Thursday Quick Hits: Start Time Announced for Iowa Game

By · Thursday, May 6, 2010 · 6:02 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Michigan’s homecoming game against Iowa on October 16 is going to kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET and be broadcast nationally on ABC.  So far three game times have been announced for the 2010 season (you can check them all out here).
  • There is a new video of Brock Mealer training on BarwisMethods.com.  The goal is for Brock to lead the team out of the tunnel and under the banner before the UConn game without any assistance.  If he meets that goal, it seriously could be one of the greatest moments in Michigan Stadium history considering how far Brock has had to come from the injuries he sustained in that tragic car accident a few years ago.
  • The Insight Bowl inked a deal with ESPN, meaning it will no longer be stuck on NFL Network.
  • The groundbreaking ceremony for Michigan’s basketball practice facility is going to be held next Monday at 1 p.m.
  • Brian Ellerbe has been hired by DePaul as an assistant coach.  Why?  I don’t know either.
  • Kevin Borseth apparently offered a scholarship to an eighth-grader.
  • The Big Ten Network is making some serious dollars.  I have to say, back when the BTN first launched I never would have imagined it would be this successful already, but then again, I think it has exceeded everybody’s expectations.  It is a great asset for the conference not only in the sense of how much money it is making, but also for when expansion talks start to heat up, as we are already starting to see.

Tuesday Quick Hits: Catch the Michigan Spring Game on the BTN

By · Tuesday, March 30, 2010 · 10:51 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

Despite Inconsistent Play, Michigan Beats Iowa 59-52

By · Friday, March 12, 2010 · 3:01 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

Michigan’s game with Iowa yesterday was plagued with inconsistency, which is nothing new for this season’s team.  The Wolverines opened the game up with a nice showing, leading 24-8 at one point in the first half.  Michigan appeared to be well on its way to a blowout victory reminiscent of the first meeting of the season with Iowa.  That would have been too easy, though, so Michigan made it interesting like they usually do.

Over the course of the rest of the game, Michigan’s went from leading by 16, to only being up by 9 at halftime, to going on a six-minute scoring drought at the beginning of the second half, allowing Iowa to cut the lead down to 4.  Zack Novak ended the scoring drought with a three-pointer, and suddenly Michigan started to increase its lead again, eventually going up by 16 with four minutes to play.  Michigan finished the afternoon with another scoring drought, though, once again allowing Iowa to get back in the game.  Thankfully Iowa played like, well, Iowa, and missed 4 straight shots on one of their last possessions.  The Hawkeyes could have cut the lead down to 2 or 3 points, but Iowa missed every shot and eventually Manny Harris ended up with the ball and nailed a pair of free throws.  The scoring drought was over, and so were Iowa’s chances of a comeback.  Michigan managed to hang on for the 59-52 victory.

Despite playing well at times, Michigan’s stats weren’t impressive.  The Wolverines shot the ball 38% from the field (19-50) and 24% from three-point land (6-25), and both of those stats were actually just worse than what Iowa did on Thursday.  The difference in this game was at the free throw line, where Michigan went 15-18 and Iowa only went 3-4.  Looking at the shooting statistics, it’s amazing to think that Michigan was blowing out Iowa at various points during this game before the Hawkeyes made a comeback, but that difference at the free throw line was where Michigan was the big winner.

Manny Harris led Michigan in scoring with 22 points, and he added 9 rebounds to almost record a double-double.  DeShawn Sims scored 14 points, and that was essentially it for big scoring contributions.  Every other player scored in single digits or had 0 points, not that that was necessarily a bad thing since there was a healthy distribution of scoring that included bench players.  Zack Gibson, for example, played for 11 minutes off the bench and scored 7 points.  Laval Lucas-Perry played for 16 minutes and scored 5 points.  Finally, Anthony Wright was on the floor for 9 minutes and made a three-pointer.  As for the starting lineup outside of Manny and Peedi, Stu Douglass scored 5 points, Zack Novak scored 3 points, and Darius Morris missed the only shot and only free throw he attempted.

