Grades: It's tough to go lower with grades for Michigan football team
Michigan football beat writer Dave Birkett passes out grades after Michigan's 38-13 loss to Illinois on Saturday:
Offense Take out Michigan’s first 70-yard drive and Tate Forcier’s 76-yard pass to Roy Roundtree, and the Wolverines couldn’t muster any offense against the Big Ten’s worst defense. Two fumbles didn’t help, and failing to get in on four plays from the 1-yard line is inexcusable. The absence of starters Martavious Odoms and David Molk (out for the season) hurt, but that's not an excuse for Saturday's performance. Grade: F Defense Leave it to Michigan to let the struggling Illini get back on track. Mikel Leshoure (150 yards) and Jason Ford (128) each topped 100 yards rushing, and quarterback Juice Williams (97) would have if not for four sacks. Williams would be a Heisman Trophy contender if he could play against Michigan every week. The defense was fine early, but showed little mental resolve when adversity struck in the third quarter. Tackling remains an issue. Grade: F Special teams Junior Hemingway, returning punts in place of Odoms, muffed a kick in the first half and Michigan got little spark otherwise from its return game. Even the usually reliable Zoltan Mesko shanked a roll punt 24 yards in the third quarter. Mesko did have one nice kick that pinned Illinois at its own 10, and Jason Olesnavage made field goals of 29 and 42 yards. Grade: D-minus Coaching Anytime you get outcoached by Ron Zook, it’s not a good thing. Michigan showed little imagination on the goal line, and the Wolverines couldn’t cope on either side of the ball when things started to snowball. Beyond that, Rich Rodriguez made questionable use of Minor, sitting him most of the game because of a sore ankle, but playing him on pass protection early and again on Michigan’s final drive. The Wolverines also wasted more than 20 seconds before calling a timeout to stop the clock late the first half, when they had momentum on their side. Grade: F Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.