It looked like Utah 2015. Seriously. The score was exactly the same too.
As bad as one could have thought Michigan would play on Saturday night at Notre Dame, it was worse. A good deal worse actually, and almost the entire fanbase is either on the ledge or have already jumped off of it. I'm already seeing legitimate "Fire Harbaugh" threads on message boards that aren't being funny or trolling.
Michigan did not look good against Notre Dame to start the 2018 season, there's no way to sugarcoat it. 307 total yards of offense with barely any of it on the ground due to the same struggles we've seen for awhile from the offensive line, questionable play calling, and a ton of stupid penalties that gave the Irish all the life they needed in the first half to salt the game away early.
I get why people are frustrated, because it was a very frustrating game. At no point did Notre Dame look like an unstoppable world beater. This wasn't shades of Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama hanging 51 on Louisville, this was Brandon Wimbush evading the pass rush like he was parting the Red Sea. He extended plays and the offense struck quick to immediately take control of the game and by the time they were ready to give it up, it was too late. Michigan had already given up itself.
The vaunted Don Brown defense was putrid in the first half. Absolutely putrid. Not only did it give up two long touchdown drives to the Irish on its first two possessions, there were also a host of completely idiotic penalties taken the whole night, from Josh Metellus arm bar to the head targeting penalty that saw him exit the game in the first quarter, to senior Chase Winovich's ridiculous roughing the passer call on 3rd down that kept the drive alive for Notre Dame to extend its lead. There were far too many mistakes made by what was supposed to be the most stout unit on the team and because of that, it felt like the offense was barely on the field, and when it was on the field all it did was avoid three and outs. It still didn't score a single touchdown until late in the 4th quarter when it looked like there was a chance Michigan could actually tie the game up, despite the abysmal performance it turned in to the entire nation.
It doesn't matter that the defense shored up in the second half because the terrible first half was insurmountable, and even though we expected Michigan's offense to be better this season, it still shouldn't be counted on to erase a 14-point deficit barely half a quarter into the game. Could it have though? Was the opportunity there for it to happen? Sure it was, but Michigan didn't take advantage of it and squandered way too many chances to put points on the board at every turn. It's something that we have seen for a full decade now with Michigan and it's getting serious, because it's not getting any better.
Yeah I'm writing this fresh off of the game without taking much time to reflect on it and I've already scanned Twitter and the Rivals message board looking for the giant pile of anger and full scale panic that has engulfed the fanbase, so this is absolutely an emotional reaction to the situation. I'm older now and learning not to jump off the ledge about these things because my life will go on no matter what Michigan football does, but I still have a reaction to it and I still have thoughts, and right now my thought is that maybe this program will never, ever recover from The Dark Times of 2008-2014. Maybe Michigan is a program that is not meant to survive or be even close to elite in the modern era of college football. Maybe no matter who coaches this team and how many changes are made in the offseason, it's going to be no better than 8-4 and 3rd place in the B1G East every year.
Or maybe I'm being too irrational about it right after it happened. Maybe I'm not giving Notre Dame enough credit for how they played and the fact that the game was in their house, a place where they have still never lost to Michigan at night. Maybe as talented as this team is, they weren't ready for a game like that to start off with and it's one of those reality check moments that they learn from and use to galvanize for the rest of the season.
Or maybe Jim Harbaugh really is overrated and can't do what we want him to do, which is to make this program elite. Four years ago we all agreed he was the one man that could heal all of Michigan's wounds from the Rich Rod-Brady Hoke era. Now after one game in 2018, I wonder if those wounds can ever be healed by anyone. It sure as hell doesn't feel like it right now, not after another complete debacle at the hands of a ranked opponent on the road.
Shea Patterson wasn't bad overall for his first game. He protected the ball in the first half, commanded the huddle and ended up going 20 of 30 for 227 yards. He threw a bad pick on the run in the second half and also had the game clinching fumble when he tried to escape the pass rush with under a minute to play in the game. He was in and out of the game for awhile with cramps it seems, but when he was in the game he was mobile all night and was running from the pass rush pretty consistently.
And therein lies the biggest problem yet again, the offensive line. It's pretty clear now for all of the people that were arguing if it was QB or OL that it's definitely OL that is the weakest link for this program. The tackles were giving up the edges to Notre Dame almost all night and most of the 58 yards total rushing that Michigan did gain was right up the gut with Ruiz, Onwenu and Bredeson, but even they didn't have a great night either and with that area of the team looking no different than it did most of last season, it's difficult to just chalk it up to Notre Dame's talent and proficiency in the pass rush. I don't even want to hear what Jon Jansen or Doug Skene have to say about it because it's not going to be good. Not at all.
This was about as horrific of a season opener as we could have imagined in this situation. The team looks no different than 2017, the coaching looks no different, the decision making looks no different, and now we as fans get to spend that first week after a game dealing with an angry mob of a fanbase and the rest of the rival fanbases chirping like little rats at our expense. The pundits will follow suit as well, echoing sentiments from Jason Whitlock, Mike Valenti and everyone else that loves taking potshots at Michigan out of classless hubris, and there's nothing we can do about it because there's too much history in the last decade backing that chirping up. We are seriously sunk right now and that's a horrible feeling that nearly makes you want to give up being a fan, because this crap is no fun at all. No one likes being the runt that everyone else makes fun of, and that's what Michigan Football is now, just one game into a new season.
I know it sounds like I've jumped off the ledge but I really haven't. I'm just venting. I know it was only one game and there's a minimum of 11 more to get things going, but the reality is that we shouldn't have to be saying that to anyone right now. We shouldn't have to be justifying the badness that is happening with this football program, after so much optimism and hope from an offseason that appeared to address every major issue the team had in 2017, but showed none of that promise in the first game of 2018.
Alright, I'm done ranting for now. Here's hoping the season does get better from here on out because otherwise, Michigan Football might truly be dead......for good, and that would be horrible.