No matter whether I said we would cover the spread, or win comfortably, the fact is that we lost to Toledo. Similar to Appalachian State a year ago, this loss hurts, bad. It hurts because we lost the game ourselves. Again, just as in the past 3 games, turnovers were the killer. And that's not an excuse. We turned the ball over on dumb bonehead plays.
A loss like this is not just the result of one mistake or one key element not functioning they way it should. Losses like this are the culmination of a number of things.
Here, we will take a look at what I believe is the 3 keys to the loss.
I know Rodriguez get's a pass for now because he's a new coach, and has a ton of new players. But that doesn't mean the play calling has to be terrible. Way too many times we ran plays that just made zero sense. Like running an option up the middle on a 3rd and long. If that play had been working all day, then maybe it would make sense. But Toledo had that figured out from the first series (a 3 and out). It wasn't working no matter how many times we ran it.
We didn't make passes down field, at least not until we had to at the end of the game. Steven Threet didn't have his favorite target with Martavious Odoms out, but he did have Stonum and Matthews. Needless to say, when Sherridan came into the game, his biggest pass was to Sam McGuffie.
I know we don't have the best QBs in the nation, but at least take a shot down field. The worse than can happen is a pic, but that happened anyway. What it can do is open up the running game and screen pass game. Toledo blitzed all day, which really screwed us up. We had no ability to block for our QB or RBs because Toledo knew we'd only run up the middle or throw out to the flats. Their safeties were basically linebackers.
I know the defense didn't give up a touchdown, which is great. But they kept Toledo's offense on the field all day. Toledo threw the ball 50 times in this game. And they did so because we played a soft zone against their WRs on 1st and 2nd down, and finally on third down, we'd switch over to a man-to-man which typically worked, but not always well enough to stop them short of the first down line. They were 8 for 18 on third down, compared to our 3 for 13. That's what happens when a team faces 3rd and short situation instead of 3rd and long like Michigan did all day.
Everyone in the stadium knew their QB would roll out right and throw an out pass to Nick Moore. Michigan had a better yards-per-completion, which is good, but we had 18 less completions.
No question, with more time, Steven Threet of Nick Sherridan would be able to better execute this offense (okay, maybe Threet might). I don't question the effort. But I think it just comes down to ability to gel and gain experience playing together. Let's face it, we know the OL doesn't have experience, and the lineup has been juggled every game due to injuries. Those aren't excuses, it's just the way it is.
Look, I know there are many Michigan fans out there who are cursing this team and saying that they're the worst team in the last 40 years. So what? Maybe they are. But the fact is this is the team we have now, and crying about it won't make it any better.
I am getting so sick and tired of the fair-weather Michigan fans base. I remember last year being at the Appy State game and witnessing the shock and then fallout of that mess. But a week later, against Oregon, the fans booed the team and started leaving at halftime. Back then, I just assumed people were pissed because they knew that Michigan was capable of so much more, but just didn't perform.
Now, we're not capable of so much more. We're an offense of freshman and a first year coaching staff. It makes me sick to be at the games and hear people constantly booing. But the nice thing is, when the game finally ends, the people left in the stadium are the real fans. They didn't walk out in the third quarter.
If you have somewhere better to be, then go. Don't waste your time. Michigan, and their real fans don't not want you there anyway. But what really pisses me off, is when this team gets it together, you'll be right back on that bandwagon pretending that you've been there the whole time.
And for those of us who stayed to see KC Lopata miss that field goal wide left, rest assured, there will be better days.
It's so easy to be a critic right now and point out all of the things that Michigan did wrong. It's so easy to say that Rodriguez should be fired. It's so easy to say that this is the worst Michigan team in 40 years...
But what is not easy is getting back up and starting the hardest part of your schedule. But that is what the Michigan players and coaches have to do. Whether we like it or not, it doesn't get any tougher than this week at Penn State.
If you're one of those fans that only likes Michigan when they win, don't bother to watch. They won't win. But if you believe in this team and want to be able to say in two years when things are better, that you stuck with this team through the tough times, than throw on that maize t-shirt and at 4:30 on Saturday, cheer for Michigan. Because, as we all know, it's not going to get any easier.
The only thing I can say to you today is...be a fan. There is no time in the past 40 years of Michigan football more than now, that Michigan needs its fans.
I have no poetic way to wrap this up with my humble words. Instead I leave you with a quote from Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of this nation, as he described the Revolutionary War in a collection of articles entitled "The Crisis". This quote is from his first article.
These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.