Take Two: What can be done about Michigan's offense?
Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and ESPN college football analyst and radio host Paul Finebaum have a long history of trading barbs - including Harbaugh calling Finebaum ‘Pete’ and the ‘SEC water carrier.’ Finebaum fired off again this week after the Wolverines lost to Michigan State at home last weekend.
Maybe the radio personality has a point this time.
“You don’t lose at home to Michigan State,” Finebaum said on the network. “You can win the offseason, but you have to win during the season and he has not.”
Harbaugh has actually won a lot into his third season at Michigan, a record of 24-7 overall and 14-5 in the Big Ten, but he’s 1-4 against rivals Michigan State and Ohio State and that’s not good.
The problem this season is the offense. The Wolverines had only 102 rushing yards (2.6 yards per carry) in the loss to Michigan State. Quarterback John O’Korn threw three interceptions. It doesn’t look like Michigan has any downfield playmakers.
Michigan’s defense is phenomenal and has bailed out an offense that’s averaging just over 27 points per game with a questionable quarterback, a running back that hasn’t emerged and an offensive line that was - surprisingly - handled by the Spartans.
So what can be done about it and are there more underlying issues to address?
FIRST TAKE: JOHN BORTON, THEWOLVERINE.COM
“Michigan's issues on offense involve multiple factors, but most of them circle back to one underlying problem: lack of continuity. So far, they lost to injury their starting quarterback in Wilton Speight and most talented receiver in Tarik Black. Speight was already trying to get into a rhythm with a new cast of wideouts, and now it's John O'Korn in that seat.
“Plus, the offensive staff has changed as well. Last year's quarterbacks and receivers coach, along with passing game coordinator, Jedd Fisch, is at UCLA. Pep Hamilton filled his spot and is more than capable, but it's additional change. With offensive coordinator Tim Drevno calling plays, along with Hamilton and Harbaugh getting the veto or final say, there are a lot of moving parts.
“Bottom line, they all have to figure out what they do well, and do it better, while a struggling offensive line develops.”
SECOND TAKE: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM
“Quarterback (is the biggest problem). I thought the offensive line got dominated in the trenches against Michigan State, which was really surprising. The offensive line was supposed to be something they could rely on at least for the running game. This comes down to being able to extend drives as a quarterback.
“They’re not taking care of the ball all that well. Ty Isaac put it on the ground. They haven’t really found their workhorse running back, which Harbaugh would prefer. No one has really stepped up and taken that job. A couple guys we thought would be excellent players this year haven’t taken that next step. And then you have mediocre quarterback play. That will be a recipe for disaster for any offense.
“Yeah, they lost their two leading wide receivers and they lost their stud tight end, but you still have to be able to beat the guy in front of you on the offensive line. You still have to be able to run the ball and you still have to have a downfield passing threat.”