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What We Learned: Utah

Michigan fans endured another slow, painful loss at the hands of the Utah Utes. What did we learn from the cruel experience?

Gregory Shamus

"Is it over yet?"
"Who cares?"
"Shit. Let's do anything but watch Michigan football."

This short, mildly depressing conversation probably took place a few thousand times around the state of Michigan, as the Wolverines exited the field with eight minutes left against a Utah team that wasn't supposed to have enough talent to compete. The Utes had the talent – and they definitely had the coaching. Michigan eventually came back onto the field to lose, coughing up the football again after giving the two fans left watching the faintest glimmer of hope.

Saturday's game defined Michigan football as it were: A program that recruits well despite its losing tradition, somehow leaving a perpetual glimmer of hope in the eyes of its fans. But that glimmer died on Saturday when the rain washed away a crowd that wasn't interested from the beginning of the game, merely showing up out of fear that its longstanding streak of massive attendance would be ended. And with that I ask: who cares?

Most fans are beginning to lose interest, and for good reason. Michigan hasn't beaten an opponent from a power conference in quite some time, and they haven't beaten an elite program in years. The man in charge of Michigan athletics is an asshole; the football coach is naive and beyond saving; the fans are ready to stop watching Michigan football altogether.

Hell, look no further than this article for proof of why the program is dead in the water. This piece is supposed to be a lengthy discussion of why Michigan lost and where the team moves from here – we'll unfortunately get there in a minute – yet I'm blabbering on and on about how abysmal the program is. Two words: it's awful.

But becoming a blogger comes with cool perks and crappy downfalls, one of them being that I still have to tell you why Michigan lost and what you should expect from it moving forward. You've been warned.

Michigan's defense will be stranded for yet another season

Does this really come as a surprise? Devin Gardner is still playing with erratic mechanics and poor decision-making, and his offensive line hasn't improved enough to make up for any of it. The defense turned in another solid showing that could have been completely dominant if it had a competent offense helping its cause, but its offense continues to put it in poor position. This hurts even more than last year because Michigan's defense is deep at every position and its corner are really starting to come around.

Devin Gardner has earned a backup role

I never expected to type those words, but I just typed those words. Now, I'm not saying that Shane Morris has earned a starting role; I'm merely admitting that Devin Gardner has played so poorly that his job should be up for grabs. Inserting Morris into a failing offense might lead to him being broken the same way Gardner was, so Nussmeier needs to treat this situation with care.

Devin Funchess should probably declare for the NFL Draft today

Funchess is the best receiver in the country who won't be recognized because his quarterbacks are pedestrian. He's a legitimate 6'4", routinely runs past corners who are shorter and lighter, and has yet to drop a pass when he isn't being crushed by a safety who read Devin Gardner's eyes like a book. Take your talents to the next level, man, and don't look back.

Derrick Green is beginning to look the part

Positivity! A five-star recruit appears to be turning the corner! Green's vision is improving in the run game and is breaking more tackles as the season rolls on. The one-handed catch and run he made was also impressive for such a big back.

Brady Hoke will should be searching for work in 2015

Rich Rodriguez had his team improving with each passing season; Rodriguez was fired after three seasons. Hoke has his team regressing with each passing season; Hoke still has a job nearly halfway through his fourth. Should Michigan have fired Rich Rodriguez? We won't get into that, but they sure as hell better fire Brady Hoke at season's end.

Reviewing the Six Pack

This should be fun.

1. Lewis and Peppers vs. Dres Anderson

Both Lewis and Peppers turned in solid performances, with Lewis taking home top honors. Utah tested him time and time again, only to watch as the true sophomore turned away most of their attempts. Again, it's a shame knowing that these two are going to top off a stellar unit that's sure to go to waste.

2. Offensive Line vs. Utah's Multiple 3-3-5

Gardner was pressured too often and the run game was stagnant for much of the game. Utah's front wins.

3. Devin Gardner vs. Pressure

Pressure wins. No explanation needed.

4. Non-Funchess Receivers vs. Utah's Secondary

Funchess was playing on a wobbly leg and still outdid all of his teammates. Utah's secondary wins, but this isn't due to a lack of talent on Michigan's end.

5. Frank Clark vs. Pass Timing

Clark finally got to the quarterback, so he wins.

6. Matt Wile vs. Matt Wile

Wile knocked a 42-yard attempt through the pipes and will hopefully convert on the few chances he'll get from here on out.

The Takeaway

Yuck. Read the introduction again if you'd like to relive the depressing experience. Brady Hoke's job should be vacated by the end of the season. Michigan isn't going to beat Michigan State or Ohio State; every other game could go either way, and the Wolverines will limp into a mediocre bowl game before [hopefully] searching for a new man to lead the program.