Ten Reasons Why Michigan Lost The Game

Submitted by pethock on October 3rd, 2009 at 4:55 PM
Let me just start off by saying this is not making excuses for Michigan's loss.  State won that game outright and Michigan did not deserve to win with the way that they played.  This is more of a top 10 reasons why Michigan did wrong and MSU did right rather than anything else.  These are not in any particular order of significance

1. The Inability of Michigan's Defense to Stop Michigan State Early.
-On State's first drive, they had 4 penalties for 50 yards.  Their drive was 80 yards.  That's 130 yards total of offense they had to create.  Anytime a team gets a personnel foul 15 yard penalty, it normally KILLS the drive.  There are two reasons why it didn't here: Both times it was AFTER the play, so it merely set MSU back, rather than 2nd and 25, it was 1st and 10 from 15 yards back.  Second, Michigan failed to make MSU pay for the chop block penalty that set them at 2nd and 25.  Instead, they allowed Cousins to scramble and practically erase the penalty.  More on that later.  Through out the entire first half, Michigan's defense did not stop State on 3rd down until late in their drives, if at all.

2. The Inability of Michigan's Defense to Contain
-A couple plays come to mind: namely every time Cousins scrambled out of the pocket, he picked up at least 10 yards because our defense lost contain and could not close in fast enough.  We got KILLED by this the whole game.  Give props to Cousins for seeing that massive hole to run through, because it was his for the taking.  Our defense just could not stop him at all.  And let's not mention that end-around where Michigan had the play resolved and just had to make the tackle, but somehow managed to allow Martin to run around the entire defense and turn a 3-4 yard loss into an 18 yard gain.

3. The Inability of Michigan's Defense to Get Turnovers
-MSU presented plenty of opportunities for the Wolverine's to get a turnover by having I believe three or four fumbles during the game, only one of which was recovered.  Granted one bounced literally into the arms of MSU's Grant as he was getting up from a block, but the others were recoverable.  We were able to force the turnovers but we just couldn't recover them.

4. The Inability of Michigan's Defense to Get Pressure And Disrupt The Pocket
-This goes hand-in-hand with number 2.  Giving Cousins and Nichol over 5 seconds to throw and not coming up with a sack is ridiculous.  Giving them over 5 seconds to throw and then letting them scramble for 15 yards is just inexcusable.  Our defensive front got beat all day long.  Yea you can say they showed poise on the early goalline stand, or the Brandon Graham I'll-Knock-You-Into-Next-Year-When-I-Don't-Get-Blocked tackle on MSU's Winston, but overall they didn't show up.

Okay, enough gripe about the defense, we know they sucked coming into this game, but how about the offense with Tate the Great?

5. The Inability of Michigan's Receivers to Catch a Pass
-Seriously, how many dropped balls did we have in the first half? Like a billion? Ok, only about 4 or so, but still.  It seemed like our receivers just could not hang onto the ball or make a catch all game long.  Tate would scramble around and make the throw only to have it fall through someone's hands, or be caught and then jarred loose.  Give credit again to MSU for delivering big hits on a couple of those, but some had the receiver wide open and they just dropped it.

6. The Inability of Michigan's Offense to Adjust to MSU's Defensive Front
-When you continuously try to run the ball up the middle the whole game, and continuously get stuffed, how does that make a good game plan?  Carlos Brown thrives on speed and being able to blow by people, not run up the middle and pound it out; that's Minor's job.  Michigan needed to find ways to get Carlos outside in space, rather than have him try to get yards by going forward up the middle.

7. The Inability of Michigan's Offense to Convert Turnovers
-Biggest case, the opening series.  Got a great turnover early and a touchdown would have been icing on the cake to start the game.  Instead, the most Michigan can muster is a net 5 yard loss and tack up the field goal.  Had Michigan scored there, the entire game is different.  Then again later in the 3rd quarter, a clutch interception takes away three points, and what does Michigan do? Makes the most confusing play call of all-time.

