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Posted on Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

Grade the Wolverines: Rate Michigan's performance vs. MSU

By Staff

Will Michigan's first loss in the Brady Hoke era result in our first set of "bad" grades, or were his Wolverines simply over-matched against the Spartans in East Lansing?

Here's your chance to weigh in on the 28-14 loss to Michigan State. Grade the Wolverines on offense, defense, special teams, coaching and overall:


Both Michigan quarterbacks struggled mightily with constant pressure from Michigan State. Denard Robinson (9-of-24 for 123 yards) threw what was essentially a game-ending interception that Isaiah Lewis returned for a 28-14 lead with 4:31 remaining. Devin Gardner was 3-of-7 passing for 45 yards and the Wolverines finished with a season-low 250 yards of total offense. Robinson (42 yards) and Vincent Smith (37 yards) were the leading rushers and Roy Roundtree caught a team-high four passes for 43 yards.


The unit made stops late that gave Michigan some flickering hope in the fourth quarter. Overall, the Spartans averaged 5.5 yards per run (26 carries for 167 yards by Edwin Baker) and allowed a pair of Kirk Cousins-to-Keshawn Martin touchdown passes. After allowing 21 second-half points all season, the Wolverines allowed 14 in the third quarter. A sign of the play up front: Defensive backs Thomas Gordon (7), Jordan Kovacs (6) and Blake Countess (6) were among Michigan's four top tacklers.

Special teams

Punter Will Hagerup may have been the Wolverines' MVP in the first half after pinning the Spartans deep with several sideline punts, but Michigan didn't do much with the field-position advantage. Hagerup averaged 31.9 yards on seven punts — six coming in MSU territory — with four of them downed inside the 20-yard-line. Brendan Gibbons kicked three extra points, but did not attempt a field goal in the windy conditions.


A trick play call helped early — Drew Dileo picked up a first down on a fake field goal in the first quarter and the Wolverines scored two plays later — but people will be shaking their heads over the play-action call on 4th-and-1 from the MSU 9-yard line with 6:16 to play. Robinson was sacked for a 10-yard loss with the Wolverines looking to tie the game at 21-21.


In the end, Brady Hoke couldn't do what his five predecessors couldn't do — beat Michigan State as a first-year head coach. The Michigan seniors will leave the program having never beaten the Spartans, and Wolverines fans will be nail-biting for two weeks (Michigan is off next weekend), concerned that yet another late-season swoon is inevitable.



Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 9:34 p.m.

Why is no one talking about the QB coach, Denard was a good to great passer last year around Henne in his better years. This year he is awful and has horrible mechanics and play calls that are a disaster. Can we go out and get Scott Loeffler to come back or at least go get Rod Smith? Even Gardner looks to be worse than 2 years ago in the spring game....


Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 7:07 p.m.

so i guess if comments bite into the mighty M to deep they get rejected. it's your it however you want.


Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 7:04 p.m.

typical Wolve fans.full of got beat by a better team period.End of Discussion. although he's a great athlete he's not a great QB because he can't throw the ball. Mike Hart said MSU were the Little Brothers.well who is the Little Brother now.


Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

We were only 1 interception away from giving the game away.


Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 10:57 a.m.

Few things make me angrier than football fans in East Lansing having a Sparty party after a Michigan beat down. And I have no warm and fuzzy feelings about the green and white geeks. You will NOT receive a detailed break down of the game from me. The Michigan coaches and players should have prepared better. Maybe MSU having an extra week to get ready for the game was an unfair advantage (end of discussion).


Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.

finally honesty instead of arrogancy.


Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 2:11 a.m.

Got out played. Got out coached. Denard's passing was awful. Referee's where awful.

Matt Patercsak

Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 1:34 a.m.

