Once More Unto the Breach, Threat Level Bears Witness to Another Season of Mediocrity

By Johnny Ginter on August 30, 2021 at 7:25 pm
I feel this

Michigan football is bad!

I've been stuck in some kind of football purgatory for several years now. I can't tell you exactly how long, exactly, because at some point in the third quarter of watching the Wolverines beef it 38-21 against Indiana, time loses all meaning. Your consciousness leaves your body in search of any football that's actually worth investing several hours of a Saturday afternoon into. While your corporeal being is stuck watching Cade McNamara huck a screen pass fifty feet over Ronnie Bell's head, your spirit is watching... I don't know. Literally anything else.

Not me, though. Once again, I reluctantly take on the psychic burden of keeping weekly tabs on this stupid, stupid team that plays bad football (you might've forgotten that these dudes were 2-4 last season and only avoided getting run ruled by Ohio State because of a global pandemic) while being coached by a gigantic idiot who just got a contract extension for no reason.

But one thing I realized as I trudged back to the Threat Level mines is that, actually, I can write about whatever the hell I feel like. Check the Masthead, jerks: I'm a Senior Editor! That's why this year, partly because there are only so many ways that you can write "Michigan bad" but mostly because I need to keep myself sane, I'm going to include a mini-review of a disaster movie that I feel is thematically appropriate for whatever fresh hell the Wolverines made me sit through.

But before we get to that, here's a short preview of what Michigan football might very well look like in 2021.


Quarterback Joe Milton left Ann Arbor to transfer to Tennessee. Milton was notable for looking pretty good for the first two games last season and then somehow getting progressively worse in every game after that. Cade McNamara, who (in a microcosm of Michigan football for the last decade) looked good against Rutgers and absolute ass against Penn State, will be the starter.

sorry it's not a .gif

McNamara also just signed an NIL deal to endorse a cryptocurrency company, which is perfect because Michigan football is all about creating dubious value based entirely on speculation.

Five star freshman J.J. McCarthy will probably end up playing a ton after McNamara is revealed to be crappy.

They'll both be throwing to Ronnie Bell, who is good, but that's basically it as far as the wideouts worth paying attention to goes. It's possible that running back Hassan Haskins will give Michigan their second 1000 yard rusher since, no kidding, 2012. He's not terrible and the offensive line should be decent enough for this endeavor, but ultimately this is a C+ offense until it proves otherwise.


Michigan's defense was terrible last season, and that was with excellent defensive lineman Kwity Paye and occasionally uninjured linebacker Cam McGrone doing okay-ish things on a semi regular basis. Defensive coordinator Don Brown got fired, which I guess was the absolute least Harbaugh could do to prove he's actually trying this season. Mike Macdonald, a former Ravens coach who might be good at his job but not good enough that it'll actually matter, is the new guy.

He'll have some talent to work with. Maybe? I don't really know if I believe that. Take defensive end Aidan Hutchinson for example. He's a captain this year, but didn't record a single sack or tackle for loss in 2020 (he did miss three games) and in 2019 was good, but not mind-bendingly great or anything. Fellow lineman Taylor Upshaw is more productive but probably doesn't have as high a ceiling. He did bring some serious "dad trying to get kids excited for a trip to a wax figure museum" energy this spring, though (per Freep.com):

Earlier this offseason, Taylor Upshaw came up with a nickname for Michigan football's outside linebackers: “The reapers.” [...]

“I’ll take credit for this one,” Upshaw said Monday afternoon. “I came up with the reapers. But I think, mainly, it’s just to wreak havoc. [...] I think it’s going to give us a chance to show our true ability. And when you see us on Saturdays, we’re going to be reapers.”

Yeah, okay.

Anyway, linebacker Josh Ross might be Actually Good instead of Michigan Good; in an abbreviated 2020 season he was their most productive defensive player and right now production is what the Wolverine defense needs more than anything.


Scanners, directed by David Cronenberg, isn't really a disaster movie, but it does have a Big Corporate Conspiracy that plays on early 80's fears about the pharmaceutical industry so I'm going to count it. The best part of Scanners is the first 15 minutes, because Cronenberg wisely explodes a dude's head as soon as possible. It is super graphic and gross and also is very funny. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie vacillates between one or two cool action sequences and endless exposition about a plot that you're really only half paying attention to in the hopes that someone else's head will explode.

Instead, heads remain mostly intact. Disappointing.


LOW, duh. Here's the thing that I want you to ask yourself: if Michigan wasn't Michigan, but had the same record as last season and the past several seasons before that, how concerned would you be about this team playing Ohio State? And hell, for that matter, what could Michigan possibly do in 2021 to justify me raising the Threat Level even just a teensy bit?

Probably nothing, but let's find out together!

View 76 Comments