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 9:59 PM ^

Freshmen and sophomores on the squad. In 2 years, they'll be juniors and seniors. They'll have not just 1 or 2, but 3 years' experience on the field with quality playing time, not "mop-up".

And when that day comes, this team will be downright scary.


October 3rd, 2009 at 6:10 PM ^

I was most concerned by what I was seeing from the linebackers today. If Michigan just contains the QB, it's a different game. When are they going to get on track?


October 3rd, 2009 at 10:44 PM ^

And I would have told you Cousins was all but allergic to running when the pocket breaks down. Every time he was flushed he was always, always looking to pass. I even saw a couple of times where he looked down to make sure he hadn't crossed the LOS before throwing the ball. I can't kill Michigan's defense on not being prepared for Cousins taking off like that - I was just as shocked as they were. Sometimes a guy just makes a play, you know?


October 3rd, 2009 at 6:25 PM ^

was when we forced an MSU fumble I believe with about 11 min left in the game down 20-6. The defense was pumped after forcing a turnover and it looked like this was the spark we needed to get back in the game. Then after like 2 plays we throw a nice 10 or 15 yard pass and the guy dances around trying to avoid tackles instead of just getting up field, and he fumbles it right back. This killed all our momentum and like some of the other posts commented on the defense has to go right back out there and play again with like 1 min rest. Its really too bad we lost this game it just looked like we weren't ready to play in the first half, and in rivalry games you just can't expect to win if you only play a quarter and a half of football.


October 3rd, 2009 at 6:56 PM ^

Doesn't reason #7 ("The Inability of Michigan's Offense to Convert Turnovers") contradict reason #3 ("The Inability of Michigan's Defense to Get Turnovers")?


October 3rd, 2009 at 7:14 PM ^

I am definitely bummed about the loss (been in a shitty mood since the game ended), but we all need to take a deep breath and look at the big picture. Before the season, we all looked at our schedule and determined which games we should win, which we should lose, and which are toss-up games. First of all, this game would have fallen into one of the latter two categories. Second, who really thought we would actually win ALL of the "should win" games?

Folks, we are 4-1. At the start of the season, we were all hoping for 7-5, praying for 8-4 and realistically expecting 6-6. We are still a bit ahead of schedule, so let's all relax. We aren't going to win a national championship this year, and we are not going to the Rose Bowl. I hate the be the bearer of bad news. Let's all be happy for the solid performances and the prospect that with a little time and some shoring up in personnel, this team actually may compete for a NC in coming years. That is all. Thanks for reading.


October 7th, 2009 at 4:37 PM ^

So I was hoping we'd take at least two of the three games startign with MSU.
Now that we lost to Sparty... what are the odds that we'll win next to. I guess more specifically, who thinks we have a chance in Iowa City? I think we have a chance but have to play like 4th quarter vs. MSU for whole game.

Oh, and on our ability to drive in 4th quarter... who attributes that to Tait as opposed to conditioning a la Brawis?


October 3rd, 2009 at 7:30 PM ^

Your comments are exactly what I feel however, some of the losers like Bouje who watched the game with Maize and Blue glasses disagree with our assessment that we could have thrown the ball all day and won this game. Keep giving me negative points for telling the truth, we should be 5 and 0 no doubt in my mind, even though I still am happy we are 4 and 1, there to me is still not an excuse for losing to the Spartans 2 years in a row for the first time since the 60's but we will let the homers like Bouje tell us nothing is wrong and settle for that Carr mentality that got us to a bowl game each year but not the National Championship which we should compete for every year....


October 3rd, 2009 at 10:15 PM ^

This was NOT Lloyd Carr mentality....

Lloyd wasted talent all day and played to keep it close. This was a case of getting dominated at the line of scrimmage and not being able to get the spread run going......which is a huge part of the offense. That is what opens up the 7 yard outs on the rollout...IE, Tate has the option of handing off, running, throwing a quick out, or rolling out and throwing down field. When the run is not going and not a viable option, it puts a lot of pressure on the qb, and really destroys the flow of the offense. Tate played great considering.

