I'm going to attempt this half-by-half this week and see how it goes.
Before I go into the Iowa game, I watched the MSU game again. My gut reaction in this post certainly angered a few Michigan State fans, and after watching the game again, I certainly agree with them. State had a great game plan and executed defensively, forcing Robinson to make second-and-third level reads and capitalized on the mistakes. A few were unforced mistakes, but State earned those picks and those stops. They contained him well. Unfortunately, most of what I just said applies to the Iowa game. More after the jump.1st Half:
First: a positive or two. Will Hagerup's looking good. But then again, it's not so great that we have to compliment our punter on a good first kick and a punt downed at the 1 to end the half... Also, it bears repeating that Kovacs is the real deal. He's making tackles. Actually, the tackling isn't as bad as last week. But then again, it couldn't be. The first two Iowa possessions made me slightly hopeful that M's defense could stop people. Hopefully they can rustle up a few of those stops in the second half.
Michigan's made some mistakes this half, a couple on the field and a couple from the sideline. Penalties are killing them, but the playcalling is just befuddling. On M's last drive of the half, two runs up the middle with an RB from their own 5-yard line reminded me of old Lloydball, not the new vaunted Michigan offense Rich Rodriguez is now seemingly scared to unleash. Denard's having a decent game on the ground, actually, a great day on the ground, around 100 yards in the half with no big runs. He made a few good throws, but the questionable downfield look that led to the pick was a poor decision. Also, why did Rodriguez even call for a FG try? Clayborn blew that up in a great individual play.
Again, Iowa has this game called right so far. Let's hope Rich Rodriguez can regain his confidence at halftime and possibly rally the troops. M needs to stop the penalties and trust their offense. Iowa's playing well, aided by M's defense and penalties. From the most optimistic of views, the half hinged on two plays - but Iowa capitalized and M didn't.
Kovacs made a real solid stop to kill an Iowa possession to start the half. Tate led a decent drive that Smith unfortunately fumbled away. Smith really hasn't played well the last few games. M needs more Hopkins and hopefully Shaw can get back to early-season form. Hopkins ended up scoring a nice touchdown in the second half after getting a first down on the same drive. Hopefully, the future is bright for that kid.
Tate's first interception showed me that he really hasn't progressed much from the second half of last season. He has good flashes and bad flashes, but those bad flashes recur way too much for M to be able to trust him for more than a drive or two. That said, he bounced back well and capitalized on the mistake made by the Iowa CB for a nice long bomb to Hemingway. But he got excited toward the end of the game and tried to put too much on himself. Down 14, he was standing on the benches trying to pump up the crowd and not talking to his offense getting ready. He ran around and took a bad sack instead of throwing it away late, then forced a bad INT. That second interception showed me the personality that cost him quite a bit last season.
This loss was aided by Michigan's horrible mistakes. Penalties and poor defensive play once again doomed Michigan, especially on a crucial third down late in the fourth quarter, with a bad missed tackle that could have stopped Iowa for no points. That said, Iowa played like a top-15 team and the best defense in the country, bending and allowing plenty of yards but never really breaking. They will be tough in Iowa City versus the Buckeyes.
As echoed by Dave and others on this site throughout the season, Michigan's got a lot of growing up to do. I can't call this comeback inspired, but the end of the second half was certainly an improvement. Let's just hope that M can salvage a few more wins and not collapse like last season. I may have jinxed it a few weeks ago, but it bears repeating - one win until bowl elgibility.