Well, yeah, we lost this game, but there was actually a lot of good that came out of the 30-28 loss to Iowa. Here a some obsvervations from the game:
- Everybody else seems to have weighed in, so here’s my two cents on Rodriguez’s call to put Denard Robinson back in the game on the final drive: At the time, I couldn’t believe it, and on a final drive I don’t think a team should trot a player out there who causes heart attacks every time he throws downfield. It’s not just that Robinson isn’t very accurate yet; he’s never played in that situation, and he doesn’t have the arm to make up for poor decisions the way Forcier does. Yes, it turns out Forcier was concussed, and the point is moot now, but I just had a bad feeling from the moment Denard took the field. Again, just my opinion.
- The defense put in one hell of an effort, given the five (five!) Michigan turnovers on the day. The Wolverines held Iowa to just 5.1 yards per play, allowed just 34 rushing yards, scored a touchdown (albeit a gift from Ricky Stanzi, but still), AND managed a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter. If you told me they would play that well before the game, I’d have a hard time not picking Michigan to win.
- The offense, on the other hand, was somewhat of a disaster. Seven of the team’s 13 drives stalled after picking up ten yards or less, and the turnovers were so killer because almost all of them were completely unforced.
- Donovan Warren and Brandon Graham simply had monster games. I’ll never understand why Stanzi threw at Warren’s side of the field so much — he was just blanketing the Iowa receivers — but at least Stanzi had a choice to stay away from Warren. BG was blowing plays up, whether they were runs or passes, and basically lived in the Hawkeye backfield all night. These two guys are what is holding this defense together.
- Troy Woolfolk was a pleasant surprise at cornerback. He appeared to play quite well, and possesses the feel for the game that Boubacar Cissoko is lacking right now and the athleticism that J.T. Floyd just doesn’t have. Unfortunately, Mike Williams totally blew his assignment on a couple of Iowa’s touchdowns, and now we’ll have to see if the secondary gets realigned again or if the coaches will simply try to bang it into Williams’ head that he has to be the last man back at all times.
- The linebackers finally put together a complete game (at least until Brian puts out his UFR and anything I have to say here is completely mitigated). Stevie Brown clearly should have been a linebacker since day one — he made a huge play on the goal-line stand, has been a really solid tackler, and gets to plays very quickly. Ezeh and Mouton both raised their play from earlier this season — you simply don’t hold a team to 34 yards rushing if your linebackers aren’t having good games. Hopefully they can keep it up for the rest of the season.
- Huge day for the offensive line. They were opening up huge holes for the run game (which netted 195 yards on 4.3 yards per carry) and protected Forcier and Robinson very well when they dropped back (no sacks given up). Even though I think Iowa’s defense is a little overrated, that was still a big performance against a very tough defensive front. Also, nice to see Moosman snapping the ball much better — I don’t recall a single bad snap.
- It’s tough to really comment too much on the offense. Tate had a rough, rough game. He’s still a freshman, and we have to expect those kind of performances to happen every once in a while. He’s still one of the best true freshmen quarterbacks in recent memory. Denard got thrown into a really tough spot, had one great drive, and then threw a killer pick. He’ll learn from that as well. Minor’s fumble was the one turnover that shocked me — as a senior, you have to protect the ball in that situation, especially when the run was going nowhere to begin with.
- OK, I lied. Mathews’ turnover was also a stunner — he’s back there for one reason, and that’s to catch the ball. If you have to go to your knees to field a punt inside the ten, just let it go.
- Is any outside receiver going to step up on this team? Martavious Odoms and Kevin Koger continue to deliver week-in and week-out, and the outside guys continue to pull disappearing acts. This week, Stonum, Mathews, Hemingway (and Savoy, if you want to count him, since he saw a few snaps) combined for two catches and 16 yards. I realize Forcier often looks to his underneath guys first, but that’s still paltry production from a group of guys with too much talent and experience to be invisible like that.