Michigan's offense took the field at Notre Dame Stadium on a humid night, seeking a fresh start with a new quarterback.
Coach Jim Harbaugh had reshaped the offensive staff, bringing in Jim McElwain, Ed Warinner and others to bolster the brainpower. In late April, the Wolverines learned that quarterback Shea Patterson, who had 23 touchdown passes in his first 10 college games at Ole Miss, would be eligible immediately. The unit began the season with more experience at key spots.
If Michigan could get the offense right after two underperforming seasons, it would finally contend for the Big Ten East division and possibly much more. Simple, right?
Not so simple.
After a 24-17 loss to Notre Dame in which it failed to score an offensive touchdown for nearly 58 minutes, Michigan is still searching for a spark. Harbaugh, Patterson and others maintained afterward that this is just the beginning. The potential, they say, is there. But after a performance that looked too familiar, with some of the same old problems, there are concerns about the long-term outlook.
I talked to players and coaches in South Bend, and other coaches who watched the game to find out what we learned about Michigan's offense and how it could impact the rest of the season.