This past Saturday the Michigan Wolverines fell to the Michigan State Spartans 29-6 in a lopsided contest in East Lansing. The Wolverines found themselves outmatched in every phase of the game. Let’s see how each unit graded out.
While some will think this grade is way too generous for a quarterback who barely 50% of his passes, accounted for no touchdowns and one turnover, and technically had -46 yards rushing, I think this is the grade he deserves. Gardner was hit more times than any quarterback should in a single game. Long developing play-action pass plays did him no favors, nor did the five guys up front playing patty cake with the Spartan defense. There were several missed opportunities for Gardner however, but it’s hard to put this loss on him.
Fitzgerald Toussaint gained twenty yards on eight carries against the Spartans. The 2.5 yards per carry average is about par for the course from him and the Michigan ground game at this point in the season. There wasn’t much running room (as usual) but Fitz missed at least two cuts on his eight carries that I saw, and sadly this is nothing new for the senior tailback. He was also a liability in pass protection, but then again so was every other Michigan player who attempted to “block” for their QB.
Wide Receivers: B
Honestly, this is probably the one unit on the team where you can’t review their performance on Saturday and complain. What else could these guys have done? They caught balls that were thrown their way (besides a couple of uncharacteristic drops from Devin Funchess) and at times made some incredible catches, like the one Jehu Chesson made when he snagged a ball over a defender. These guys just didn’t have much of a chance to shine in East Lansing.
Offensive Line: F
When your quarterback gets sacked seven times, and as a team you end up with -48 rushing yards, there’s not much else that needs to be said. Since I started following Michigan football, this has to be the worst offensive line performance I have ever seen.
Defensive Line: C
I honestly feel like this unit is underrated. They didn’t have a lot of depth before the injury to Ondre Pipkins, and with Keith Heitzman sitting out on Saturday, this unit was even thinner. Still, they didn’t play all that bad. They were able to get pressure on MSU QB Connor Cook from time to time, and if you take away the 40 yard touchdown run with about six minutes left in the game (I’m pretty sure the defense stopped caring at that point, as pathetic as that is) Jeremy Langford ends up with less than 100 yards rushing. Not awful by any means.
Not many missed tackles from this unit. They didn’t come up with many big plays either though. MSU was able to get good field position all game it seemed like, and eventually were able to break through on offense. I can’t put much blame on the linebackers for this. They had a so-so day. That seems to be the common theme of the defense. Their outings are always so-so.
How many times was there an MSU receiver running free in the secondary? I don’t want to think about it. Luckily for this unit the Michigan State quarterback wasn’t able to hit wide open receivers several times. Not to mention the drops. I can think of at least three plays off the top of my head where the secondary was bailed out by a bad drop. The one highlight from this group was Raymon Taylor’s interception. Unfortunately the offense proceeded to capitalize on that momentum shift by taking three straight sacks.
Special Teams: B
Honestly, you can’t complain about the special teams. Both Matt Wile and Brendan Gibbons made their field goal attempts, and MSU
only had one decent kick return. It’s usually not a good thing when special teams is by far the most solid phase of the game for a team, and that showed on Saturday.