Michigan closed out the 2018 season is disappointing fashion Saturday, losing to No. 10 Florida 41-15 in the Peach Bowl. Here are our takeaways from the game:
Jim Harbaugh Gets Outcoached, Again
It’s a feeling Michigan fans have grown accustomed to, Jim Harbaugh being outcoached in games against top 10 opponents. Saturday was no different.
Harbaugh is now 1-10 against teams that finish the season ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll during his four years at Michigan. The only win coming in 2016 against Penn State, which wasn’t ranked at the time the teams played. The losses have come to Notre Dame (2018), Ohio State (2018), Penn State (2017), Wisconsin (2017), Ohio State (2017), Ohio State (2016), Florida State (2016), Michigan State (2015) and Ohio State once more (2015).
It’s disheartening, it’s infuriating and it’s mind-blowing.
What makes these losses worse is the lack of fight Michigan has given in these games. This year alone, all three U-M losses were disasters. Sure, the Notre Dame game’s final score was close, but the game itself wasn’t. Back-to-back blowouts to end a once promising season is a sour way to head into 2019.
The offense was abysmal.
The unit scored one touchdown, coming in the first quarter. The running game totaled less than 80 yards. The passing game was largely unimaginative and underused when the game was still close. The play-calling looked as bad as it was in last year’s Outback Bowl.
This is Jim Harbaugh’s offense. His pro-style schemes and play-calls. His “NFL style” of play.
Pep Hamilton hasn’t helped either.
Many wondered how badly Michigan really wanted this game. After all, the opportunity to reach the College Football Playoff or at worst the Rose Bowl was very much in reach leading up to the Ohio State game. Motivation is important for bowl games, and it seems Michigan didn’t have any.
Game management both at the end of the second quarter and throughout the second half was also poor. The Wolverines seemed to take the safe route at the end of the half, opting to settle for a long field goal and letting the clock run instead of pressing. In the second half, Michigan snapped the ball with just seconds remaining on the play-clock routinely, instead of running a faster-paced offense trailing by multiple scores. This is the type of loser-mentality coaching mistakes that Michigan fans won’t tolerate. Stop playing scared.
Dan Mullen ran circles around Harbaugh.
It’s better to feel angry than to feel apathetic towards these types of losses, but if the results don’t change soon, don’t be surprised if apathy kicks in.
Khaleke Hudson For Captain
Michigan’s defense didn’t have many bright spots. With Devin Bush and Rashan Gary not playing, depth was already a factor entering the game, but when Kwity Paye, Michael Dwumfour and David Long all got hurt during the contest, it made matters worse.
Chase Winovich stepped up with a number of big plays, but it was viper Khaleke Hudson that emerged as both a play-maker and leader. He made a key stop on a trick play, blocked a punt and was caught on camera doing his best to fire up the defense after allowing a touchdown on third and 20. It was a dismal day for Don Brown’s unit, again, (read in Mike Valenti 2006 rant style) but Hudson showed the emotion you’d expect in a future captain.
Side Note: Can’t wait for Dax Hill to arrive on campus. Safety play, particularly by Tyree Kinnel was, uh, not good.
Utilize Your Offensive Weapons
This seemed to be the overwhelming thought of every Michigan fan watching this game. Christian Turner finished with only seven carries, despite looking like the only back able to move the ball. Chris Evans caught only one pass. The stud wide receiver trio of Nico Collins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black combined for 166 yards on 15 catches and one score, but weren’t called on as often as they could have been. Three wide receiver sets featuring those three guys were rarely used as well, despite being the most talented receiving threats on the team.
Running a slow, pro-style offense just isn’t good enough anymore. Especially not when you have the type of weapons Michigan does or at least can’t keep opponents guessing. Runs up the middle are predictable and not very effective when everyone knows it’s coming. If the staff wants to keep using a pro-style system, there at minimum needs to be some creativity or other changes.
Eight months of frustration, speculation and anxiousness for football to return.
Expect to see at least one staff change on the offensive side of the ball, likely a new offensive coordinator.