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Posted on Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 4:32 p.m.

Grades: More D's for Michigan football team, but not for the defense

By Dave Birkett

Michigan football beat writer Dave Birkett grades the Wolverines after Wisconsin's 45-24 victory.



Michigan running back Vincent Smith picks up yardage in the first quarter. (Photo: Melanie Maxwell |

Brandon Minor (shoulder) and Carlos Brown (knee) were almost non-existent because of injuries, so Michigan leaned heavily on Vincent Smith. He played well and Tate Forcier was 20-of-26 passing, but the offense managed just 17 points and failed to get anything from another goal-line series. The Wolverines averaged 2.2 yards per rush for the game as the offensive line got manhandled at times. Grade: D Defense Wisconsin converted a number of third-and-longs early to keep drives alive and Michigan couldn’t stop running back John Clay late when it knew what was coming. Wisconsin scored on all four possessions in the second half. Brandon Graham (11 tackles, 4 TFL) was huge as usual and Michigan forced two turnovers and got a defensive score on Ryan Van Bergen’s fumble return, but poor tackling remains an issue. Grade: D-minus

Special teams Once again, huge negative plays were killer. Brandon Smith and Jon Conover collided with each other then punter Brad Nortman for a roughing-the-punter penalty that kept alive a Wisconsin drive that ended with a touchdown. Jason Olesnavage also had a 19-yard field goal blocked in the first half. Grade: D-minus Coaching Give defensive coordinator Greg Robinson credit for at least trying something new with his brutal defense. Michigan changed personnel on that side of the ball and played eight men in the box most of the game in a futile attempt to stop Clay. There was a questionable play call on third-and-goal at the 1, when Forcier ran a sweep right instead of handing the ball to Minor. But Wisconsin is just a superior team. Grade: B 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 15, 2009 : 9:39 a.m.

"Losing takes it toll on rrod..." end the toll, resign today.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 11:48 p.m.

Coaches get a B? My college profs were harder than you. Losing the fourth straight game in the second half by double figures, showing once again how others adjust and we don't? I'd say an "f" is generous. How about a double "R"?


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 6:51 p.m.

The team gets D's everywhere and the coaching gets a B? Uh, whose job is it to get the team ready to play? By the way, USC is 48-2 in their last 50 home games under Pete Carrol. The two losses? To Jim Harbaugh and Stanford! Today they hung 55 on the Trojans. Give him a call! NOW!!!

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 5:17 p.m.

Wisconsin is a mediocre team. And giving the coaching anything other than a F is generous.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 5:10 p.m.

dave: what about the big F to billy martin? he's the one ultimately responsible for this disaster.... or, are the rumors true that he's about to resign?


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 5:09 p.m.

negatory on the coaching B. This team is lost as in confused.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 5:08 p.m.

RR's talents are being wasted here...he needs to go 35 miles northeast. The Lions would be thrilled winning 25% of their games.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 5:06 p.m.

Coaching would have to improve dramatically to deserve an F. Dave, lose the rose-colored glasses and take the clothespin off your nose...the coaching stinks. I just hope Forcier doesn't decide to transfer to a competitive team.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 4:53 p.m.

coaching= f is agreed. No way should the coaches get a b when the team isn't competitive or competent


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 4:48 p.m.

Coaching = F. Come on Dave... dump the KoolAid.