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

CompleteLunacy

September 23rd, 2012 at 1:03 AM ^

You're being ridiculous. Denard had four interceptions and a fumble...and that's on Borges? The offense was moving the ball at times, but there's only so much you can do when you don't execute the plays properly. 

And I understand Denard isn't a great passer. Borges does too. But as a QB, you need to pass at some point or else you're going to lose the game. 

That isn't to say Borges doesn't deserve some criticism...but how much blame can you really give the man when his players coughed the ball up SIX TIMES to the other team? 

JT4104

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:13 AM ^

Exactly which is why RR benched any kind of pitch option with Denard and Borges benched it early last year as well.

Denard for whatever reason has never really put a pitch where it needs to be. Probably a solid reason for no speed option.

He throws one behind Fitz and then somehow chucks one LOW to 5'6 VS. It is what it is, but you have to know your QB hasn't really been good enough to pitch the ball consistently.

jmblue

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:18 AM ^

I agree that the halfback pass with Smith seemed like an unnecessary gamble, but on the whole I thought Borges called a solid game.  We converted eight of 15 third downs (and went 1-1 on 4th down) against a very stout defense.  We ran the ball much more effectively than I was expecting, especially in the second half.  Seven turnovers (the missed FG effectively counts) is something you just can't expect to happen, especially when most are from your senior QB.

 

elhead

September 22nd, 2012 at 11:49 PM ^

Hey, well our D showed up. A couple of mistakes here and there, plus a great call on that pass to Eifert. Other than that it was Mattisonland out there, and they're only going to get better.

Gotta watch again - hard to tell if our offensive line was that bad, or if ND a great gameplan, or if Denard just plain sucked - hopefully not all three.

What about Gardner? His arm was in a sling? That's scary.

Still say the B1G is ours to lose.

dahblue

September 23rd, 2012 at 9:14 AM ^

It's not hard to tell.  Denard sucked.  Not one of his interceptions was anywhere near a good throw.  ND didn't make plays; Denard just gave the ball away.  Then, for good measure, he threw another shitty pass and got his backup/WR injured.  He's the same talented, athletic turnover machine he's always been.

funkywolve

September 22nd, 2012 at 11:51 PM ^

After having tons of questions about the defense and shrugging off Alabama (UM won't see another team nearly as good as them), shrugging off Air Force (UM won't see an offense like that the rest of the year) and shrugging off UMass as a baby seal, they faced an ND team with an offense that is similiar to a lot they will face in the big ten and the defense rose to the occassion. 

I'm bummed about the loss but trying to look at the glass as half full.  I'd like to think that the offense isn't going to be turning the ball over 6 times in a game anymore this year and if the defense can continue to grow from this game, I'd think the Big Ten is there for the taking.

fatpete

September 22nd, 2012 at 11:53 PM ^

Borges is insane if he keeps thinking he can run a pro style offense with Denard Robinson. Isn't that the definition of insanity? Keep trying the same failure over and over expecting a different result? Hard to watch a good defensive effort go to waste.

San Diego Mick

September 22nd, 2012 at 11:56 PM ^

People want to blame Borges? He wasn't the one who threw 4 INT's in a flat-footed manner, without stepping into the pass.

I know people love Denard and the whole dilithium thing, but he singlehandedly lost the game for us. Everybody else played great, Washington missed a few tackles and that offsides by him really hurt us, but Denard stunk up the joint, why are people afraid to tell it like it is?

Is there a we don't want to hurt Denard's feelings thing going on here? I'm mystified as to how there can be any other observation than Denard lost that game, so sad.

fatpete

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:04 AM ^

You're correct DR did single handedly lose the game. However Borges continued to call ineffective pass attempts with a QB who simply can't throw. There has to be a plan B. But we will never know now because a great opportunity was blown by stupidity!

RagingBean

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:06 AM ^

Denard's mistakes were definitely the difference in the game, but most people remember the 29 other games he has started for us. Remember those? Do you recall how he has the ability to make the entire college football universe catch their breath and propel our side to victory. He can be frustrating, but he's not alone in that. Chill out and report back when Denard is making Big Ten defenses look silly.

elhead

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:09 AM ^

The price we pay for three thrilling, rip-out-the-heart wins over the domers. In the scheme of things, we're way out on top. Maybe Denard didn't eat his wheaties, but I doubt he'll ever forget about last year's game like he will this one. Looking forward to the B1G season.

