I’m not certain if they “came out flat,” but after spotting 14-points to ND in South Bend, the air was definitely let out of the balloon. While never technically out of it, it feels more accurate to say they were never really in it. Even Ambry’s return didn’t get me all tingly, especially since I was still fuming over the momentum curbing sack on 2nd and goal from the 2 that left us with a field goal instead of what I feel would have been a game changer of a touchdown. But in general, Michigan didn’t look ready. Like they were in a new system and wanted us to bare with them during this transition. But this is not a transition year. This is not a young year. There’s nothing new. In fact, everything looked exactly the same as where we left it in Tampa. This is not what we’ve all been waiting for, which is something that doesn’t meld so well with offseason big talk and fancy trips to Europe. Continuing to say that you’re good when you’re not, or that you’ve improved when you haven’t, at some point catches up with you end up looking like the Iraqi defense minister.
And so it looks like the rumors of the shuttering of Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork have been greatly exaggerated…nearly as much as the narrative of a Return to Glory (Notre Dame TM) for Michigan football. Michigan has dropped 4 straight games, is 9-9 in their last 18, and hasn’t won a game of consequence in over a calendar year, right around the time of their last touchdown pass (seriously).
The natives are getting restless. This is disappointing at best, unacceptable at worst, and leads us down a road of compounding problems that make righting the ship difficult. Losses lead to criticism, criticism leads to an uncertain future coaching staff, uncertainty leads to recruiting issues, recruiting issues lead to losses…and round and round we go. The whole situation is enough to make you want to get drunk and tweet about 18-22 year olds.
While the defense was back on its heels for a good portion of Saturday, the more glaring problems are rooted in the offense, and more specifically the offensive line, a position that can’t be fixed with freshman, Shea Patterson, or apparently (though up for debate in a world of social media crowd-sourced Monday-morning quarterbacking) playcalling. Fortunately or unfortunately, over the next few weeks, the line will appear serviceable, perhaps even decent, as they face off against weaker opponents. Maybe that will help them gel as a unit, but more likely it will create a false sense of confidence leading up to hosting Wisconsin. And that’s assuming avoiding extra nails for the program’s coffin when we host Nebraska and go to Northwestern. It would be bordering on irresponsible to think that this team will look different by then. But that’s where the hope lies now, in what feels like the fat part of "not fucking likely."
Mental attitude of accepting losses has crept in. With every utterance of “our goals are still in font of us” the Wolverines get weaker. Can Michigan recover after trending down for so long? Can they get better even though all they’ve done since late 2015 is get worse?
Turning this around quickly will be the legacy of Jim Harbaugh now. While at hiring time championships were a matter of “when", now they are seemingly a matter of “if.” This is not the quick fix dominance that we desired. Those of us in the process of Staying for the last 15 years wonder just how long it might take to be Champions. But most of us will wait. And wait. Because it's tough to fathom the alternative. Scream all you want about his contract, his performance in "rivalry games," or his stubborn dedication to the offensive playbook. Jim Harbaugh is really the only person for this job.
Feeling trapped? Well keep your spirits up by remembering that the best seasons are born of low expectations, and this years expectations just got a swift kick in the dick.
Also, we best Penn State by 100 points in September a couple years ago and they went on to win the Big Ten. And OSU got rolled at home by Va Tech to start 2016 but went on to make the damn playoff.
Hey! Our goals ARE still in front of us you guys!
So let's have some fun, because in the end at least we didn't rape a basset hound. Everything else is gravy...sausage gravy. See you Saturday.