Michigan dropped to 8-3 on the season with a 24-10 loss at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday in a game that slipped away late for the Wolverines.
Here are the takeaways from the contest:
It was over when Peters went down
Brandon Peters gave Michigan fans reasons for optimism the last three weeks with his strong play against poor opponents. He made a massive mistake fumbling on a scramble near the goal-line, but he continued to show flashes of why he is the future at quarterback for this program.
It was not perfect, but he had a connection going with Donovan Peoples-Jones (one of which was non-touchdown that should have been) and did guide the team to a 10-7 lead in the third quarter.
Then, he took a nasty, unnecessary hit after throwing the football that knocked him out of the game with a bad-looking head injury. John O’Korn replaced him in the lineup and the wind was out of Michigan’s sails from there.
People are freaking out at the inability to get it done, but anyone who has watched O’Korn the last few seasons knows what they are getting out of him. He is not a good, or even adequate, backup and that is disappointing.
Offensive line woes continue vs. good teams
We do this dance every year with the offensive line. There is a stretch of games where they look like they have turned a corner, but then a good opponent enters the arena and they get smacked right back into mediocrity.
And quite frankly, that falls on offensive coordinator/line coach Tim Drevno.
His units routinely fail to do some of the most basic things there are to do up front, whether they are former two-stars, freshman or seniors. After three seasons, it is not good enough anymore.
Whatever Jim Harbaugh does (more on him, shortly), finding the Don Brown-esque assistant of offensive line coaches has to be priority No. 1 this offseason. This cannot continue to happen if Michigan is finally going to take that next step.
Defense kept U-M in the game until they couldn’t
Michigan’s defense has not been perfect lately and has given up too many big plays, but they deserve credit for keeping the team in it throughout. The wind left the sails of the entire team after Peters went down and the defense could not get a stop after the Wolverines took the lead.
To pile on that unit at this point in the year almost feels unfair. They are put in a position in nearly every tough game to win it on their own with the failures on the offensive side of the ball.
Alex Hornibook put some of his passes in perfect spots and his guys made plays. He deserves a tip of the hat for performing the way he did.
The Wolverines are young on that side of the ball and missed Lavert Hill today. But they have nothing to hang their heads about in the grand scheme of things this season overall.
Harbaugh’s big game woes
Michigan in general has had issues in big games, but that was supposed to end when Harbaugh was named the team’s head coach.
The Wolverines still do not have a signature, program-changing victory under his watch and that is frustrating after three seasons. This year, he has been fighting an uphill battle with inconsistent quarterback play and youth all over the roster, but there are times when they are either too conservative or just flat-out make mistakes.
Michigan fans have every right to be frustrated and there is not a whole lot that can be said that has not been already.
Harbaugh is the man for the job and there’s nobody out there that would have been a better hire for Michigan. It just remains to be seen what this program is going to be in a loaded Big Ten moving forward.
And with some of the woes that were discussed above, namely on offense, they need to take a look at themselves in the mirror and decide if they are happy with the performance of a few key units that continue to plague this team when it matters most.
With Ohio State looming next week, all hands have to be on deck for the best week of preparation this team has had in practice all year. If it doesn’t happen, it will be another downer of a conversation next week in Ann Arbor.