Lloyd Carr mediocre mentality occurred when we were clearly the superior team and would blow it by playing not to lose....We would out gain our opponents in yardage, have fewer turnovers, would have superior talent all over the field....but somehow the games were always too close when playing the NWs or Illinois of the world under LC. In many ways today was the opposite of Lloyd Card mentality....we were in a game we had no business of winning, taking it to overtime miraculously. This is NOT a national championship caliber team yet. Talent and experience is not there yet. If anything, they are overachieving considering all the freshmen and sophomores starting. When RR squanders talent like Tom Brady, A-Train, David Terrell, Marquise Walker, Chris Perry, Marlin Jackson, Braylon Edwards, Chad Henne, Leon Hall, Alan Branch, Lamarr Woodley, Larry Foote, Steve Breaston, Mario Manningham, Jake Long, etc, etc, etc..... and only manages to win 1 BCS game with such talent (Orange Bowl) then I will start bitching about RR. 1997 bought Lloyd a lot of leeway, but no doubt nobody did less with more talent than Lloyd in his final five years.

This game was nothing of that sort. Sparty actually completely outplayed Michigan and won because of it. They deserved the win....Had we pulled it off it would have been a stolen victory, which while I would love, would still not prove that we had "arrived." We are making progress.

Have some perspective dude. Its a team with two freshmen qbs starting their first road game, against a rival none the less. Given that they came back and found something in the fourth quarter, and Tate continues to prove how cluth he is, this team is moving in the right direction. We are very thin at many positions on defense as well. Another year, a couple more recruiting classes to fit RR's schemes, (and please God, some first rate corners, safeties, and D-Line and LB recruits) and we will be a machine. Baby steps.


October 4th, 2009 at 6:37 PM ^

we got outplayed on both sides of the line and still almost won. we also beat ND when ouplayed similarly. imagine the results when we get more talent and experience on the OL and DL; not to mention better talent and depth at LB and DB.


October 3rd, 2009 at 7:51 PM ^

are those who set unrealistic expectations, and then criticize the coaches when they fail to meet them.

This team is not a national title contender. The reason sane UM fans will be satisfied with a 7 or 8 win season is because that's what this team can realistically accomplish. It is not a matter of "settling" for mediocrity, as you suggest. The program is in an extended rebuilding mode and will probably not be at a point where it can seriously contend for the Big Ten title until 2010, maybe 2011, and the national title at least as long.

As for today's game, Michigan is about evenly matched with MSU and the game was on their field, in the rain. Both teams played reasonably well. Were there mistakes by the players and coaches? Absolutely. But it was a good game that went to overtime. UM lost. It's too bad, but it doesn't mean the sky is falling. Get over it.


October 3rd, 2009 at 8:18 PM ^

Stonum fumbles a kickoff then fumbles at the MSU 10. Just when we could finally move the ball (up to that point) we turn the ball over. So frustrating. Did anyone else have a flashback to last year?


October 3rd, 2009 at 10:49 PM ^

If we could have the fake(?) punt back, that is a MSU field goal, it is a whole new day of sunshine and rain, que Rob Bass. If that was Zoltan's read?/call then he needs new contacts and some coaching. If that was RR's call then God help him. If he's got the BALLS to call that, then he would have called for a two point conv. on the last TD.
I am amazed Tate had what he had , but you had to see that there was no way he could handle the usual back and forth of OT, I know, we only had one posses., but sh**, has that tie at home... not apply anymore, even when your QB is about to puke from exhaustion/pain?


October 3rd, 2009 at 8:29 PM ^

Why waste all that effort by making a statement like "Michigan did not want to win"? Even if the other 9 "reasons" had some validity, the sheer stupidity overwhelms everything else.


October 3rd, 2009 at 8:36 PM ^

we couldn't get the running game going, and for most of the first half, we couln't get the passing game going. we did create turnovers...3 in a game is pretty darn good.

i thought it was worth consideration for M to go for 2 when they scored their last touchdown. i thought it was absurd that read mesko made...i thought we were having trouble tackling and that was an issue.

we lost our first road game of the year...that's not exactly new territory for us. fact is, our defense spent entirely too much time on the field (not just in the 1st half).

it was one hell of a game. it was a tough loss. no one should be worried. our defense will get better as players mature. then they won't have to be in zone the entire game.

thing i took away from this game: Michigan will be IN every game it plays. flat out. even if they didn't win, Tate Forcier drove 92 yards to tie the game with 2 1/2 minutes left and no timeouts.

this kid is a freshman. a FRESHMAN. chin up, chicken little. these next few years are gonna be fun.