Michigan’s next opponent is Ohio State in a rematch of a game played nearly two weeks ago.  The Buckeyes were victorious in Columbus that day against Michigan en route to a Big Ten title and the top seed in the Big Ten tournament.  To say Michigan is an underdog today is an understatement.  Michigan did have its chances to make things interesting in Columbus, but as bad as OSU played at times, the Wolverines were just that much worse.  To put it bluntly, Michigan better bring its “A” game and hope Ohio State takes some time to shake off the rust.  Tip off is set for noon ET on ESPN.

DeShawn Sims Leads Michigan to 80-78 Overtime Victory at Iowa

By · Thursday, February 18, 2010 · 12:30 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

DeShawn Sims hit a game-tying three-pointer with 6.1 seconds left in regulation to send Tuesday night’s game against Iowa into overtime.  In the extra session, Sims and company battled back and forth with the Hawkeyes and eventually pulled away thanks in part to a long-distance three by Stu Douglass.  That three gave Michigan the lead and propelled the Wolverines to an eventual 5-point advantage with 31 seconds to play.  Michigan did leave the door open for Iowa to come back just like the Wolverines did at the end of the second half because of a bad foul and a missed free throw, but the Hawkeyes were unable to make up the deficit and ended up losing 80-78.

This game was a virtual deadlock all night except for five or six minutes in the middle of the first half.  Michigan caught fire from behind the arc and jumped out to a 10-point lead, making this seem a little like the first meeting with Iowa that was a blowout.  The Hawkeyes battled back, however, and by halftime the game was all tied up.

In the second half, it was more back and forth basketball.  Neither team could pull away, though Iowa looked to be in good shape in the final minutes.  Down 61-57, DeShawn Sims made a layup, was fouled, and then nailed the free throw to make it a 1-point game.  Iowa countered with a layup, and after a miss by Sims, the Hawkeyes hit a pair of free throws to take a 5-point lead with only 22 seconds left in the half.  Just like when Michigan was down 4, Sims made a layup and was fouled, and he once again made the free throw.  Trailing by 2 points, Michigan quickly fouled and put Cully Payne on the line.  Payne missed the first shot and made the second, giving Michigan a chance to extend the game.  That is exactly what Sims did, hitting a three with 6.1 seconds to play.  It looked like Sims was fouled on the shot, but the refs didn’t make the call, meaning this game was going to OT after Sims blocked a shot as time expired.

Manny Harris started overtime with a big three-pointer, but Iowa answered with an old-fashioned three-point play to quickly tie things up.  Iowa took the lead after that, but with 1:45 left in overtime, Stu Douglass hit a long three to put Michigan on top.  There was no looking back after that big shot.  Michigan tightened up its defense and went up by 5 on multiple occasions before the final buzzer sounded (Iowa hit a three at the buzzer to lose by only 2 points) en route to its overtime victory.

DeShawn Sims finished with 27 points (he went 10-25 from the field) and 10 rebounds.  Manny Harris scored 20 points (he went 4-7 from three-point land), grabbed 10 boards, and dished out 7 assists.  Laval Lucas-Perry scored 13 points off the bench mainly thanks to hitting three straight shots from behind the arc during Michigan’s run in the first half.  Stu Douglass and Zack Novak both scored 9 points, and the only other scorer was Zack Gibson, who made his only shot (a two-pointer) during the 12 minutes he played.  Overall Michigan shot the ball quite well, as did Iowa, which was a big reason why this was such a close game.

