For the first time this season the offense wasn't the major issue against a power-5 conference team. Michigan moved Devin Gardner back into the starting lineup and switched the game's emphasis to quick passes early before pounding the ball out of shotgun zone runs in the second half. The Wolverines ended the day with 336 yards of total offense and 8.1 yards per pass attempt and 4.5 yards per rush. It wasn't a stellar performance, but Michigan had more play-to-play success, converted four third downs out of 11, and only turned the ball over once.
Unfortunately, the other side of the ball proved to be an issue. Michigan's pass defense once again struggled as poor safety and linebacker play opened up a lot of holes for Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova to hit receivers quickly before pressure got home. Nova looked very good, passing for 404 yards and three touchdowns on over ten yards per attempt. He also escaped pressure a number of times.
On the bright side, Michigan didn't look as discombobulated in this game, and the offense found more success than it has seen against anyone but the most hapless of opponents this year. The Michigan run defense was also stout, holding Rutgers to 2.5 yards per attempt.
However, the writing is still on the wall. This isn't a very good team despite the apparent talent. The Wolverines will likely have to fight tooth and nail even to attain bowl eligibility, and games against MSU and OSU look like they could be laughers before halftime. Michigan's offensive adjustments proved not only to be too little to late to win this game. They will likely be shown to be the same when it comes to saving Brady Hoke's job.
When that finally happens might have more to do with when Dave Brandon gets shown the door.
One thing is certain: change is desperately needed in Ann Arbor.