THERE IS A SIMPLE FACT THAT WE, AS MICHIGAN FANS, MUST ACCEPT. Rich Rodriguez poisoned the water, and despite our very , best efforts, much of the water remains impure. our offensive line is small. our defensive line lacks explosion at the point of attack. We do not have the pounding running game that I dream of returning. a big fullback (MSU's todd anderson) and a powerful, big runner (leveon bell, baker). and until we do, we CANNOT rely on denard to throw the ball. the gameplan needs to be scrapped. i do not see him becoming the pocket passer that he needs to be. i think borges needs to sit him down, and tell him he is not a quarterback and use him in utility with a big back. id like to see thomas rawls at the top of the running back depth chart to get used to hitting people in the mouth, because we so desperately need a running game that blows people off the MSU. also, i am disgusted by what i continue to see out of devin garder. he displayed selfishness last week by not choosing the throw to steve watson in the endzone when he was wide open, and today he thought he could do anything. he had better start realizing the concept of the TEAM sooner rather than later. the defense was ok, but they just lack the talent. and we can only ask so much of them so soon. they will be outstanding soon. all in all i was upset at what i saw today, and what I didnt see. i would have liked to see more power running and under center stuff and a lot more physicality. I dont think its fair to blame Brady Hoke yet. he knows what it takes to win, but you cant give a big east spread attack to a big 10 coach and expect greatness immediately. i have faith in brady. but i have lost it in Denard. we were beaten. badly. we were blown off the ball on both sides.its good to learn from. lots of young guys got to feel the sting of defeat and won't forget this game in years to come. Put this game in your heart everyone. remember how bad it tastes. cya next year sparty


Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 4:08 p.m.

Totally agree with you about the issues in the big picture. Over time, our recruiting will improve. I don't think Gardner should be faulted for being selfish, I doubt he intentionally didn't target his open WR. Gardner is very inexperienced and came in very hyped up and didn't execute great, but he showed flashes of his talent.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.

One loss and now you see comments like this is worse the Rich Rod. Maybe we dodged a few bullets with winds against ND and NW. I dislike the ledge jumpers. This team could still end up with a 9 and 3 record.


Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 3:48 a.m.

I'm with you...I don't get it. This team is far better than the team RR had because our defense is so much better and because, ultimately, our offense will be so much better when we are able to diversify it with a true pro-style attack. In other words, our ceiling is much higher. Right now, though, we are basically last year's offense (which stunk it up against the big boys) with a better defense. Further, I don't believe that this team will quit and start losing games by 30+ points as the season progresses. Let the ledge jumpers jump...the rest of us, while upset by this loss, will remain rational and stay the course with this staff that will ultimately bring Michigan to the top of the B10 mountain.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:49 p.m.

Um just got their butt kicked on the line of scrimmage.

Hawaiian Neal

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:46 p.m.

Tradition used to mean something at UM. Frankly, I am more embarrassed for UM this year than upset. I hope Mr. Hoke is through with playing dress-up with his players and will concentrate more on playing football. This was worse and sloppier than any defeat in the RR years. The offense was pathetic, the defense was pathetic and even the new uniforms (also pathetic) were responsible for 3 or 4 tackles in the backfield (watch the films, you'll see it). Seriously, you say what everyone apparently wants to hear about football and tradition at UM, but Bo, Mo, Lo, and Ro respected the uniform. In less than 1 season, we've changed uniforms twice and on top of that, followed (yes, FOLLOWED) something Sparty did. We (Michigan) have spent so much credibility on 'crap' that we are in danger of losing our identity now. I'm not calling for your or the AD's resignation yet, but if you two keep spending UM's traditions and credibility like drunken sailors with open ended credit cards, I will be....I will be. OK, ENOUGH PLAY DATE DRESS UP. Quit being your 'AD's "boy" and get a spine. We have a classic uniform, respect it (although you've made that a lot harder to do now). You both owe the school more than that. Also, (AD) replace the art deco Michigan Stadium sign on the press box and quit putting your personal mark on things that belong to the University of Michigan and history.....NOT YOU. Totally unacceptable performance on the field and off the field. We, yes, The University of Michigan, are slowly wandering down the path to mediocrity in this area. It is not who we are.


Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 4:01 a.m.

Neal...this was in no way "worse and sloppier than any defeat in the RR years." Worse than Toledo? Worse than losing to 3-9 Illinois and Purdue? Worse than getting beat by 25 points by a 5-7 Illinois team? Worse than getting shredded 42-7 and 37-7 by OSU? Worse than last year's 34-17 HOME loss to Sparty? Certainly not worse than our 52-14 bowl loss to a mediocre Miss St. team? Get it together, Neal. Hoke took over a train wreck and is working hard to get it fixed. The uniforms are not the issue here...the lack of B10 caliber players in the trenches are, as is a QB who can't pass consistently against tough defenses. Hoke will fix this and get us OFF this "path to mediocrity" that Ro(RR?) PUT US ON! If today was the worst you've seen, you must have been sleeping the past three years, because even Jan. 1 of this year was far worse than today. Hoke is the right man for the job, even Bo, Mo, and Llo lost their first game to Sparty.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:58 p.m.

