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

InterM

September 23rd, 2012 at 10:00 AM ^

Earlier this very week, another quarterback threw three picks in a single quarter.  He didn't get benched, and I'm pretty sure the team is going to ride it out with him.  I'm speaking, of course, of Peyton Manning.

Horrible game for Denard.  Moving forward . . . .

dahblue

September 23rd, 2012 at 10:14 AM ^

I didn't see that game.  What happened next?  Did he throw another INT?  Then did he fumble?  And what about the "quality" of those INTs?  Were they great plays by the defense?  Or were they terrible throws that defenders had no choice but to intercept?

InterM

September 23rd, 2012 at 10:30 AM ^

If Manning had thrown a fourth pick, I'm sure they would have benched him.  "What happened" in that game was the Broncos lost, and Manning's poor performance was a major reason why.  If he did that on a regular basis, I'm sure he wouldn't be playing anymore.  I have no problem holding Denard to that same standard -- or would you rather turn things over to Bellamy, who threw a pick on his first pass after he took over for Denard in the Alabama game?

dahblue

September 23rd, 2012 at 11:35 AM ^

I think we're "stuck" with Denard at this point - for better (at times) and for worse (at other times).  If it were me, I would never have put Devin at WR.  He'd by my backup QB so that he could have been useful in situations where the starter is having the worst game imaginable.  I'm concerned that we're setting up a bad choice next year between a QB turned (injured, thanks Denard) WR, a mediocre backup (Bellamy) and a true freshman (Morris).

So, yes, I'd have kept Denard in the game, but I'd also shake my head in disapproval at the Denard lust on this board.  For anyone to think he's a legit QB is a joke; we're just stuck because he's currently our best option.  It's unfortunate that we didn't split him out instead of Devin.  Anyone really think he wouldn't have been more dangerous (to ND, and less to us) if he were a WR/RB yesterday?

dahblue

September 23rd, 2012 at 7:59 PM ^

I'm actually not sure that Devin would be an improvement over Denard (this season).  I do think that if we didn't put him out at WR, he'd be a solid, well-practiced option to come in during a super bad game for Denard and, at worst, maybe bring a little momentum and confidence for that game. 

Long term, I just think Devin presents the best link on the path to Morris.

AMazinBlue

September 23rd, 2012 at 10:17 AM ^

to say "at least we won't see... again on the rest of schedule"?  We heard it after Alabama, we heard it after Air Force and now we have to hear it after ND.  I think MSU's defense will feel just as tough as ND's or Alabama's.  They really aren't as good, but they play above themselves against us.

The cold hard reality is this team is not the opportunistic, frankly, lucky team of last year.  We forced turnovers last year and were able to overcome our own mistakes.  Team 133 is not getting those breaks or not making them and it certainly looks like most of the teams on our schedule are better this year than last.

Northwestern and Purdue are definitely better than last year, Nebraska and OSU will be much harder to beat on their turf and MSU will give us everything we can handle.  It will take near mistake-free football to win the conference title this year, not because every team is great, but because our offense isn't really any better than last year or the year before; possibly a little worse.  The defense seems a little worse, but it's hard to tell because the only team with a guareanteed strong offense was Alabama.

Overall, we still don't know much about good this team is.  Assuming the weather will be decent against Purdue, we should find out a lot more.  If nothing else the MSU game will be tell us all we need to know.  Unfortunately, we are trying to find some way to get our square peg to fit the round hole that is Michigan football.

There are no guarantees left on this schedule.  The closest thing to a guarantee left is that every team we will play will have a good chance to win going into the fourth quarter.  Whether it's MAs or turnovers or poor decsisions, this team is not dominant in any one area to the point of guaranteeing victory.

DMadCat

September 23rd, 2012 at 12:03 PM ^

we go back to a strong O-line, a pocket passer, and a dominant RB.  Not that I don't like Denard but after five years of scrambling QBs who can't seem to complete passes it'll be nice to (hopefully) get back to a TEAM that commands the field.  As dazzling as he can be I'm tired (and have been well before this debacle) of hanging my hopes on one guy having a great game.

Unfortunately, if he can't pass the ball accurately, we're pretty much stuck with a RB at QB (hence our march up the field three yards and a cloud of dust style late in the game).

