Utah 24, Michigan 17

Submitted by Ace on September 4th, 2015 at 12:22 AM

Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

A coaching change can only do so much.

Michigan flashed their potential to turn the corner. De'Veon Smith had some punishing runs. Jake Butt couldn't be covered. Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson consistently got open. The alignment of Chris Wormley and Willie Henry looked like a stroke of genius at times. Jourdan Lewis locked down one side of the field. After an up-and-down first half, Jabrill Peppers looked like a five-star talent in the second. Blake O'Neill had that punt.

But the mistakes were numerous. Jake Rudock's first interception looked to be the fault of freshman slot receiver Grant Perry, who hitched when Rudock expected him to cut outside. The next two Rudock picks, both thrown in Perry's direction, looked to be the fault of the quarterback; the third proved especially costly when Utah's Justin Thomas jumped a throw to the flat and took it back 55 yards for a score, giving the Utes a late 24-10 lead. Rudock also missed a few open deep throws that could've changed the outcome of the game; he finished with an underwhelming 279 yards on 43 attempts and didn't tally his second touchdown until desperation time.

The errors weren't limited to Rudock. Michigan's second cornerback spot is far from settled; neither Channing Stribling nor Jeremy Clark stood out there. Joe Bolden missed a handful of tackles on slippery Utah running back Devontae Booker. The offensive line got manhandled in the run game, losing leverage and missing assignments. Smith offset many of his broken tackles by failing to hit the correct hole. Kenny Allen pushed a 44-yard field goal wide right, after which Jim Harbaugh could clearly be seen muttering "I should've gone for that."

There were flashes, chief among them Peppers' second-half TFLs and Jake Butt's spectacular third-quarter touchdown catch to briefly pull Michigan within seven.

But on the road against a decent team, Michigan simply made too many mistakes, big and small, to expect to come away with a victory. They'll be better than they looked tonight, there's little doubt of that. There'll also be rough patches. Home games against lesser teams lie ahead until BYU comes to the Big House, by which time the Wolverines should look more impressive.

At least there was Harbaugh, a sensible gameplan, and a solid outing from the defense. That's something to build on. If this turns out to be an anomalous performance from Rudock, this squad still could be very good. After all the offseason excitement, it's painful to wait through the development process, but even tonight it wasn't hard to see that the process is underway. It just might take a little longer than we had hoped.



September 4th, 2015 at 1:03 AM ^

This was a far worse loss than last year.  Last year, Michigan out-gained Utah.  Last year, Michigan lost because we fielded 10 players on kick coverage.

But this year?  This year, Michigan lost because our quarterback was totally incapable of executing the game plan.  This year, Michigan lost because running backs refused to run threw the holes afforded to them, and instead opted to barrel into defensive linemen.  This year, wide receivers blatantly dropped passes or ran incorrect routes.

This was a complete offensive debachle.  Offennsively, the players were incapable of executing the gameplan from start to finish.

Defensively, we played soft 80% of the time.  We tightened up in the red zone, most of the time, and that resulted in field goal attempts from Utah... ... Utah missed SEVERAL field goals in this game.  That was a gift, after gift, after gift.  When Utah made it in the endzone, it was ALWAYS a resutl of leniant coverages and passive pass rushes.  Every time the defense made a stand, it was because the defensive playcalling was FINALLY aggressive enough.

So, in summary, the offense was incapable of executing on every level.  The defense was crippled by the play-calling just enough to allow Utah to score a few times.  The end.  That's the summary.  This is a 7-5 football team.  I'm disguested.  I'm absolutely disgueted. 


September 4th, 2015 at 1:38 AM ^

Read: If Rudock can throw accurately insteads of throwing 3 horrible interceptions and missing on 3 sure touchdowns.... ... ...


EDIT: My hot take: 7-5.  But this team, with this coaching staff, is capable of 10-2 (high-end).  We lost, exclusively, because of Rudock.  And Shane wasn't even afforded the opportunity to show what he can do.  I have a serious problem with that, and you should too.  Honest, healthy, and fair competition demands that Shane be given an opportunity when Rudock threw two interceptions and missed on two sure touchdowns, under absolutely zero pressure, in the first half alone.  That's unacceptable.

Harbaugh is an elite coach which means he demands elite scrutiny.  Shane should have been given an opportunity to start the second half.  Rudock's first half was totally unacceptable, especially compared to Devin Gardner.  Harbaugh preaches healthy, honest, and fair competition, and he totally abandoned those principles in this game.  How's that for a hot take?