OK, so we didn't look good but we don't go from first to worst in one game. Something in the middle would do. This loss exposed a lot of weakeness. Did Brady Hoke say perhaps a hundred times to the media that this team has a log way to go? Was he not satisfied with how they played during these 6 wins? Get a grip.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

Even though UofM students call MSU an 'ag school', the MSU football program rocks!


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:24 p.m.

The coaches lost this game. Borges should have taken the play that would of got the most of the 4 th and short, Denard on a keeper. Big mistake. This ultimately lead to an interception and a Denard injury. Play with the big boys muscle on muscle. Denard has yet to get a signature Big 10 win. Come on coaches lets go and lets Go Blue.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:49 p.m.

To be quite honest, on this particular controversial 4th and short play, MSU pressured Denard and he had no chance of being successful on a QB run with a MSU linebacker right in front of him in the pocket. I would say that the hand off for the short yard gain to whoever the RB was that was leaping would have been a safer, better play.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:07 p.m.

Brady had his first poor day today. The loss was a coaching fail. No QB keepers on a windy day? They were forcing the pass in the face of a fierce blitz. The calls made MSU's blitz better. Was their downfield coverage really that good? At any rate, you can't drop back and consider options while a safety is in your grill. Why didn't Denard run? His TD run was a broken play. What can you say about that 4th and inches call? You are a hero if it works. It didn't. Therfore, coaching gets a D. After the past 3 years, I still love this coach. We all have bad days at work.

Hawaiian Neal

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:50 p.m.

Did you see the space on either side of the nose guard on that play? That was just epic fail. I'd play hero on third and short, but not 4th and short. All he had to do is fall forward to either side.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 10:47 p.m.

@ Eric Brown, well said exactly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 10:40 p.m.

Sometimes it's good to have a short memory. But how many of you remember Rich Rod's first season at Michigan? It was a horrible disastrous season, and Hoke is working with the players Rich Rod left behind and some from Hoke's top recruiting class of this year. Thus far, Hoke is doing a great job, much better than Rich Rod's first.


Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : midnight

I never want to hear the name Threet again : ( To be fair, I think Threet suffered a career ending injury at ASU, so throw Threet in there right now and we'd be worse.

Hawaiian Neal

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.

I think Hoke's cupboard was just a "little" fuller. Put Threet in today's game and see where we'd have gone.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:47 p.m.

Recruiting is very important when you think about Rich Rod's system vs. Hoke's system. Most of the current Michigan players are better suited for Rich Rod's crazy spread offense schemes. Hoke is working with who he has in his first year as head coach, and is doing a great job so far for who he has. This loss falls directly on those in charge right now like you said, but we can't ignore the big picture that this is a work in progress under Hoke.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:07 p.m.

They are Hoke's players, not the former coach's players. Doesn't matter who recruited them. Today, coaching staff did not get it done well enough. Each team remolds itself constantly but let's put the blame on the current staff for its loss if blame is to be had. Certainly, the fourth down call is on the coaching staff--nonsense call in my opinion, but it did not seem like the coaches had this team ready to play on either side of the ball while Dantonio did. Regardless of who recruited them.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 10:18 p.m.

Coaching staff failed today


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 10:13 p.m.

That call in the 4th quarter. THE 4th and 1 call, was THE DUMBEST CALL I HAVE EVER SEEN IN ANY FOOTBALL GAME.LET ALONE THIS BIG OF A GAME.Michigan St. was trying to GIVE Michgan THE GAME.Michigan got most of the calls by the officals.Michigan Coaching was terrible on all side of the ball.Play Devon Gardner he is true QB,play DR as running back,or wide out in the Slot.But Michigan let one get away today.Terrible Coaching is to blame on this One.

Eric Brown

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9:43 p.m.

