With the 2021 Big Ten football season just around the corner, eyes are focused on Ann Arbor to see if Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines can turn things around this fall. That’s a tall order for a team that’s coming off a 2-4 campaign in 2020 and opinions on whether or not the program can change its current trajectory are mixed.
ESPN College GameDay analyst Kirk Herbstreit still seems to think that Michigan can get back on the right track with Harbaugh at the helm, but recognizes that the road ahead might continue to be bumpy. He said that the Wolverines are still trying to build back to their past success and will need to focus on a few aspects to get there.
For Herbstreit, that starts with recruiting and developing talent at the quarterback and running back positions.
“Honestly, they’re still trying to build it back up,” Herbstreit said in appearance on the Tobin and Leroy podcast. “Nobody knows Michigan history better than Jim Harbaugh. He’s been there five or six years and we keep waiting for it to kind of ignite and go, but up to this point we just haven’t seen it, but we’ll see. And you know, they haven’t been right at the quarterback position in a long time. It’s been a long time.
“That and name the last great Michigan tailback. Ty Wheatley, Anthony Thomas … I’m talking like … a (running) back. They’ve got to win in recruiting and win in development, in order to not just beat Ohio State, but to be a perennial top 5, top 7 team.”
Herbstreit is right that Michigan hasn’t had the dynamic players that it used to on offense. The Wolverines have only had two 1,000-yard ballcarriers in the past decade and haven’t had an explosive quarterback in a few years. As a result, the program’s offense hasn’t been able to keep up with the likes of Ohio State.
Michigan still has one of the best defenses in the country year in and year out, so if the Wolverines can turn things around on the other side of the ball, they could be in for a strong 2021 campaign.
Harbaugh will begin his seventh season at the helm for Michigan on Sept. 4 when the Wolverines welcome in Western Michigan to Ann Arbor.