M-Dog

September 23rd, 2012 at 3:26 AM ^

You are correct.  We don't want to hurt Denard's feelings.

Becaues this is the same Denard that generated almost 1,000 yards agianst Notre Dame in the last two games, and single-handidly won both games for us when we were not the better team.

2 miracle wins.  1 bad loss.  We're more than even.

 

 

Cope

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:22 AM ^

Has anyone seen Denard throw the ball away? I can't remember one time. And I'm okay with the breakdown play if it's trying to scramble. Big things can happen by him that way and I'm okay with the times he's sacked in response.
But man, he's gotta learn to throw a play away and start again rather than endangering the possession. Maturity as a quarterback, in part, is knowing when to cut losses for the next down.

stephenrjking

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:41 AM ^

Denard has never, ever been good at just giving up on a play. This limits his scrambling effectiveness, too--guys like Vince Young and Free Cars Pryor made a living on checking the first read and then taking off. Denard believes that there is someone open to throw to and will continue to try to find that person until the bitter end. It has always been a pattern of his.

J Mac

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:00 AM ^

As Michigan fans we always knew that Denard was a high risk high reward Q-back.  There has been a lot more rewards over the past 2 plus seasons.  Tonight was just not one of them.  We will fight on!  Mr. Bacons article this week has given me better perspective.

San Diego Mick

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:02 AM ^

sit Denard one time at least to give him some time to think and come back with a vengeance.

With the bye week coming,I really would like to see the program move forward and start Bellomy and put Denard at RB, slot, combo, whatever, he ain't gonna be a QB in the NFL, he should start practicing for his future.

Michael Scarn

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:07 AM ^

Jesus H. Christ.  Really?

You do understand the fact that Denard is the entire Michigan offense, right?  Any success that anyone else has is predicated on defense's fear of Denard.  Put someone else under center and Michigan won't move the ball. 

The B1G championship is still 100% intact and at this point, likely.  MSU is terrible, as is OSU, Iowa, pretty much everyone.  Relax.  Denard had a shitty, shitty game.  He'll bounce back. 

RagingBean

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:12 AM ^

I know I just told youto chill up the thread, but this post is just profoundly stupid. Denard is and should be the alpha and omega of our offensive production. He owns the Michigan record for total offense, and you want him to be replaced by a 3 star Redshirt Freshman who has never completed a pass? That is sinfully stupid and reductive thinking.

TyrannousLex

September 23rd, 2012 at 8:46 AM ^

This was what pissed me off most about this game: knowing that a bunch of people would start the bench Denard talk. The kid played one of the worst games of his career and it still wasn't that bad beyond the giveaways.

Criticism is one thing, but these kids put it all out there for themselves, their team, their university, and the fans. You think he doesn't want to win? Look at that kid, if the coaches told him that he'd help the team more as a slot receiver he'd do it...with that giant smile on his face.

The way you couch it as seeing "the program move forward" is asinine and disingenious. It shows a lack of respect for the players, coaches, and even fans that don't think and speak from their jerking knees. In the rankings of what these kids play for i listed the fans last; there was a good reason for it and i'm not sure why these kids would play with everything they have for a lot of the fans.

NYC Blue

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:41 AM ^

As a matter of simple english grammar, he can't be both the best and worst player.  (unless you have no other players)

And this is why so many people get so incensed at these overreactions.  To call him our "worst" player ignores all the great plays he makes.  He is a very good player who also makes mistakes.  If you are looking for a player who plays flawless football...good luck.  I have never seen one. 

These were not the first interceptions that Denard has thrown.  I am pretty sure they will not be the last.  If you want to say he cost us this game against ND, then give him credit for winning the last 2 for us. 

The timing was unfortunate, but this is not a surprise- accuracy and decision making have always been a weakness of his.  He does have other strengths that, I think, more than compensate though....

 

 

WolvinOhio

September 23rd, 2012 at 8:39 AM ^

of Charles Dickens' opening sentence in A Tale of two Cities. How could it be both the best of times and the worst of times? NYC Blue was merely employing dramatic license, which is what makes this the classiest blog in the blogosphere. Besides, we all know what he meant -- Denard touches the ball on almost every play, and he sometimes turns it into something beautiful, and sometimes into a disaster.