There was plenty of excitement recently at the Big House in Ann Arbor for the intrasquad spring football game. As there were no admission charges to see the game, there were estimates as to the number of people who witnessed this football game. Estimates ranged from 35,000 to 60,000 fans. It’s safe to say that Jim Harbaugh was primarily responsible for this unofficial record turnout. The Michigan faithful were there to support Jim Harbaugh, his staff and players.
Although nothing definitive can be said about Harbaugh’s 2015 team, there were a few trends from that spring football game. Remember, Harbaugh was hired in late December and missed out on early recruiting. Of course it didn’t help that Michigan had a terribly poor season and the speculation that Coach Brady Hoke was going to be fired. As a result, Michigan lost the early opportunity in the recruiting game. However, Coach Harbaugh quickly hired a terrific coaching staff and is well on his way as far as recruiting for the 2016 season. So far, he’s done an admirable job with many exceptional recruits expected to arrive in Ann Arbor for the 2016 season.
Back to the spring game, where the defensive players from both squads excelled. As far as offense, there was only one touchdown scored. In fact, Shane Morris, according to Harbaugh, has the lead as far as quarterbacks, although that could change. Shane Morris played limited last year behind Devin Gardner and was the focus of controversy when he suffered a concussion in the Minnesota game in 2014. He was put back into the game prematurely, and Coach Hoke and athletic director Dave Brandon came under fire. One of the main problems last year was the pitiful offensive showing of the Wolverines. They simply turned the ball over too many times to the opposing team. So it’s not surprising, that a major problem could well be with the offensive production for this football season. It is true that a heralded freshman, a redshirt and a two-year starter transfer from the University of Iowa may help to solidify the quarterback position. We do know there’ll be competition, which is a good thing. Having passing coordinator/quarterbacks/wide receivers position coach, Jedd Fisch coupled with coach Harbaugh’s experience and expertise, suggests that this position might be a position of strength-perhaps this year.
For the offense to work, offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Tim Drevno will have his work cut out for him. It’s plain and simple that for the offense to score points and control the ball, it’s imperative for that offensive line to work effectively and efficiently. That means that running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley and tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh also will be part of the mix in developing players to implement the Pro style attack of the Wolverines. Good luck coaches.
The defensive side of the ball should be the Wolverines strength. Along with the knowledge of special teams coach John Baxter; defensive coordinator and linebackers coach D. J. Durkin; defensive line coach Greg Mattison; and defensive backs coach Greg Jackson and safeties coach Mike Zordich that Maize and Blue defense is more than likely going to excel.
Flashing back to late 1968, Bo Schembechler was hired as Michigan’s head coach. Bo replaced Bump Elliott. Even though Coach Bump Elliott’s overall record was eight wins and two losses in 1968; and further that Bump recruited an outstanding group of freshman that included Frank Gusich, Thom Darden, Jim Brandstatter, Mike Keller, Jim Betts, Reggie McKenzie and others. Coach Schembechler’s 1969 team didn’t come together until the second half of the sixth game of that season. Going into that game against the University of Minnesota, Schembechler’s Wolverines had three wins and two losses and they were behind at the half in that Minnesota game. They went on to win that game and won 23 of the next 24 regular-season games. With Bo they simply dominated their opponents.
Schembechler’s group of talented and exceptional athletes came together, as a team, during that game, as was evidenced by their success for the rest of the season and the seasons to come. In fact, Schembechler enhanced his player’s needs of competitiveness, achievement, affiliation, aggression, dominance and order, in part, by his spirited practices and his authoritarian personality. Not only did his players know that their coach didn’t play favorites and he treated everyone like dogs(his words), they began to repress their negative feelings toward him, and in the process created new mindsets and new ways of thinking about themselves, about their ability, about their coach and about the team. The rest was history and the legendary status of Schembechler created.
Don’t forget that Coach Harbaugh played under the legend Schembechler and as a result has incorporated many of his teachings. His success as a player; as a college coach, and as a coach in the NFL is well documented. I don’t believe that Coach Harbaugh can achieve the same amount of success as Schembechler did in such a short time, but he will be successful. Will the Wolverines be ranked in the top 25 and will they receive a bowl bid in 2015 is to be determined? But it’s safe to say, that I predict that it will happen when Coach Jim Harbaugh has successfully molded those University of Michigan football athletes into a cohesive team.
Go Blue Go!