After an unbelievable performance by Devin Funchess against Appalachian State in week one, he had a solid game against Notre Dame and churned out 107 yards despite everyone knowing he was going to get the ball. The run game hit the century mark, but it took five guys to get there for an awful 2.9 ypc. As a team, though, Michigan's 100 total yards surpassed ND's 54 yards for a 1.7 ypc average. In short, the rush defenses of both teams were quite good.
From a passing standpoint, Devin Gardner completed four fewer passes than Everett Golston for 37 fewer yards. However, this isn't about Gardner or any specific player's performance on the field per se, this is about Michigan's one-dimensional offense being the downfall against the Fighting Irish...
It's not an excuse, it's a fact...Devin Funchess can't be 100% of the offense
Funchess had nine receptions for 107 yards, and that's great, but the next closest receiver was Jehu Chesson's 30 yards on three catches. Amarah Darboh had 23 yards on only two catches, while Dennis Norfleet showed glimpses of what it would be like if he lived up to expectations in even some small measure, but was cut off after only 16 yards receiving and 20 yards on two carries. Joe Kerridge got a first down after a four yard catch, and that was it for him.
The Notre Dame defense knew, as everyone else did, that Doug Nussmeier was going to go heavy with Funchess. However, there's heavy with a player, and then there's not utilizing anyone else. There was some semblance of a run game, but no back had more than 13 carries (Derrick Green). If you want to use the run to set up the pass, that's great, but then use it. De'Veon Smith had a respectable 4.3 ypc average on just seven carries for a 30 yard total.
If you're going to try and go pass-heavy, then spread the ball around to someone other than Funch. Five receivers totaling 82 yards among them is unacceptable by any measure. Was the injury at the end of the game a result of a refusal to utilize another player on the outside or Norfleet in the slot? I can't say for sure. Either way, the playcalling on Saturday night left something to be desired. A slant, a wheel route, a frickin' shovel pass or flea flicker just to keep the defense off balance would have been nice. Instead, we saw offensive playcalling like you'd see on the old Sega Genesis, except it always worked on the Sega.
It's not an excuse, it's a fact...Everett Golson was unstoppable
The game thread was mostly a receptacle of negativity and frustration due to the offensive woes that we were witnessing, but let's not take anything away from how the Irish played. Golson's numbers were 23/34, 226 yards, 6.6 per completion, three TDs...and 0 interceptions. He didn't have much of a rushing game on which to rely, but he made the necessary throws when needed. He was cold, calculating, and efficient. And I'm jealous.
It's not an excuse, it's a fact...injuries played a part in Saturday's loss
Desmond Morgan, who had six tackles against App State sat out Saturday's contest with his arm in a cast. The super-hyped Jabrill Peppers was dressed, but didn't see the field due to an ankle injury suffered against App State. Raymon Taylor was also out. So not only do questions on the offensive line remain, but a defense that many thought would be the strength of this team is starting to fall apart.
It was a rough game, and I could have picked almost anything to use in this piece, but this isn't the venue for a tome. It's clear that there is a ton of work that needs to be done. But, it's only two weeks into the season and Michigan is 1-1. It may not be the best feeling in the world, but the season isn't done. With an easy match-up against Miami (OH) coming up this weekend, and manageable games against Utah, Minnesota, and Rutgers in coming weeks, there's a great opportunity for the Wolverines to be at 5-1 heading into the night game against Penn State. Be nervous, not despondent.