September 4th, 2015 at 11:06 AM ^

Think about it this way: This staff has had 15 practices in spring ball and roughly a month of fall camp. That's just not enough time to make bad habits not re-emerge under pressure. The real test is if the team gets better as the season progresses, with more chances for the coaches to make adjustments and corrections under live fire. 


September 4th, 2015 at 9:53 AM ^

I am out of the ether.  We are so lucky to have Harbaugh, but it is going to take time.  

God were we spoiled in the 80's and 90's.  Grbac, Collins, Dreisbach, Griese, Brady,Henson, Navarre, Henne.  Unfrickin believable.  

I remember complaining about how slow Dreisbach was or Navarre.  Moron alert. Me.

Pray for O'korn to be the real deal.  It is a lot to ask of Peters to come in as freshman and have not heard much buzz on Gentry.

Maybe another 5th year guy next year?  I hope not because eventually the team needs to grow with a young QB and not keep having stopgap guys. 


September 4th, 2015 at 10:37 AM ^

probably isn't in the conversation to start until his RS sophomore or junior year (2017-2018). Great athlete for his size, but raw as all get-out. Next year if Morris sticks around he will be a senior and there's no telling how much he may improve with a full year plus under Harbaugh. Morris and O'Korn will have roughly 18 months in the Harbaughffense and between the two of them we should have a servicible QB next year. 2017 is where it starts to look tantalizing with (hopefully) a RS sophomore Gentry, a RS frosh in Peters, and a senior O'Korn (IIRC), all with 2+ years in the Harbaughffense. I don't think you'll see another fifth year graduate QB brought in from this point forward. Rudock was a nice safety valve for a new coach with a thin group of QBs. None of the other QBs had been exposed to the Harbaughffense this year anyways so a fifth year guy really isn't at a disadvantage in picking up the system compared to the guys that were on the team last year. Next year I think a fifth year guy would have a hard time being a starter competing against guys Harbaugh has been grooming for over a year, and the following years will be even more difficult considering the QBs will have been in the system for 2+ years. I don't think fifth year guys typically transfer to sit on the bench or be the guy doing the hand motions from the sideline. If we see anymore transfer QBs, I'd expect them to be either frosh or sophomores like O'Korn that have the opportunity to sit a year and learn the system to have a fighting chance to start the last couple/few years of their college career. This year is an outlier because everyone was starting from scratch anyways.


September 4th, 2015 at 11:45 AM ^

I don't think we see a fifth year unless russell wilson has a little brother.  Next year should be progress, just based on the # of QB's harbaugh has "picked" and coached for a full year.

Man Rosen would have been nice.

I am not giving up on this year 8 and 4 is possible, but less likely based on what I saw last night.  

Once again, if we had a QB who could consistenly throw downfield, that game is not close.  Utah had no answer for Darboh or Butt and that would have opened up some lanes for the clydesdales (not thoroubreds) in the backfield. 


September 4th, 2015 at 1:28 PM ^

"Moron alert. Me."

Not really.  Not all of the QBs on that list were very good.  Dreisbach was never very good and Griese was awful in his redshirt sophomore year.  If a guy averages 6 ypa or less, can't run, and throws almost as many TD passes as INTs (or worse) then you are perfectly within your rights to call it out as crappy. 


September 5th, 2015 at 1:15 AM ^

No run offense killed us. We need to find a RB who can make plays. To me, Ty Isaac showed the most promise. If we can't run the ball for 4 yards in this offense, we are doomed. Puts way too much pressure on an average passing attack. However Butt looked great.

Have to admit, it was a hard game to watch. The Darboh drop and then the pick-6 was gruesome. Where was Drake Harris all game - not one touch. I would start playing the young guys and build towards next season - the seniors are meh. I thought Perry played great as a frosh.


September 4th, 2015 at 10:48 AM ^

hits one of the open receivers for TDs it's a different game. The overthrow of Chesson at the beginning of the game really hurt, as it would've given our guys a lot of momentum and Rudock a lot more confidence. There wasn't a guy within 5 yards of him and missing that throw hurt more than just on the scoreboard. You're right about the run game, which was frustrating to watch. It seemed like either A) the running back was mauled by three guys before he could even hit the LOS or B) the line opened up a crease and the running backs were unable to make the right cut to pick up big chunks of yardage. 

