119th in the nation. 1.76 yards-per-carry. The second-worst rushing attack in the country.
That’s the state of Michigan football’s running game after Week One.
As FOX Sports color analyst Joel Klatt points out, only one Power Five conference team had a worse metric — Louisville, who faced defending national champion Alabama in its season opener.
Now, Notre Dame’s defensive pressure, getting two sacks on quarterback Shea Patterson, along with a fumbled snap by punter/holder Will Hart took 32 yards off the board, but it’s still an alarming metric — especially considering that Michigan hasn’t mustered over 3 yards-per-carry in any of their big losses dating back to 2016.
Michigan just hasn’t been able to get the push it’s needed up front, which is surprising to Klatt and The Herd host Colin Cowherd. Jim Harbaugh has a track record going back to Stanford of establishing a power run game with an elite offensive line, but in his time in Ann Arbor, that just hasn’t coalesced at this juncture.
Both Klatt and Cowherd had picked Michigan to beat Notre Dame, so when the reality hit, it was shocking to both FOX Sports commentators.
“It was ugly, and the frustrating part, for those of us who have been watching his teams for a long time is that they didn’t have an identity on offense,” Klatt said. “Normally, that’s one thing that you would hang your hat on, that they had an identity on offense and generally it was surrounding quality offensive line play. And maybe not even quality offensive line, but dominant offensive line play, in particular in the run game.
“You (Cowherd) gave the stat a little bit earlier in your where you were wrong, 1.76 to 1.78 yards per carry — that’s terrible. In fact, only one other Power Five school averaged less yards-per-carry last week. You know who it was? Louisville against Alabama! That’s not the company you can keep if you’re Michigan! It’s just not!”
While being obviously critical of Michigan after Week One, after having been incredibly bullish on the Wolverines all offseason, Klatt did offer a caveat: we don’t know how good this Notre Dame team is right now.
Cowherd acknowledges that, just based off the eye-test, the Irish are much better than they’ve been in over a decade, full with NFL-caliber players. Klatt concurs, saying that, despite having a bad opening game, it could, in part, be due to Michigan going up against a team that might do some special things this year.
Still, he contends, one bad game doesn’t make for a bad season — or even tenure for Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
As he notes, looking back, the Wolverines were much worse off before his arrival in 2015.
“I think this is probably the best (Notre Dame) has been since (2005-06), when they were playing in BCS games, back in that era,” “I think Notre Dame is doing a heckuva job, and they could have a great season.
“And listen, for as much as we’re taking our lumps and Michigan looked bad, I would still maintain that the sky is not falling. He’s 28-12 at Michigan, Brady Hoke was 31-20. Against their rivals, Rich Rodriguez lost to their rivals by an average of 16 points. Brady Hoke by about 12 points. Harbaugh is right under 9.
“It’s getting better, but the frustration is that people want it to be great. And, right now it’s not. 9-9 in the last 18 is not gonna cut it.”
Watch the entire video below: