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Posted on Mon, Oct 5, 2009 : 5:22 p.m.

Rich Rodriguez: No one 'played at a championship level' against Michigan State

By Dave Birkett

ANN ARBOR - Every Sunday, Mark Ortmann watches tape of Michigan’s most recent football game. This week, he watched it three times.

“I just couldn’t figure out why we were so unsuccessful in running the ball,” Ortmann said. “Just trying to analyze it a little bit more.”

The left tackle wasn’t the only one still perplexed by Michigan’s performance two days after the Wolverines fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with an overtime loss to Michigan State.

Michigan (4-1, 1-1) ran for just 28 yards on 28 carries, couldn’t capitalize on three MSU turnovers, and struggled to stop the Spartans to the tune of 417 yards.

Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez was so disappointed in his team's effort that he broke from tradition and didn’t name an offensive or defensive player of the week.

“We didn’t have anybody we felt played at a championship level,” Rodriguez said.

As far as what went wrong, Rodriguez identified several areas of concern.

On offense, Michigan never found a rhythm after MSU held the ball for two-thirds of the first half. The Wolverines ran just 20 offensive plays in the first 30 minutes, and 14 of those came on one drive.

“We just weren’t sharp, and when you play a pretty solid team and you’re not sharp on the road it’s going to cost you,” Rodriguez said.

Defensively, Michigan missed a slew of tackles - Larry Caper broke two on his game-winning touchdown run - and couldn’t get off the field on third down.

On MSU's tone-setting second offensive possession, the Spartans went 80 yards in 17 plays and converted two third-and-6s and a fourth down.

Rodriguez said his team's defensive issues are correctable - "I don't want us to panic and try to reinvent the wheel defensively scheme-wise or anything like that," he said - and he hopes to have them fixed in time for Saturday's showdown with undefeated Iowa (5-0, 1-0).

“The challenging part for us is that we got to go on the road again against, I think, a top-10 team in their environment that’s playing very good football," Rodriguez said. "We know we’ll have to crank it up and play a lot better or it could be a tough night."

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.


Deb Anderson

Wed, Oct 7, 2009 : 3:08 p.m.

We didn't eke a win out of Notre Dame and we didn't with IU either, despite mistakes made onboth sides. Go RR and GO BLUE!


Wed, Oct 7, 2009 : 3:10 a.m.

Eek out a wim against ND and Central, now you loose to an anemic State team, I think its going to be a Long bumpy road ahead.


Wed, Oct 7, 2009 : 2:07 a.m.

Nobody coached at a championship level as well! Realistically IA defense is far superior to ours but I think IA offense is far from championship level. Only way we'll win is if we outscore them. I hope the O-line shows up this week and we can get more of a pass and run balance, and keep Tate from running into that defense. He should only run 3 to 4 times the entire game and learn to slide!!!!


Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 11:39 p.m.

I agree!! If we play like crap,then we deserve to get beat.Plain and simple!Here's one thing that RR says that I agree with....We will WIN the gms.that we DESERVE to win!!!PERIOD!!So lets go win the rest of these ball gms.!!All In....GO BLUE!!!!


Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 11:01 p.m.

You know what? As a lifetime Michigan fan, I am SICK AND TIRED of some Michigan fans making EXCUSES!!! We sound like Spartys. We have talent on this team, and loads of it. Our defense may be thin, but the guys on the field are studs. Period. On offense we are LOADED and now have a veteran O line comprised of highly rated high school recruits. Stop with the excuses. It's time to produce. There is no excuse for getting dominated by MSU for 56 minutes other than that our team was not prepared. If Lloyd's team had done that, these same people making excuses would be leading the charge to get him out of town (as they did, by the way). RR needs to be held to the same high standard. Michigan needs to produce. Period. No excuses. I want RR to be successful because I want Michigan to be successful. Saturday is huge for this team, because they need to show that they can compete with the big boys. This is Michigan, not MSU. We compete, we don't make excuses.


Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 5:34 p.m.

As part of the ESPN College Basketball Encyclopedia being released Wednesday, the network has released its Top 25 basketball programs of all time. Michigan is on the list, coming in at No. 13. Michigan landed between No. 12 Notre Dame and No. 14 Minnesota. Kentucky was No. 1, followed by UCLA, Kansas, North Carolina and Indiana. Michigan State was No. 15, behind the Wolverines. The 1,230-page book includes a recap of every season, a ranking by Sagarin and ESPN of every Division I program from Kentucky, to the No. 330 team, Binghamton, the Top 40 teams of each decade and essays on college basketball's biggest issues. Pat Forde of ESPN looks at the rankings - and takes issue with some of them - in a column on Michigan is also ranked the No. 10 program of the 1940s (actually 1937-49). The Wolverines were also the No. 37 program of the 1960s, the No. 11 team of the 1970s, the No. 13 team of the 1980s and the No. 12 program of the 1990s. The book sells for $49.95.


Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 4:11 p.m.

Easy Tater, sounds like your a little bitter becuase you've come to the realization that UofM is MSU's little sister now.

Pete Bigelow

Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 9:07 a.m.

