Michigan play-caller sides with Jim Harbaugh: ‘We want to be 50/50’

Aaron McMann
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Anyone who thinks Jim Harbaugh was blowing smoke earlier this summer when he predicted a more balanced offense for Michigan in 2023 — “50/50,” in his words — might want to start paying attention.
First-year offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore, in charge of the playbook this fall, confirmed what the Wolverines’ head man told a group of reporters back in June: That Michigan plans to throw more this fall, a common complaint amongst the fanbase and those who watch the program on a weekly basis.
“Absolutely, we want to be 50/50,” Moore told the media on Thursday. “We have to be able to throw the ball at times, and we have to be balanced to do those things and win those games we want to win.”
Michigan was one of the most lopsided offenses in the country last season, running the football on more than 61 percent of its plays. While some of that was a product of circumstance — the Wolverines won 10 games by 21 points or more — it was also largely by design, with Blake Corum posting Heisman Trophy-caliber numbers and an offensive line considered the best in the country.
This year, Corum is back, as is backup running back Donovan Edwards, and the offensive line could be just as good. But so is quarterback J.J. McCarthy, a former five-star recruit who can sling the football around the field with the best of them.
There’s also the end result of last season, a 51-45 loss to Texas Christian in the Fiesta Bowl, a track meet of a game that Michigan wasn’t accustomed to playing in. And while Harbaugh’s team nearly pulled off a massive comeback, it was unfamiliar territory for everyone involved.
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“We understand that, we know that, and I think our staff has done an unbelievable job,” Moore said.
In addition to Moore taking the reigns as Michigan’s sole play caller this fall, a role he previously shared with the fired Matt Weiss, the program promoted analyst and passing guru Kirk Campbell to quarterbacks coach. Campbell has experience teeing up offenses as a coordinator at FCS Old Dominion, and should help expand things this fall.
“We’ve done an outstanding job of putting this plan together, and I think it’s really fun to watch and see the evolution of how these guys have really attacked it,” Moore said.
It’s early, obviously, but players say there was more of an emphasis in the passing attack early in camp. Expect Michigan to continue incorporating the tight ends (Colston Loveland, A.J. Barner), and use running back Donovan Edwards as a weapon in the slot.
Still, Moore cautions, don’t be surprised if the offense resembles that of last year at times — it’s going to depend on how opponents to decide to match up. You also can’t ignore having two of the Big Ten’s most explosive backs, Corum and Edwards, at your disposal.
“There’s going to be games where that might not happen,” Moore said of a balanced offense. “We might see that defenses are solely taking one thing away, and we might do the other. But we want to be as balanced as possible — with sets, formations, how we do things, (and) making things look the same.
“So, (I’m) very conscious of that when we’re putting together the game plans and that’s something we’re very focused on doing throughout training camp.”

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