ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh remained stone-faced in the wake of a 26-19 loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.
“There will be things to build on,” said Harbaugh, whose team squandered a 16-point lead in the second half on New Year’s Day. “I thought our guys played extremely hard. I thought they really played their guts out, and so did South Carolina. But yeah, we’ll … another year of the pursuit of excellence. That’s the way we’ll be looking at it.”
Pursuing excellence means making changes following an 8-5 season. Less than a week into the new year, Michigan’s offensive coaching staff is already taking on a different look.
FOX Sport’s Bruce Feldman reported that Dan Enos will join Michigan’s coaching staff in an offensive role, while Greg Frey is expected to join Florida State as its offensive line coach after less than a year at Michigan.
Michigan’s passing yardage plummeted from 2,756 yards in 2016 to 2,226 yards in 2017. The Wolverines surrendered 36 sacks (second to last in the 14-team Big Ten Conference), and lost two starting quarterbacks to injuries. Michigan’s top wide receiver registered only 307 yards, 555 less than its leading receiver in 2016.
The ensuing changes will be a reflection of the dissatisfaction with the current status quo of the offense.
The Enos effect
Michigan hasn’t designated Enos’ responsibilities yet, but his offensive background will certainly serve the Wolverines. Enos’ forte is quarterbacks. He is a former Michigan State quarterback who grew up in Dearborn, Mich., and was Central Michigan’s head coach from 2010 to 2014. He was also Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach and Michigan State’s quarterbacks coach, and was Arkansas’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the last three seasons.
Arkansas finished seventh in the SEC in passing yardage per game in 2017 (205.42 yards); Michigan finished 11th in the Big Ten in passing yardage per game this season (171.2 yards). If Enos is to work directly with the quarterbacks, and if the NCAA approves Shea Patterson’s transfer waiver, Enos will have the opportunity to work with Patterson, Peters, redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey and incoming freshmen Joe Milton and Kevin Doyle.
Michigan’s offensive staff, as of Friday afternoon, includes Enos, Tim Drevno, offensive coordinator/offensive line coach; Pep Hamilton, assistant head coach/passing game coordinator and Jay Harbaugh, running backs coach/co-special teams coordinator. Jay Harbaugh’s contract expires Jan. 10.
What’s next for the offensive line
Whoever replaces Frey as Michigan’s tackles coach/tight ends coach/run game coordinator may have his title or his role simplified. But whoever takes over the offensive line will have his work cut out for him.
The Wolverines offensive line was inconsistent in 12 regular-season games. Michigan allowed 22 sacks, and 86 tackles for a loss of 306 yards.
“We’ve got to block better,” Michigan center Patrick Kugler said after a 14-10 loss to Michigan State on Oct. 7. “We’ve got to do a lot of things better. I don’t know how many times (John O’Korn) was sacked, but we’ve got to protect better.”
Two injured starting quarterbacks is a poor reflection on the offensive line, and on the people who coach the offensive line. Michigan needs an offensive line coach who can instill discipline and who can meld it into an effective — and an efficient — unit.