8. The Worst Play Call of All-Time
-4th and inches, deep in their own territory, Michigan opts to kick it...except not.  Instead, Zoltan tries to run from 8 yards deep to get to the first.  Normally on fake punts it goes to one of the guys setting up the block, not the punter.  And if it does go to the punter, it's normally a pass, because he's so far deep.  In that scenario if Michigan truly wanted to go for it, give the ball to Brandon Minor, or have Tate get under center and push.  Either way, that play could have changed the game had Michigan's defense not miraculously held MSU to a field goal.

9. Michigan Did Not Want It
-If you watched the game, you could see the hunger and desire in the eyes of the players of MSU.  They wanted this win.  This win could turn around their season and give them a shot at a Big Ten Title run.  This win would define the rest of their season.  For Michigan, it seemed the players were content with starting 4-0 (and then 4-1) and the passion was not there as it was for MSU.  Granted, it was in East Lansing, but that does not excuse the fact that Michigan's effort was severely lacking compared to MSU the entire game.  I don't know if players weren't focused or what, but they just didn't seem as into it as MSU.

10. Tate Can't Do Everything Himself
-Out of the Michigan players, this is the one kid that did want it.  His two fourth quarter drives proved it.  He wanted to win, and he wanted it badly.  He did everything in his power to guide his team to victory, but in the end it wasn't enough.  He can't carry the whole team by himself; he needs support from the other players.  Tate will be great, of that there is no doubt, as it already has been proven.  But every great player has a great supporting cast, and others now need to step up.

Michigan did not win this game, because they had no business being in this game.  Those last fourth quarter drives were unearned and Michigan did not deserve to be in overtime with Michigan State.  The result is what it should have been, a loss for Michigan.  The Wolverine's took their early successes as an excuse to look past MSU, especially given MSU's 3-1 start.  But now Michigan needs to regroup and refocus for next week, and continue to take the season one game at a time.

This was a tough loss to handle, especially after tying the game and going into overtime.  But next week's game is going to be harder.  Iowa brings a defense that is 3rd in the Big Ten behind Penn State  (#1) and Ohio State (#2).  They won't need to outscore the Wolverine's if their defense does their job, and their offense should be fine against Michigan's porous defense.  Michigan needs to step up and find other role players on both sides of the ball that can make plays.  This is the spot of college football, and on any given Saturday, any team can win.



October 3rd, 2009 at 5:00 PM ^

We lost.

Is it the end of the world?


This whole let's focus on the negative and give the top 10 reasons why we lost is complete and utter BS.

I'm staying off of MGoBlog because the idiots are running the asylum right now and I don't want to get neg-banged to oblivion because I don't want to pile on anyone on this team (whether that be the coach, Zoltan, the players, anyone).

We are 4-1 after a 3-9 season last year. Most of us would be giving our left nut at the start of the season to be 4-1. Yes our team has a lot of problems but ya know what they aren't going to fixed this year.

Give it a rest!

Gustavo Fring

October 3rd, 2009 at 5:26 PM ^

We lost to a team that lost to Central. For the first time in 40 years, we lost to our little brother in consecutive years. That. is. pathetic.

I'm not blaming Rich Rod, or any one person. This was just 60 minutes (and OT) of Michigan doing everything it could to give the game away.

Everytime the defense forced a turnover, the offense found a way to give the ball back. Stonum's fumble was a backbreaker. If we scored there, I think we would have won the game. The intensity was not there.

And why, in God's name, did we not attack the weakest secondary in the Big Ten ALL GAME LONG! Did it take us 52 minutes to realize that we can move the ball easily through the air and not at all on the ground? UM missed a lot of opportunities. Regardless of what the statistics say, I'm convinced we could have won this game by ten points.

You knew Tate was going to Favre away a game at some point. But why this one! You knew a break (like the coin toss) was going to against us at some point. BUT WHY THIS ONE?! Now for a whole long damn year we have to listen to the Freep's bs about how Dantonio is a great coach and the balance of power is shifting. This is not the end of the world, but it's pretty close.


