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What We Learned: Iowa Week

Michigan is not immune to mistakes.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Iowa Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports


The offense is not immune to the occasional bad week. And what a bad week it was. A lot to say here. Player execution was bad:
-Wilton Speight missed 5 deep throws quite badly. If he hits even 2 of those, we are talking about a double digit Michigan win, and a team that has locked up their CFP appearance, win or lose in Columbus.
-De’Veon Smith took 12 carries for a total of 28 yards. He also decided to make a hesitation move inside the end zone that led to a safety.
-Jehu Chesson had multiple drops including a play where he let a freshman DB steal the ball from him as he was attempting to make the catch, in the most crucial situation imaginable.

There were also coaching blunders from a staff where it is not expected:
-Jabrill Peppers carried the ball 4 times for 11 yards, but was never used as a decoy. This is especially egregious because Iowa’s defense completely collapsed on him whenever he was on the field. The decoy plays could have been huge.
-The RB carry distribution was questionable to say the least. Iowa’s beefy, sure-tackling front was able to keep De’Veon Smith in check, as he took 12 of the 25 carries from Michigan’s Big 4. Chris Evans was wildly successful in his 8 carries, rushing for a total of 52 yards. He eluded Iowa’s front easily, and consistently made it to the 2nd and 3rd level. This begs the question: why only 8 carries?

Now, the counterpoint to all this is that Michigan did not have experience in close games, so coaching staff on down was unprepared for this. So some people are saying this loss will be good for them in the long term. It’s going to have to be. Because OSU is peaking at the right time, and Michigan will be coming into the game with a backup quarterback.

The defense hasn’t proven they can stop the run, even when they know the run is coming. This was first proven on MSU’s opening drive in East Lansing, and taken a step further by Iowa on Saturday. Though Michigan’s defense played well enough to get a win when the whole team is playing well, they were unable to carry the team to a win on a poor offensive day. So CJ Beathard was wild, all over the place with his throws, and not much of a threat to do anything. Despite knowing this, the defense gave up 167 yards to Akrum Wadley on runs and little dump catches. He feasted on Mike McCray when they were matched up together, and he was able to find the gap on Michigan’s defensive scheme consistently. This is a problem heading into Columbus in 2 weeks, as OSU has had problems moving the ball through the air, and they would love to exploit Michigan in the ground game.

The trip to Indy will have to be earned without WIlton Speight in the game. This obviously presents a challenge, as Speight was the starter, and he created an atmosphere of stability and familiarity around the offense. However John O’Korn is no slouch. After putting some thought into the QB dilemma, here are some pros and cons about using O’Korn instead of Speight:

Elusive runner, can extend drive with feet when play breaks down
Running skills could loosen up the defense and create better lanes for RBs/more open receivers
Less available film for OSU to study before head to head matchup 1 week later
Not afraid to make tough throws down the field

Not as much experience working with the #1 offense
Tendency to tuck ball and run after 1st read isn’t there, instead of going through full progression
High interception total during last season as starter (Houston)
Lots of unknowns about whether he is up to the task at hand

I personally am excited for John O’Korn. I think he will do a great job against Indiana, and I think he will be ready to go for OSU.

This conference is as good as any at the top. With Michigan, OSU, Wisconsin, and Penn State all in the CFP Top 10 not, the Big Ten is truly becoming what ESPN tells you the SEC already is. (They’re wrong this year, by the way, as the SEC is just Bama and a bunch of coattail riders who couldn’t make Top 3 in the Big Tean East)

OSU is hitting their stride. Another solid offensive performance for the new #2 team in the country, as their offense catches up with a defense that has been playing at a high level all year long. The offensive line is starting to gel, and this is a very scary thought for future opponents. It also means no writer or expert in the country is giving Michigan a chance to win in Columbus on November 26...

Nobody is elite besides Alabama. Every other team in the country has lost at least 2 games since Alabama lost their last one. The Michigans, Clemsons, and Washingtons of the world all had a chance to grab the #2 spot, and they all failed. Meanwhile, Alabama continues to roll through their schedule. Their offense may not be what it has in the past, but they are clearly the top contender.