Hudson been unable to make the same impact he made as a sophomore? Did LaVert Hill forget how to play football while he flirted with the NFL? We can tie this section back to the offense. SO MANY GUYS look worse than they did last year or even two years ago. Is there a correlation between that and Harbaugh’s seemingly mellowed out attitude on the sideline? Where’s the fire from his first two years? Did JT’s spot and John O’Korn’s general talents just take it all out of him? Harbaugh looks disinterested and the team has played that way through three weeks.

Jay W: I could tell you the things I want to see from Michigan. My colleagues have made some great points. There’s identifiable things I want from the offense. I want the defense to shore up, I want fewer penalties, I want them to HOLD ON TO THE DANG BALL.

But more than anything else, I’d like to walk to the Big House, I’d like to meet my family inside the stadium, and I’d like to sit down and have a nice time. Maybe it’ll be a little nicer out than we expect in the morning and I can grab a beer (or so) at a friend’s tailgate on the way. Maybe I’ll get a hot dog at the half, or one of them monstrous milkshake things. Later in the season we might have to worry about MSU or Notre Dame or the quarterback situation or the coaching carousel or player unrest or something, but tomorrow we play Rutgers, and tomorrow I just want to have a nice time at Michigan Stadium.

We get, max, seven home football Saturdays a year. Some years it’s not even that many. I don’t intend on wasting one dwelling on last week’s performance. Certainly events on-field could force me to do so. But I’ll borrow from whatever self-help guru is in right now and focus on what I can control, which is my own attitude. It is always nice to be inside the Big House. I’ve lived here for four years now and I still get excited that I pass it on my way to the grocery store, that I can see it on my walk to work. I’ve had opportunities to be inside the empty stadium twice in the last couple of weeks and it just doesn’t get old. It is always nice to be inside the Big House. Despite the circumstances, I will do everything within my own power to make tomorrow no exception.

The season might not turn out the way we hoped it did. The program might not be in the place we thought it was. I can think about all of that on Monday. Tomorrow I’m going to put on my jersey and put the lucky bandanna on my cat, before talking a long walk down Pauline and watching football. I’m sure it’s going to be great.

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When I was just out of school, witnessing the worst era of Michigan football in the modern era, I still went to the games. I constantly reminded myself of one thing: look where you are, not everyone has a chance to see this six or seven Saturdays out of the year. That helped get me through some awful football games, but it also serves as a reminder that we still care even when we feel like it won’t get better...