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:30 PM ^

It was raining. Our guys were dropping passes left and right.

What I don't understand why all of you douchebag "fans" come out of the wood work after we lose our first game.

That's right anyone that is posting for the first time after this loss and is calling for RR's head or is questioning the play calling is a troll or a douche.

Gustavo Fring

October 3rd, 2009 at 5:44 PM ^

No one is calling for RR's head. But it is right for us to question play-calling when it seemed like the only thing that was working for most of the game was the forward pass (the one good drive we had in the first half), not to mention it also played to State's biggest fan.

Michigan State's receivers were not dropping passes left and right. It was raining on them too.

Rich Rodriguez deserves a lot of credit for four wins. And he wasn't the only person to blame. Dropped passes, Stonum's fumble, and Zoltan's punt option hurt us big-time. He still coached a lot better than Dantonio. But I would have liked to see them adjust the game plan earlier.

And people need a place to vent. This is a very frustrating loss because everybody and their mother hates on Michigan, particularly anyone in the state of Michigan who isn't a Michigan fan/writes for a Michigan newspaper. Now, we will have to hear this for another year. People have a right to be frustrated. No one is calling for Rich Rod's head, but that doesn't give you the right to call anyone a troll or a douche.

For the record, I think having Molk would have been a HUGE help. It sucks that so many of these things went State's way.


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:53 PM ^

He was running for his life all game. When we passed our WRs couldn't hold onto the ball. I'm sorry that in your expert opinion the play calling was shitty. Maybe you should be coaching!

P.S. Yes someone in an earlier thread called out RR and said that he has lost faith in the RR hire. That is so stupid that there is no valid response for that.

Gustavo Fring

October 3rd, 2009 at 6:03 PM ^

Tate was pressured in obvious passing situations. But if he had thrown some more quick passes on first and second down, we might have had more manageable third down situations.

As for the drops, I have two responses:
1. Michigan State played in the same conditions, and their passing attack was relatively successful.
2. The fourth quarter featured a lot of rain, and yet we passed the ball very effectively.

More short, quick passes could have countered the blitzes and even set up the run (as you saw, we were even running the ball better toward the end once we had their defense reeling).

No one said RR's game plan was shitty! It could have been tweaked, for sure, but you need to calm down. Read my posts: I'm frustrated we lost a game we could have won to the one team that is now going to cause newspapers to run Michigan down for the next year, but I did not say anything along the lines of firing Rich Rod, etc.


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:02 PM ^

Three turnovers were committed by Sparty today. What are you hoping for, seven? 2 interceptions (one of which led to the first points) and a fumble recovery sounds like the defense was fine forcing turnovers.

No one controls where the ball bounces after a fumble except physics and I think the bigger issue is the defense.
You can't expect to win a game with only three 1st half possessions


October 3rd, 2009 at 6:39 PM ^

...it may be closer to 50/50, but I think the offensive team has a better chance at it usually cause the guy who fumbles is the first to realize it is a fumble and is most likely to fall on it. Maybe I am wrong.

That being said...FAIL on my part. We obviously had 2 turnovers. I forget about the most obvious one in OT.


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:05 PM ^

Normally, no more than 1 or 2 Division IA teams go undefeated in a season. We shouldn't be shocked we're dealing with a loss. Frankly, it's happening 3 weeks later than I thought it would.

This team has 89 freshmen and sophomores.

They still made it to OT.

It's a loss. No big deal. Move on.


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:16 PM ^

I'm with you. This is a game that really brought us down to earth and refocus us going into Iowa. The reality is that this is still a freshman playing his first road game, and a defense that's very thin, and still has much to learn. Many of us were expecting 6-6 or 7-5 (myself included). While this loss certainly hurts, let's be grateful for where we're at so far.


October 3rd, 2009 at 9:06 PM ^

I am pleased with 4-1. And I am patient for the future. And while today stings like hell, the ND comeback was epic. I am hopeful we can learn from this first road game and play our asses off next week in Iowa City.

Honestly, we could easily be 2-3 right now, just as easily as we have 4 wins. So, I will take it.


