Michigan football made a big thing of handing its offense over to Josh Gattis in an attempt to modernize its attack. This weekend's Wisconsin game showed that Jim Harbaugh's team still has many of the same issues that have plagued it since he took over.
On Saturday, Wisconsin opened by marching down the field with a 12-play, 75-yard drive. Jonathan Taylor punched it in from a yard out to score.
Michigan's answer did not go quite as well. Things got off to a good start, with Shea Patterson finding Ronnie Bell for 68 yards. Two plays later, Jim Harbaugh went to one of his favorite stand-by plays—a fullback dive—from the seven yard line.
Ben Mason, who switched from full-time fullback to defensive line in the off-season, got his first carry of the year. He promptly fumbled the ball away to the Badgers.
Mason has experience in short yardage situations, but the move to tailback was a recent development due to depth issues at running back, with Zach Charbonnet banged up. You can understand wanting extra bodies with some backfield experience available. Giving a cold Mason his first carry from a foreign position, in a crucial spot like the opposing seven yard line is extremely questionable.
As video that has surfaced from two seasons ago shows, it isn't the first time a Harbaugh team has found itself in that position.
Back on Jan. 1, 2018, Michigan fell to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, 26-19. The Wolverines gave up a litany of fumbles in that game, including one on the year's first handoff to tight end Sam McKeon.
A clip from Amazon's Michigan season of All Or Nothingshows the play from the coaches' perspective. McKeon gets the carry, has a horrible exchange with quarterback Brandon Peters, and Harbaugh immediately admits on the sideline that he should've called timeout. Due to the similarities to the Mason play, it is now going viral.
After the game, Harbaugh admitted that the team had the wrong personnel in the game, and McKeon never should have gotten a carry.
Harbaugh has a long history of success and a demeanor that would lead you to believe that he is much more organized than the results over the last few years indicates.