Opportunity Seized

Submitted by Ace on September 22nd, 2012 at 11:32 PM


Upchurch/MGoBlog

It was there for the taking.

It was there when Michigan had a first-and-goal on their third possession, when Vincent Smith—yes, Vincent Smith—threw an interception in the end zone.

It was there on each of the next four drives, each ending with a Denard Robinson interception.

It was there when—despite the above—Michigan faced just a ten-point deficit on their first possession of the second half, when they drove to the Notre Dame 16, only to lose a Robinson fumble.

It was there when the defense forced a do-or-die third-and-four with 2:35 on the clock, only to see Tyler Eifert beat J.T. Floyd down the sideline for a 38-yard completion.

In a game that felt like karmic retribution for the last three years, however, Michigan never seized control, instead making error after crippling error until there were no more errors to make. The defense did everything in their power to overcome the offense, holding Notre Dame to just 239 yards on 4.8 yards per play and forcing two interceptions of their own. They could not stop Robinson from turning the ball over, though, and in the end it was a triumphant Tommy Rees kneeling the clock out.

The turnovers overshadowed a stellar defensive effort, one that will sadly be forgotten in the aftermath. Notre Dame starting quarterback Everett Golson was completely ineffective, completing just one fewer pass to Michigan (two) than he did to his own team. The Irish rushing attack never got going, gaining 94 yards on 31 carries. Jordan Kovacs (7 tackles, 1 TFL) and Jake Ryan (5 tackles, all solo) both turned in outstanding games. With no margin for error, however, all it took was two poor plays on third downs—a pass interference by freshman Jarrod Wilson on the goal line and the final pass to Eifert—to foil an otherwise textbook Mattison game.

On offense, the bright spots are fewer and farther between. Fitz Toussaint finally got some holes to run though and looked like his nimble 2011 self when he found them. Roy Roundtree make a few crucial catches after largely disappearing from the offense this year. Al Borges added a promising wrinkle when Devin Gardner took an end-around only to throw downfield to fullback Joe Kerridge, drawing a pass interference on the opening drive. That's about it.

As I'm sure will be said ad nauseam in the coming bye week, all of Michigan's goals are still within reach. The Big Ten is awful and still very much there for the taking. If the Wolverines are to seize that chance, however, they'll have to be far more opportunistic than they were tonight, when a fourth straight victory over the Irish slipped through their fingers and into the hands of a team more willing to take advantage.

Comments

kehnonymous

September 22nd, 2012 at 11:37 PM ^

Good recap.  I'm bummed out about this game, but also kinda encouraged.  Knocking on wood here, but is there seriously a better team than ND (who we totally hung with) left on our schedule?  At this point I'm not seeing one.

MrVociferous

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:09 AM ^

I mean, its not like Notre Dame was THAT good tonight.  They were pretty mediocre in fact.  Despite being ranked 11th (and sure to rise), and being 4-0 they haven't really beaten anyone good.  Michigan is weak, MSU is weak, and Navy is Navy.  They only beat Purdue by 3.  I mean, what does that say about our chances against Purdue?  I still think Ohio State, Nebraska, and Michigan State will give us problems, and we'll probably lose 2 of the 3.  Hell, Minnesota and Northwestern are both undefeated.  I wouldn't consider those gimmes either with the way Michigan has played so far this season.

MrVociferous

September 23rd, 2012 at 2:36 PM ^

I didn't say the season was wasted fuckface.  But thanks for putting words in my mouth.  I was just commenting on the stupid idea that there was no better team than Notre Dame left on our schedule.  Michigan definitely has a chance in the Big Ten, because the Big Ten is a steaming pile of dog shit.  And Michigan has as good a chance as anyone to be the freshest turd on top of the pile.

ClearEyesFullHart

September 23rd, 2012 at 9:28 AM ^

I came into this game worried about the defense.  Michigan's defense was rock solid, especially against the run.

I came into the game worried about the offensive line.  Especially in the second half, Michigan's guys came out and bullied ND's huge D linemen.

I did not however come into the game worried about QB play...and it was a tire fire in the first half.  But they came out and made adjustments, and Denard's arm started finding the wide open spaces that ND was blitzing from(yeah, quicker adjustments would've been better Al).

Overall, considering that this game really didn't matter, the defense shined, the OL made holes...If we can teach our quarterback to THROW the goddamned ball OUT OF BOUNDS we might just have something here.

Jhow

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:05 AM ^

He injured it on the fade route in the end zone right? Why the heck is a metal stage that close to the endzone? Fade routes are so common, why would they plant that death trap right there? Maybe it's normal to have it there, but it seems unfair to the athletes to have a huge immovable object a few feet from the sideline of an endzone. Hope Gardner is ok and able to play the Boilermakers.

jmblue

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:53 AM ^

I remember Manningham crashing into the ND band in the 2006 game.  Those kinds of things seem to happen a lot at ND.  I'm not sure what the deal is about that.  We have visiting bands stay on the corner of the field at Michigan Stadium, but there never seem to be any collisions.

Bando Calrissian

September 23rd, 2012 at 2:10 AM ^

The sidelines in South Bend are really, really, really tight.  It's very similar to what our stadium was like before the field was lowered in '91, when the seats were relatively close to field level, and not incredibly far from the sidelines.  At our stadium today, the visiting band is no longer allowed to wrap around past the end line of the end zone, so you don't get corner routes running directly into the heart of the band anymore.  That changed ~2005 when Lloyd was concerned about the possibilities of players getting hurt plowing into the band in the corners of the end zones.

