Prior to last night’s game, I was already preparing this article for today. At the time, here’s how Joe Milton stacked up against the other 13 starting quarterbacks within the Big Ten Conference:
- 2nd in total offense
- 2nd in passing yards
- 8th in passing touchdowns
- 8th in completion percentage (4th when factoring in drops that were catchable)
- 6th in passer efficiency (4th when factoring in drops that were catchable)
Milton’s numbers through three weeks weren’t off the charts by any stretch, but they also weren’t awful. He had put together a relatively solid three weeks, and, statistically speaking, was easily a top five quarterback within the conference at that point.
Last night obviously didn’t help his case or his numbers
When it comes to Joe Milton specifically, he certainly shares some of the blame for what is now a lackluster body of work through four weeks. He’s been putting up the yards, but continues to struggle with accuracy, touch and decision making. His struggles have been magnified by an offensive line that has now lost every single starter from 2019, by a receiving group (particularly the tight ends) that repeatedly drop catchable balls and by a defense that is giving up just under 35 points per game.
Most (if not all) of the issues we are seeing play out on the field are things that can be corrected by a competent coaching staff and a group of coachable players who want to put in the necessary work to get better. I have no idea whether it’s coaching, whether it’s culture or whether it’s some combination of the two, but there appears to be serious lingering issues within the Michigan football program. The evidence of that dysfunction and/or disconnect is on full display every Saturday.
Being a quarterback at the University of Michigan comes with tremendous expectations. It also makes you an easy target when things aren’t going well. Unfortunately, the current problems at Michigan can’t be solved by Joe Milton, Cade McNamara or even Dylan McCaffrey (had he opted to stick around after falling to third on the depth chart). Top to bottom, this is a program that looks completely lost in every way imaginable.
As Jim Harbaugh himself put it last night during his postgame press conference, “We’re not in a good place right now as a football team. That falls on me.”