Next up for Michigan is Penn State, which actually just won its first Big Ten game of the season on Wednesday night at Northwestern (say adios to the Wildcats’ tournament hopes).  The Nittany Lions blew a big lead and lost to Michigan at home earlier in the year.  That loss was part of a 12-game losing streak that was snapped only last night.  Hopefully Michigan can help Penn State begin a new losing streak at Crisler Arena on Saturday (6:00 p.m. on the BTN)

Michigan Handles Iowa to Snap Losing Streak

By · Monday, February 1, 2010 · 1:38 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

I went to Crisler Arena on Saturday to watch a Big Ten basketball game, but it felt like I took a wrong turn and ended up at the Intramural Building.  I say that because it seriously felt like Michigan played against a team comparable to a group of regular students you would see at the IM building.   Actually, that might be a bit of a slap in the face to some of the people that play IM basketball.  I don’t know how this team has won in the conference twice and just barely lost to Michigan State, but I think someone sitting behind me described Iowa best when he said, “They would be a good Division 2 team — maybe.”

Iowa’s lack of talent was on display from the very start of Saturday’s game.  The Hawkeyes went scoreless for the first six and a half minutes of the game and failed to actually make a field goal for nearly the first ten minutes of the game.  This ice cold start allowed Michigan to open the game on a 13-0 run.  From there Michigan eventually took a 22-5 lead before Iowa’s issues rubbed off on the Wolverines.  Michigan has played down or up to its opponents quite a bit this season, and Saturday seemed no different following the initial big run.  After that Michigan went nearly four minutes without a point and six or so minutes without a field goal, though Iowa didn’t exactly do much itself during that drought.  As a result, Michigan led 29-17 at halftime.

In the second half it was more of the same.  In the first ten or so minutes of the half Michigan went on a couple runs and over time continued to pull away from the Hawkeyes.  This resulted in Michigan going up by as many as 24 points before it essentially sleepwalked through the final nine or ten minutes of the game, allowing Iowa to only lose 60-46 when all was said and done.

Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims combined for 40 of Michigan’s 60 points in this game.  Each had 20 points, and Sims also had 12 rebounds to complete the double-double.  The other 20 points came from Stu Douglass (6), Zack Novak (6), Laval Lucas-Perry (4), Zack Gibson (2), and Darius Morris (2).  As you probably guessed, it was a pretty lackluster effort for the team shooting-wise, especially outside of Harris and Sims.  Those two combined to shoot 44% from the field; that’s not great, but it’s not terrible, either.  The rest of the team, on the other hand, shot 25% from the field, which is just awful.  Perhaps Michigan simply played down to its opponent, which as a team shot 31% from the field and 26% outside of its leading scorer (Aaron Fuller, who had 16 points).  I guess it didn’t matter, though, because as much as Michigan struggled, it still destroyed Iowa and was up by 24 before basically putting things in neutral at the end of the game.

Michigan is now back over .500 with a record of 11-10.  Next up on the schedule is a game at Northwestern on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET on the BTN).  In the first meeting between these two teams Michigan went from leading by 17 to trailing by 10 to quickly making a comeback only to lose in the end.  It was definitely a tough one to swallow, especially at home, so hopefully Michigan will be able to get some revenge on Tuesday.

The Wildcats have gone 2-4 since that first meeting with Michigan, though one of those wins came against Purdue and only one of those losses was at home (against Wisconsin).  Northwestern is actually currently below Michigan in the Big Ten standings, though it is still 14-7 overall.  If the Wildcats even want to think about their first ever NCAA tournament appearance, they have to win games like this, so you can bet they will come to play on Tuesday.  Here’s to hoping Michigan evens up the season series by winning for what would be the fourth straight time in Evanston.