A comment on this thread has been removed because it contained multiple personal attacks.


Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 8:51 a.m.

Go get 'em Tater!


Mon, Oct 5, 2009 : 11:17 p.m.

nah saginaw, let tater go off a little. He deserves to say his fill considering how much sparty is bragging. they have to brag considering this will probably be the only quality win they get all year (no offense montana state technical college of agriculture and manufacturing or whatever). I, like a large majority of the UofM fanbase, has faith in the Rod. It was understandably tough for a young team to go on the road in bad weather with a depleted O-line. It sounds to me like RR isn't making excuses at all, but rather expecting his team to achieve beyond what kids their age would be expected to do. RR has got nothing but respect for his players and the UofM tradition, and patience will truly be rewarded when RR gets more talent. Just wait.


Mon, Oct 5, 2009 : 10:17 p.m.

Tater, my man. Tone it down. You are sounding very strange. Let it go. Move on to Iowa. That is what's important now.


Mon, Oct 5, 2009 : 10:05 p.m.

Which Iowa will show up? Hawks have been inconsistent at best. Which Michigan team will show up? Can we run the ball against a really physical team? Iowa is a 7 point favorite. That tells me that the game is very winnable!!


Mon, Oct 5, 2009 : 8:29 p.m.

Kovacs should of got it for D-fense and Tate the GREAT should of got it for doing EVERYTHING else. And,they are EXCUSES he is using but until they play a FULL gm with intensity,nastiness,domination(on BOTH sides of the ball)he will continue to make excuses!!! It's on us to PLAY like we don't need excuses!! And it starts Saturday night!! All In.....GO BLUE!!!!


Mon, Oct 5, 2009 : 7:41 p.m.

Time is really the answer, but we are seeing so many mistakes.


Mon, Oct 5, 2009 : 6:50 p.m.

Even in a loss, I'm still encouraged with the "never say die" attitude of this team. If this were last year, we lose this game 34-6 and it becomes a true embarassment. In fact, if I were a State fan, I'd be questioning how my team supposedly dominated UM statistically, and had to survive in OT just to win? In my opinion, UM needs to become a smarter football team and more fundamentally sound. I know we're talking about a young football team but players taking initiative to fake a punt, snap the ball if a player jumps offside, and not put 2 hands on the ball (Stonum) after an MSU turnover in a crucial moment in the game is just unacceptable. Again, after Mooseman's performance in the UIndi game, why would he decide to quick-snap the ball in the MSU game??? UM has a QB who can take over a game as a freshman---why dig ourselves a hole with terrible decision-making and turnovers? State didn't win that game---UM gave it away! And finally my last gripe to RR, put the throttle to the floor on this offense. I know it supposedly has 3 speeds, but these are young players ready to roll and the only time they look like a cohesive unit is when they're up-tempo. Also, it will tire these b10 defenses a lot quicker. Other than that, I'm ready for Iowa. Go Blue!

Deb Anderson

Mon, Oct 5, 2009 : 6:46 p.m.

Our strength is in coming back. It was a very exciting game and I love the way our game is evolving. It doesn't happen overnight and we do have talent. Rich Rod isn't making excuses, I'm looking forward to the Iowa game. These guys are young, give them some credit and gie them a break! Bo wouldn't tolerate the dropped balls and what's with the snapping? We can certainly work on that and we have to! Carr wouldn't tolerate anything but a running game and let's not forget ever Appalachian State! Or putting Hensen so above Brady and look where those two went. I have faith in Rich Rod and his YOUNG talented team, I've never been a fair weather fan and I won't start now. I hope we blow Iowa off the map just to shut up the talking smack mouths. And the Spartan's played a very good game. We will too (and have) and it was the most entertaining 4th quarter I've ever seen played. By biggest beef with Carr was the over-confidence, particularly in the second half. If Rich Rod has proven anything, it's that anything is possible. GO BLUE!!!!!!


Mon, Oct 5, 2009 : 6:37 p.m.

Rrod sounds like he's up to 2008 tricks when he can't decide if Zoltan called the fake punt or he did? Can't decide if the new defensive coordinator is also chasing the "worst" records from previous years?


Mon, Oct 5, 2009 : 6:16 p.m.

He's not setting up excuses, he's trying to put that fire to prove something in them again. Unfortunately, that has faded a little each week.


Mon, Oct 5, 2009 : 6:04 p.m.

Lets face it. We have little talent, plain and simple. RR is not going to say that though. We will just keep hearing the same phrases about having to get more intense, more focused, and cleaning up the mistakes. Hello!...Good teams force you into mistakes. Duh... We are getting more experienced and we will continue to reqruit the players we need. Time is the only real answer.


Mon, Oct 5, 2009 : 5:50 p.m.

I don't have a problem with him not picking anyone. They played very poorly. Of course it would be nice for a walk-on like Kovacs to get it. RR was a walk-on. I'm sure he recognized Kovacs for playing well. However, he is probably trying to light a much needed fire under his player's asses! Huge prime-time game Saturday night in Iowa. GO BLUE!