The Wolverine

January 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 18 of 67

JANUARY 2021 THE WOLVERINE 19 Jim Harbaugh wasn't going to be the head coach, it's probably going to be a pretty good head coach, right? "At the end of the day, the kids that signed letters of intent to come to the University of Michigan now, it's really hard to say they have their priorities somewhere that you don't want them. They're coming to Michi- gan even with all the speculation." The priorities for upgrades are ob- vious, in Karsch's mind. They begin with both lines, and include the most scrutinized position on the field. "I would like to keep the offensive line intact and continue developing young players there," Karsch said. "They got a lot of snaps and a lot of reps this year. What they really need to do is eat and lift weights, and eat and lift weights, and eat and lift weights … "Same thing with the defensive line. I'd probably hit the transfer por- tal pretty hard to try and get some immediate help on the defensive line. And you need to figure out who your quarterback is going to be. "But they still have to sort out, what's going to happen with Joe Mil- ton? Where is Cade McNamara? Is J.J. McCarthy really in the mix? These are questions you've got to sort out. And the kids that are coming back? Just stay the course." He gave as an example Michigan's 49-11 home loss to Wisconsin, in which the Wolverines simply got run over. In that game, he pointed out, every starting offensive lineman for the Badgers was enjoying his fourth or fifth year in the program up at Madison. "Michigan had Carlo Kemp, who's an undersized defensive tackle," Karsch noted. "You need to get bigger, stronger, faster. That comes mostly with time. "These guys go through a lot, they do a lot, but the biggest thing is the jump from boy to man. That's what can really help them. That would be the number one thing that could keep them headed in the right direction. "You've got to win those battles in the trenches. They have the right material there on the offensive line. The defensive line needs help." Michigan's overall psyche needs a bit of a boost, after a 2020 season be- fitting the rest of the year. Wolverines like Carlo Kemp will remember, and those who stay need to rebuild. ❏ Redshirt freshman quarterback Cade McNamara replaced original starter Joe Milton against Rutgers Nov. 21 and led the team to a triple-overtime victory, throwing for 260 yards and four scores while rushing for another touchdown in a little over one half of regulation action. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL Numbers Tell The Story Of A Lost Fall Michigan wanted to play football in the worst way when its season hung in the balance. It didn't reach that literal nadir, but the 2020 campaign will never be one for the highlight reels. Here's a by-the-numbers look at how difficult it became for the Wolverines in a fall to forget: 0 Michigan victories at home this year. That had never happened before in the nearly 100 years (1927-2020) The Big House has existed. The last time the Wolverines failed to win a home game in a season was 1881, when U-M went 0-3, all games on the road. 1 Fumble recovery made by the Wolverines over their six games. That marks the fewest in modern Michigan football history, one fewer than the two U-M covered in 2015, the first season Jim Harbaugh coached in Ann Arbor. 2 Interceptions by the U-M this season. Michigan's previous low there in- volved five pickoffs in 2014. 2 Wins overall this year. The Wolverines hadn't experienced a season featuring only two victories since Bump Elliott's 1962 crew went 2-7. 2 Big Ten victories for U-M. The last time a Michigan team recorded so few was in 2009, with Rich Rodriguez's squad going 1-7 in the conference. 6 Michigan games played in 2020, with three cancellations. The last time the Wolverines played so few occurred in 1918, when they went 5-0, and claimed Big Ten and national championships. 28.3 Was Michigan's scoring average on the season, which ranked 66th of the 127 FBS teams that played this fall. It marked the lowest in Harbaugh's tenure in Ann Arbor. The last U-M team to average so few points was Brady Hoke's 2014 crew, which averaged 20.9 in his final season in Ann Arbor. 34.5 Was U-M's average points allowed this season, which ranked 95th nationally. It was the worst such mark of the Harbaugh era at Mich- igan, and the most average points given up by the program since the Wolverines surrendered 35.2 per game in 2010. 46 Opponents' success rate of converting third downs in 2020. That's the highest in modern recorded history against the Wolverines, slightly more than the 45 percent notched by foes during the 6-6 campaign in 1984. That, of course, is the same year Michigan's quarterback, Jim Harbaugh, broke his arm against Michigan State. 62 Opponents' percentage of converting fourth downs in 2020. Michigan does not keep this statistic in its records, but anything better than 50 percent would obviously make it very enticing for foes to keep on going. — John Borton

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