Lost in Space

This isn't how masks work.

Well, I usually try to write a game recap/wrap up/column usually within 24 hours of the end of a game, but for reasons, that didn't happen this week. It's not that I didn't want to, or couldn't, but I've just been finding it difficult this week to come up with what to say.

I've been a Michigan football fan pretty much all my life. I'm not old enough to vividly remember the Bo era first hand...my fandom didn't matriculate until the Gary Moeller administration. My first game was against Houston in 1992. Tyrone Wheatley, with his gargantuan shoulder pads, opened the game with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown en route to a 61-7 pummeling of the lowly Cougars...thus spoiling me for the rest of time.

I've seen it all. Championship teams, rebuilding teams, strong teams, not so strong teams...players and plays that have captivated me, good coaches, bad coaches, highs, lows, and some serious head-scratching moments. 

But, 2020...man, this one's a doozy.

I don't know x's and o's as well as others that cover Michigan football. I don't know schemes and formations in and out like some others do...but I do know football. I've played football. Maybe not at the college level, but I grew up playing this game for years. I know the feeling of being prepared, and not. I know the feeling of being just better than the guy lined up across from me, and not. I know the feeling of winning, and not.

I know fundamentally good football. I know when a team looks prepared and confident. I also know when they don't. It's as clear to me as man vs zone. Look no further than one glaringly obvious stat...penalty yards. This year, Michigan is ranked 106th in the country with 73.75 penalty yards per game. That's just fundamentally bad football. That's a team that's unprepared mentally.

Football, like many other sports, on every level is equal parts mental and physical. Anyone who follows recruiting knows Michigan's got the horsepower to compete with almost anyone. Say what you want about Jim Harbaugh, the guy can recruit with the best of them and he's brought plenty of talent to Ann Arbor. Is Michigan thin in a few spots this year? Of course...every team is in some way or another. COVID has affected rosters throughout the country...from the top tier programs all the way down the line. Being thin at corner is no excuse for what we're seeing right now.

Michigan's got big problems. We're not talking x's and o's...we're talking about heart. We're talking about pride. Where'd it go? What is happening between these games? What's going on Sunday-Friday? Where's the preparation? Where's the competitiveness? It's gone.

I won't speculate on what's going on with Jim Harbaugh, but this is light years away from what the expectations were 6 years ago. There's a significant regression going on with his ability to coach this team in any meaningfully competitive way. You can blame the players if you want to, but that's barking up the wrong tree. 

This isn't simply lack of execution, this is lack of motivation. It's lack of leadership and preparation. This team is literally lost in space.

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