Welp, there goes another season where things ended on a sour note and calls for jobs echo throughout the Twittersphere and fan base. Michigan runs out of gas as it tries to keep up with Alabama in a Citrus Bowl loss to the Crimson Tide.
Michigan 16 – Alabama 35
1. Had Their Chance
Michigan had the lead at the end of the first quarter and the first half. The Wolverines were bullying Alabama in the first 30 minutes of the game. Gashing the Crimson Tide defense on the ground for 135 yards with a mix of Zach Charbonnet, Hassan Haskins and Shea Patterson behind what looked like a dominant offensive line. The defense showed up (after Bama’s first play) and held Alabama’s offense to just 205 yards and 14 points (that’s an accomplishment for any defense).
But three field goals (including a 57-yard bomb by Quinn Nordin) on stalled drives stopped Michigan from being able to pile up the much-needed points.
The second half looked a lot like a lot of Michigan’s bad losses over the last couple of years. Alabama turned it on and though the defense held up pretty decently holding UA to its lowest point total of the season (which included a TD run with 26 seconds left that looked like it was going to be a kneel down), the offense just couldn’t find a rhythm when Josh Gattis turned to Patterson to make the plays.
It was not a day to remember for the Michigan quarterback. He missed several throws, the majority of them on deep passes, a couple of which weren’t even in the right area code. That was a big reason why the underdog just couldn’t pull away in the first half and couldn’t keep up with the ridiculously talented Alabama offense in the second half.
2. So Long, Shea
It wasn’t the ending anyone had in mind for Shea Patterson’s college football career but all of the hate is a bit ridiculous. Yes, he had a bad game, never really found his deep ball during his college career, and never quite lived up to that five-star, Elite 11 MVP expectations. But the kid was Jim Harbaugh’s best option, played his heart out, passed both Harbaugh and Tom Brady in career passing yards, and won a lot of games for the Wolverines.
Getting drafted may not be in the cards but he’ll have the chance to win a spot in an NFL camp. So, cheers, Shea.
3. Good Not Great
Same old story for this century’s Michigan football program. Good, not yet great.
Jim Harbaugh has the program out of the toilet and back into that “damn near close” stage. A couple calls here, a couple plays there, and a quarterback that could hit a deep ball or two a game, and things would look very, very different for the Wolverines.
But those games didn’t go that way and that quarterback is still out there somewhere. Until that guy is found or some luck goes in Michigan’s favor, it may continue to be a good but not great program.
Jim Harbaugh will have to get it figured out if he wants to live up the lofty expectations to take the program to a place it hasn’t been since late 90’s. And yes, I still think he’s the best guy to get that done.
4. Should Be a Busy Offseason
Whenever the season has a poor finish, big offseason changes are likely. Add in today’s game featuring the transfer portal and it should be a very busy offseason for Michigan.
Safeties Coach/ST Coordinator Chris Partridge has already left for the Ole Miss Co-Defensive Coordinator job and there are plenty of rumors about LB coach Anthony Campanile potentially landing a DC job as well.
Partridge alone is a huge blow, especially on the recruiting side of things. Campanile would be another big blow on the trail as well as he’s a key commodity when recruiting New Jersey.
Could Harbaugh look to give Campanile a bump in title and pay to try to keep him in town and somewhat replace Partidge’s spot? Maybe promote defensive analyst Devin Bush Sr. to Safeties Coach? Or if Camp takes a promotion elsewhere, can Harbaugh find an ace recruiter and position coach to join the staff?
Following his hires last year of Campanile and Shaun Nua, I like the chances of Harbaugh finding a good replacement.
As for more offseason action, Michigan already lost OL Stephen Spanellis as a grad transfer and WR Tarik Black to the transfer portal, which will likely see a couple more names added over the next 2-6 months. That’s just the name of the game today, especially during the winter months and spring ball.
Michigan will also be dipping into the portal this year as well. Some names that have been reported to watch closely include Stanford DT Michael Williams and former Michigan commit and current Stanford OT Devery Hamilton, as well as the son of OL coach Ed Warinner, Michigan State LB Edward Warinner. Other names that have been mentioned by multiple outlets as potential targets include Stanford DT Jovan Swann and UCF DT Isaac Walker.
Get your popcorn and angry Twitter fingers ready. It should be an offseason full of movement.
Photo Credit: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog