Let’s forget a few things right now before we look ahead.
National championship? Gone.
Big Ten championship? Gone.
A return to national prominence? Gone.
Lovefest for Coach Jim Harbaugh? Gone.
And one alarming, frightening, shocking statistic to throw out on the table for discussion before we proceed: 25-8. That’s Jim Harbaugh’s record at Michigan in his first 33 games as head coach.
Brady Hoke’s record in his first 33 games as head coach at Michigan? Yep. 25-8.
Harbaugh, 6-5, in his last 11 games, isn’t used to losing and his press conference on Monday wasn’t exactly filled with one liners and giddy laughter – from either side of the podium. This college football is serious business especially when the business includes a hefty paycheck for the head football coach.
There aren’t many, if any, thinking of a coaching change. That just will not happen. But there are some, a growing number after Saturday, ready to Bob Seger (turn the page) the season.
Harbaugh isn’t one of them, which is why he’s sticking with John O’Korn at quarterback. It’s called the best chance to win this week’s game and that’s where the focus in Ann Arbor is this week – on playing Rutgers at home on Saturday.
“(Brandon Peters) is readying himself to play,” Harbaugh said when asked if the backup quarterback has shown improvement in practice. “Every day he’s out there readying himself to play. …Backup quarterback always needs to be ready to play.”
Harbaugh felt O’Korn managed the game well, did a good job communicating and ran the offense very well in the team’s 42-13 loss to Penn State. The senior went 16 of 28 passing for 166 yards.
“There was some duress and plays we could have made, etc.,” he added. “We will go back and look at it and that’s what we are in the process of doing. Some good … and kind of a theme for our offense … some things we missed out there and some opportunities as well.”
O’Korn was sacked seven times against Penn State and he sounded like it after the game: “We’re 5-2, we’ve got a great team. We just didn’t make enough big plays tonight to come out of here with a win.”
O’Korn said what he has to say, and he may even believe it, but for all of us who watched that debacle on TV the word “great” is almost insulting. Give the fans and people who follow you a little respect and at least say “we have a better team than we showed” or something like that.
O’Korn may be part of the problem but he isn’t the only problem, not for a team that was outgained 506 to 269 yards in the loss to Penn State. Not for a team that lost at home to Michigan State. And not for a team that barely beat Indiana.
The young defense, especially in the secondary, was exposed by the talented Nittany Lions. Michigan’s offensive line was abused and Penn State’s secondary did a good job shutting down Michigan’s young and athletic receivers. There are plenty of areas Harbaugh and his coaches need to address this week.
The Wolverines aren’t exactly playing the goliaths of the conference coming up with games against Rutgers (3-4 overall), Minnesota (1-3 Big Ten) and Maryland (3-4 overall). Coaches like to say it’s a process so the process is still playing out. At 5-2 there is hope. We would all sign up for 8-2 heading into Wisconsin and Ohio State.
And with all this said, let’s remember a few things.
Starting quarterback? Hurt.
Roster? Very young.
Future? Back-to-back top five recruiting classes will eventually pay off on the field. And Harbaugh is still the right guy to get the most out of that talent.
The process? Ongoing