Wednesday Quick Hits: Penn State Game to Start at 3:30

By · Wednesday, October 14, 2009 · 2:02 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • As expected, the Penn State game will start at 3:30 p.m. and be broadcast regionally on ABC and ESPN.
  • The Big Ten’s bowl new bowl lineup was announced yesterday, confirming most of the previously-reported details and clearing up a few others.  There were four main things in question before the announcement that have now been cleared up: 1) The contract for the new bowl lineup will run from 2010-2013.  2) The Big Ten will play an SEC team in the Gator Bowl.  3) The Dallas Football Classic, as it is being called, will take place on New Year’s Day, giving the Big Ten five games on New Year’s Day.  There is another one on New Year’s Eve, meaning nearly all of the conference’s games will take place within a span of 24 hours.  4) The Big Ten’s opponent in the Dallas Football Classic will be from the Conference USA, which I am glad to hear.  (Adam Rittenberg’s sources suggest that the bowl “will also consider Big 12 opponents,” so take that for what it’s worth.)
  • One strange thing from the announcement was that there was no mention of the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.  Apparently a deal with that bowl isn’t official just yet, but the Big Ten will likely still have a tie-in with the Detroit game.
  • Zoltan Mesko has been named the Big Ten’s Special Teams Player of the Week for his amazing punting performance against Iowa.  He had the second-highest single-game average in Michigan history — 53.8 yards on 5 punts.
  • Brandon Minor’s rushing touchdown against Iowa snapped the Hawkeye’s streak of 33 consecutive quarters without allowing an opponent into the end zone on the ground.
  • The media no longer have access to football practices mainly due to the specifics of some new plays being discussed in the Michigan Daily.
  • The sale of counterfeit tickets to Michigan football games is apparently starting to become a problem.
  • Brian of mgoblog made the trip to Iowa for Saturday’s game, and he has a report on the experience.
  • I am now tied for third in Big Ten Bloggers Pick’em.
  • MVictors took an interesting look at what should happen to the Little Brown Jug when it runs out of space for scores.
  • Just like they were for the Indiana game, bags will be prohibited from Michigan Stadium for the rest of the season.
  • The basketball team’s media day took place yesterday, and UM Hoops has a recap of what was discussed.
  • Don’t forget, Michigan Madness will take place on Friday night at Crisler Arena.
  • Michigan rebounded from its season-opening loss in hockey last Friday by beating Alaska-Anchorage by a score of 6-1 a day later.
  • Apparently there were a series of conference calls this past summer between Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to talk about the possibility of creating a Big Ten hockey conference.  The talks didn’t get very far after Minnesota strongly opposed the idea, which isn’t surprising.  As cool as it would be to have some variation of the Big Ten in college hockey, they would need more than just five teams.  Beyond that, they would need to think about the smaller programs in the CCHA, as losing U-M, MSU, and OSU would be a big blow to many of the teams in this state and in the CCHA in general.  A couple of them are struggling to stay afloat as it is, and I imagine losing three big schools would be a crushing blow to the rest of the CCHA.
  • Michigan State’s Glenn Winston is out for the season because of a knee injury he suffered against Illinois this past Saturday.
  • I knew former West Virginia fullback Owen Schmitt was crazy, but I didn’t know he was quite this crazy.
  • Chad Henne and Braylon Edwards, as well as a few other Michigan men, sure played well on Monday Night Football.

Turnovers Doom Michigan in 30-28 Loss to Iowa

By · Sunday, October 11, 2009 · 5:20 AM |  Share | 4 Comments 
Photo by AP/Charlie Neibergall

Photo by AP/Charlie Neibergall

Last night’s game at Iowa will be forever remembered as the one that got away.  It was a prototypical game where you look back and go “what if” or “they should’ve done this” and just facepalm in disgust over how winnable of a game it was.  It’s not often that you can go on the road as an unranked team, playing the #12 team in the country at night no less, and be in position to win, but Michigan was and gave the game away with a total of 5 turnovers.  What’s ironic is that Michigan took the lead less than a minute into the game by taking an interception back for a touchdown, but after that it was Iowa that capitalized on costly mistakes.

For the most part the defense did a great job of keeping Iowa out of the end zone after turnovers, playing more bend but don’t break football.  That kept the score relatively close in the second half despite the offense’s struggles outside of one drive at the end of the third quarter.  The offense didn’t start moving the ball again until Denard Robinson came in and led Michigan down the field for a touchdown in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.  Michigan didn’t recover an onside kick, but the defense made a stop and gave the offense a chance to win the game.

