It’s been three days since Michigan State trounced the Wolverines 29-6. Michigan better have a short memory when it comes to this loss, as they have a tough remaining schedule, starting with Nebraska at home on Saturday.
In its last game against the Spartans, Michigan didn’t do a whole lot right as they were dominated by MSU. They ran the ball for an unbelievable negative 48 yards and quarterback Devin Gardner was sacked seven times.
Much of the team’s problems against Michigan State, and for the entire year have come from the poor play of the offensive line. A few lineup changes here and there have proven to do little to no good so far. Brady Hoke weighed in on what he believes to be the issue to this point on Monday during his presser.
“It’s a youth problem as much as anything,” said Hoke. “The only fix is the experience. I wouldn’t trade (Kyle) Bosch or (Erik) Magnuson or Graham (Glasgow) for anybody. Or the guys they’re competing with.”
Well, the young guys up front will have to grow up quick, as they enter the final four games of the season. While they won’t face a defense as daunting as Michigan State’s, it isn’t exactly an easy road.
The struggles in the running could also be attributed to the play of senior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint. Through eight games, Fitz has run for 595 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 3.7 yards per carry. He finished the MSU game with 20 yards on eight carries.
Outside of the MSU game, Fitz hasn’t been able to produce at the level that Michigan had hoped for, especially against weaker opponents. Against Penn State, he carried the ball 27 times for 27 yards. Against Akron, he gained only 71 yards on 19 carries against probably the worst team on Michigan’s schedule. After Nebraska, Michigan will travel to Northwestern and Iowa, before hosting unbeaten Ohio State.
The lack of a running game for the Wolverines has caused major problems and reasons for concern. It has forced Devin Gardner to carry the load of the offense, relying on him for much of the production. This was evident in the Michigan State game.
MSU is in the past
I’m sure the loss in a rivalry game against Michigan State will hurt for a while, but Michigan needs to move past it. This week’s game against Nebraska is extremely winnable as Nebraska has had its fair share of struggles this year.
It was announced yesterday that Huskers’ quarterback Taylor Martinez will not play on Saturday. I’m undecided on whether or not this is good or bad for the Wolverines.
What Michigan needs to focus on is consistency on offense, primarily running the ball. Nebraska allows over 180 rushing yards per game. I suggest Michigan try to run the ball early and often, and give the freshman Derrick Green some carries. It couldn’t hurt.
Nebraska running back Ameer Abdulah might have given the Wolverines the motivation it needs to rebound from its loss to MSU. Abdulah came out and referred to Michigan fans as “ruthless and nasty”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Abdulah. “Honestly, I’m not a big fan of Michigan. Nothing would make me happier to go up there and shut them up.”
Those are fightin’ words, and Michigan better be prepared to fight on Saturday. I’m optimistic that the Wolverines can rebound at home, where Hoke is still undefeated while at Michigan.
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