Hit one of the TDs and throw one less pick and it would have ranged from a neck-and-neck game going to OT to winning by 10. Just hoping he can figure it out because as bad as he looked last night he is starting for a reason and all the people calling for Morris to be inserted would have been even more disappointed IMO. We have a couple of surefire winnable games coming up that he can hopefully use to straighten himself out.

Above and Beyond

September 4th, 2015 at 12:25 AM ^

I just wish I could go back to getting pissed off after a loss. I am at the point where I'm just used to seeing losses during the year that it doesn't anger me as much as it used to. I know this is a new regime and whatnot, but god damn, it is still so frustrating.

Here's an idea - stop scheduling west coast road games because Michigan seemingly cannot win them.


September 4th, 2015 at 1:20 AM ^

The criticism is that we shouldn't schedule such difficult opponents?!  Fuck off!  Utah isn't even expected to finish in the top half of the Pac 12!!!

I don't even know what to say to you people at this point.  This was an atrotious loss!!!  MIchigan looked TERRIBLE!  Rudock looked  HORRENDOUS!!!  He looked significantly... SIGNIFICANTLY!... worse than Devin Gardner.  How many times was Rudock pressured?  Hardly ever.  Hardly ever.  And he still looked terrible.  He simply missed wide open receivers without being pressured in the least bit.

Devin Gardner is a better pure passer than Rudock.,  Again, Devin Gardner is a FAR BETTER pure passer than Jake Rudock.  When you add Devin's ability to scramble and extendd plays, he is leaps and bounds better than Rudock.  I'm honestly shocked that Morris wasn't afforded the opportunity to prove himself in this game.

I would have started Shane in the second half based exculusively on how Rudock played in the first half.  Maybe Shane would have bombed... maybe.  I grant that as a legitimate possibility, but at least Harbaugh would have been conforming to the principle of honest, healthy, fair competition.  The fact of the matter is, Rudock threw two interceptions and left 14 points, in overthrown passes, on the field in the first half alone.  Jake Rudock... left 14 points on the field in overthrown passes, and threw 2 interceptions, in the first half alone.  Yeah... I would have started Shane in the second half.  It is, objectively, the correct move to start Shane in the second half.  Honest... healthy... fair... competition.

All that being said, this was a far worse loss than last year.  Gardner is a far better QB than Rudock.  Case closed.  This loss is sickening.

A Fan In Fargo

September 4th, 2015 at 1:35 AM ^

I've always thought we weren't as strong at the linebacker position as we thought, There just isn't the speed there. Yeah they are talented and get there from time to time but Morgan, Bolden and company are just not the speed and studs that a superb defense needs. End of mother fucking story. Utah is a good team and played good. Michigan should've and could've won this game without the bullshit errors. On the road. They'll get it going. Good times to come boy!! Next game is at home!!


A Fan In Fargo

September 4th, 2015 at 1:45 AM ^

can do on a young man. I'm pretty sure that heisman prospect Booker wasn't too much of a factor after Peppers layed his mother truckin ass out! I yelled out loud. That's a football player. The kid is just getting his feel for the speed of the game and what he needs to do for his angles and timing. That was classic. I'll never forget that shit. Young Pep layin the wood on a senior. Loved it. He's going to get so much better.


September 4th, 2015 at 9:58 AM ^

Rudock doesn't need to win the game, we just need him to take care of the ball.  I thought D. Smith ran hard, and the WR's surprised me; they looked really good!  It was nice to see they made adjustments in the second half, we haven't seen that in a long time.  This team can still be a good team, but Rudock needs to take care of the ball.

There's a reason Harbaugh started Rudock over Morris, and I don't think throwing Shane in there would have changed the outcome of this game.


September 4th, 2015 at 1:26 AM ^

Is a tactic used to try to convince everyone that they didn't just watch his team get plowed by basically a mid-major. What you have at Michigan right now is what a Harbaugh team looks like when Andrew Luck isn't on it. Get used to it. Tho I imagine you all ready are, you've been losing for damn near a decade now


September 4th, 2015 at 1:04 PM ^

There isn't near the variance as there is in college. The NFL is made up of the best players on earth. In college you have to win with the other 95%. Harbaugh was a good coach in the NFL, but he never had a Rudock or Morris as his QD in SF, cause they are not NFL players. On the other hand, at Stanford he did have a NFal quarterback for two seasons, when he didn't he lost