Michigan only needed a field goal, but time was limited, especially with Robinson staying in at quarterback.  Although Robinson was coming off of a great drive and Tate Forcier had struggled mightily when he played, I would have rather seen Forcier take back the reins.  He not only has thrived in situations like this, but he also has experience leading drives in the last minute and is a better passer than Robinson.  Yes, he stunk for most of the game and Robinson deserved a shot, but Robinson played like he was under pressure and threw a bad pass downfield that was intercepted.  That sealed the 30-28 win for Iowa, and just like I said before, all I could do was think about the “what ifs” that could have changed the game’s outcome.

1st Quarter

  • Reminiscent of the 2006 Notre Dame game, Michigan started off by returning an interception for a touchdown.  Simply throwing in Donovan Warren’s direction usually isn’t a very good idea, and you definitely can’t make a bad throw when you decide to do that.  Stanzi did both of those things, though, and Warren caught the ball and ran 40 yards for a touchdown.  It was probably one of the easiest interceptions for a touchdown ever, as the pass went right to Warren, who ran it back untouched.
  • Iowa needed to respond with a good drive, and getting good field position thanks to a 34-yard kick return helped get things back on track.  Conversions on third down also helped get things on track, as that was really the only time Iowa could move the ball.  Three times Michigan held Iowa to third down, but each time the Hawkeyes converted.  The third time Iowa didn’t move the chains, but that was because Stanzi found Tony Moeaki wide open in the middle of the field for a 34-yard touchdown.  Michigan sent the kitchen sink and more, and the tight end simply ran down the field by himself, as safety Jordan Kovacs picked up a different receiver.  The touchdown tied the game up and gave momentum to Iowa.
  • Michigan continued to unravel on the next drive, starting with a holding penalty on 2nd and 1.  Tate Forcier ran for 9 yards on first down, sliding a bit short of the marker.  He could have moved the chains but went down early to avoid a hit.  Michigan promptly was called for holding on 2nd and 1, which is just a huge kick between the legs considering the situation.  After Brandon Minor (no, Brent Musberger, his first name isn’t Travis) ran for a yard on the next play, Forcier made a terrible pass and was picked off by Jeremiha Hunter, who returned it to the 19-yard line.
  • The defense, just as it did at times last week, bailed out the offense, making Iowa go three and out.  The Hawkeyes did take the lead on a 28-yard field goal, but that was good enough in my book considering how much momentum Iowa had on its side following the turnover.
  • Just as Iowa did earlier, Michigan responded with a big drive of its own.  Minor got things started with back-to-back gains of 9 yards, and then Forcier found Kevin Koger and Martavious Odoms for 8 and 6 yards.  Michael Shaw ran for 5 yards, and then Forcier went for 1, making it 3rd and 4.  Forcier found Odoms for what would have been a first down, but the ball came out as Odoms hit the ground, making it 4th and 4.  Michigan was on Iowa’s 35-yard line — too far for a field goal and too close for a punt.  Given that, Michigan decided to go for it.  That was a good decision, because Forcier ran for 9 yards to move the chains.  Vincent Smith made an appearance on the previous play but actually ran the ball for 2 yards on the next, and then Forcier founds Odoms again with a great pass, this time for a gain of 21.  Minor punched the ball in from 3 yards out for a TD on the next play, giving the lead back to Michigan.
  • Riding a wave of momentum, the defense stepped it up again and Iowa went three and out.  Brandon Graham provided the exclamation point for the drive, taking down Stanzi for a sack as the opening quarter came to an end.

