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Posted on Sat, Oct 31, 2009 : 7:52 p.m.

Grades: It's tough to go lower with grades for Michigan football team

By Dave Birkett

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 He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 1:58 p.m.

I still ask.Why couldn't we keep what Lloyd was doing(meaning we were winning 8,9,10 games, sometimes 11 games a season)and tweek it a little!?Throw in the spread when necessary(like how we beat Florida)It seems so simple doesn't it!?Keep what we were doing-tweek when necessary.Why does it have to be all or nothing!?Life, as we all know, is about BALANCE!!Why can't we have balance? Good luck next week and GO BLUE!!!


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 9:50 a.m.

Michigan used to astound us with great 2nd half adjustments. But those days seem gone. Still puzzled by Denard sitting on the bench after Roundtree was caught from behind. Hard to envision a better time to spread things out with some speed.


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 8:52 a.m.

How much worse will this team be next year when they lose their only good defensive player, and the only two running backs who have had meaningful snaps?


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 7:57 a.m.

Call Jim Harbaugh, but you have probably burned that bridge also, just give him a try! Or let the players go out without coaches for the rest of the year, certainly they could do a better job.


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 7:34 a.m.

What I want to know is what kind of inspiring half time speech does he give? I have never seen a Michigan team completely lose all its composure and confidence like the ones he has fielded these last two seasons. Sloppy tackling, poor coverage, drop passes, excessive fumbling, dropped kickoffs all equals POOR COACHING!! You are killing us here Rich Rod, time to fold up your tent and go back home!


Sat, Oct 31, 2009 : 9:58 p.m.

Gardner can't save this mess. One player can't make up for all of the other deficiencies on this team. It needs a top down overhaul at this point. Gardner can't tackle, Gardner can't block, and Gardner can't coach. No matter how good a QB he is, he's only one player.


Sat, Oct 31, 2009 : 8:32 p.m.

Worst game of the year, and the team is regressing. 6-6 or 5-7 is a distinct possibility. RR needs to find a way to steal one from Ohio State to save the season. The defense is amaizeinly bad. The fundamentals... Williams please learn how to tackle. All they do is arm tackle. Every one blames RR (he does deserve some) but who was Carr recruiting his last two years? These guys are terrible. GRob needs to sell out on blitzes and hope for fumbles and INTs, because this defense is going to give up the big play anyways. The secondary is the worst I have seen at Michigan. Forcier carries the ball like a loaf of bread and seems uncomfortable in the pocket. It is laughable that ESPN was hyping him up after the ND game (a little to quick). The WRs can only catch perfectly thrown balls (Kroger drops at least two a game). Pray for a Motor City Bowl and that Devin Gardner is all the hype... Roundtree... how do you get caught from behind?


Sat, Oct 31, 2009 : 8:05 p.m.

It is time for RR to go. I have been supporting him up to this point, but this team is getting worse by the week. Give Brian Kelly a call and see if he is interested. The day after the OSU loss (probably by 30 or more) RR should be handed his pink slip. I am done with this team. I have been watching Michigan football for over 25 years and I am flat out humiliated to call myself a Michigan fan. It was fun while it lasted Michigan. I will start watching again in 15 years when the program recovers from the RR years.


Sat, Oct 31, 2009 : 7:37 p.m.

These grades are spot on. RR has proven himself to be a schematic moron who has no idea what the phrase "Plan B" means. If his initial plans get stopped then he is clueless. This is the second straight year UM has been getting "Dump Trucked" in the second half


Sat, Oct 31, 2009 : 7:30 p.m.

What happened to the vaunted spread that is supposed to run circles around the rest of the slow Big Ten? It lit up PSU for 10 and now Illinois for a whopping 13 in consecutive weeks. Combine that with our atrocious and getting worse defense, and I have zero confidence in the current direction of the program. I'm all in for Michigan...and, imo, that may have to include changing direction with a better fit at coach. Whatever RR did at WVU, he's not getting it done here...and if he needs perfect talent to fit his "scheme," then he's not a very good coach.