October 3rd, 2009 at 9:08 PM ^

Maybe we lost because the announcers forgot to mention that Kelvin Grady is a former basketball player or that Denard Robinson, "hey, you know he doesn't tie his shoelaces" as the announcers have mentioned in every other game so far.

Miss Meeechigan

October 3rd, 2009 at 9:34 PM ^

I am still pumped about the season. I am chalking the loss up to crap weather and a couple of plays that just didn't go our way. We have all been thrilled with tight wins so far. It's really funny to hear all of the bashers as they bail of the band wagon today. Jump fellas....you'll all be bustin ass to catch up so you can climb back on next week!


October 3rd, 2009 at 9:56 PM ^

Forcier's injury may be a little worse than we were led to believe, hence trying to force the run. He played a hell of a game and except for some freshman mistakes (jump balls) he showed a lot of poise. I am now very impressed by the conditioning program. How many other defenses can spend that much time on the field and still be able to stop the other team towards the end of the game. State deserved to win, they outplayed us. Perhaps I prefer sheer dominance but I hope we don't become one of those teams that wins because of some big plays, or lucky bounces, rather than outplaying the other team.


October 3rd, 2009 at 10:24 PM ^

I was going to write a response to all those who think we should have won this game (you all are crazy), but then I decided why get drawn into all the nay-saying and fair weather fandom. We lost a game. It was inevitable. We're not Alabama this year, or Texas. We're an improved Michigan team. The game last week and the one against Notre Dame were won on a wing and a prayer, with moments of greatness and a freshman quarterback who might be a Heisman candidate in the next year or two. It's not as if we went into East Lansing DOMINATING. I can't understand why people are so bent out of shape. Disappointed, yes. But all this finger pointing and blame. Come on. Get behind the team and let's move on.


October 3rd, 2009 at 10:27 PM ^

I was at the game, and I felt that our field position was just god-awful. Did we start a drive outside our own 30 (not including our first drive where we got the pick)?


October 4th, 2009 at 5:08 PM ^

I hate to say it, but Tate had just as much to do with that loss as anyone else on the team. Yes, he willed us into overtime. Yes, he appeared to have more heart and desire than anyone else on the field. Yes, he is flat-out phenomenal. But he choked in OT and killed any chance for a win.

I still love the guy, but all I'm saying is he should be on that list...


October 4th, 2009 at 5:49 PM ^

One bad pass that takes a bad bounce and ends up into the arms of a diving defender is "choking?"

I'd define choking as being up 20-6 in the middle of the fourth and having to winning in overtime...or up 7 games in the Central division and having to win in a one game playoff on Tuesday, whichever sport you'd prefer.

Win as a team, lose as a team but don't call one pass Tate makes in overtime "choking"


October 5th, 2009 at 10:52 AM ^

If the defense is thinking "make them kick" instead of "force the turnover" maybe those two guys make the tackle on Winston. "Bend but don't break" is easier than "Get me the GD ball back!"

Even with that, after they Yakety Sax away that snap and get driven back to the 35 (or wherever it was) how do you let them gain 10 yards on THE NEXT PLAY? This is the way I see overtime from a defensive perspective: Field Goal = Defense wins, Turnover = Offense blew it. They start at the 25 yard line. If they don't gain an inch, that is a 42 or 43 yard FG...which is makeable. (Average NCAA kicker should make it 50-75%* of the time, good NCAA kicker should make it 75-95%* of the time. Jason Hanson should make it 99%* of the time.)

My spirits in OT: Growing as the offense gets close to the End Zone. Pit of despair after the INT. Glimmer of hope after Yakety Sax. Back to the pit on the next play. Oh well, time for another beer after the TD.

