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Trip, stumble and fall: Michigan offense sputters in 26-10 loss to Utah

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When it rains, it pours.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The defense outscored the offense. The offense did not reach the redzone once again.

In short, that describes Michigan's woeful 26-10 loss to Utah on Saturday. The Wolverines (2-2), who had a very similar showing offensively like it did against Notre Dame, once again out-gained Utah (3-0) 308-286 and failed to reach the redzone.

Despite a lengthy rain delay late in the fourth quarter, the only thing that was delayed was the inevitable, the final score.

"Obviously we're very disappointed in the outcome of the game," Hoke said. "I thought the kids came out very ready to play and I thought they demonstrated that the first drive down the field. I think the defense, what they did early in the football game, was indicative of how they prepared and how they practiced."

The defense would score the Wolverines' lone touchdown in the second quarter as Utah back-up quarterback Kendal Thompson was intercepted deep in its own territory by defensive lineman Willie Henry and was returned seven-yards for the touchdown to tie the game at 10. Utah's starting quarterback, Travis Wilson, left the game briefly during the second quarter after receiving a horrific hit and landed on his head.

Wilson would return to start the second half.

Despite a gut-wrenching loss to the Utes, Hoke still sees his goals for the team in his sights.

"We talked as a team afterwards about what we need to do," Hoke said. "I remind them of the 1998 team that went to Notre Dame, I was part of that team, and lost. They also lost at home to Syracuse and then went off to win a part of the Big Ten Championship. Those goals, our goals, are all out there.

"I do believe we have a team that can do that."

After taking a 13-10 lead into the half, the Utes would waste no time turning on the jets and pulling away from Michigan. A 28-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to a wide-open Dres Anderson to push Utah's lead to 20-10.

Michigan's offense would continue to struggle.

Senior quarterback Devin Gardner, who was replaced in the fourth quarter by sophomore Shane Morris, continued his struggles from two weeks ago by adding another two interceptions, bringing his season total to six. He also finished the day completing nine passes out of 19 attempts for 148-yards.

Outside of Devin Funchess' four receptions, who also returned from injury, the passing game was inept. Sophomore running back Derrick Green, was Michigan's second leading receiver with two receptions for 26-yards.

Green also finished with 14 rushes for 59-yards.

In regards to a quarterback change in the future, Hoke would not commit to a starter.

"I think it's way too early for me to asses (the quarterback situation) until Doug and myself look at the tape," Hoke said. "One thing I can tell you is that sometimes it's good for a guy to come out and just watch and see what he can see from the sidelines. There's not going to be any answers to that tonight and we will compete and challenge like we do every day and we will have a starting quarterback against Minnesota."

Whether Gardner will remain the starter, Hoke said "we'll see."

Adding insult to injury, Utah receiver Kaelin Clay would return a Will Hagerup punt for 46-yards to give the Utes its first lead of the day, 10-3. If scoring wasn't enough, Clay would also pull the "Heisman" pose after the touchdown.

It was that kind of game for the Wolverines.

Utah would drive home two field goals from over 45-yards to end the scoring at 26-10. Michigan's senior kicker Matt Wile, who has been struggling in the kicking game as of late, made his only field goal attempt of the game early in the first quarter to open the scoring.

When it rains, it pours. That was the case for Michigan Saturday night.

Michigan will face another test in rival Minnesota, as the Golden Gophers will be coming to town Sept. 26 (3:30 p.m. ABC).

Odds and ends

- Hoke was relatively nonchalant about his first-half argument with defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. He said that he has known Mattison since 1984 and "guarantees" that it wasn't the first time that has happened. Hoke called it a "discussion."

- Both of Michigan's losses came without seeing the redzone. Hoke doesn't believe the offense needs work. "I don't think there has to be an overhaul," Hoke said. "I think our execution, the little things we need to do, and again that starts here. We need to do a better job with that part of it."

- Hoke on boos: "Those are 18-22 year olds, that's what I don't like. That's fine and I know they buy tickets and they're welcome to do it, but they're 18-22. Yeah, they're student athletes and believe me, they're working their tails off. If they're all for me, good. I don't have a problem with that at all."