For Harbaugh, The Clock Is Ticking

The clock is ticking on Jim Harbaugh.

It’s time to admit it. I never thought I’d utter these words, but the countdown clock has started ticking for Harbaugh. The way I see it, Michigan’s coach has two years to make it to a Big Ten title game, or it’s time to move on.

It’s difficult to put a time frame and a specific goal on a coach. But enough is enough, and it’s time to start holding him accountable.

As we’ve just ended year three of the Harbaugh era, the Michigan football program is nowhere near where any of us thought it would be. In fact, you could make a very solid argument that it’s actually worse than where he picked it up. Sometimes things just don’t work out like everybody hopes. And with each passing game, it’s looking like this is one of those times.

When Harbaugh arrived in Ann Arbor on Dec. 30, 2014, many thought the turnaround would take two-to-three years, myself included. But as we head into year four, we’re all still waiting for the turnaround.

Lack of Talent

Ever since Brady Hoke’s players have left, the amount of talent on Michigan’s roster has taken a significant nosedive.

You can make the argument Harbaugh’s recruited players are still young and developing. But for a head coach who makes $9 million a year and is one of the highest paid coaches in college football, one would think that development would happen faster.

The wide receivers still lack true pass catching and separation abilities. The safeties are still the easy target in the pass defense because of poor man-to-man coverage skills. And, the offensive line still struggles to protect anybody behind them.

The quarterback position, which is supposed to be Harbaugh’s specialty, has been abysmal ever since Jake Rudock moved on to the NFL. Brandon Peters, Harbaugh’s first big quarterback recruit looked average at best when he started five games for the Wolverines. He completed just 52-percent of his passes, contributed only four touchdowns, and threw two costly interceptions inside the red zone. In fact, the nine touchdown passes thrown by the Wolverines this season were the lowest amount for a Michigan team since 1975. That’s down right embarrassing for having a head coach who’s been touted as a “quarterback guru.”

Coaching Miscues

When former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs said that Harbaugh “didn’t know what he was doing” while coaching the San Francisco 49ers, I like many Wolverines fans thought to myself, ‘what is this guy talking about?’ But now I’m starting to question whether Jacobs is right.

Think of the coaching mistakes Harbaugh has made, and the list will be longer than you think.

Having gunners on the final punt against Michigan State in 2015, when the Spartans didn’t have anybody fielding a return as all 11 of them were going for the block? We know how that ended. Think of how many times in third-and-long situations with Michigan trailing have you seen them run a play-action pass out of the I-formation, you aren’t fooling anybody. Even in the Outback Bowl, when tight end Sean McKeon took a handoff on third-and-short and fumbled on his first career carry. Harbaugh later admitted after the game he probably should’ve called timeout to get the right personnel on the field. Yet, hindsight is 20/20. Or how about on Michigan’s final play when on fourth-and-one, all of the receivers ran deep routes, instead of short, quick slants.

It begs the question: what are you doing?

Sum It All Up 

This program is heading in the wrong direction.

And I’m growing skeptical Harbaugh can dig Michigan out of this hole. While the defense, who returned only one starter, held its own this season, the offense looked like a dumpster fire. At this point if former Mississippi QB Shea Patterson is granted eligibility, I don’t know how much he’ll help.

I’m weary how much better this team will be next year. Will the offensive line be better with possibly two brand new tackles, and a new center? That position group has a lot of pressure since there are question marks at almost every other position on the offense. Let’s not forget Michigan hasn’t had a high level running back since Mike Hart who has been coaching football for six seasons now.

Not to mention the schedule is tougher in 2018 than it was this past season. Michigan travels to both Michigan State and Ohio State, and kicks the season off with a trip to South Bend.

I heard an interesting stat this week that almost sounded unbelievable. Urban Meyer is 73-8 in his six years at Ohio State. Yet, Jim Harbaugh is 9-8 in his last 17 games. He is just barely above .500 in his last year and half.

Combine that along with the fact that Michigan is still nothing more than a chew toy for Michigan State and Ohio State this program is still on the ropes. So for Jim Harbaugh it’s simple: He has two seasons to get to Indianapolis or he should be shown the door.

Out of Bounds Detroit Episode 171: Mayo on Mayo

Dan, and Dave go as a duo today as Mike enjoys his vacation in NYC. What else is there to talk about other than the awful football that we had to witness all weekend?! Can we question Jim Harbaugh? His record is comparable to another recent UM coach. The Lions had a stinker on Sunday, but does it mean anything? Jemele Hill was suspended by ESPN for a ridiculous reason to date. And why are white people so butt-hurt and white all the time?!

Michigan Football Getting Into B1G Trouble?