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:12 PM ^

This loss was really about the offense. If someone could have told you that the defense would hold MSU to 20 points in regulation, you would have been delighted. I'm not saying that Michigan played terrific defense, which it obviously didn't. But with decent offensive production -- not great, just decent -- Michigan wins.


October 4th, 2009 at 4:52 PM ^

has some serious deficiencies but they do seem to have an ability to limit the bleeding when it comes to holding teams to FGs instead of TDs. In the past two weeks they've stopped 7 drives inside their own 20 that could have been TDs. So while they've been gashed for yardage there is some semblance of a silver lining there.


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:15 PM ^

cost us the game, it doesn't take a genius to know MSU's secondary couldn't cover a MACK truck, but we continued to try and run the ball even though it was obvious MSU was geared totally to stop the run. We could have thrown 5 to 7 yard routes all game long and won this game. It was the absolute most pathetic offensive game plan I have ever seen....in the 4th quarter they finally figured out they could throw against MSU? Are you kidding me? That was available all game long...we continued to try and run the ball up the middle, and did absolutely nothing different than the previous 3 games to mix it up? Maybe a pass by Denard Robinson? Is it that difficult, that may open up the game plan when he comes into the game? MSU was agressive Rich Rod played this game like John Cooper...again, on the road, with momentum, Tate injured or not, you go for two, what Michigan fan would give them guff if they lost trying to win the game on the road after being down 20 to 6? That's the problem I have, very conservative, not what u can afford when your under NCAA investigation and U of M alumni have already questioned youe hire.


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:28 PM ^

Seriously. First you call for RR's head in another thread and then say "That's the problem I have, very conservative, not what you can afford when your (you're) under NCAA investigation and UofM alumni have already questioned youe hire"

Seriously troll go home.


October 3rd, 2009 at 8:02 PM ^

As a U of M alumnus, I'm sorry you feel this way. A lot of these guys are freshman/sophomores and the only reason that we forget that is because so many of them played like they're not for the first 4 games. So we lost to state. On an INT in the endzone, which was a bad decision by a kid playing his 5th game in college. Big F'in deal. I'm not happy that we lost, but I'm proud that this bunch of guys kept fighting and scraping and trying when it looked like the game was lost.

The fact that we made it to OT says more about this team than anything else that happened this game. I can't wait to see how these young guys progress this year and in the future. I think that we come out with good effort next week and maybe we shock the world (or at least the Big Ten). Go Blue.


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:20 PM ^

Yes the defense is sub-par, we knew that. However the defense actually played halfway decent, IMO. They held sparty to 20 points, and that's after giving them a gift of at least 3 after that disastrous fake punt.

What I found disturbing was the O-line couldn't do squat for 3 quarters. After running the ball at will on all of our previous opponents we couldn't do anything this game.

While I love Tate's heroics as much as the next guy, I don't know if we can count on it every game. He looked hurt and exhausted this game, will he be able to go next week? who knows.


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:22 PM ^

Great write up. I agree with pretty much all of your points. Excellent job.

But I disagree with the comments from others stating "that this LOSS is no big deal." And to "just move on." Fuck that. This was a HUGE game. This is the State game. We HAVE to win this every year. Sounds like some fellow Wolverines have gone soft. This game will always be huge for me.

However, we were dominated for 3/4ths of the game. And we almost stole it. This loss cuts deep. It should matter considerably to everyone that we lost.

I pin the loss on our lack of intensity and the fact that we only gained 28 yds on the ground. Wtf!


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:46 PM ^

I agree with TinCup. Big ten games are always a big deal. And as someone who started feeling cautiously optimistic just as the rain started to fall in earnest, I can't quite shrug it off and "just move on". At least give us a few days! It was a tough game to sit through for 3 quarters - people (Michigan fans, mainly) were leaving before Michigan got that first touch down. They missed out. The last 7 min were pretty exciting, and it was impossible not to feel disappointed after clawing back from among the presumed dead. Sure, Michigan probably didn't "deserve" to win, but neither did Colorado, you know?

