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Takeaways from Michigan’s blowout loss to Wisconsin

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Michigan drops their third game in a row.

Wisconsin v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines lost their third game in a row and fell to 1-3 on Saturday night, losing to the Wisconsin Badgers 49-11. Here are the takeaways from the game.

Three historically bad stats say it all

#1:

#2:

#3:

Defensive woes aren’t a quick fix

We’ve heard from players and coaches the past week, saying some of the mistakes on defense and offense are quick fixes. That isn’t the case on defense. The unit has been abused via the air the past couple weeks, but tonight most of the damage came on the ground. The Badgers racked up 341 yards rushing. The defense played tentative, lacked physicality, and often allowed gaping holes for ball carriers which led to big gains. Defensive coordinator Don Brown always says to put it on him and not the players, and the bottom line is Brown isn’t doing a good job of getting these players prepared. Players can take ownership as well, they have to want to succeed. It’s not that the players don’t want to succeed, but they’re not playing with enough energy on a down-to-down basis and are getting whooped in the process. To be fair, the offense hasn’t helped them out any, especially to start the game, but it’s clear there’s no quick fix on this side of the ball. Tonight wasn’t even about scheme, it was about one team playing much more physical and fast than the other.

Milton’s struggles are a major concern going forward

We’ve heard all the compliments thrown Milton’s way the past couple years, but he’s not ready. On the day, Milton was 9-of-19 for 98 yards and 2 interceptions. Milton’s eyes aren’t seeing the field well as a passer or ball carrier, his mechanics and footwork are lackluster, and he’s not playing with a sense of urgency on a down to down basis. He’s just flinging it instead of making sure mind, body, and arm are in sync. Milton’s struggling reading the D pre-snap, and surely isn’t processing things fast enough once the ball is snapped. Milton makes nice plays every now and then, but the plays in between are concerning. He’s not playing anywhere near a level where he can compete with competent defenses. Maybe Milton will grow, but Cade McNamara did enough where a QB competition is warranted, and where he deserves a look as QB1. Milton’s tendencies, his bad habits, they don’t look like things that can be corrected quickly, and it’s quite possible McNamara gives the team a better chance to win. Either way, the offensive line has to start protecting better, and wideouts can do a better job catching the football overall.

McNamara a lone bright spot

McNamara came and sparked the Michigan offense for a bit before a heavy downpour of rain forced U-M to run the ball. McNamara went 4-of-7 for 74 yards and a TD. McNamara was able to deliver some decisive strikes and catchable balls to net Michigan points. It’s such a small sample size, but the tempo was good on McNamara’s scoring drive. It remains to be seen if McNamara is ‘ready’, but they recruited him for a reason, and there should be a QB battle heading into their next game.

Tons of questions, not many concrete answers

Jim Harbaugh posed questions to himself. Is it coaching? Is it communication? Is it execution? Why isn’t the team playing fundamental football? Schematically, what are they doing and how are they doing it? Harbaugh said all these things need to be addressed, took the blame, but the answers to his questions aren’t clear.

An offense without an identity

You can’t be the Oregon Ducks and a smashmouth football team at the same time. You have to find your identity, what you do best, and roll with it. Freshman finesse RB Blake Corum received more carries than Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins. The RB by committee approach can work, but it’s hard for any RB to get into a rhythm without being RB No. 1. Haskins looks like a lead back, and it’s been disappointing he hasn’t received many carries of late, just 1 vs. Wisconsin.

With 4th & Goal with inches to go Michigan opted to run Joe Milton from the shotgun, the play resulted in a turnover on downs. A 6-foot-5 Joe Milton at QB and you don’t line up under center for a QB sneak, instead putting him five yards back? Things like these are confusing.

Michigan has to ask themselves “who are we?”. Once again, I’m not sure there’s a clear cut answer.