The Michigan Wolverines (7-4) suffered a tough 24-21 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes (7-4) on Saturday. As tough as this loss was, it probably wasn’t surprising to most Michigan fans. This game was just the most recent disappointing contest in a disappointing season. Let’s see how each position graded out (Spoiler alert: It’s not pretty).
When you complete less than half of your passes, throw for less than 100 yards, and virtually end the game with a late fourth quarter fumble, you’re not going to get a very good grade. It’s hardly fair to put this loss or most of the Wolverine’s struggles on Gardner even though most Michigan fans I talk to are seemingly doing so. While quarterback play is certainly a problem, the issues plaguing this
team go much deeper than that.
Michigan averaged 2.1 yards per rush against the Hawkeyes on Saturday. Obviously the offensive line continued to struggle, but the effort and toughness that Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith was not there against Iowa. Granted, Green didn’t play as much and Smith didn’t play at all. Senior Fitz Toussaint came back after missing last week’s game and picked up right where he left off, which was somewhere on the ground in the backfield.
Wide Receiver: D-
By far the worst game of the season for this unit. Devin Funchess had several drops and nobody really helped out their quarterback. When an offense is struggling, dropping balls becomes an absolute back breaker. That’s what happened on Saturday.
Offensive Line: D
Michigan gained less than 50 yards in the second half against Iowa. They only gained 158 on the day. When an offense is this bad, this ineffective, and this awful, you have to first look at the guys up front. These five Wolverines aren’t getting it done, but this is nothing new. It’s been like this all year. What else do I need to say?
Defensive Line: B
While the 168 yards of rushing is not what you’d like to see, this unit accounted for five tackles for a loss, a sack, and an interception returned for a touchdown. This unit performed on Saturday. Frank Clark had his best outing of the season accounting for 2.5 tackles for a loss. I want to acknowledge the play of Willie Henry, who also had a tackle for a loss on Saturday. He has really stepped up and has been consistently solid for several weeks now. There is some young talent on the defensive line.
Linebackers/Defensive Backs: B+
I combined these groups because I feel they performed about the same on Saturday against Iowa. Both of these units played well and made plays. Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor both had interceptions. Jake Ryan had a heck of a game and looks like he’s back to his
old self. The defense did its part to win the game.
Special Teams: C
It was a windy day in Iowa, so you have to cut the special teams some slack. Matt Wile had some less-than-amazing punts, but again, it was incredibly cold and windy. The special teams did OK given the circumstances.
The team isn’t getting better. In fact I would argue that it’s regressing. In a way, I feel almost relieved about next week’s game against Ohio State. There is no pressure on the team to win since everyone expects a blowout loss. This team can play the spoiler role and hopefully they come out and play like they have nothing to lose. It’s sad that Michigan football has been reduced to playing the spoiler role for Ohio State every year.