ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan completed its second consecutive 10-win season but did so on a down note, with a 33-32 loss to Florida State in the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Landof10 is grading how Michigan (10-3, 7-2 Big Ten Conference) fared this season. In this installment, we examine the coaching staff.
In his second season, Jim Harbaugh returned the bulk of his coaching staff — only secondary coach Greg Jackson departed, to join the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys — and Michigan and its coaches set a goal for the program: to be a national championship contender. The Wolverines opened the season 9-0, the best start for the program since 2006, when Michigan entered its season finale against Ohio State at 11-0 and were ranked as high as No. 3 in the College Football Playoff poll.
The pieces were in place for Michigan to be a national contender, and, on another level, to win a national title. However, the Wolverines stumbled in their final four games, surrendering leads against Iowa and Ohio State in Big Ten games and against Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
And nowhere was a breakdown more evident than Dec. 31 in the Orange Bowl, when Michigan had no initial answer to Florida State’s speed, on offense or on defense. Michigan hadn’t seen a running back like Florida State’s Dalvin Cook — and had no way to truly simulate Cook in practices — and was initially overpowered by the strength and athleticism of Florida State’s defensive line.
Also, Michigan had a chance to assert control of the New Year’s Six game, yet instead opened conservatively on offense. Less than six minutes into the game, the Wolverines chose to kick a short-range field goal on fourth-and-1 from the Florida State 1-yard line instead of going for a touchdown that would have tied the game at 7-7.
But through the bulk of Michigan’s season, the coaching decisions were smart, strategic and put Michigan not just in position to capitalize on the opposition’s weaknesses, but to win — and to win by sizeable margins. Michigan won six of its 10 games by at least 33 points.
Michigan squandered leads in its final two Big Ten road games, a 13-11 advantage at Iowa with less than six minutes left in regulation and a 17-14 lead going into the fourth quarter at Ohio State. Also, Michigan lost three of its final four games by a combined five points, with the decisive tallies all scored in the final two minutes of regulationsor in overtime.
Michigan continued to emphasize its depth and the development of its younger players — a key in Harbaugh’s coaching regime at Michigan. While Michigan loses a sizeable senior class, and could lose linebacker Jabrill Peppers to the NFL draft, Michigan’s coaches have made sure its roster is, while younger, experienced.
Overall coaching grade: B-plus
Check out the grades for other aspects of Michigan’s season
Related: Michigan’s midseason coaching grades