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: 1-0 (0-0 B1G)
Michigan was not as convincing as hoped in the season opener, and a visit from Army was more likely to cause more unsettledness than calmness due to the Knights’ unique style of football. The No. 7 Wolverines continued to get in their own way and were extremely fortunate to escape with a 24-21 win that took a couple extra periods.
1. Service academies are never an easy matchup, but they become even more daunting when teams are unprepared. The Michigan offense was sloppy throughout, fumbling three times in the first half which led to the Knights’ 14 regulation points. The offensive line was way overpowered on two fourth down attempts in the fourth quarter, the second of which almost led to the game-winning field goal for the upset.
2. Shea Patterson was responsible for two of those fumbles and was shaky throughout. Though he did pass for over 200 yards, he missed a number of open receivers, including Tarik Black on multiple occasions and Nico Collins in double overtime. Patterson seemed to have opportunities to run on read options as he did so many times in 2019, but for whatever reason chose to hand it off almost every time.
3. The defense faced a tall task despite knowing what was coming and was adequate. Army managed 3.3 yards per carry, which worked given the Knights’ 3-for-3 effort on fourth down, but the Wolverines stepped up when they needed to, such as during a lights-out second overtime. The biggest play might have been a third-and-goal midway through the third quarter that would have put the visitors up 14. Instead, Lavert Hill picked off an ill-advised throw, and the Wolverines drove down the field to tie it.
Zach Charbonnet was not as efficient as the previous week, but he powered the Wolverines all afternoon. The true freshman hit 100 yards on the nose and plunged into the end zone three times for almost the entirety of the Michigan offense. His 33 carries were clearly not sustainable and did likely impact his usage going forward, but this game showed how willing the team was to rely upon the young running back.