Bye week not a week off for Michigan

Football


Depending on the outcome of Saturday’s game against Penn State, the bye week will either be viewed as an advantage or a disadvantage.

Win, and the week off allowed Michigan to heal up and Harbaugh & Co. to put together a dynamic game plan.

Lose, and the Wolverines will be accused of growing rust while reading their newspaper clippings.

“If you’re on it 100 percent, all day, it can mess with your head a little bit,” junior strong safety Josh Metellus said during media availability on Tuesday. “We practiced. We improved. It’s not a week off. But we don’t focus on football as much.”


Junior strong safety Josh Metellus seemed to enjoy getting his mind off football. Photo by Eric Coughlin


Much has been made of Michigan training hard through the bye week, but Metellus put football on the back burner.

“We catch up on other things in our lives,” Metellus said. “It keeps us calm, not overwhelmed. I like the bye week. Especially this season, already playing eight games. We’ve got a ton on the line.”

The bye week really couldn’t come at a better time. With Michigan’s schedule so back-loaded, an early bye week wouldn’t have been as useful. A bye week that splits Wisconsin and Michigan State from Penn State and Ohio State seems perfect.

“It was good to have some time off and relax our bodies,” redshirt senior nose tackle Bryan Mone said. “We’re one of the teams that’s working the hardest in practice during bye weeks. The intensity’s up there still.”

Redshirt senior nose tackle Bryan Mone says not much changed in practice during the bye week. Photo by Eric Coughlin

After bye weeks in the Harbaugh era

2015

October 31, 29-26 win at Minnesota:? This was the game after that game, “Trouble With The Snap” at home against Michigan State. Having a week off after that kind of mental trauma wasn’t the best thing for the Wolverines.

Michigan had some bad luck: Mitch Leidner suddenly throwing inch-perfect passes and a couple dropped interceptions by Wolverine DBs, but overall it was a disappointing effort. Michigan led the country at this point in points allowed per game (9.3) and yards allowed per game (210.6) then went on to allow 26 and 461 to an unranked Minnesota team whose coach had just retired due to recurring, persistent epilepsy (Jerry Kill).

Jake Rudock slid into a head injury and was replaced by Wilton Speight, who threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jehu Chesson with about four minutes left. The ensuing two-point conversion put the Wolverines up three.

The gophers marched down the field, and after some horrible clock management by new coach Tracy Claeys, decided to go for a QB sneak from the one-inch line instead of playing for overtime.

Michigan built a wall, Ryan Glasgow dominated Minnesota’s freshman center, Jabrill Peppers added some defensive push, and the Wolverines escaped with a three-point victory at night on the road on Halloween.

2016

October 22, 41-8 win vs. Illinois: Maybe one of the most nondescript games of the Harbaugh era, this post bye week win came after the 78-0 shellacking of Rutgers. Even playing against a completely overmatched opponent, Michigan looked good.

Speight was 16-for-23 for 253 yards and two touchdowns, Karan Higdon had eight carries for 106 yards and one score, Amara Darboh had five catches for 99 yards, and a future Wolverine for a split second, Jeff George Jr., went 4-for-15 for 95 yards, with one touchdown and one pick.

The starters were pulled after the third quarter, Michigan was undefeated and ranked third, and all was well in Ann Arbor for the next two weeks.

2017

October 7, 14-10 loss vs. Michigan State: What a clunker. John O’Korn threw for 270 yards against Purdue just two weeks earlier, and then the entire offense laid an egg against the Spartans after a week off.

The rain came, O’Korn was no longer the guy, Harbaugh didn’t seem to have another backup plan at that point, a young team showed its youth and the season unraveled. The Wolverines lost four more games after this one.


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