In case you went to bed Dec. 31 and are just waking up, it’s 2019 now.
Before you ask — no, nothing has changed with Michigan football. So far, that is.
We all thought last year was going to be the year Jim Harbaugh and company finally got it done. It was the year we all thought they’d finally beat Ohio State, went to Indy, won the Big Ten Championship and went to the College Football Playoff, inevitably getting their asses kicked by Alabama.
Instead we got another two losses to rivals and another embarrassing effort in a bowl game. It’s been Groundhog Day for two full calendar years. We saw some changes on the field in 2018, but not enough.
Here are a few New Year’s resolutions Michigan football should be aiming at in 2019 if they actually want to achieve their goals.
1) More RPO, options for Patterson
Adding Shea Patterson to the mix at quarterback gave the Wolverines something they had not had before under Harbaugh — a quarterback who is a threat in the passing and running game. It made for some different offensive looks, which was refreshing.
We first saw it under the lights at Notre Dame — Patterson handing off to Karan Higdon in an option look. It showed Harbaugh had full faith in his quarterback to beat opponents with his arm or with his legs.
The Wolverines were able to come back against Northwestern in large part because of Patterson’s running abilities. Had he not picked up huge first downs with his feet, Michigan may have dropped that game in Evanston.
And may we not forget this beauty.
The offense seemed to go away from these concepts as the season wore on, relying more on the ground and pound running game as opposed to what Patterson succeeded with earlier in the year. If the offense wants to take a leap forward in 2019, I’d recommend doing more of that.
2) Put Evans, other unique skill players in a position to succeed
I’d also recommend doing more of this: putting your athletes in a spot to make plays.
Running back Chris Evans was a great “lightning” to Higdon’s “thunder.” Evans is quick, shifty and explosive. He’s a superb athlete.
That said, he is not a bell cow running back. He is not going to carry the ball 30+ times like Higdon did. Save that for Christian Turner, Tru Wilson or Zach Charbonnet in 2019.
As I was watching the Sugar Bowl last night, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like for Evans to get the ball in space like the running backs from Texas and Georgia were. If you give a guy like Evans space to make a play, odds are he can make a guy miss, or juke out of a tackle and pick up additional yards.
Michigan’s 2019 recruiting class has multiple athletes built around these offensive concepts — Giles Jackson and Mike Sainristil being the two most talked about in that regard. They are coming to Michigan as wide receivers, and at 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-10, respectively, these guys probably aren’t going to be running deep routes every time they step foot on the field.
The offense has to evolve if the Wolverines want players like Evans, Jackson and Sainristil to succeed. They cannot waste another speedy athlete the way they did with Eddie McDoom.
If these players are put in a position to succeed, the Wolverines could have a shot at achieving their goals and beating their rivals.
Oh, and speaking of that...
3) Beat Ohio State
Please. For the love of God.