MSU's defense didn't win that game so much as poor coaching and execution by UofM offense. MSU's gameplan was obvious, cheat up the safeties, pinch in on Denard and cut off his running lanes and crash the backfield. What works in that situation? Misdirection plays away from Denard, counter action, outside screens, inside screens, quick slants. What did we keep doing? Deeper passes, running up the middle and generally trying the same things over and over that didn't work. Quick slant worked good until the wide out double stutter stepped and let the defender jump the route for that interception. Coach needed to tell them, don't worry about the stutter, make a sharp cut, look for the ball fast. I know UofM has a ton of screen plays they never ran today. I give UofM's defense credit for showing a lot of spirit in a bad situation. D held MSU to 21 points, which should have won the game if the offense had changed the game plan to "go where they ain't". Denard is a electrifying athlete, but still lacks passing fundamentals. If your QB lacks fundamentals and the D is crashing in, those 12-15 yard passes are not going to work well. Settle back, quick easy passes, loosen up the D, then go back to the run. Don't force Denard to make medium/deep reads when he can easily make faster short reads and be more accurate.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

Looking at the stats for the past 4 years, sorry to say Hoke is the new joke. Even the worst coach in UM history, rrod, could score more than 14 points in the moo game.

Hawaiian Neal

Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.

I was on the fence with the Hoke hire, not excited either way. 2 years at SDSU and their best season (9 wins in a lesser conference) didn't really impress me. This (or better) is exactly where RR (or even "no coach") would have been this season.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9:33 p.m.

If we lost 28-27 would that make you feel better?


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9:28 p.m.

It's not ALL about scoring, as RR found out. M's defense held MSU to 21 points today (7 of 28 came from pick 6) which is 13 points better than the D did last year. Another 3 points like last whopping 17 wouldn't have put us over the top today any more than it did last year. Besides, if you want to make a fair comparison, consider this: When RR came in, his first year team made a 6 game decline from the previous season (9-4 to 3-9) while Hoke is on track to improve over last year's 7 wins. Further, when you consider RR won ony 3 his first season, Hoke has already doubled that win total with 5 games to go. No, Hoke is not the new joke. The joke is taking one loss and turning it into something bigger than it is. This team needs work. We knew that coming into this season. That work is being done and this team will be much better for it in the long run. The defense is already 100% better than it's been the past three seasons.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

This game had nothing to do with just MSU's dline! It has to do with all of MSU's D that has a lot of good players (no great players! This MSU team gets beat bad by any team from 07 and previous that Mich has). To beat michigan you have to make them pass. Denard Robinson is the most incompetent passer in FBS football! He has no passing skills at all. The bigger issue is that Michigan will be forced to start him next year. This game was a great example of two things. 1. What RR did to this team! (completely destroyed its offense and defense and created horrible habits that we are still seeing!) 2. All Borges half way through the second quarter may have been close to getting fired! I am dumb founded by his play calling! This is similar to not running Adrian Peterson 30 times a game! If you want to get fired Al stop running Denard. Hey Al here is a hint: Dont let Denard Throw the football! Dont let him throw! Hey Al dont let Denard throw the Football!!!!! CAN I SPELL IT OR YELL IT ANY LOUDER, STOP LETTING DENARD THROW THE BALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3. When Michigans D is under stress early they revert back to the way RR's coaches tought them how to tackle, with their eyes closed and dive at the ball carrier with their head! Twice michigan stops that team on red zone tries if they simply wrap up when they make contact to a guy moving laterally and no where else to go! Leaving them to field goal tries and changing the way this game went. 4. Good for Brady Hoke for not shaking MSU's hands after that game. MSU is full of a bunch of thugs that play the game the wrong way! And MSU you wonder why no one respects your players or your fans or graduatea! Ya Im talking about Gholston who if not kicked out should have been benched if your coach had any integrity (punching Lewellan and trying to break Denards neck at the bottom of a pile)! Nice win MSU talk about no character!

Wally the Wolverine

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9:37 p.m.

I think we may be letting our emotions get the best of us. To be brutally honest, it seems like we're maybe the only ones that have respect deficit for MSU. I know a lot of people outside the state that don't necessarily have anything negative to say about them. Let's take a step back, take a deep breath and move on.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9:06 p.m.

sorry more than two things, Im getting caught up in the heat of the moment a bit!


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9 p.m.

MIchigan's best offense today was MSU penalties. Any time you can say that, you are in for a long long day.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

M got outcoached, out quicked, and out defended. (*Also got out "dirty played" which is all coaching as far as I'm concerned). Any loss to MSU deserves a fail. Give D some credit for hanging in there, but they really got pushed around all day, and it would not have been that close had MSU receivers been able to hold onto the ball. Also, the refs did not favors to UM with some bad calls (taunting not called, fumble not called which led to MSU TD) but MSU just flat out outplayed UM today and results would likely be same next week.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9:26 p.m.

