By: Will Burchfield
Taylor Decker was riding high last weekend after his alma mater Ohio State erased a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit versus Penn State en route to a 39-38 win. J.T. Barrett threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns and churned up 95 yards on the ground, prompting Decker to pronounce him “the greatest quarterback in Ohio State history.”
What a difference a week makes. The Buckeyes suffered a stunning 55-24 loss to unranked Iowa on Saturday in which Barrett was picked off four times.
Michigan fan T.J. Lang saw the opportunity to make Decker eat his words. He quoted his teammate’s tweet and asked, “Do you still feel this way a week later?”
Lang, who grew up a Michigan fan, actually went to Eastern Michigan, and some Twitter users felt compelled to remind him of this.
Lang responded by thanking Captain Obvious and pointing out that Eastern Michigan won this weekend.
It should be noted Lang’s Michigan fanhood is anything but fake. He lost it during the Penn State game two weeks ago. In fact, on the Valenti Show on 97.1 The Ticket the following Tuesday, Lang ranted about one play in particular for nearly five minutes.
“There was only one blowup, I would say. I didn’t have high exceptions going into that game,” he said. “I didn’t think Michigan was going to win, I obviously didn’t think it was going to be a blowout. There was one play in particular, either late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter, (losing) either 35-14 or 28-14. It was a fourth-and-11, it was ridiculous. They roll out a fullback, a tight end, two receivers and they go-play action pass and get sacked for like an eight-yard loss. What are you doing on fourth-and-11?
“Everybody says their receivers aren’t experienced and they’ve got problems at quarterback, but I don’t care. You’re losing the game by that much, it’s fourth-and-11, roll out 4 receivers or five receivers and at least throw the ball up and give yourself a chance. Don’t roll out a fullback, a tight end and two receivers and a running back and run a play-action pass and don’t even get the pass off on fourth-and-11. That was what caused my night to really go south, and after that i honestly turned the game off. I watched a couple more plays, but it was just ridiculous.
“To me, you’ve got basically three play-callers on Michigan’s staff with (Jim) Harbaugh, (Pep) Hamilton and (Tim) Drenvo. The first person that calls that play, ‘Alright, let’s go action pass.’ That’s something you might do on third-and-one when you’re trying to take a shot, whatever it is. The first person calls it, okay, then it goes to the second guy, he gives the thumbs up, and then it goes to Harbaugh and he gives it the thumbs up? I mean, what — it baffled my mind. I could not comprehend that play call and it really kind of summed up the whole game and the whole season to this point, why they’re sitting at 5-2. That was what really caused me to snap and lose it a little bit.
“It was just frustrating. I think most Michigan fabs have been frustrated, especially the last three weeks watching the team. It’s an inexperienced team, they’ve got a lot of young guys. I don’t think anybody came into the season thinking they were going to compete for Big 10 championship or a playoff spot. I don’t think they were realistic goals looking at how many new guys they rolled out as starters, but this past week kind of tipped over the boiling point, especially with the play calls.
“It’s not anger. I think Michigan fans have been waiting for so long to have a good competitive product week in week out on the football field. Obviously the MUS game was a tough loss for a lot of the fans, but two weeks later — not saying that they should have beat Penn State or people thought they were going to — I think people expected them to be a little more competitive.
“I still don’t understand the play call. You don’t run a action pass on anything over fourth-and-one. Let’s be honest. A high school team’s not even going to fall for that. If you’re running a play-action pass you’re expecting the linebackers to come up, maybe the safeties to bite on it a little bit, create some separation in the back end. On fourth-and-11 there’s just no place in football for that type of play call. I think, obviously, most of it was on the head coach for even sending that out there. It’s basically just waving the white flag. If at that point that’s what you’re going to call, just punt the damn ball away.”
Asked later if Harbaugh can become the next Urban Meyer or Nick Saban, Lang didn’t sound too sure.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Urban Meyer and Nick Saban are in a league of their own with the dynasties that they’ve built. I don’t know if that a realistic goal, maybe it is.
“Ultimately, yes, (that’s what he was brought here to do), but the first thing is have a consistent winning program year in and year out. That doesn’t mean necessarily winning a national championship, but something like what Michigan State has even done the lat couple years, competing for the playoff spot, wining big 10 championships. I think that would be a good starting point. I that’s where he needs to get before we even talk about doing what Urban or Nick have accomplished at their programs.”