IOWA CITY – I’m not the most talkative person in the world, but there have been very few times in life when I have been completely speechless. I mean, after most Michigan football games, I usually have something to say, write or scream about.
But Saturday, after John Navarre’s final pass of the day sailed into no-man’s land, I just stood there with a blank look on my face. I was speechless.
It was deja vu that left me stunned, actually. After all, I had been there just two weeks earlier in Oregon when the exact same events had taken place. I just couldn’t believe it had happened again so soon.
The Michigan coaching staff wouldn’t allow the same mistakes, right? After losing to Oregon, it would make sure that this team was not put in the same position again. Wouldn’t it?
I guess not. It’s time for the staff to take a step back and re-assess this situation. A team with this much talent does not belong in Central Florida on New Year’s Day anymore. The coaching staff cannot let it go to waste any longer. It’s time for a change.
And the change must begin at the quarterback position.
While there are plenty of people calling for John Navarre’s head after he fell to 0-6 on the road against ranked opponents this past weekend, I don’t think this is the solution.
I believe Navarre gives the Wolverines their best chance to win, but only if used properly.
The coaching staff has two choices here: If it wants to play Navarre, loosen its grip on him and let him use his experience and arm to win games. If it doesn’t have enough confidence in him to do that, then bench him and play redshirt freshman Matt Gutierrez.
With two losses, there is no point in babying their senior quarterback and trying to build his confidence any longer. John Navarre has never been a great quarterback, and I’m sure it’s frustrating for the staff when he is inaccurate, but he does the best he can.
If the coaching staff wants to play Navarre – if it truly believes Navarre gives Michigan its best chance to win – then at least give him a chance to win the game.
There is no point in playing Navarre if your goal is to rush the ball or run screen passes all the way down to the endzone.
I don’t know about you, but when Navarre threw that 41-yard bomb to Edwards in the fourth quarter to pull Michigan within three, it was the hardest thing for me to watch.
Navarre can make plays like that when given the opportunity. He has proven time and time again that he can throw the ball down the field with some consistency. He threw for 389 total yards! Granted most of these games when Iowa was in a zone, but it still proves that Navarre can throw.
I was pleased to see Michigan open the game with three and four wideout sets because it put Navarre in control, and he was playing well. But as soon as Iowa made an adjustment in the second half, the coaching staff shyed away from the middle of the field. They limited Navarre to handing it off or throwing shorter out-routes, which eliminated his biggest strength. In the second half, up until the Wolverines’ second to last drive of the game, Navarre had thrown just two balls to the middle of the field. Not exactly playing to your strengths.
“They game-planned what we ran in the first half and they’re going to adjust to that,” said Navarre of Iowa’s coaching staff. “And we have to be able to adjust to that too. It’s just a coaching battle back and forth and we have to be able to do the job there.”
But instead of adjusting, the plays Michigan ran in the third quarter made it look like it was retreating.
The Michigan coaching staff has to give Navarre a chance to use his experience. Let him make an adjustment. What good is it to have a senior quarterback if you don’t have any faith in him?
If he still can’t engineer a road victory, then this might be a hopeless situation. But until then, the coaching staff must have the confidence in Navarre to let him play his game. If it doesn’t, it should begin prepping Gutierrez for the rest of his Michigan career.
Naweed Sikora can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.