2nd Quarter

  • All the momentum was on Michigan’s side at this point, but another costly turnover changed that and the entire outlook of this game.  Tate Forcier was going to throw a bubble screen, but the ball slipped out of his hand and eventually ended up being recovered by an Iowa player at the Michigan 46.  Michigan was getting ready to drive down the field, but a ridiculously unlucky turnover ended up giving Iowa the ball in U-M territory.  That play by itself pretty much sums up this game.
  • Just like after the first turnover, Michigan’s defense stepped it up, though that only happened after a 22-yard pass to Marvin McNutt.  The big pass play put Iowa in field goal range, which is what it came to after three straight incompletions, with the last one nearly being picked off by Donovan Warren.
  • Michigan picked up one first down on its next drive but failed to move the chains after that.  A 53-yard punt by Zoltan Mesko helped flip the field position, but that would only end up being an obstacle for Iowa.
  • If the turnover that was turned into a field goal wasn’t the changing point in this game, then it was on 3rd and 24 on this drive.  After an incompletion on first down, the snap bounced off of Ricky Stanzi’s hands and went backwards for a loss of 14 yards on second down, making it third and long.  Michigan has struggled in these situations all season long, and last night was no different.  Stanzi threw a bomb downfield, and it sailed just over Donovan Warren and Mike Williams.  Waiting for it was a diving Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who made the amazing grab for a gain of 47 yards.  That play was so deflating, as Michigan not only had Iowa in an awful situation, but the play itself was one where everything that could go wrong did go wrong.  Two plays later Brandon Wegher jumped into the end zone for a touchdown, putting Iowa on top 20-14.
  • Michigan quickly went three and out, and Zoltan Mesko had another punt that went 53 yards.  Iowa got a decent return, but that didn’t matter after the next play, because Brandon Graham sacked Stanzi for a loss of 11.  This time when third and long came up Michigan made a stop, and the offense took over after a punt and a holding penalty at its own 19-yard line.
  • Brandon Minor ran the ball a couple time for 12 and 2 yards, and then Forcier added 2 more on the ground.  On the next play he found Martavious Odoms for a gain of 35, putting Michigan at Iowa’s 30-yard line.  It looked like they were getting ready to take the lead back before halftime, but then another untimely turnover happened.  Minor had the ball stripped and Adrian Clayborn recovered it with 1:19 to go in the half.
  • Iowa was content with running the clock out and going to the locker rooms with a 6-point lead, but Michigan called a timeout after second down.  There was still time to make something happen if Michigan got a stop on 3rd and 10, but that was a big if that didn’t come to fruition.  Stanzi found Johnson-Koulianos for a gain of 11, moving the chains and changing Iowa’s strategy.  The Hawkeyes now tried to get in field goal range, and they did get in position to attempt a kick with 3 seconds left.  Somehow the play clock expired and Iowa got called for a delay of game, though, backing the kick up to 53 yards out.  That proved to be important, because the kick sailed wide left, and it may have been good from only 48 yards out.  Still, Iowa led at the half by a score of 20-14.

3rd Quarter

  • Michigan opened the second half with a three and out; Iowa did not.  The Hawkeyes came out and started running the ball effectively for the first time all game.  Adam Robinson picked up 19 to get the ball rolling.  After an 11-yard pass, Ricky Stanzi took off for 12, and Robinson followed that up with gains of 15 and 6 yards.  Back-to-back incompletions led to another field goal, but I was glad to see that happen after how easy of a time Iowa was having running the ball.  The Hawkeyes now led 23-14.
  • Michigan was unable to get anything going after a 15-yard pass on the first play of the drive, but the defense forced Iowa to go three and out on three straight incomplete passes.
  • Michigan finally decided to give the ball to Brandon Minor for the majority of a drive, which led to good things happening.  Minor ran for 6, 5, and 9 yards, and after a 2-yard run and a 4-yard pass by Forcier, Minor broke off runs of 7, 4, and 12 yards.  Michael Shaw came in and ran for 7, getting down to the 1-yard line.  That is when Minor came back in and pounded the ball into the end zone, making this a 2-point game.
  • Michigan’s defense came up with another stop, this time at midfield, but then it was an awful play all around on the ensuing punt.  Not only did Michigan rough the punter, but Greg Mathews also dropped the kick.  One of the many Iowa players around him recovered the ball, meaning the penalty didn’t even need to be accepted.  Iowa took over at the 16-yard line and quickly completed a 10-yard pass to Tony Moeaki.  After an incompletion, a pass to Brandon Wegher moved the Hawkeyes down to the 3, making it 3rd and goal at the end of the third quarter.