So, while it still stings, I think we should be allowed to lament a lack of offensive execution and deride that pathetic excuse for a fake punt. When it's 4th and inches and the coach decides to go for it, for crying out loud, just line up under center and have your QB go forward. And if that doesn't work, and you lose, then at least you'll know the reason you lost was in the fundamentals, down in the trenches, where games should be won and lost.


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:55 PM ^

Like all Michigan/Michigan State games it is always a nail biter and always a HUGE DEAL (but I didn't figure I was watching a National Championship team going into this game.)I do see improvement in the team and am willing to be patient as they grow!!!! They came up with a little redemption in the end for a tie, and I am not embarrassed for Michigan. It was a GREAT comeback forcing the ovetime in the game.

AS for no big deal, move on....Well, kind of have to do just that. Not going to dwell on this game when there are alot of games left to play for Michigan.

I see a National Championship team in the future and am looking forward to watching this team evolve.

GO BLUE!!!!!


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:28 PM ^

going to be average until Molk returns. We just have to deal with that.

Most disturbing to me today was the inability to contain Cousins, a pedestrian runner at best...... this bodes very poorly for Pryor and OSU. Our linebackers are nowhere to be found when a big play needs to be made.

Also, the good tackling and good angles from game one have disappeared completely. UM has returned to the reach and grab/bump tackling in space poor habits.

PS... Tate is a freaking legend!


October 3rd, 2009 at 11:11 PM ^

'Pedestrian' runner, get it? Thanks, I'll be here all week.

Not sure you have too much to worry about with Pryor. He has issues, umm, throwing the ball to the right guy and stuff. With him, defenses should focus on the run first and deal with it if he makes some good passes. In Cousins's case, he showed no willingness or ability to run before this game, so I'm not surprised the defense wasn't ready for it. Believe me, I was shocked too, and I've seen most of his games.

Yeah, and I must admit Tate is better than I thought. Figured that injury would keep his action limited, fo sho. Oh well, at least MSU won; not sure I like our chances next year, though...


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:39 PM ^

Here are my key gripes:

1)Time of possession (per ESPN):
Michigan 20:14
MSU 39:46

This is the telling stat in my eyes. I was having flash backs of last year with all the 3 and outs. The defense can only do so much before they too tired to even tackle. This was so evident on the TD winning run when a Michigan defender had Larry Caper wrapped up but just slid off. This, in my eyes, was a 'tired' tackle where you are just hanging on for dear life. Offense did step up to the plate, but it was a little too late by that time.

2) Fake Punt
WTF?! It's only inches for a 1st down. Ever heard of QB sneak? Is Zoltan one of the fastest guys on the team? My gosh, you don't have your punter run from 8yds deep! At least call a fake punt pass...

Okay - I'm done griping. It's not the end of the world. It appears that Michigan is on the right path but we need to be patient. Let's get ready for Iowa - Go Blue!!!


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:44 PM ^

Losing to Sparty sucks, but realistically they were better all game and we were lucky to be in the game in the 4th quarter. Our team is a work in progress with all the underclassmen. I think we are making good progress but it is clear what we lack in terms of being BCS quality....Experience and elite D-line and linebackers. The skill players are in place and I expect with another year of coming together this group will be very explosive on offense. The O-line is coming around, but clearly as we saw today, is not a dominant bunch always in sync with one another.
That being said, every team, even the best, have holes....Our problem is we have a huge gaping one where our D-line/LB talent lives. Because of this, our secondary...which is average to below average, gets exposed and looks horrible at times. A strong pass rush with just 4 up front would change this very quickly. Craig Roh is a solid player and could become a star in time. B-Graham is a beast. Van Bergen has his moments. Stevie Brown is finally in the right position in the right system. Outside of that, we have no real impact players up front on D. This leaves anyone not being covered by D-Warren as a threat to slice the rest of our secondary to shreds, as the qb simply has too much time.
It is clear this is a fun, exciting team that is developing and maturing. All these games...ND, MSU, Iowa, PSU, Illinois, Wisconsin, OSU are really a coin flip. That is the reality of our current squad...strong enough to play with any team ranked 15-50 on any given week, but not a dominant top 10 group. Thats ok. I think they are on schedule and we need to be patient. We are hanging with quality teams (ND, MSU) with a very young core. This was Forcier's first road game and it took them 3 quarters to figure it out. Stay patient, Go Blue.


