In a season full of disappointment, and a comedy of injuries and errors, one thing has stuck out to me: Michigan's offense has disappeared for long stretches in almost every game. This lack of scoring has absolutely killed Michigan and in many ways explains, or at least illustrates, their inability to win games they were in a position to win. The offense has rarely played well for more than a half and has played particularly bad in the third quarter.
Here is the breakdown:
Utah: no points in 2nd or 3rd quarter
Miami (OH): no points in 2nd or 3rd quarter
Notre Dame: no points 3rd or 4th quarter
Wisconsin: no points 1st or 2nd,
Illinois: no points in 2nd or 3rd quarter
Toledo: no points in 3rd or 4th quarter
Penn State: no points in 3rd or 4th quarter
Michigan State: no points in 4th quarter
Purdue: scored in every quarter
Minnesota: scored in every quarter
Northwester: no points in 3rd or 4th quarter
So in 8 games this year Michigan has gone two or more quarters without scoring a point! How can you expect to win ball games if you take half the game off on offense from a scoring perspective?
Here are the points but quarter:
1st: 92, 2nd: 51, 3rd: 34, 4th: 65
Clearly this team struggles mightily in the third quarter. Almost half of the yearly output (14 pts.) was in one game (Purdue). In only 4 of 11 games this season have they scored at all in the third quarter.
Here are some options for why this is happening:
- Coaching: opposing coaches are figuring out Michigan's schemes and coming up with ways to stop them while Michigan is unable to adapt.
- Talent: Michigan simply doesn't have the talent to compete and this talent is winning out in the later half of the game.
- Inexperience: in pressure situations young players make more mistakes and thus we lose important scoring opportunities.
This is not an exhaustive list, obviously, but these seem like the main culprits. And it also seems clear to me that in reality it is a mix of all three.
I think the lack of talent and experience has led to both inconsitent play and to a limited play book. As opposing teams figure out what we are doing and shut it down, the coaches are not able to enlarge the play book or get more creative because the players are not able to handle it. Critical mistkaes and turnovers have also plauged Michigan this year and this has taken away key scoring oppertunities as well.
I am not a Xs and Os guy, and I didn't take the time to chart every drive, but have ing watched the game it was clear that the offense has simply been unable to move the ball for long stretches of time. The scoring numbers reflect this and it has meant the difference between being competitive and getting blown out and between narrow loses and wins.
It Michigan is to have a prayer of winning on Saturday they will need to find a way to be consistent and not take a couple of quarters off. It the above pattern holds it will get ugly.