Jim Harbaugh has completed five seasons in charge of the Michigan Wolverines with consistent but not exciting results. He has amassed a .723 winning percentage with each year ending between eight and 10 wins. Though the maize and blue faithful may be hoping for something more, this is not the time to dwell on the negatives!
With plenty of time to kill during the offseason, join us as we review each of Harbaugh’s 47 wins as head coach of the Michigan Wolverines. While the losses do exist — and are often more memorable than the victories, unfortunately — they are not very fun to relive so I am skipping them because this is supposed to be a happy exercise!
Setting the stage: 3-1 (0-0 B1G)
Non-conference play went about as well as possible following a tough opening loss on the road against Utah. The three games after saw the Wolverines concede a total of 14 points while crushing teams on the ground, including a nationally ranked BYU squad. As a result, it was now Michigan who was ranked, sliding into the polls at No. 22. A 28-0 thwarting of Maryland would only continue to build the momentum.
1. Defense, man. Eight more tackles for loss, zero points on the board, and interceptions from Jeremy Clark, Desmond Morgan, and Jourdan Lewis. It might sound like a broken record, but again the opposing offense could do next to nothing against the Michigan defense; the Terrapins coincidentally had the exact same yardage as the Cougars the week prior, which was a grand total of 105 yards.
2. At this point in the year it was beginning to look like Jake Rudock just kind of is who he is. He stayed under 200 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and again it seemed like the Wolverines wanted to use creative play calls to unleash their weapons. Both Jake Butt and Drake Johnson had dynamic runs on short screens, the latter going for a score, and a 66-yard Jehu Chesson end around also resulted in a touchdown. When the quarterback cannot effectively get the ball downfield in the air, it makes sense to explore other avenues, and Michigan did that multiple times this game and earlier on in 2015.
3. De’Veon Smith missed the game with a minor injury, so Johnson stepped into the starting role. He carried the ball 13 times with a score on the ground and the aforementioned screen touchdown, and he proved that Michigan had plenty of options in the backfield. Ty Isaac did see a few carries as well, but did nothing with them other than fumble early on, hurting his opportunity to impress. While Johnson looked good against Maryland, the job remained Smith’s when healthy.
The offense did its job, but took awhile, only putting up a couple field goals in the first half. It did not matter though, as the defense was in lockdown mode, especially the defensive line. Maurice Hurst, Willie Henry, Mario Ojemudia, and Matt Godin combined for three sacks and a couple more TFLs while holding the Terrapins to just 29 rushing yards and applying enough pressure to lead to three picks.