LGHail’s Tales: Reasons to worry and reasons not to


LGHail is a Michigan athletics Twitter personality, renown nationally. This is another installment in his weekly series titled LGHail?s (Weekly) Tales. Every Monday, LG breaks down what went down the in the past week.

The more things change, the more they stay the same

Michigan made a slew of changes in the off-season.

New offensive coaching staff! New strength staff! New quarterback! But the result on Saturday was a continuation of everything we?ve seen in the previous 17 games ? a sputtering offense, missed opportunities, bad luck, and massive frustration.

Reasons to worry and reasons not to

Uh-Oh: The offensive line looked awful. They couldn?t pass block, they couldn?t fend off Notre Dame?s pass rush long enough to give Shea time to throw, and they were just plain whiffing on blocks. At times, the tackles looked like they were pushing the automatic handicap door opener for Notre Dame?s pass rush.

Well Maybe It?s Not THAT Bad: It was the first game under a new offensive line coach who comes in with high credentials. Plus OL play takes longer to gel. And don?t forget that OSU?s OL under Warinner looked really bad against Virginia Tech early in the year. Also, it?s possible that Michigan has more talented linemen who sat that game, because that stadium environment would have been the wrong way to bring them into their first start.

Uh-Oh: Michigan?s offense still looks like it hasn?t adapted to modern college football. This is one to watch for sure. When Nick Saban realized his offenses weren?t up to date for today?s college football game, he brought in a lot of consulting help and adapted to the high-speed principles of the modern era. Many criticized him for bringing in Lane Kiffin, but Kiffin laid the groundwork for the high-powered Alabama offense of today. Sure they recruit out of this world and they probably give most of their players new cars, but the point here is that Saban saw the big picture and took the steps he needed to take to adapt. Can Harbaugh win in today?s college football with fullbacks and tight ends, even against high speed defenses? Will wide receivers keep coming to Michigan even though a wide receiver hasn?t caught a TD in 12 games?

Well Maybe It?s Not THAT Bad: Playcalling is much tougher when you?re getting destroyed up front by the defensive line and blitz. It limits the ability to call medium and long pass plays. Plus it?s only one game. It?s too early to indict Harbaugh?s ability to win and generate a scoring offense based on one game in the post-Drevno era that took place in a hostile road environment.

Uh-Oh: Michigan only scored 10 points on offense. That?s such a low number, and it?s definitely a cause for concern. With all of the changes to the offense and bringing in a guy like Patterson, the expectation was for the offense to make a quick start. And that just didn?t happen. Other than Higdon?s big run, the rushing attack was weak the entire game.

Well Maybe It?s Not That Bad: The opportunities to score more were there. A botched FG snap, a few drives that ended prematurely on some missed penalty calls, and of course my stock answer that I have referred to a bunch already ? the offensive line needs to gel, and this was a tough environment to start a season in.

Uh-Oh: We expected greatness out of Michigan?s defense and didn?t get it. Michigan made Brandon Wimbush look like Cam Newton at Auburn during the first half. This is unusual, considering he completed less than 50% of his passes last year.

Don Brown?s defense was way too aggressive, and Notre Dame patiently used that to pick Michigan apart in the first half. Michigan fans would not expect Don Brown to get outcoached in the first half, but it happened. Michigan also noticeably missed All-American Maurice Hurst. The defensive tackles were getting manhandled, and the middle of the field was wide open for Wimbush to run through. It was bad.

Well Maybe It?s Not THAT Bad:?Michigan made the necessary adjustments on defense and only allowed a very nice 69 yards in the 2nd half. Unfortunately, the offense couldn?t make up the difference in that time. Michigan has plenty of time to fix the pass rush. Another bright spot was Brad Hawkins came in and played excellent in relief of Josh Metellus, who was injured. The play where he gave up the big touchdown, he was in perfect position but Finke just made an incredible catch.

Going forward

Michigan needs a big statement win on Saturday and I expect one. I think they have about a year?s worth of frustration pent up, and they will take it all out on Western Michigan, who is no longer able to row the boat back to Kalamazoo. I think Shea Patterson throws multiple TDs, I think they give the young guys a fresh look, and I believe they get a blowout win, 48-14. Yeah, that?s a big number, but WMU is pretty bad, and I still think Shea Patterson can lead this offense to high levels of production. If they struggle in this one, then we could be in for another long season.

Checking out the rivals

Michigan State looked awful against what should be a pretty bad Utah State team. They are 1-0, but it was a massive struggle. OSU is 1-0 and beat a cupcake, and since I?m on Pacific Time right now, I was thankful to sleep right through most of it. Let the record show that I don?t fault these teams for scheduling cupcakes for non-conference ball. I would do the same thing. The Big Ten East is loaded, and there is no reason to make the rest of the schedule even more tough.

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