Opinion: Michigan Wolverines should change quarterbacks, not coaches


There was hardly a soul remaining in the rain-soaked Big House when the final whistle ended another disappointing performance by the Michigan Wolverines.

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A more than two-hour rain delay merely postponed the conclusion of Utah’s 26-10 defeat of the staggering Michigan football team.

The Wolverines need a spark if they have any hopes of salvaging a season already in shambles.

First it was the crushing 31-0 defeat at Notre Dame, and now this, a loss to a middle-of-the road Pac-12 team in the friendly confines of Michigan Stadium.

Two choices

Frankly, there are only two things Michigan can do.

One, Dave Brandon should fire Brady Hoke immediately and allow either one of the coordinators—OC Doug Nussmeier or DC Greg Mattison–to finish out the season.

Or two, simply change quarterbacks. Let Shane Morris be the starting signal caller against Minnesota, and move Devin Gardner over to wide receiver, where he’ll join the likes of Devin Funchess, Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Dennis Norfleet and Freddie Canteen.

Morris should start

Doing this would quiet the masses at least temporarily, and coach Brady Hoke would at least get until the Michigan State game to turn things around.

Worst case scenario is that Gardner returns to quarterback.

While a quarterback change might not satisfy the Hoke haters, sending him packing by athletic director Dave Brandon could backfire on more than one front.

Sep 20, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Devin Funchess (1) jumps to make a catch in the first quarter against the Utah Utes at Michigan Stadium. Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

First, Brandon could be seen as an AD with absolutely no patience.  Firing Rodriguez after three seasons, and Hoke after three-plus, might scare some potential applicants away.  Every coach wants job security,  so three seasons might not cut it.

No instant fix

Second,  Michigan’s program has been on a downturn for over six seasons. The luster of 39 consecutive winning seasons is beginning to fade at the box office. And hiring a new coach is no guarantee of instant success.

After Gene Stallings left Alabama in 1996, it took the departure of three coaches (Mike Dubose, Dennis Franchione and Mike Shula)  before Alabama settled on Nick Saban.

Notre Dame’s coaching woes followed the same path.  After Lou Holtz retired, Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham, and Charlie Weis passed through South Bend before Brian Kelly came aboard.

So it appears the wise choice is to allow Hoke to at least finish the season. As folklore has it, “Never solve a temporary problem with a permanent solution.”

This and that: Apparently, the feud between Michigan student ticket holders and the athletic department is still intact.  A few years ago, Brandon was displeased that students were arriving late, if at all.  Television cameras often panned the empty seats, showing a not so full Big House.

In what was perceived as retaliation toward the students,  Brandon switched the long standing reserved seating policy to general admission.

And even worse, he forced the student to get in line hours before the opening kickoff. Students didn’t like that either, so after back-and-forth bickering, Brandon gave in and brought back the original policy.

Apparently some students would rather watch at a sports bar, remain at home or simply remain at the tailgate.

Quote of the Day: Written on an ESPN blog  about an hour into the rain delay, an fan said: “This last 30 min is the best the Wolverines have looked all day.”

Not everything went bad: In his post-gamepress conference Hoke praised cornerback Jourdan Lewis, in addition to taking a friendly shot at the media:

"I think in the secondary, Jourdan Lewis played his tail off today. He may have played his best game. If you don’t write about the play he made to keep them out of the end zone, then you don’t know anything about the game, because that effort that he made from all the way across the field, I can remember Woody Hankins did that down in Ohio in 1996. Kept them to a field goal, and that was a 13-9 game. We show that clip every year of a backside corner doing that, and that’s what he did.”"

Jake Ryan stands out: In what was his best game since moving from SAM linebacker to MIKE, Ryan was his old aggressive self, making 13 total tackles, including three TFLs and one sack. He was quick to share the accolades:  

"“We filled gaps well today. I have to give credit to Matt Godin, Ryan Glasgow, Bryan Mone and Willie Henry. They did a spectacular job taking guys up and creating holes. That’s huge for us and huge for the linebacking core because we just have to go downhill and hit the ball. They did great, and I have to give them all the credit in the world.”"

Strange stats: In both losses this year, Michigan actually outgained its opponent. In Saturday night’s loss to Utah, Michigan had 308 total yards to Utah’s 286, and in the loss to Notre Dame, Michigan gained 289 yards to 280 for the Fighting Irish. Not exactly something to hang your hat on…

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Bolded players and coaches are linked to Sports-Reference, an enhanced statistics website.