Fumbles in Space

So, let's never do this again.

Photo: James Coller
Seriously. Never again.

Ever since the end of last season, when Michigan crawled across the finish line with back-to-back blowouts by Ohio State and Florida, and Army ended their 11-2 season on a huge high with a win over Navy and a 70-14 win over Houston in the Armed Forced Bowl...we knew this game was coming. And by "this" game, I mean a frustratingly ugly slugfest against an opponent that runs a system so unique and dumb that Michigan had to start preparing for it way back in spring ball.

Thanks a lot Dave Brandon.

I want to come on here and say nice things. On my rewatch this morning, I wanted to find the positives. Sure, there were some. Overall the defense played very well (and won the game, too). I thought Charbonnet played another great game. I thought the OL did okay at times...and not okay at times, too. I thought Shea had some nice 3rd down passes to keep drives alive. I still like the new look of the winged helmets.

I want to focus on nice things like that. But I can't. By halftime yesterday, this one was looking like another embarrassing Michigan loss in the making the likes of Appalachian State or Toledo. Make no mistake, if Army has a kicker, this game never reaches overtime and Michigan's season is plagued by a painful, ugly, embarrassing loss in which they paid $1.5 million dollars for.

This is year 5 of Jim Harbaugh at Michigan and I don't know what's going on with Michigan's offense. I'm not sure if anyone does. That includes the folks inside Schembechler Hall. We heard all offseason about #speedinspace. We heard about how Josh Gattis was going to takeover the playcalling and shift Michigan's offense into high gear this season. Like Doug Nussmeier back in 2014, Gattis came to Michigan from Alabama with all the hype a new OC could possibly have. And here we are two games in, and while I understand new offenses take time, I did watch LSU's new offense drop 45 points on the Longhorns in Austin last night. The chasm between what I saw Joe Burrow and LSU do and what I saw Shea Patterson and Michigan do is substantial.

Yes, Michigan won the game, which is ultimately the silver lining. But there are some serious concerns with this offense.

Shea Patterson, I hate to say it, is not the guy to lead this offense. I like Shea, he's got talent...no one disputes that. But there's something missing...an x-factor. He's hesitant. He's careless with the football. He's missing open receivers. He's scrambling when he doesn't have to. He's consistently overthrowing guys. In my opinion, he's never going to be the guy who is going to lead Michigan to a championship-type of season. And I don't know if Dylan McCaffrey is, but I think this bye week should be spent installing McCaffrey into the starting spot and moving forward with him as Michigan's QB.

Obviously, Lavert Hill's interception changed the whole game in one play. Army was driving, about to go up 21-7, which would've probably been a big enough lead to win the game. Hill's INT not only kept that from happening but gave Michigan new life and a shot to tie it up at 14, which they did.

Oh, where to begin. A lot of candidates here. Shea's overthrows, Shea's decision-making, Metellus's scoop and score that got blown dead, going for it on 4th down at the 19 yardline. Endless "full media" timeouts. Those are all solid choices. But clearly, it's the turnovers that stole the show.

Just like against Middle Tennessee State, early turnovers stunted Michigan's ability to get off to a good decent start. Shea's fumbles both this week and last week set the tone for the entire game. All of the sudden, an inferior opponent has visions of being the next Appy State because Michigan can't get out of their own damn way.


I don't really care what Jim Harbaugh says about analytics...at 10:00 to go in the 4Q, Michigan had a 4th and 2 at the Army 19. Kick the damn field goal. Get the points, take the lead, trust your defense. Analytics is a poor excuse. As a coach/OC you have to be able to read the flow and feel of the game, and make the correct call here.

And okay, fine, you go for it...maybe call something other than a zone-read from the shotgun. Charbonnet was hit in the backfield as soon as he got the handoff 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage. By this point in the game, no one, especially Army's defense though Shea was going to keep that ball.


Okay, yes, playing a service academy is fun...in theory. You get cadets in uniform, flyovers, a general sense of patriotism...all that stuff, which is good. But it's just not worth it anymore. Michigan has played Air Force a couple of times and now Army. Let's be done now, shall we?

Okay, this was cool...

This made me laugh...
Since everyone is comparing Michigan's OT win vs Army to Oklahoma's OT win vs Army last year...here you go.

Offense: Zach Charbonnet
Another solid performance from the true freshman RB. You'd like to see more than 104 yards on 33 carries, but still a good day overall punctuated by 3 touchdowns. Maybe his best stat is his zero turnovers...an oddity on this offense, it would seem.

Defense: Lavert Hill
Odd that a DB would receive the game ball in a game vs Army, but that just speaks to how absolutely huge his single interception was. If Army goes up 21-7...thats the ball game. The Black Knights made a huge mistake passing on 3rd and goal from the 5...and Hill made them pay dearly.

Special Teams: Jake Moody/Michael Barrett/Daxton Hill
Not a lot happened on special teams yesterday. But two big things did. First was the clutch fake-punt audible which I'm pretty sure was called at the line by the up-man Michael Barrett when he saw gunner Daxton Hill standing alone on the sideline. A great call and a great execution by both players kept Michigan's first touchdown drive alive. Not to be outdone...Moody's clutch overtime 43-yard field goal gave Michigan their one and only lead of the game, which were also the winning points.

More Army coverage from MBN: Game preview, STAT-O, Game photos

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