As Big Ten play begins, little is known about the Michigan Wolverines. You can even make the argument that we didn’t figure out enough to make a strong prediction on how the conference season will shake out.

Even this week, on the road at Purdue, things could get dicey.

The Boilermakers look markedly improved under first year head coach Jeff Brohm, and games are always intensified in conference play. Sure, Michigan probably wins. But, I’m skeptical to think the Wolverines will “handle” Purdue. And don’t lie to yourself, going into the season we all thought this would be an easy win. It still might be. However if you were asked in August, over or under, Michigan favored by 10 over Purdue during the week of the game? All of us would have taken the over, and then some.

But, it’s not just the Purdue game that I’m rethinking. Two road games like Indiana and Maryland, I’m not looking at and thinking those could be big time trap games. Yet, Indiana might be the biggest trap game on the schedule. Not only is it on the road against a team that likes to throw it around, and has given Michigan (along with Ohio State) a hard time in recent years. But, it also comes at a terrible time.

Michigan travels to Bloomington after playing Michigan State at home. A Spartan team that has looked improved from last season’s debacle, hasn’t given up an offensive touchdown in two games, and always plays the Wolverines physical. The Indiana game also comes before Michigan travels to Penn State, a team that could easily find themselves back in the Big Ten Championship game in December. Coach Jim Harbaugh does a great job at keeping his team focused. But with such a young team, their eyes could end up looking too far ahead when taking the field against the Hoosiers.

You could say Penn State hasn’t had a tougher schedule to date than Michigan, but they also haven’t looked as sluggish either. Michigan looked mediocre against Cincinnati. The defense played well for the most part but the offense struggled to consistently move the ball down field. Running back Ty Isaac was the only bright spot.

In fact, Isaac has been the only bright spot all season. He leads the team in rushing and is averaging over seven yards per carry. He looks a little quicker and is shutting the haters up (present company included). I’m happy for Isaac and glad he’s playing well. Unfortunately his fellow running backs aren’t keeping pace.

This was supposed to be a big breakout year for Chris Evans, but instead has resembled more of a sophomore slump. The speedster who busted onto the scene last season is supposed to be one of the offense’s weapons, but he’s failed to provide any firepower. He’s averaging 3.7 yards per carry, worst out of the three main ball carriers, and fumbled in his limited carries against Air Force.

One thing not getting thrown around well is the football. Quarterback Wilton Speight has been average at best. His 54-percent completion percentage is alarming, and he isn’t always on the same page with his receivers. We really don’t know if he’s the best quarterback on the roster, but I do know Harbaugh is going to stick with him through thick and thin. Calling for his back-ups is pointless.

I’m not mad at Harbaugh for wanting to stick with Speight. Michigan isn’t a lowly NFL team that just drafted a quarterback with a top pick. This is a high-level college football team that has a chance to win its conference. If you aren’t sure the youth will put you in a better position to win, then don’t roll the dice. Besides those odds of winning the Big Ten took a hit this week when it was announced Tarik Black might miss the rest of the season after having foot surgery. Black has looked like the best wide receiver in the corps and can hopefully receive a medical redshirt to preserve a fourth year of eligibility.

The receivers as a group have to step up with in Black’s absence. Sophomores Eddie McDoom and Kekoa Crawford don’t look any better than their freshmen counterparts. The best receiver on the team this season, besides Black, has been by far junior Grant Perry. He’s done an excellent job in the slot and should become Speight’s security blanket. Speight is missing his old safety net in Jake Butt, especially in the red zone where the Wolverines have scored just one touchdown in 10 red zone appearances. Every other team in the Big Ten has at least 4 including Indiana who has only reached the opponent’s 20 yard line six times.

The Wolverines have been abysmal in the red zone and that has to change starting Saturday. It’ll be up to Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno to find more effective plays that’ll turn three points into six.

Staying Confident

While my skepticism for the season has gone up, I don’t think anyone should hit the panic button just yet. Some people have said that Harbaugh probably hasn’t fully opened the playbook yet, and that’s a fair point. But seeing the offensive struggle isn’t a good sign.

We’ll know a lot more about the Wolverines after they face Michigan State on Oct 7. That gives us a chance to see Michigan on the road in conference play against an up and coming team, and at home against the in-state rival. But if they continue to struggle in these two games (or even lose one), then I think it’d be fair to start wondering if they can beat the best in the Big Ten.

Out Of Bounds Detroit – Whose Got It Better Than Us? Not The Tigers

Dan, Dave, and Geoff go over the Tigers’ awful performance against the Twins, Jim Harbaugh’s music video and that ass, Paul Finebaum’s reaction to it. We give you our Turd Thursday, and a former NBA player’s wife checks his nuts when he gets home every day.