The Wolverine

February 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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FEBRUARY 2018 THE WOLVERINE 5   FROM OUR READERS Wolverine Football Hangover, brought on by fresh memories of watching a winnable game being given to the op- posing team. As Bob Ufer once exclaimed after a heartbreaking loss, "I just hurt in every ounce of my body!" These games have a reoccurring theme where our defense is dominat- ing our rival's offense but is forced to be on the field way too long by our of- fense's inability to sustain drives. A collapse is inevitable. Continually featured are intercep- tions and fumbles by our offense, blown assignments and bone-headed penalties in all three phases of play, and our quarterback staggering off the field after being pounded into submis- sion by the opposition's pass rush. After the stinging chagrin of real- izing that Michigan was the only Big Ten team to lose a bowl game began to wear off, I recognized that the other seven Big Ten teams weren't suffering from the same challenges that we are. I accept that mistakes will be made and momentum shifts are part of football in general, but total, irreversible melt- downs? Really? In this situation, most fans would have the knee-jerk reaction of blaming the coaches. I hate to be hasty about such a judgment. Until now, I would have endorsed an inscription of "In Harbaugh We Trust" on every Big House ticket sold. However, I look around the rest of our conference, and I see that most programs are gathering momentum (or in the case of the Gophers and Huskers, anticipating doing so). Is Michigan going to keep pace? We've all seen Urban Meyer turn young, inexperienced teams into winners. Harbaugh continually out- recruits Mark Dantonio, but which of the two is better at developing young players? I haven't noticed any prob- lems with the Spartans' offensive lines. When was the last time the Wol- verines boasted a dominant offensive line (arguably the key to winning)? The outfit Lloyd Carr sent in to protect Chad Henne? I can still see Jake Long carrying Mike Hart back to the huddle so Hart wouldn't trash talk until the play clock expired. Over the decades, Michigan has been able to claim the title "O-Line U." Remember Tom Mack, Dan Dierdorf, Bubba Paris, Jumbo Elliot, Steve Ever- itt, Steve Hutchinson, David Molk and Taylor Lewan? How long has it been since it was normal for our backs to run for 1,000 yards (Denard Robinson doesn't count; he didn't need blockers)? Ask Jim Brandstatter whether Coach Bo valued solid O-line play and who was his longest tenured assistant coach? He had the kindly, grandfa- therly Jerry Hanlon with his low-ceil- ing blocking technique cage to teach low pad height teamed up with the re- lentless Army drill sergeant Bo wield- ing a yardstick, not to hit players, but to measure spacing between linemen. No Wolverine fan needs me to point out that the pressure is on for 2018 to prove that we can beat ranked teams. I think Amani Toomer is voicing some valid points, and I trust Coach Har- baugh is listening. It's time to restore the fans' confidence in Michigan hav- ing smart, tough, high-character play- ers who can find a way to win. Lou Hoekstra Kalamazoo, Mich. Dear The Wolverine: Let me anticipate the upcoming 2018 football season with comments that some of us have already been pondering. The Notre Dame-LSU game was on during the Outback Bowl, but I saw enough of it during timeouts and commercials to know that Notre Dame would be a challenge even if it was not the first game of the season. Add to that, that it is a high-profile night game at South Bend, and we have to know that the atmosphere will be akin to the white out at Penn State last year. It may take a little more than the at- titude that Michigan prepares to win every game, and this game will be no different. It is time that Michigan brings an edge, some extra passion, some extra toughness or you name whatever else that coaches instill in players when an important game is in front of them. What is different about this game is that those indescribables that have been missing in key games for Michi- gan need to be resurrected. I hope the team and coaches can hardly wait to take the field for the 2018 season with the spark that was present when Michigan cleaned up on Florida in the 2016 Citrus Bowl. I want to see a team ready to play 60 minutes, ready to meet whatever adversity that comes their way. I want an old-time Michigan full- game, overcoming-every-obstacle ef- fort! Whatever the appraisal, I hope that is where the appraisal takes us. I have said my piece! Go Blue! J. Richard Jaconette, M.D. Battle Creek, Mich. Many of our letters, including a few that did not make it due to space constraints, had the same message, so we decided to respond en mass with a question to keep everything in perspective — how many college offenses would be successful when forced to play the quarterback who began the year third on the depth chart? Keep in mind the leading receiver was also lost in game three and it was known coming into the year this would be an attack reliant on youth in many ways. Those aren't excuses, just the reality of the situation. There is no denying the dis- appointing results on offense, so it is valid to question several aspects of the unit … but it also isn't time to give up just yet. Jim Harbaugh isn't — he is making changes to the coaching staff, and we're sure he's re- examining every aspect of his program af- ter an 8-5 finish (although if anyone thinks they are about to break tradition and open the doors of the preseason submarine to the media, they are mistaken). The Wolverines will be tested right away with a Notre Dame team that finished 11th in both national polls and is hosting a mar- quee game at night on national television. Fans are demanding to see changes, and we bet there will be a number of them unveiled Sept. 1, 2018, if not before. Michigan and Notre Dame will renew its rivalry in the 2018 season opener after not playing since a 31-0 victory for the Irish in South Bend in 2014. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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