Rinse and Repeat

Welcome to every Harbaugh season at Michigan

Well this is getting old. But far from unexpected.

Year 6 of Jim Harbaugh and this is where we're at. Roughly a .725 winning percentage but only three wins vs Michigan State and zero wins vs Ohio State. 

Jim Harbaugh is Jim Harbaugh. Michigan is what Michigan is. A good team...not great, and somehow consistently inconsistent. And they're never going win a Big Ten title or anything beyond. Jim Harbaugh was a great coach at Stanford and San Francisco. That magic clearly did not follow him to Ann Arbor. 

It's 9-4's and 10-3's from here on out, which isn't awful...but clearly not what he was brought here for.


So the Kool-Aide was flowing after Michigan's surprisingly big win in Minneapolis in week one. Joe Milton looked poised and confident in his opening start thanks to a stellar performance from the running game and the offensive line. Neither of those things were available to Milton in week two.

Michigan State, to their credit, did what they came to do. They keyed on the run all day and were able to contain Milton in the pocket. Michigan's offensive line looked overwhelmed because, well, they were. All day long, Michigan kept trying to get an interior running game going, and all day long, it wasn't there. At times, they'd get the ball out to the edges (where they actually had success) but not consistently enough.

Michigan State knew Michigan's most untested groups were their receivers and DB's and those were the groups the chose to make Michigan have to rely on the most. And it worked swimmingly. The Spartans controlled the game from the start and it all started up front on both lines. Were they perfect? No, MSU had some head scratching moments as well, but they stuck to their simple game plan because Michigan was never able to force them otherwise. 

The defense was what we've come to expect from a Don Brown defense...which predicates itself on getting pressure on the QB all the time...which they were able to do against Minnesota but not at all against Michigan State. And when you give even a mildly competent QB (Rocky Lombardi) enough time to go through his progressions against an inexperienced defensive backfield with minimal safety support...well, you get what we saw on Saturday.

But even then, Michigan was never really out of it despite their own errors. If we keep Milton in the game down in the redzone midway through the 2Q instead of going with the Haskins wildcat for those 2nd and 3rd down plays... I suspect Michigan scores and well, there's 4 more points and the win right there.

But even if Michigan was able to eke out a narrow win, it really wouldn't change anything. The issues would all still be there. And they will surface again at some point this season. And it's not on the players or their effort. It's coaching. We know that now.

It's a broken record under Harbaugh of Michigan looking good one week and frustratingly bad the next. Every year we get one or two games where we're all left wondering who we are and how can things be so terrible? For whatever reason, Michigan State seems to be the school that has given Michigan the biggest fits in that regard over the last 6 years.

If 2020 follows the typical Harbaugh cycle, expect Michigan to look much improved against Indiana and the rest of their 2020 schedule until Ohio State in the finale when the wheels fly off again.

Rinse and repeat.

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