The Jim Harbaugh honeymoon, it’s safe to say, is over.
The Wolverines are 6-5 over their last 11 games and have lost two of their last three, including a 42-13 beatdown courtesy of Penn State this past Saturday.
College Football Playoff? Big Ten title? Not a chance. As of now, Michigan (5-2) is playing for fourth place in the Big Ten East.
Is Jim Harbaugh behind schedule in his third year in Ann Arbor?
“Yeah, he’s behind schedule. There’s no doubt he’s behind schedule,” Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “When I say schedule, here’s the schedule: Ohio State wins the national championship in Urban’s third year. James Franklin wins the Big Ten Championship in his third year. Jim has come in third in the East two years in a row, and it looks like him and Rutgers are going to play for fourth place this week. So he’s behind schedule. But more importantly, why? Why is he behind schedule? They had, what, 11, draft picks last year? So obviously Brady (Hoke) left him talent.”
That he did. A bad omen for Harbaugh: He is 25-8 at Michigan. Hoke had the exact same record through 33 games.
The Wolverines’ problems are offensive – and in more ways than one. They were held to 10 points in a home loss to Michigan State on Oct. 7 and were shut out in the second half in Happy Valley.
“I think their problems are quarterback play, offensive line, and tailback,” DiNardo said. “When you line up in the pro formation, like Wisconsin, you better have an offensive line. Wisconsin has one of the best offensive lines in the country, but Michigan should have a better offensive line. If you’re going to line up in pro formation (and) you’re an elite team, you better have a tailback like Jonathan Taylor and then you better have a quarterback.”
Wisconsin has that. Alex Hornibrook might not contend for the Heisman, but he’s completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 1,435 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Compare that to John O’Korn and Wilton Speight, who have combined to complete 55.0 percent of their passes for 1,310 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions.
“Hornibrook is a good quarterback, not a great quarterback,” DiNardo said. “But if you look at the personnel at Wisconsin, you say, ‘If Wisconsin, (which) recruits 2- and 3-stars can be built like that, and if Michigan can be built the way they are on defense, why can’t they be built that way on offense?’”
That’s a good question.
“So (Harbaugh is) certainly behind schedule,” DiNardo said, “and maybe the scheme has caught up to him. If he’s going to try to win games 14-7, 14-10 – which is what you do sometimes when you line up in that formation during a big game, (it’s tough to win). So yes, (they’re) behind schedule. Behind schedule for sure.”
Michigan hosts Rutgers (3-4) this Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.