Mark Dantonio got win #110…while Jim Harbaugh got taken to the Woodshed

Dantonio Gets 110th Win

There are two prevailing stories, one is Mark Dantonio a symbol of continuity, consistency, and a builder of Championships by recruiting and developing under the radar players, while the second story is that of Jim Harbaugh a symbol of hype, disorganization and unrealized expectation, underachieving with a bounty of Top 10 recruiting classes.

Yesterday, Mark Dantonio won his 110th game by beating Northwestern 31-10 to establish a milestone as the winningest football coach in the storied football history Michigan State University. On the other hand, Jim Harbaugh got taken to the woodshed by Wisconsin, and go hammered on National Television 35-14.

Let’s start with the Spartans:

I said before the game that the Spartans revamped Offense needed a fix and fast, and the Spartans made an early statement.

On the first series, the Spartans methodically marched 75 Yards in 9 plays and scored a Touchdown after jut 3 minutes and 18 seconds had ticked off the stadium clock. At that point, so far, so good. But, thereafter the Offense struggled to find a rhythm, nevertheless the Spartans took a 14-3 lead into the locker room at Halftime.

But let’s give Northwestern credit, they are a consistently solid Defensive unit, as well as 2018 reigning Big Ten West Champions.

But the Spartans are bigger, and have more depth, and they eventually wore down the Wildcats. The Spartans increased their lead to 24-3 to close the 3rd Qtr, and then rolled to a 31-10 victory, yielding a single Touchdown to Northwestern with just 2:41 remaining in the game.

The Spartans Offense was efficient if not dynamic. They compiled 340 Yards of total Offense, at 4.7  Yards per attempt. They completed 18 of 31 passing attempts (58%)  for 228 Yards, with zero Interceptions. The Rushing Offense is still a work in progress inasmuch as they compiled just 112 Yards Rushing at 2.9 Yards per attempt. That’s not enough. I still believe the Rushing production needs to be in the category of 200 Yards per game to compete for Championships.

Nevertheless, Elijah Collins posted an impressive 76 Yards Rushing on just 17 attempts for an impressive 4.5 Yard average, including a Touchdown and no carries for losses. From my perspective, it appears the Spartans are testing a lot of options before they settle upon a fixed set of Running Backs as they get ready to dive into heart of the Big Ten schedule.

In that regard, 4 different Running Backs including Elijah Collins got chances, with the other 3 Running Backs posting just 22 net Yards on 13 carries for just 1.69 Yards per. Connor Hayward and LaDarius Jefferson got just 3 carries each, while true Freshman, Anthony Williams got 7 carries with marginal success yet, it appears Williams has upside and there is an attempt to get Williams into rhythm.

Defensively, the Spartan yielded just 266 Yards total, and just 140 Yards Passing.

I said before the game that NW, Quarterback Hunter Johnson would not find success throwing against the Spartans Defense, and he proved me right. Prior to the game, Johnson had completed just 43% of his passing attempts for a meager 110 Yards per game including 3 Interceptions. So, yesterday Hunter Johnson along with Aidan Smith combined to complete just 19 passes on 37 attempts (51%) for just 126 Yards and 3 Interceptions. Johnson and Smith were under relentless pressure and while the Spartans didn’t post a bounty of Sack’s, nevertheless they posted two Sack’s for minus 18 Yards (-18).

The Spartans continue to benefit by excellent punting from Jake Hartbarger, who continues to be extraordinary. As the Offense struggled at times yesterday, Jake Hartbarger hammered 6 punts for an impressive average of 47 Yards, with the longest being 55 Yards while two punts were downed inside the 20 Yards Line. Time and again, Hartbarger turned poor field position into a weapon for the Spartans.

Meanwhile, Matt Coghlin converted just 1 of 2 Field Goal attempts, and that totals 4 improbable misses in the past two games for Coghlin, but I don’t think Coghlin should get all the blame. The Field Goal is a process between Snap…Hold…and Kick, and if any part of the process is compromised, then consistency will be compromised. In that regard a problem has arisen in the process, I know they lost a long snapper due to injury, and it’s hard to know which part of the process has been compromised, but it needs to get fixed because Coghlin has been an undeniable weapon in the past, and he needs to be a weapon going forward.

