Agony of Defeat: Michigan Beats Michigan, Iowa Named Beneficiaries

Arg.  Arg, arg, arg, arg, arg.  Deep breath (remember man, we're so young), another deep breath... arg that was infuriating.  How do we couch this?  Well for one thing Michigan outplayed Iowa on Saturday night.  An offensive line that was a glorified strainer last week turned their highly-touted D-line into a non-factor, we pounded the ball on the ground against a team that just doesn't give up rushing TDs to the tune of three of em and 200 yards on the ground (and that was without a lightning bolt big play in there too), we completely shut down Iowa's running game: 2.4 yards per carry, and the defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage throughout most of the night and came up with several huge stops, including a goal-line stand.  And yet there's the 800 lb turnover beast that is sitting in the corner over there... five of those bad-boys, four completely unforced turnovers and one kinda-forced fumble proved to be just enough to hold Michigan back from knocking off the #12 team in the country on the road.  Iowa did what you are supposed to do with gifts, they cashed them in, and it proved to be barely enough for Michigan to overcome.  Two of the factors that Michigan fans, us included, worried about prior to the season reared their ugly head on Saturday night: play of the safeties, and freshman mistakes at QB.  Mike Williams unfortunately showed up in the replays of many key plays last night in the entirely wrong way...  I mean really, 3rd and @#%@#%@#@#% 24?  3rd and 24?  Fans like to throw around "inexcusable" in all kinds of ways, but uh, giving up 3rd and 24 is inexcusable.  To get beat once on a nicely timed throw to the TE was acceptable, to let it happen again was not.  Anyways, more on that later too.  The team's youth and lack of depth in certain spots showed up at the worst times last night, and we couldn't overcome it.  Freshman mistakes?  You betcha.

Miscellaneous

- There was some good old fashioned slobber-knocking in this football game, the crown jewel of which was the hit on Daryll Stonum's kickoff return... goodness gracious me, that was a lick.

- Um, when the ball was snapped over Ricky Stanzi's head in (I believe) the first half, and their running back simply tackled Jonas Mouton while he broke through the line... how's that not called a hold?  It carries no consequence as I understand that we would've declined it as it put them in a 3rd and long anyways, but is there something I'm missing there, that has to be a flag right?  If not, someone please educate me.

- Alright, a coaching quibble from me: why the onside kick?  Three minutes and change was enough time, even with one timeout, to kick it deep and rely on your defense to come up with a stop and not forfeit 20-30 yards of field position.  I didn't understand the call there.

- I was stunned, literally stunned, that Ferentz went for it on 4th and goal.

- This team isn't quite good enough to get away with playing poorly and winning, but hotdamn they're close.

Offense

- I guarantee some Iowa fan will wax poetic about how their defense caused the benching of Tate Forcier... which is patently wrong.  Forcier's unforced errors last night that lead to him getting the hook.  An unrushed throw into double coverage for the pick, a fumble in which he wasn't touched, tripping over a yardline on 2nd and 4 to kill a drive, happy feet in the pocket with good protection, and throws into areas that just simply did not make sense were the story of Tate's night.  What ultimately lead to the benching was the series where we came out after a kickoff, promptly got a delay of game (AFTER A KICKOFF... BREAKING THINGS HERE), and he just started chucking the ball for no real apparent reason: he wasn't running the offense, and that earned him a spot on the bench.  Iowa's D had nothing to do with the majority of these mistakes.  

- Brings me to my next question... Tate is so good throwing on the run, why wasn't he rolling out more in this game?

- Hats off to the O-line, even sans Molk they turned in a great performance.  After watching what happened last week, I was awfully worried about going up against Iowa's D-line, but the guys up front did a fantastic job giving our QBs time and creating holes.

- All night long the offense just couldn't quite get up to the pace we wanted to run at.  It will come with more experience, but when we did approach that kind of speed, we moved the football.

