5 Takes: Michigan State

Melanie Maxwell | MLive.com
Not how a Michigan captain should act
This is just unacceptable.

Two years ago I called out William Gholston for his antics in this game, so it's only fair that I do the same now. Taylor Lewan is a senior and a captain, and to see this kind of behavior is embarrassing. Earlier in the week Lewan said Michigan wouldn't get "bullied" in this game. I thought he was crazy for even bringing that up (what's to gain by doing that???), but I had no idea he would act the same way this time around. I understand the frustration, but that's a terrible message to send to the younger guys on this team. Gotta keep it together man.

Outcoached. Outmanned. Outgunned.
Almost nothing went right yesterday for the Michigan offense. With two weeks to prepare for what the coaches knew would be the best defense they'd face all year, the game plan was outmatched by Pat Narduzzi and his impressive defense. Make no mistake, Sparty's defense showed up to play yesterday. Speaking of Narduzzi, he had this to say after the game on Michigan refusing to get "bullied"...
"Self-fulfilling prophecy I guess, I don't know," said Narduzzi, whose defense held Michigan without a touchdown for the second straight time. "We're going to bully people, and that's the game of football.
"It's a bullying between the whistles. It's a physical football game, and our kids played their tails off."
He's right.

Michigan State gave up some plays early on Michigan's first drive as Gardner hit some nice passes, but the MSU defense stiffened, as they did all game. As you can see from the drive chart, Michigan had 3 meaningful drives (in bold) go nowhere but backwards (not counting the kneel down before the half).
                 Drive Started             Drive Ended             Consumed
Team     Qtr Spot Time   Obtained      Spot Time   How Lost      Pl-Yds   TOP
MICH     1st M17  15:00  Kickoff       H32  10:38 *FIELD GOAL     9-51   4:22
MICH     1st M35  09:03  Kickoff       M49  06:31  Punt           4-14   2:32
MICH     1st M32  04:39  Punt          M18  02:13  Punt           3--14  2:26
MICH     1st M09  01:22  Punt          M11  00:32  Punt           3-2    0:50
MICH     2nd M25  11:19  Kickoff       M13  07:34  Punt           6--12  3:45
MICH     2nd M22  06:02  Punt          H21  03:22 *FIELD GOAL     6-57   2:40
MICH     2nd M25  00:23  Kickoff       M23  00:00  End of half    1--2   0:23
MICH     3rd M19  09:49  Kickoff       M34  08:32  Punt           4-15   1:17
MICH     3rd M07  06:04  Punt          M08  05:13  Punt           3-1    0:51
MICH     3rd M10  04:20  Punt          M14  02:58  Punt           3-4    1:22
MICH     3rd H41  02:08  Interception  M38  14:51  Punt           3--21  2:17
MICH     4th M27  10:25  Kickoff       H20  06:23  Interception  12-53   4:02
MICH     4th M33  02:36  Kickoff       M39  02:09  Downs          4-6    0:27

That last drive in bold was a killer. After finally getting the turnover they needed at a pivotal point in the game, Michigan lost 21 yards and was forced to punt...just brutal. A total of 168 yards of offense (-48 rushing) and 8 punts tell the tale of this game.

When things are going bad for long enough or a pattern emerges, often a scapegoat is appointed. Offensive coordinator Al Borges is that scapegoat. Brady Hoke, even still, has had Al's back through thick and thin. I too, have been known to defend the big guy. Personally, I just like him I guess. And as an offensive coordinator, I think he's done a above-average job at Michigan.

I know I'm in the minority, but I'm not ready to throw him completely under the bus. He's had a tough job to do these last couple of years. Denard Robinson would've never have been Al's first pick for designing an offense around but he did it anyway, to better than average results. And Devin Gardner may be a good runner and passer, but his game management skills and ability to adapt to challenges quickly are skills not quite in his wheelhouse yet. Devin still panics and does fundamental things he shouldn't do. And maybe some of that is on Borges, but with the offensive line being what it is...I can't fault Borges or Gardner too much. Both are being asked to deliver more than is probably possible or reasonable. It's a team effort.

It starts up front
Cliche, I know. But with a more experienced and more seasoned offensive line, this game is much closer. Let's face it, Devin had very little time to make plays back there. If he has a pocket to stay in, he makes more of those throws like he did on that first drive. The running backs have more room to maneuver. Everything just starts to flow. Michigan State got 7 sacks in this game and most of them were well assisted. Most of the time in this game, Gardner had no shot.

Michigan's line can be good, but they're very young and inexperienced. Successful OL's are an art. They take time to mature and gel together. I have no doubt Michigan will get there, Hoke has been recruiting some top-notch OL talent, but it takes time.

The Mood™
MVictors does a pretty swell job covering Michigan Football and the history of it. But if you needed to see actual data of why you feel so crappy, here you go.

70.4. I'm surprised it's that high.

Extra Point: 0-5 for MBN on the road
As a blogger and thus a pseudo-media type, I'm not ordered to cover away games. I'm actually not ordered to cover any games, but that's neither here nor there. But it hits me that I am now 0 for 5 on covering Michigan away games. My first game was 2011 Michigan State. Last year I covered Notre Dame and Ohio State. This year it's been Penn State and Michigan State. Don't worry folks, I'm not traveling to Northwestern or Iowa.

I don't know what it is, maybe I'm delusional, but I really wish I could enjoy these trips more. I always intend to enjoy them, and before the games start I have fun. I wish I could appreciate more the away venues and the ambiance of the gameday atmosphere. Michigan football away from Ann Arbor is fun sometimes, at least I hear. But what happens is, Michigan invariably loses the game...the home team fans are go absolutely nuts...and I'm walking back to my car telling myself I'm never, EVER going to do this ever again.

This year's away games have been especially tough for some reason. The Penn State loss was tough in it's own special way. But this Michigan state loss hurt all over. It hurts more because for most Michigan fans, we have to live with it day-in and day-out for the next 365 days. We all know Michigan State fans, they're everywhere...sometimes right in your own house...where you sleep!

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