Right. MSU would win this game 3 out of 4 times played. They're just better from top to bottom.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

Hebner, I agree. This game was won (and lost) along the line of scrimmage. This was a concern that I've had all along moving into the Big Ten season, since Michigan has been dominated up front for the past three years. I know their strength coach has beefed everyone up, but against those physical teams that have been putting on the beef for 3-4 years, it's tough to compensate for in one off-season. I still think Hoke and his staff will make necessary adjustments, especially with two weeks off, and have this team ready to play the remaining 5 games of the season. Yes, losing to MSU (AGAIN!) sucks bad, but I don't foresee this team imploding down the stretch like they've done in recent seasons. They'll come out swinging and have a shot against every team left on the schedule. Heck, they even had a shot today despite being dominated along the lines.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9:34 p.m.

Jaxon, I halfway agree with you on OSU...unfortunately they are getting better as the season goes on, and getting their players back won't hurt. Also, they are still beasts along both lines, which does not bode well for Michgan. As for Nebraska, that game is actually at the Big House, and you never know what you're going to get with them. Martinez is like Denard, totally up and down. Michigan has a shot against them, but we've got to play much more physically than we did today.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.

I agree, except UM has no shot against Nebraska at Lincoln and against OSU with a full complement of suspended and non-suspended players.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

Best news is that we have Purdue at home next, to go on our year long schedule of "tough teams" of the MAC and lower Big Ten!! Nothing like Purdue and EMU to make yourselves feel good.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

Regarding that 4th and 1 play action pass attempt.... In hindsight, it would have been smarter to hand the ball off or sneak for a first down...and Denard wasn't having a good passing day.... But does anyone remember 4th down against ND some years back when Desmond made a diving catch in the endzone? I think the plan was to catch the D off guard with a pass to a wide open receiver. When these plays work, you're a coaching genius. When they fail, you're the goat.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 8:54 p.m.

I wonder just how much Hoke talked to these guys and told them about that rivalry, impressing upon them the importance of beating MSU, because they looked like they still don't get it. With the exception of the D at times, that looked like Rich Rodriguez was still coaching Michigan. I know that the loss was a combination of just about everything you can think of, from getting beat by MSU in the state in terms of recruiting during the RR era to Michigan's own poor coaching at times. But you do not come out and play your worst game of the season against MSU, especially having lost to them three years in a row prior. You don't come and coach your worst game of the season against MSU under these circumstances, either. I still believe Michigan is good enough--and that the Big Ten is bad enough--for Michigan to go 11-1 or 10-2. But my problem with this loss is that it was a poor effort against the worst team in the world to play a poor effort against if you're the Michigan Wolverines right now. To me, there is just no justification for losing 4 straight times to MSU. I feel sorry for those of you who still live in Michigan. Clearly, from the way the MSU defensive players behaved on the field and if you heard the MSU players in the post-game press conference, these people have flatout gotten arrogant...and you're going to spend approximately 365 days getting that garbage shoved in your faces. Somebody needs to let these Michigan players know enough is enough...apparently, Brady Hoke didn't do it.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9:07 p.m.

I agree with you about RR's recruiting. MSU has won the in state recruiting for the last 3 years and Michigan has to play catchup in that department. Consequently, we are going to be playing with RR's recruits for the near future. This coaching staff has gotten alot out of this squad, but good coaching can only go so far...we need top talent. I hope we come out and play Michigan football the rest of the season and don't throw in the towel after one loss. As far as MSU bragging...they don't have long to celebrate...they will be licking their wounds come next saturday.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

rensational, I don't think it was so much poor effort as it was simply MSU is the stronger, more physical (and better) team. They beat Michigan. Hoke is impressing upon the team that they need to be more physical, he's beefed them up, he's preached accountability...and they are getting there. However, they are not there yet and anyone who thought that UM was going to go 13-0 in Hoke's first season were delusional to begin with. 11-1? 10-2? Maybe, but I still see teams like Iowa, Nebraska, and OSU giving UM significant trouble along the line of scrimmage. Until Michigan gets bigger and stronger in that department, they are going to struggle against the big, physical teams of the conference.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

We faced a d line that dominated the line of scrimmage. Nothing gets started without winning the line of scrimmage. No excuses, we just need to put the game down as experience and move on.