- Oh yeah, about Denard Robinson getting the nod on that final drive...  I can say at the time I didn't really question it, he had just driven us right down the field for a touchdown and looked quite good in doing so.  Now then, the end result doesn't sit all that well with everyone who watched Forcier do nothing but look eight shades of awesome at the end of practically every game thus far this season.  If I were wearing the headset, I probably would've tapped Tate's shoulder, looked him in the eye and said "Get it done" and sent him out there all while thanking Denard up and down for kick-starting the offense again.  Even despite that, I am reluctant to second guess the call because based on what had happened in the game to that point, sending Denard back out there made all kinds of sense, he had made several good crisp throws on the previous drive and moved the ball down the field for a score, hard to argue with that.  Let's recall that Denard got put into the game in an incredibly difficult position, down two scores late in the 4th and he too is a true freshman.

- Robinson made the one mistake you just can't make in that situation... I'm not sure what prompted the throw, particularly when he could've taken off (there was TONS of time) or hit Odoms for an easy first down, but ugh...  That's all that needs to be said about it, just ugh.

- Brandon Minor finally looked like a healthy Brandon Minor out there, some really tough running from him in big spots, and he was pretty much responsible for an entire touchdown drive... BUT he also had that HORRIFYING fumble, which by the by was the ONLY forced turnover on the night.  Maybe we're still spoiled by Mike Hart's excellence but uh, you can't fumble the football on a 3 yard gain in which you're going nowhere, just protect the thing...  that just killed a big drive at the end of the first half.

- I liked the new pitch wrinkle we threw into the rushing game last night, and I have a feeling I will like it more when Carlos Brown is healthy and back on the field.

- Someone please tell me why we're not taking two to three deep shots a game, anyone?  Anyone?  Junior Hemingway and Daryll Stonum are essentially non-factors in our offense right now, and that should not be the case.  Kevin Koger and Martavious Odoms again came up big with drive sustaining catches throughout the night, they are by far the most consistent aspects of this offense right now.

- 3 for 11 on 3rd down wasn't and isn't good enough.

Defense

- This defense is either on or off, there is no in-between it appears.

- Donovan Warren was incredible last night, and that's even with him dropping another pick inside Iowa's 25.  Huge game from him, just huge.

- Fool me once, shame on you... Great call for Iowa's first TD to Moeaki, Mike Williams bit HARD on the fake-block and the middle of the field was beyond vacant.  Fool me twice, shame on me: that it happened again was ludicrous. 

- The safety play was appalling, no other word for it, appalling.  The lack of ability of this defense to get off the freakin' field on 3rd and long has already shortened the lifespan of the majority of this fanbase, I guarantee it.  I know we're tissue paper-thin, I know that, but there were mistakes made that even tissue-paper thin defenses can't make out there.

- Brandon Graham did whatever he wanted with whomever was lined up across from him, he was a beast last night.  Mike Martin also played a very solid football game.

- Stevie Brown made a great read on that 3rd and goal stop, just a tremendous play.  And actually, I thought the LBs as a group played well, Mouton and Ezeh seemed to be in position more often than not, and both made key plays during the game.

- We brought a lot more pressure last night, I liked that we brought guys up to the line of scrimmage and got into the backfield, it's just too bad the coverage wasn't up to par in key spots.  In line with that, we saw much less of the soft coverage stuff giving up the sticks, which yay, but too many missed assignments particularly from the safeties.

- Troy Woolfolk stepped into the corner spot and made a number of big plays, you can count me as pleasantly surprised, that certainly was an area of concern heading towards kickoff and he played well.

Special Teams

- So if Iowa's punter is a "weapon" according to Brent Musberger, what's Zoltan Mesko?  53.8 yards per punt?   Zounds!

- Why the dropped punt... just why?  If you have to go to your knees to catch the punt, isn't it better to just let the stupid thing go?  Iowa was going to get the ball anyway due to the "roughing" the kicker penalty, but good GOD, that was terrible.

- Our kick and punt coverage was decidedly "meh" last night, part of that was because Zoltan was hitting bombs and outkicking the coverage, but how many times did the first two guys not even touch their returner?  

Overall

- After getting flat outplayed for the majority of the Michigan State game, this team responded in the areas that were truly lacking in East Lansing, and made gaffs that you just can't overcome against a solid team at home.  Minus 4 in the turnover margin was the death knell for Michigan on Saturday night.

- So goes the Penn State game so goes the rest of the season, period.  We need to destroy Delaware State and get ready for the Nittany Lions to come to Ann Arbor.  

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