Bob Tabachino jersey

September 23rd, 2012 at 2:22 PM ^

Notre Dame sealed our fate when they subbed out their own incompetent, turnover-addled Black quarterback for a more intelligent, capable White quarterback.  We had no recourse, and were doomed to our six-TO debacle. 

nmajali

September 23rd, 2012 at 5:17 PM ^

As bad as the offense and offensive play calling was, I am shocked to say that Michigan was definitely the better team on the field.. We had equivalent defences but our offense was much better.. Now turnovers are not precalculated In my book rather a stupid act.. We just had some players and calls that were willing to do it 6 times.
Honestly I would never diss shoelace, but for one I would agree with his comments, this was his worst game ever and if anything, him and Borges should take the weight of this loss. They had some good calls, but having linebackers intercept him 3 times is just over doing it.. The Vincent smith interception was just plain wrong.. And the fumble was inexcusable.. So sorry shoelace, in this game they should've given you a rest right after the 3rd turnover.. Now it is out of respect for all your previous achievements that I say "I respect you" and you have earned the right to lose a couple of games!! So lets credit this game to your account..
Honestly all respect to a stellar Defence who was shockingly great.. A super O-Line who gave us some holes and some good team effort.. Again Michigan was the better team on the field but it was not meant to be..

Go Ble

nmajali

September 23rd, 2012 at 5:17 PM ^

As bad as the offense and offensive play calling was, I am shocked to say that Michigan was definitely the better team on the field.. We had equivalent defences but our offense was much better.. Now turnovers are not precalculated In my book rather a stupid act.. We just had some players and calls that were willing to do it 6 times.
Honestly I would never diss shoelace, but for one I would agree with his comments, this was his worst game ever and if anything, him and Borges should take the weight of this loss. They had some good calls, but having linebackers intercept him 3 times is just over doing it.. The Vincent smith interception was just plain wrong.. And the fumble was inexcusable.. So sorry shoelace, in this game they should've given you a rest right after the 3rd turnover.. Now it is out of respect for all your previous achievements that I say "I respect you" and you have earned the right to lose a couple of games!! So lets credit this game to your account..
Honestly all respect to a stellar Defence who was shockingly great.. A super O-Line who gave us some holes and some good team effort.. Again Michigan was the better team on the field but it was not meant to be..

Go Ble

Crime Reporter

September 23rd, 2012 at 6:50 PM ^

Was in Tallahassee for the FSU-Clemson game. Checked my phone every so often and saw how low the score was and then noticed the amount of turnovers.

Needless to say, glad I missed it and I had another game to keep me preoccupied. Also, I don't think I will watch the recording.

markusr2007

September 23rd, 2012 at 7:45 PM ^

Strange as it may sound Purdue might be playing the best all around football in the Big Ten right nowI.

In two weeks Michigan faces the No. 1 passing defense in the league in Purdue.

Purdue is also 3rd in the league in interceptions with 5.

Michigan is pretty good at pass defense too (154 ypg). Which is awesome, until  you realize that this probably has something to do with the Wolverines being dead last in the league in rushing defense (12th, 182 ypg).

Offensively they score a ton of points but are still a middling rushing and passing team.

 

 

Blueinsconsin

September 24th, 2012 at 1:51 PM ^

I had some issues with the offensive playcalling, example "Vince Smith throwing the ball inside the red zone."  I was sitting in that end zone and when I saw the pitch I instantly thought "get outside, get outside"  Then I instantly thought "What the hell?"  That was not the time to get cute.

Yes, Denard had a bad game, but that is not all on him.  There are many plays that could have been called to help make your players make plays.  We drove the ball well, but shot ourselves in the foot too many times with either a turnover, bad play call or combination of the two. 

Luckily, there is still plently of time to make some corrections, discipline decision making, and win the Big 10.  This game was not pretty and a fairly disheartening loss (b/c ND is not that good), but, again,  I was impressed with the defense and most of the offense.

UofM Die Hard …

September 24th, 2012 at 11:40 AM ^

worst Monday in a while.  Everyone loses.  Now to the game, I was happy with the defense, they did a good job other than a handful of plays (JT YOU NO SLIP!)  looked like the D-Line got some good push but needed to close on some tackles, QWash could have had a few tackles for loss that I saw, this eased my pain a bit as I looked at the rest of the schedule...play solid D and our goals can still be accomplished.  

 

Denard, ugh, I think his worst day ever?   Come back strong shoelace, shake this shit off and focus on the B1G.  Like all of you know B1G is awful this year and I think its up for grabs.

 

again, sigh.....Go Blue

 

Team 133