The game wasn’t a gem of efficiency for the Spartans, but Northwestern is a formidable opponent, and inspite of 2 fumbles (1 lost) and 5 penalties fo r47 Yards, the Spartans seem headed in the right direction: 1-0 with Indiana coming to Spartan Stadium.

Michigan’s “Speed in Space” Offense is an unmitigated joke, and so is their Defense:

I wrote before Michigan’s game at Wisconsin that Michigan would get taken to the woodshed, and here is what I wrote:

Michigan will visit Wisconsin tomorrow in a referendum game to judge Harbaugh’s coaching credentials.

 As a friendly reminder, Harbaugh has posted an upside down record of just 1 win and 9 losses vs ranked opponents, and tomorrow Harbaugh will face #13 ranked Wisconsin. For their part, Wisconsin is 2-0 and has beaten their two opponents by an unprecedented score of 110-0.

 Moreover, Wisconsin ranks #1 nationally, in Rush Defense…Pass Defense…and Scoring Defense, and all in, Wisconsin ranks #1 nationally in 11 “key” statistics. That’s unprecedented and by my measure, Wisconsin is a Top 10 football team.

 The reason I mentioned Wisconsin’s Defensive prowess is the fact they will be facing Michigan’s vaunted “Speed in Space” Offense. But let’s make this clear, Wisconsin’s Defense will drag Michigan’s “Speed in Space” Offense all over Camp Randall Stadium tomorrow and when all is said and done, “Speed in Space” will look more like “Lost in Space”…and Harbaugh will be 1-10 vs ranked opponents.

Wisconsin took the opening Kickoff and marched 75 yards in 12 plays to post a 7-0 lead by controlling the clock for nearly half the 1st Qtr. Thereafter, Michigan fell behind 35-0 and stumbled to a 35-14 loss, leaving Harbaugh with a record of 1-10 vs ranked opponents underscored by the fact Harbaugh has never won a Championship of any kind as a coach at either Stanford or Michigan.

Let’s put to rest the notion that Jim Harbaugh is a great coach….heck, Jim Harbaugh is not even a mediocre coach.

In 8 years of coaching Power 5 football (4 at Stanford and 4 at Michigan) Harbaugh has never won a Championship of any kind, and other than running up the score on inferior opponents, Harbaugh has never won a game as an underdog.

In Michigan’s last 3 games vs Power 5 opponents, namely Ohio State, Florida and Wisconsin, Michigan’s vaunted Defense has yielded an “eye glazing” 138 points, or an average of 46 Points per game. Yesterday, Wisconsin rolled up an “eye glazing” 359 Yards Rushing, nearly 500 Yards total and Michigan was hapless as Wisconsin controlled the football for 41 minutes.

On the other side of the Line of Scrimmage, Michigan’s newly minted “Speed in Space” Offense needed 2 OT’s to score 24 points vs Army. And of course, in its first attempt to show off “Speed in Space” to the Big Ten world at Wisconsin, Michigan went scoreless for nearly 45 minutes then managed just 14 points after Wisconsin’s Defense took their foot off the throttle.

The “Speed in Space” offense was cobbled together by Jim Harbaugh and Josh Gattis, a bungled blend of competing ideologies, essentially an Offense without an identity, a feeble offense that posted just 9 Yards Rushing and Zero Points in the 1st Half. At the end of the day, “Speed in Space” posted a feeble 40 Yards Rushing, completed just 17 of 42 passing attempts (a hapless 40%) including two Interceptions while fumbling 3 times (and losing 2). Michigan now ranks #119 out of 129 Division 1 Schools in Turnover Margin with minus 1.33 (-1.33). So much for efficiency. The “Speed in Space” Offense is as bad as it gets.

Said bluntly: “Where’s the threat?”.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Jim Harbaugh and Josh Gattis have created two new carnival rides, one called “Speed in Space” while another is called “Lost in Space”. Go see them and enjoy the afternoon when Michigan Football appears at a Big Ten stadium near you!

At the bottom line, there is more to unravel about Michigan’s dysfunctional Football team, but we’ll leave it there for today and and we will write more tomorrow as we continue to track Harbaugh’s rudderless ship.