4th Quarter

  • Wegher got the ball and was stopped short of the goal line, making it 4th down.  Iowa decided to go for it, not even hesitating on the decision.  Stanzi faked a handoff and looked for an open receiver on the bootleg.  He probably could have scored if he just ran the ball, but Stanzi thought he had a man open.  That is when Stevie Brown appeared and knocked the ball down, nearly intercepting it.
  • Although I was ecstatic that Michigan came up with a stop, looking back I really wish Brown didn’t drop the interception.  I say that because Michigan looked lost down by its own goal line.  Brandon Minor was stuffed for no gain on first down, and Tate Forcier just had to get rid of the ball and was nearly intercepted on second down.  One of the biggest non-turnover mistakes of the game came before 3rd and 10 when Minor called timeout because the play clock was about to hit zero.  He didn’t want Michigan to get a delay of game penalty, but all that would have done is back U-M up less than half a yard.  Having the timeout later in the game would have been much nicer than avoiding a less-than-a-yard penalty.  Either way, Forcier heaved the ball downfield on third down after not finding any options underneath, and the pass was incomplete.  Zoltan Mesko boomed a punt out of the end zone for 61 yards, but Colin Sanderman took it back 20 yards for a good return.
  • Unlike its last drive, Iowa was able to get the ball into the end zone this time.  Actually, it only took one play.  Stanzi found a wide open Tony Moeaki for the 42-yard touchdown, which put the Hawkeyes on top 29-21.
  • Michigan’s next drive was over before it even started, as the play clock ran out before first down.  That was like a drive-killer, and Michigan was unable to move the ball at all.  Zoltan Mesko continued his great night with another punt of over 50 yards, and Michigan’s defense made a stop after giving up one first down.  A personal foul on Iowa after the punt return gave Michigan the ball at the Hawkeyes’ 41.
  • Like last week against Michigan State, Rich Rodriguez sent Denard Robinson into the game to give the offense a spark.  Well, that and Rodriguez absolutely went off on Tate Forcier for his bad reads, his bad mistakes, and in general his bad play.  Unlike last week, Robinson actually did give the offense new life.  He rushed for 8, 2, and 5 yards, completed a 9-yard pass to Darryl Stonum, and then rushed for 3, 9, and 7 yards.  Michael Shaw ran for 1 yard after a 7-yard pass to Junior Hemingway, and then Robinson took over.  He ran for 5 and 3 yards, with the latter carry going into the end zone for a Michigan touchdown.  The extra point made the score 30-28 in favor of Iowa with 3:16 left in the game.
  • Since Michigan only had one timeout left, it decided to do an onside kick.  I personally would have rather seen U-M kick it deep since there were over 3 minutes left, but then again there was only one timeout left thanks to earlier mistakes.  The onside kick ended up being a mistake, too, as it went out-of-bounds, giving Iowa the ball on Michigan’s 45.
  • The defense stepped it up and forced Iowa to punt, and Michigan got the ball back at its own 17 with 1:30 left on the clock.
  • After receiving a few words of encouragement and/or advice from Nick Sheridan, Denard Robinson came out in what usually is Tate Forcier’s time to shine.  Like I said earlier, I totally get why Robinson was the QB in this situation.  Forcier had been awful for much of the game, and Robinson led the team to a touchdown on its last possession.  Even so, Robinson is a run-first quarterback, and with only 1:30 left and no timeouts, you knew he was going to have to throw in this situation.  What’s more, Forcier has faced this exact situation twice before, needing to drive down the field in the final minute.  The difference this time was that Michigan only needed a field goal.  Struggling or not, I believe Forcier was better prepared and better in general for this situation.Rich Rodriguez didn’t see it that way, and I honestly don’t blame him too much.  Hindsight is 20/20, and although he obviously would never admit it, I’m sure part of him wishes he could go back and put Forcier into the game.  I say that because after a 14-yard completion to Odoms and a 7-yard run, Robinson made the mistake we all knew was coming.  He couldn’t find anyone open initially, seemed to panic, and then heaved the ball down the field.  He actually had Odoms breaking open, but he went in Stonum’s direction and overthrew him.  Iowa’s Brett Greenwood caught it, essentially ending the game.Robinson had to run a pass play since the clock was running, but in that situation he has to know better than to throw it up for grabs like that.  He probably could have taken off, and as long as he got a first down or went out of bounds, it would have been fine.  The problem is the pressure was on, and I’m sure he could hear the clock ticking in his head.  Understandably, Robinson wanted to make a big play, even though Michigan did have time to work its way into field goal range.  That’s what Forcier is so good at in this situation.  He knows how to pick apart a defense in chunks and when to throw the ball away or simply run out of bounds.  Robinson, lacking experience in a pressure-packed situation like this, wanted to make a big play instead.  He ended up making a freshman mistake instead, and there was no last-drive magic for Michigan on this night.