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:45 PM ^

For one I'm not a troll, and second offer some objectivity in a game analysis? If you honestly think this was the best coached game, and best effort you are drinking some serious Maize and Blue kool aid. I'm the biggest Michigan fan in the world, and realize as well that yes we are better than expected, but there is not a single reason in the world we should not have beat MSU by 10 points plus....you simply don't run the ball when the team you are playing is 11th in the Big Ten against the pass? You pass the ball until they stop it which they can't and then you run the ball, this was a very winnable game even with a less than 100% Forcier, get you Maize and Blue glasses off and realize Rodriguez is a choke so far against shitty Spartan football teams...


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:49 PM ^

1. You cannot judge how hard that the team worked/wanted it that's complete bs

2. It's a rivalry game. The past 5 meetings had been decided by something like 17 points.. How many of those Sparty teams were shitty teams?

3. We had the #1 rushing offense in the Big Ten and top 10 in the country. YOU ARE CRAZY if you do not want to establish the run (or an idiot).

4. Play in traffic it's people like you who come onto this board, sign up today, have never made a post and have waited for 5 weeks to bag on RR and this team and now you've finally had your chance.

Is this the best Michigan EVAR!!! No. I'm not saying that. But they don't deserve the bs that you are giving them.

In sum: Get bent


October 3rd, 2009 at 5:54 PM ^

Not to harp on the obvious, but you joined today, have started a bunch of threads with the same "Man we sux! Fire RR!" theme to them, and you make dumb statements like UM should always beat MSU by 10 points and that RR is a choke artist even when any objective fan (without those darn Maize-colored glasses) would realize that this is a young team with some growing up to do. At this point, MSU is 2-3 and UM is 4-1. Tell me who should be worried?


October 3rd, 2009 at 11:02 PM ^

Bitch please. Put down the crack rock. The number of first quarter/first half drops by receivers (including Koger, whom I strangely love) meant... what? You can't keep throwing the ball, getting drops, and putting your freshman QB in 3rd and 10 when everyone in the stadium knows he has to throw. You do realize that the basis for your 10-point win assertion is something that amounts to, 'If they had only done this...' They didn't do it, genius, and the reason they didn't do it is because it would be fucking stupid to throw the ball every down. Losers argue from coulda-woulda-shoulda. Your team played a hell of a fourth quarter to get back into a game they were getting pretty much dominated in, and lost in OT because your QB had to make one throw too many. Meanwhile, MSU won the game because they didn't abandon the run, even when it was tempting to do so. Your belief in something being true is actually completely unrelated to its objective truth, FWIW.


October 4th, 2009 at 7:30 PM ^

FAN and a MICHIGAN FAN leaving the game yesterday???

Michigan fans were walking out smiling because they seen what was ahead in the future. A National Championship team.

State fans were walking out with their heads hanging and they won the game. Fans were seeing the same ole team, just didn't see a National Champ team in their future.


October 3rd, 2009 at 6:09 PM ^

There's no doubt losing this game sucks. I resent this diary because Michigan won the turnover battle and played with heart at the end to get back in it. They were outplayed, but that doesn't mean they didn't play hard or want this as bad as State. You have to take the good with the bad when you have Forcier at QB, and we wouldn't be in the game without him.
We are playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores, so youth is going to bite us from time to time. I'm not making excuses, because State deserved to win. I do have beef with the play calling at times and especially with how the defense didn't seem to adjust to certain things well, but it's pointless to dwell on it. We're 4-1 and we have a shot next week against Iowa if we can move past this game. We can't let this result cloud our season.