*I made these numbers up...just in case you couldn't tell :)


October 6th, 2009 at 1:34 PM ^

While I definitely wouldn't put him on the list, I love the kid's sense of personal accountability. Check this out (currently a short portion of the lead on ESPN.com right now. Apparently he went so far as to text a journalist that he takes full responsibility. I don't think there is any question that he views this as "his team," which is way more mature than I would ever expect for a freshman.

Link below:

The Claw

October 4th, 2009 at 6:15 PM ^

I truly believe the better team Saturday won. That being said, our beloved Wolverines still should have won the game. I personally think the team just plain sucked for 3 quarters before they woke up, which is why they deserved to get beat. BUT, if all the big plays wouldn't have gone against Michigan, we would have won by playing only one quarter of football. (I personally thinks that this comback really shows you how bad MSU is and why they were 1-3).

Big play 1: After the interception, the bad snap causes Forcier to not due squat and we have to settle for a FG. Isn't there anyone better than Moose?

Big Play 2: The fake punt. Now I know supposedly Zoltan is given the otion to go there, but to even allow him to think about it down there is squarely on RR. You line up and do a qb sneak. If Tate and the o-line can't get 4 inches, you don't deserve to win. But you don't allow a punter who is 12 yards back to even think about running it!

Big Play #3: Stonum's fumble on the 10. HUGE!

Big PLay #4: Bad throw by Tate in OT.

Other Observations:

Our o-line is horrendous. They don't block for squat. I even saw a play in the second half where MSU only rushed 3 people and but a d-man got through a UM double team and made Tate throw a bad pass. A double team? There guy wasn't LT out there. Pathetic!

I hate Greg Robinson's bend but don't break defense. I can say I've hated it for 10+ years, as I am a Bronco's fan and had to put up with the same garbage with them as I see today. I always thought we were lucky to win the 2 SB's with him as D-Coordinator. This is college football, not the NFL.

Our corners don't need to be back 10 yards every play. Our safeties don't need to be back 15 yards every play. (How many pitch and catch 10 yards plays did MSU have?) The OLB doesn't need to split a tackle and flanker and get beat on an outside throw every time because the OLB is nowhere near as fast as the flanker. There is no need to drop 8 and rush only 3, giving the QB all day to throw. Hello Mr. 3rd and 17 and I pick up 29 yards for a first. Until he changes things, this team is doomed on defense. (And I'm telling you now, these is the same defense he played with Denver. So expect doom!)


October 4th, 2009 at 6:48 PM ^

The first four points are against the de. They played as well as they are able with the time of possession so overloaded. I was proud that we came back with such a sucky offensive performance for three quarters. Why is there no questioning about going for 2 at the end of regulation? We had momentum and had their defense on their heels. I would rather have seen it end with success on a last attempt in regulation. In any case, I think RR is doing a great job and I'm proud of the team and where they stand after last year!! Go Blue!


October 4th, 2009 at 7:45 PM ^

I take your point about going for 2. I actually agree with you. Of course, if we go for 2 and don't make it, you could just say, "Why didn't we just kick the extra point? We had momentum going into overtime, and MSU's defense looked horrible in the 4th quarter. There was no reason to think we couldn't keep it up."

Like most late-game 2 pt. attempts, this can be re-hashed, gone over with a fine-tooth comb, argued from every angle, and the fact would remain that the odds are just as good for a win as they are for a loss.


October 5th, 2009 at 1:33 AM ^

this defense isn't very good. They are going to give up a bunch of yards to most of the remaining teams on the schedule. I think you need to look more at how many points they give up, how many turnovers they force and what they do when put in a bad spot. In most of those catagories they actually did pretty good saturday.

They held MSU to 20 pts in the first 60 minutes. MSU was averaging around 30 pts a game to D1 foes. Even if you take away MSU's two garbage scores against Wisky, UM's defense only gave up 3 more pts then Wisky.

They actually forced 3 turnovers.

They did a great job of holding MSU to a FG after that awful fake punt.

If you had told me before the game that the defense would hold MSU to 20 pts (in the first 60 minutes) and force 3 turnovers, I'd say no question UM wins.