It’s no mystery why Michigan lost this game: turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.  Take back even one of those turnovers that led to a field goal and Michigan wins this game, probably by more than a single point.  A couple of those turnovers came when Michigan was driving, one happening in Iowa territory.  The others put the defense in a tough position, but like we saw last week, the entire unit responded and stepped its game up, keeping Iowa out of the end zone.  Obviously it was in easier situations like when Iowa was faced with 3rd and long that the defense failed miserably, giving up explosion plays that led to or actually scored touchdowns.  That was the defense’s downfall, as it played well in general except for a few specific plays.  After all, it scored a touchdown to start the game, had a goal line stand, and gave the offense one last chance to win the game.  Despite the big plays, you can’t ask for much more out of the defense (well, maybe you can ask for better play by the safeties).

The offense, on the other hand, just baffles me.  Some drives it ran like a well-oiled machine, mainly when Michigan put the ball on the ground with a few passes in between carries.  And then on other drives the offense looked lost and went three and out or turned the ball over.  Zoltan Mesko did a sensational job (he averaged 53.8 yards a punt!) of keeping the field position relatively even save the punt that came from his own end zone, but that was on the coverage team, not him.  In the end if Michigan could have eliminated just a couple turnovers, this probably would have been a win by more than a touchdown.  Sure, you can go back and say stuff like that after every close game, but unlike last week when Michigan got completely dominated except for the last 5 minutes, this week the total yards stat was fairly even.  The big difference was obviously in the turnovers column, where Michigan was -4.  In a game where the Wolverines started with an interception return for a TD, turnovers ended up being the deciding factor, except it was the deciding factor for Iowa improving to 6-0.

The timing of next week’s Delaware State game couldn’t be better.  After dropping back-to-back soul-crushing games on the road, Michigan will return home to play an FCS team.  Obviously we have learned to never take an FCS team lightly, but Delaware State is no Appalachian State.  This is a game where Michigan should win 60-0 and the backups should be playing by the fourth quarter.  Anything less will be disappointing, though simply winning and making it through the game with no injuries is fine by me.  Michigan would improve to 5-2 with the win, just as Penn State gets ready to come to Ann Arbor on October 24.  I don’t want to look too far ahead, but Michigan should be playing to clinch bowl eligibility in two weeks.  Not only that, but Penn State will be 6-1 and a top-15 team if they take care of business at home against Minnesota next Saturday.  It will be Michigan’s chance to get a new winning streak started against the Nittany Lions, and more than anything it will be a chance to win in a big game against a team not named Notre Dame.

Discussion about Penn State will cease until next week, as Delaware State comes to the Big House next Saturday.  The game will get started at noon and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

Game #6 – Michigan (4-1) at Iowa (5-0)

By · Saturday, October 10, 2009 · 3:21 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
MICHIGAN (4-1) GAME #6 IOWA (5-0)
Michigan AT Iowa
Date: October 10, 2009 Location: Iowa City, IA
Time: 8:12 p.m. ET Stadium: Kinnick Stadium
TV: ABC Line: -8.0; 47.0 O/U
Live Audio: Click Here Weather: Click Here
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