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Michigan in big trouble after triple OT win vs. Rutgers

Michigan needing regulation plus three overtimes to beat Rutgers speaks volumes about the state of the program.

The Michigan football program is at a new low.

No, it’s not the fact that they’ve started the 2020 college football season with a now 2-3 record. That’s somewhat understandable. Due to COVID-19 and the continually changing regulations, many good football programs are operating behind the 8-ball. And make no mistake about, Michigan still has a good football program. The problem is that their 48-42 win over Rutgers early Sunday morning doesn’t back that claim up.

Rutgers has not won more than four games since its first season in the Big Ten (8-5 in 2014). And for a Michigan program that, by its merit, considers itself an elite program, the way the win over Rutgers is no reason to brag.

Michigan, on both sides of the ball, resembled a team that lacked preparation. 

Michigan’s offense began the game looking confused and lost.

First, Michigan’s offense once again looked stagnant. And head coach Jim Harbaugh is to blame. He hired Josh Gattis as his offensive coordinator last season, and there is no resemblance of improvement or an identity. Michigan quarterback Joe Milton also has a lousy showing once again. In nearly every game this season, Milton has frequently overthrown his wide receivers, something fans saw again Saturday night. 

Along with making several egregious reads in the second quarter, his footwork in the pocket was subpar. While Milton is an incredible athlete, he’s shown again that he cannot get in the endzone through his passing. 

Granted, he threw for three touchdowns in a 38-21 loss against Indiana on November 7th. Even though the coaching staff benched him in the second quarter of Michigan’s win against Rutgers, that makes three games this season where Milton hasn’t had a passing touchdown. Even in the 49-24 season opener over Minnesota, Milton only had one passing TD.

He’s not the answer for the team at quarterback.

And it’s mindboggling that it took Harbaugh and Gattis so long to see that. Especially after the small performance of Milton’s back up last week.

In Cade We Trust.

Cade McNamara should be the starting quarterback for Michigan until further notice. 

Some people will say that McNamara only did so well because Michigan was playing Rutgers. Those same people will also try to insinuate that McNamara did so well because there was no tape on him. 

Both claims have a smidgen of validity but are also weak points. Very weak at that. 

Milton struggled severely against the same Rutgers’ defense for the reasons mentioned above. McNamara also didn’t do anything incredibly jaw-dropping that any team would cause a team to change its preparation. What he did do was what Gattis’ offense or any offense requires. He made great reads, showed poise in the pocket, put the ball where only his receivers could get it, and avoided taking big hits. 

As soon as he touched the field to replace Milton, the Michigan offense came alive. After finishing the game with 260 passing yards, four touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown, it became evident that he should have been “the guy” all along. His accuracy was also on point, completing 75% of his passes (27/36).

Right now, there is no indication that Jim Harbaugh’s job is in jeopardy. However, if Cade McNamara is not the starter next Saturday vs. Penn State, it should be a question. No one is ready to crown the Sophomore quarterback as a Heisman Trophy winner yet, but he’s got “the juice” now.

He’s the brightest spot right now in the Michigan program. Especially with the way the defense has played thus far.

It’s time for Don Brown to hang it up.

Suggesting that a man lose his job and livelihood is a cheap schtick that unfortunately is common in Michigan sports media. In the case of Don Brown, it’s a shoe that fits.

His defensive scheme is tired and non-existent. In each game Michigan has played this season, the opposing quarterback for ONE GAME has looked like the best quarterback in college football. 

Even against Michigan State’s Rocky Lombardi.

In the past three weeks, opposing teams have scored a combined total of 129 points on the Michigan defense. Along with that, they’ve allowed 1,414 total yards. That is unacceptable. And while it’s not cool to pile on kids, cornerback Vincent Gray looked like a deer in headlights for a few weeks. 

That’s Don Brown’s fault. 

Just like Harbaugh, there is no indication that Brown will be relieved of his duties anytime soon. If it were up to the Michigan fanbase, they would fire him before finishing this sentence. 

Michigan’s upcoming game vs. Penn State will be a test for the program. It’s either sink or swim for Harbaugh and Co.

While Michigan fans are sick of the team’s underwhelming performance, they still want to see winning football. Harbaugh will have to figure out how to turn this ship around. Or else, he’ll have to answer to a fanbase ready to turn on him.  

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