Impressions from Utah

Most Encouraging: The Defense
Once again, like last week, my biggest encouragement is the play of the defense. The personnel, the scheme, everything seems to be clicking on this side of the ball. We can dwell on a lot of things about Michigan Football right now, and you'd be justified in doing so, but the defense is not one of them.

Jake Ryan, Jourdan Lewis, Willie Henry and Frank Clark all had standout performances last week. And when you can have guys like that step up at the same time, good things are going to happen for your football team and that's exactly what happened. Yes, the outcome was not ideal, but if you're going to get excited about anything, get excited about this defense. Utah is a darn good football team, and giving up only 1 touchdown defensively the entire day…thats impressive to me. If this Michigan squad is going to build off anything, this is it.

Most Disappointing: Stalled Drives
You know, its not the turnovers that kill me, shockingly, because in meaningful games (ND and Utah), turnovers have only led to 6 points for the other team – 3 in each game. Surely that's not drastically impacting the outcomes.

What is impacting the outcomes is drives crossing the 50 yard line, and then running out of gas…or, yes, a turnover occurs. In Michigan's 2 losses, they have yet to enter the redzone. That's incredible! For a team with the ability to drive the field seemingly at will…to then just stall out completely is extremely frustrating. Bad penalties, turnovers, bad execution…we've seen all of it. Every drive is a new adventure.

And I'm not just blaming Devin Gardner here. Yes, he's struggling. Blocking breakdowns along the OL, running lanes disappearing, receivers need to do a better job blocking and catching. Funchess didn't help Gardner with the one-handed tip that led to an INT on an impressive drive last week. All in all, its a total offensive breakdown that's leading to drives ending so consistently.

Also a big disappointment on Saturday and worth mentioning was the punt coverage on the Utah return for a touchdown. First of all, this tight punt formation which everyone was griping about immediately came back to bite Michigan in the rear. That was embarrassing. But whats worse is Michigan only had 10 players on the field for that punt.

That wins this week's award for epic facepalm of the week.

Most Surprising: Jourdan Lewis
I'm not surprised Lewis is a good player, we knew he was. But what I am surprised about is how fast he's come on as maybe Michigan's best cornerback. With the injury to Taylor and Countess struggling, Michigan needed someone to step up and Lewis has done just that. His across the field rundown of Bubba Poole on that 67-yard screen pass in the 1st quarter was brilliant. It saved a touchdown and cost Utah 4 points. Jourdan finished the day with 5 tackles (4 solo) and 2 pass break ups in surely his breakout game as a Wolverine.

Biggest Concern Going Forward: Quarterback
Of course the biggest concern is the QB position. It has to be. With Gardner struggling so much, and Shane coming into the game and not looking much better, things seems to be in trouble under center.

There are many areas of concern on the offense. I do think there were bright spots too. Green looked pretty good running the ball. He looked patient but was able to cut it up when a hole emerged. That's not my concern at all. I think the OL showed some good signs as well.

But obviously, the quarterback is the key to everything and Michigan, it seems, has a bit of a QB situation now. I'd be surprised if Shane Morris doesn't get an honest shot this week against Minnesota. I think Gardner's confidence is shot at this point…and confidence is everything for that position. Shane got a raw deal coming into the game when the momentum was shot, it was raining, and Michigan was down by 16. I think he deserves a chance to start a game and see how he does. Maybe Shane can rally this offense and breathe new life into an anemic passing attack.

At this point, its worth a shot.

The Takeaway: Rock Bottom?
I could easily come on here and talk about how the sky is falling and all is lost. And maybe it is. If you listen to enough sports talk radio or visit enough message boards, you'd think it was. Maybe this is the end for Brady Hoke. Maybe its going to be a long time before Michigan gets back to playing at the level we're all used to. But I don't think this is rock bottom. I think this Michigan team is in a better place than what it was back in a year ago.

Maybe a fresh approach with a new quarterback will be enough to spark something. Maybe some new blood under center will make this offense click. We just don't know. And we won't know until we see it…until it happens.

Do I think this Michigan team is doomed? I do not. I see a lot of talent on this team – on both sides of the ball. I see effort being made. Its cliche, but there are still goals for this team. There's still a B1G championship to play for. I'd be shocked if they got there…but its possible. And that needs to be the rallying cry for this team right now. All is not lost. But Michigan needs to turn it up in a big way offensively.

This is not rock bottom. It might be behind us or it might be coming...but this isn't it.

Related MBN Clicks:
• What's Being Said: The Utah Fallout
• Utah 26, Michigan 10

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