At ND, the gap between the field and the wall before the seating begins is significantly narrower.  Heck, in the end zone opposite the tunnel, the seating begins less than ten feet behind the goal post, and it's literally seats sitting on the field level.  And the bands are wrapped from the sidelines all the way around the corners into the end zones, and are just about within five feet of the boundaries of the field.  There really isn't another way of doing it with the incredibly small amount of real estate they have.  It's an extremely compact stadium, and looks a lot smaller in person than it does on TV.

So when Gardner went careening into the bleachers, it wasn't as much surprising for it happening as surprising it doesn't happen more often.  It's downright scary how close those things are to the field, and that guys don't get hurt more often.  In a stadium that size, putting both bands in the seats means eating up about 1000 seats of a mid-size stadium (their band is freaking massive), which is a goldmine of lost revenue.

So all in all, it's a shame a player had to get hurt for this.  And especially awful it's Gardner.

dcwolverine1993

September 22nd, 2012 at 11:38 PM ^

Kept thinking about that during the game.  ND was probably the better team the last 3 years, certainly last year, but we kept stealing wins at the end.  Today, felt we were the better team, just killed ourselves.  In addition to the 6 to's, we had 5 trips to the red zone, and got a whopping 6 points.  Just hitting field goals would have won us this game

phork

September 22nd, 2012 at 11:39 PM ^

Good game fellas.  I was impressed with your D's run stopping ability and just as amazed at why Kelly would keep going inside over and over.  I really like that Jake Ryan kid, he is a gamer and going to be one of the best by the time he is through.

We just can't seem to put it together.  Either its all offense and no defense or the other way around.  Glad its defense though, because a game manager can run the offense as needed.

Good luck the rest of the way and please stomp a mud hole in Sparty on your way to the Rose Bowl.

PS: I always love me some Denard, even if he had an off game.

blueak

September 22nd, 2012 at 11:47 PM ^

with that Vincent Smith trick pass play on 1st and goal. Michigan had been moving down the field with ease on Denard's running and throwing. Why take the chance on a trick play on 1st and goal??? Even with all the other turnovers, that, literally, thrown away 7 points would have resulted in a tie game and OT at the end.

On the flip side, the defense has come together. I'm sure that they will win some games for the team down the road. And God bless Norfleet. The kid has got it.

blueak

September 22nd, 2012 at 11:59 PM ^

If it worked on a crappy Minnesota team last year, it would surely work on a 3-0 (oops, make that 4-0) Notre Dame team this year. And, really, the point is that, based on how the team was moving down the field, there was no need for Borges to pull a trick play out of his hat.

rpel84

September 23rd, 2012 at 6:54 AM ^

There is a big difference between ND and Minnesota.  If you dont know that than of course that play seems like a good idea to you.  Also at that point we needed to take advantage of the scoring opportunity.  Fire Borgess for taking the ball out of Denards hands.  Idiot.

MrVociferous

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:13 AM ^

The middle of the field is the place to get cute and try trick plays.  Down on the goal line where the defense is packed in tight is not the place to try that kind of stuff.  When you're 10 yards from the endzone you don't risk it by having a 5'6" RB try his hand at throwing the ball.  Especially with the way ND has been pressuring you.  It was a dumb call.

raleighwood

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:50 AM ^

You're absolutely right on that.  There was just no need for a trick play when Michigan was moving the ball up and down the field at will (particularly at that point in the game).

A lot of this loss was on Borges.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me five times, shame on may. As the OC, Borges needs to have a better understanding of his QB's very limited pocket passing abilities.  It's not like this is anything we haven't seen before.  Borges was not prepared for this game.

 

Tapin

September 23rd, 2012 at 1:19 AM ^

That trick play was atrocious, but there's so many things that went wrong in this game (almost any one of which could have led to a different result) that it's hard to put this on any one person's shoulders.

Only positive coming out of the game that I saw: The D-line didn't cave nearly as badly as I had expected.

Two weeks to learn from this and move on.

orobs

September 23rd, 2012 at 2:04 AM ^

To be fair...denard looked superhuman on that drive before the trick play.  That INT put all the momentum in Notre Dame's hands.  Would they have had 3 straight interceptions had michigan scored a touchdown on that drive? Maybe, maybe not.  All we know is that Denard was not the same after that play call until it was too late

g_reaper3

September 22nd, 2012 at 11:47 PM ^

I feel much better about Mattison and our defense.

I question Borges more and more.  Hard to understand 1st and goal twice from the 10 in the first quarter and we ran a sweep to Touisant, two passes by Denard and a pass by Vincent Smith.  I don't feel like he puts Denard in the best position to succeed.

B1G season will be interesting.  Who will be the lamb for the PAC 12?

Elmer

September 22nd, 2012 at 11:53 PM ^

Have to agree, I'm still not convinced Borges is a good OC.  I keep telling myself he will be better when we get a more traditional QB, but I sure thought he could have used Denard better. 

As for Mattison, great stuff.

jdon

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:13 AM ^

I think he will be fine when he gets 'his guys' in there but I also define coaches by what they do with the talent around him...

I see some striking similarities between Borges and RichRod in their steadfast refusal to conform the offense to the individual players talents.  the truth is we have weak recievers and a quarterback who is mediocre in the passing game and we are chucking the ball downfield like its Carson Palmer back there...

IDK, I don't want to get to tl;do  but Fuck today was frustrating.

 

MrVociferous

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:31 AM ^

For the record I hate that everyone down votes these types of comments.  Ohh....someone questions one of the great and holy Michigan coaches.  HOW DARE YOU.

To hell with all of you hiveminded thinkers.  Borges absolutely deserves criticism after this game.