Fresh off of a disappointing 24-17 road loss to Notre Dame, many are penciling Michigan in for another lackluster campaign. While the loss was less than impressive to say the least, I am still very high on this Michigan team.
For starters, many were quick to make assumptions about the Wolverines defense, claiming that they have lost their edge. I saw quite the opposite. The Michigan defense consistently got the Irish into third and long situations in the first quarter and happened to lose some 50-50 balls. Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich hurried Brandon Wimbush all night, he just got some throws off that could have gone either way. Furthermore, the Wolverines surrendered just 69 total yards of offense and 3 points in the second half. Michigan’s defense is more than fine and will continue to be one of the nation’s elite units in 2018.
Another year another subpar Michigan offense huh? I actually saw it differently. I saw improvement out of a Michigan offense that could hardly move the ball last year. Michigan’s young receivers stepped up and looked more confident in their routes as the game wore on. Nico Collins had his coming out party with a 54 yard reception early in the 3rd quarter. Many have also criticized Shea Patterson, but his performance was actually solid. He was 20/30 for 227 yards and 1 INT on the night, which considering he didn’t get much help from his offensive tackles, is pretty impressive. If the tackles can gel with the rest of the offensive line, and the coaching staff decides to let Patterson take shots downfield, this could morph into one of Michigan’s best offenses in recent memory.
College football fans around the country are quick to say Michigan’s coaching staff is weak and they won’t improve with the current regime, but that’s utterly false. Yes, this loss I blame on the play calling but I still have full confidence in Jim Harbaugh, and Michigan fans everywhere should too. Harbaugh is two plays away from having a win over Ohio State and another win over Sparty, it is not like he isn’t even coming close. He’s been right there multiple years and just had a few tough breaks. Furthermore, Harbaugh took almost the exact same team that went 5-7 with Brady Hoke and went 10-3 with them. Harbaugh is the right man for the job and this staff has the program heading in the right direction.
If you are a Michigan fan already panicking, allow me to leave you with this. 4 of the last 5 Big Ten Champions already had a loss by week 4: Ohio State lost in week 2 at home to Virginia Tech and went on to win the national title; Penn State was 2-2 by week 5 two years ago when they won the conference; and finally, multiple times when opening on the road at a ranked Notre Dame, Michigan lost and went on to win the national title. I am by no means promising a Big Ten title or a national championship, but what I am saying is this season is far from over and Michigan still has the makings of a special team. All will be fine in Ann Arbor.