The Michigan Wolverines hired Sherrone Moore last week to replace Jim Harbaugh, giving the now-former offensive coordinator and offensive line coach an opportunity to lead college football’s winningest program and the reigning national champions.
It was a fitting hire for the former assistant who recently completed one of the most successful on-field coaching interviews of all time. Michigan went 4-0, including wins over Ohio State and Penn State, while Moore was filling in for Harbaugh as he served two separate suspensions last season.
Today, we take a closer look at that four-game coaching stint and how Moore was able to prove himself capable as the next man up.
Week 3: Bowling Green
Moore finished off Michigan’s non-conference schedule in a 31-6 victory over Bowling Green. Moore’s offense did not look the part of a team that was favored by 40, but it was able to connect on some big plays to overcome three uncharacteristic interceptions from J.J. McCarthy.
The defense, on the other hand, was dominant. Michigan forced turnovers on two of Bowling Green’s first three plays after halftime to stretch the lead. On Bowling Green’s first series, Kris Jenkins intercepted a screen pass and returned it to the two-yard line, setting up a Blake Corum touchdown. On the next series, Jaylen Harrell sacked quarterback Hayden Timosciek and stripped the ball, leading to a James Turner field goal.
Looking back on that game, there were a lot of sloppy mistakes. In the big picture, Moore and the Wolverines did what they needed to do during Harbaugh’s final absence of the (first) three-game suspension, overcoming some necessary growing pains on their way to another double-digit victory.
Week 11: Penn State
It wasn’t until the day prior to the Wolverines’ top-10 showdown with Penn State that Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti handed down the second three-game suspension to Harbaugh.
Penn State got on the board first and became the first team to produce a first-and-goal situation against Michigan in the season — and this was in mid-November. Moore and the Wolverines were ready for it, forcing the Nittany Lions to kick a 21-yard field goal with 2:17 left in the first quarter.
Moore would revert to some old-school football against the team’s Big Ten East rivals, as he proceeded to run the ball on 32 straight plays, starting with the final two plays of the first half. The Wolverines ran for 227 yards in the 24-15 win, which was one of Michigan football’s most emotional victories of the season.
Week 12: Maryland
Corum scored twice, Mike Sainristil intercepted two passes, and Michigan became the first college football program to win 1,000 total games, beating Maryland, 31-24.
This one wasn’t so easy for Moore, as Maryland rallied from a 23-3 deficit and had the ball down just five points on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t until a Tommy Doman punt pinned the Terps deep at their own one-yard line with 4:10 to play that things started to get a little easier. Taulia Tagovailoa threw an incomplete pass under pressure in the end zone — resulting in an intentional grounding penalty and a safety — and that was all she wrote.
Michigan had a defensive touchdown and two safeties against Maryland, but the Wolverines allowed more points than they had all season in that game. Was it a sign of things to come for Moore and Michigan? Because up next was...
Week 13: Ohio State
The Game against the Buckeyes is one that earned Moore the “Michigan legend” title from Harbaugh following the matchup. In a game showcasing two of the top teams in the country, Moore made gutsy decisions to go for it on fourth down three times in the first half, while throwing in a trick play in the second half.
But he also made the easy/smart decisions, too. Michigan could’ve tried to go for it on fourth down to ice the game, but the Wolverines instead kicked a field goal to force the Buckeyes to drive the entire field for a touchdown if they wanted to win. Kyle McCord was eventually intercepted and Michigan fans stormed the field once again.
On the field, Moore made the right calls. Off the field, he kept the team focused in a pressure packed Saturday with sign-stealing allegations hanging over the program. Now, he is the new head ball coach at Michigan and fans everywhere should be excited about what is to come next for the program.