After last week's loss to Michigan State, I wrote about three alarming things that Jim Harbaugh said and people seemed quite interested in those quotes. That story wasn't supposed to turn into a series, but after another bad loss, Harbaugh again said some things that sent up red flags for me. During his post game presser yesterday, he again said several more things that are cause for concern.
1. "Yeah, I do [have confidence in Don Brown]. Very much so. I love all of our coaches, every coach and the staff. They work extremely hard, their schemes are really good and they coach them good."
Oy. The line about schemes in particular just feels so forced.
There's no way Jim Harbaugh believes that, right? He's not going to admit that he doesn't trust Brown in a press conference setting, but after seeing what we all saw against Michigan State and Indiana, there's no way Harbaugh believes in what his veteran defensive coordinator is doing, at least not with this group. It's simply not possible.
Michigan State's Ricky White and Indiana's Ty Fryfogle both had career days against Michigan's secondary as the cornerbacks floundered on islands all day long. When Brown did try to switch to a zone against the Hoosiers, everyone looked lost because the team simply doesn't run it or practice it enough. Michigan State's Rocky Lombardi and Indiana's Michael Penix Jr. both looked like All-Big Ten quarterbacks against Brown's defensive scheme. Whatever he's doing is not working and Harbaugh knows it, whether he'll say so or not.
2. "They're learning. They're learning how to do it, they're learning how to make those plays. Our guys are guys are strong guys, talented guys. They're guys who play really hard. Just being able to trust the fundamentals and the techniques. That's where we need to take the next step."
Sure, there were some young guys in there against Indiana — namely Zak Zinter and Karsen Barnhart on the offensive line — but "they're learning?" That's the excuse for losing to Michigan State and to Indiana by three scores?
This is year six, Jim, not game three. Brad Hawkins is a veteran. Gemon Green and Vincent Gray are third-year guys. Joe Milton is a third-year guy in year two in Josh Gattis' system. The defensive line is littered with veteran players. The linebackers are experienced guys. His sentence is filled with so much fluff and coach speak it barely makes sense, and that's after removing repeated words and "you knows" just to make it read better.
This is simply not what a big time coach says in year six.
3. "There was definitely a successful strategy for him to clap. He would look to the sideline, get their next play, come back again and as soon as we jumped, they would snap it. They would send two receivers on the outside down the field and one up the middle. It was a free play — could be close to 21 points, two touchdowns and kept drives alive. That was something that we worked hard on."
This is something Harbaugh has been doing over these past two games. He's asked about something and then doesn't really answer any questions. He just recaps what happens and then says something that's not quite accurate to close out his statement. He was asked about why the false clap gave the defensive players so much trouble and how they could cut it down.
We all saw what Penix was doing, I'm not sure why Harbaugh felt the need to give us the play by play, but that's all he did. He didn't address why it was so effective or hint at what can be done to fix it. I think he could've done a much better job answering this question because they did fix it. Michigan was much more disciplined during the second half and rarely jumped after doing it multiple times in the first half. I'm not sure why he didn't talk about that.
Then to say that it's something they worked hard on again, just makes them look incapable as coaches. If they did work on it, they didn't work on it enough or very effectively. Again, just a bizarre way to answer a question and another red flag in the grand scheme of what these coaches are doing or think they're doing.