Harbaugh’s puzzling definition of stride will be challenged in weeks ahead

Football

ANN ARBOR — A win over a ranked opponent is typically a cause for celebration. However, following No. 19 Michigan’s 10-3 home victory over No. 14 Iowa, there’s hardly an ounce of positivity from the faithful.

The lack of amplified happiness within the fan base has little to do with the defense, which dominated the Hawkeyes’ offense and hasn’t allowed a touchdown in nine consecutive quarters. It’s the offense that’s the source for concern.

Justifiably so, as the Wolverines’ overly-hyped new “speed in space” schemed offense tallied 10 points in the first quarter — three of which came off an Iowa fumble in Michigan’s red zone — and then never scored again. It couldn’t establish the run nor the pass, averaging 4.5 yards per play and just over 3 yards per carry.

All that being said, had you skipped the game, never looked at the score, and rather only watched Jim Harbaugh’s press conference, then you might think U-M’s offense had a good day.

“I think we’re hitting our stride (offensively),” Michigan’s head coach said. “The way the offense has been practicing, preparing, I have great faith that they’re hitting their stride.”

Media and fans alike wonder what Harbaugh’s definition of ‘stride’ might be. Zero points from the nine-minute mark of the first quarter until the end of the game, including a red zone trip that resulted in three consecutive passes for a total of four yards might be along the lines of not in stride.

But who are we?

The team, after all, is the only opinion that ultimately matters. I could write 1,400 words on the scheme and what should be done — including, maybe, targeting your best players — but that wouldn’t change anything. And, you, reading this, could tweet out a thread of play calls you would’ve done differently.

But who are we?

This is the team … times three … and Harbaugh and Co. are convinced this is what’s going to work in the weeks to come.

With Notre Dame looming, Penn State awaiting, and rivalry matchups on the horizon, perhaps U-M’s stride is inevitable. Or, perhaps it’s impossible under new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis.

At this point, nothing is definitive, but a majority of it is suspect.

Should Michigan throw the ball 35-plus times a game to its insanely talented group of wide receivers unanimously regarded as one of the country’s best units? Yeah, probably.

Will any of us force that to happen? Nah, probably not.

Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan is exactly that. Jim Harbaugh’s.

Gritty, conservative wins, trusting the defense, and not caring about how sexy a win may look. Just getting it done and chalkin’ it up as a dub.

Has it worked in big games? Not often.

Did it work Saturday, at home, against the No. 14 team in the country? It sure did.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Because Michigan thinks it’s got a good thing going in all three phases of the game.

The slate only gets more difficult and more telling as the weeks go on.

Time to find that stride, Jim.

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