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MMQB: “Bo Ball” is Officially Dead

Michigan’s archaic approach to the game has stagnated the program.

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Florida vs Michigan Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

To give everyone a look behind the curtain here, I want to explain how I usually write this column.

The moment I get to my computer after the game, I lay out my immediate stream of consciousness. I rarely use those thoughts directly, but they’ll create the framework from which I eventually turn into MMQB. I’ll pull some things from our group chat and Twitter and Reddit, but generally the main couple points come from my post-game word vomit.

Despite being primarily apathetic leading up to the Peach Bowl, I left the game feeling angry and disgusted with my undergrad alma mater. As I mentioned earlier, I like to tone down some of my post-game thoughts when I hit publish. At this point though, I’m so over “Bo-Ball” and all its Stans that I’m just going to come at y’all raw on this:

YOU ARE WRONG... Everything you cheer for sets Michigan back decades while everything you jeer likely represents progress in modernizing this program... I am angry, and I am tired of this garbage. I had to spend a good portion of Saturday watching Michigan get their butts handed to them by the style of football I grew up watching... The offenses of Dan Mullen and Urban Meyer are what I believe college football is at its best. It’s 3-4 wide receivers and a QB who is weaponized rather than held back.

I stand by every word there. Pro-style football is absolutely dead. While I don’t think Michigan needs to be running a Mike Leach air raid (maybe we should with these receivers actually), there’s no reason the offense can’t resemble Clemson’s or Alabama’s. Keep things “simple,” exploit matchups and open up the field. After surrendering over 100 points across the last two games, you’d think this staff would realize it’s time too, right?

The Game

I don’t have a whole lot else here to add that hasn’t been hit by others. Three years ago, Michigan smacked Florida in the Citrus Bowl, signaling Michigan was back and Florida wasn’t quite there despite similar records. Today, on the last day of 2018, the Gators are surging with Michigan apparently plateaued.

Florida’s defensive front gave the Wolverines fits all day. Polite and Zuniga occupied a ton of attention, opening up favorable matchups for guys like Adam Shuler and Cece Jefferson. The Gators racked up five sacks on the day and intercepted Shea Patterson twice.

One wasn’t entirely his fault, but the deep ball Chauncey Gardner-Johnson took back to the 50 was a terrible decision. I’ve defended Shea all year, but he got rattled in this game and stopped going through progressions, something that’s plagued every quarterback Pep Hamilton’s coached. He tried to force this one deep over the middle when he had Peoples-Jones with a step heading towards the pylon. That would’ve been the better decision.

Defensively, the Wolverines never looked like the better unit. Even in the first half, Florida had no trouble moving the ball. A curious decision to pull Emory Jones on one drive kept the game closer than it should have been. I have absolutely no explanation for Michigan’s garbage handling of the clock at the end there either. It was baffling.

Van Jefferson torched the Wolverines, and seemingly everyone who carried the rock for Florida did so successfully. Jordan Scarlett wore down Michigan’s front eventually leading to big runs from Feleipe Franks, Lamical Perine and Kadarius Toney. Bush’s presence in the middle covered up a lot of warts on this defense during the season, and his absence was glaring.

Looking Ahead

I am not in the “fire Harbaugh” camp or even remotely close to it. What I will say though is I have moved off the “there’s no one else” train of thought. I think the foundations of this program are solid enough again for someone to come in and be able to continue what Jim has built. Michigan is stacked with talent, has some really good recruiting pipelines built out and has the support of the administration and fans once again. Overall, the football program is in a spot likely envied by 100 other schools.

What frustrates me though is how “okay” that is for so many people. 10-3 seasons with exciting Octobers is really all that’s needed for many to be content. I don’t understand that viewpoint from a fan base that is otherwise incredibly proud, borderline arrogant. Since when do Wolverines accept goodness while others display greatness? That’s not what this school, nor this program should be about.

I didn’t grow up watching Bo Schembechler so I have zero personal attachment to the brand of football many Michigan fans believe to be “the right way.” The TV at my childhood home was tuned to Steve Spurrier’s Fun N Gun system. During high school, I saw Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen completely change the landscape of college football by proving spread concepts could work in a major conference when you have the right pieces.

Almost 11 years ago, I traveled up to Orlando and witnessed Lloyd Carr upset Meyer’s Gators in the Capital One Bowl by giving them a taste of their own medicine. Going up against a very young defense, particularly on the back end, Carr deployed more spread formations than Michigan had used all year, torching the Gators through the air. Chad Henne threw for 373 yards and a trio of touchdowns. Mario Manningham gobbled up 53 yards on the ground to go with 78 on five receptions. Adrian Arrington had nine catches for 153 yards, and the Wolverines had four different receivers top 60 yards in the game.

In total, they had three players (including Mike Hart) go over 130 yards from scrimmage. Many of us had hoped for a similar outburst Saturday, but Harbaugh never gave his weapons a chance.

I think we all know I’m beating a dead horse here, but Michigan has to change offensively. A name many will call for is Greg Roman. Once again, we’re seeing a team (Baltimore Ravens) with Roman on its sideline embrace and find success with a mobile quarterback. It’s a tail as old as time at this point.

Hamilton is neither innovative nor a strong enough personality to get changes out of Harbaugh. We forget sometimes Hamilton had somehow managed to get himself fired with Andrew Luck to pair with a lame stint with the Browns. That’s the guy this program made the highest paid offensive coordinator in the country. Yuck.

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Florida vs Michigan Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe change needs to come from above on this, but here are the names I’d like to see Michigan run at here to take the reins offensively.

  • Greg Roman - Baltimore Ravens assistant
  • Major Applewhite - Now-fired Houston head coach
  • Jeff Lebby - UCF quarterbacks coach
  • Jake Spavital - West Virginia offensive coordinator

I think Lebby has the highest upside of the four and Roman the least, but this would be my list. I’d be very excited with any of these dudes.

**Quickly, I am really torn on how to handle the defense. I love Don Brown, but woooof. Additionally, I believe Chris Partridge is the most important coach on this staff and a future coaching star. Eventually someone is going to pin him as their defensive coordinator. Last year, the athletic department opened their pocket book to keep him from Alabama, but the clock is ticking. (UPDATE 10:47 EST Sunday Night - Manny Diaz is on his way to Miami. I imagine Don Brown likely gets another strong look from Temple. Brown to Temple opens up the door for Partridge to take over)

Around the Country

Clemson vs Alabama IV with Tua vs Trevor I. There’s a reason I’ve referred to these two programs as “The Throne” all season, and Saturday night more or less validated that.

Alabama jumped all over Oklahoma early and was able to survive a heroic effort from Kyler Murray. OU put itself in a 28-0 hole early and was never able to get enough stops late to give themselves a chance. Meanwhile, in the early slot, Clemson throttled Notre Dame so badly, they pulled their starters in the third quarter.

It is pretty clear how far ahead of the field these two programs are. Dabo finally getting Clemson into elite recruiting territory tends to suggest that they’re not going anywhere, and we know Bama is Bama. What makes these teams so terrifying is that they’re doing what they’re doing with freshmen and sophomores at almost every major skill position on offense. I’d put an early bet now that these two teams meet in next year’s playoff as well. They’re lapping everyone besides Georgia, and the Bulldogs have a habit of getting in their own way.

This is the most excited I’ve been for a non-Michigan game in years.

Questions For You

  1. Who do you want to call plays next year?
  2. Is your faith in Don Brown shaken?
  3. How amazing is Jon Beilein?