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Posted on Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 10:16 p.m.

Denard Robinson's struggles in loss to MSU start with poor play of Michigan's offensive line

By Kyle Meinke


Denard Robinson is sandwiched by two Spartans during Michigan's 28-14 loss at Michigan State.

Jeff Sainlar I

EAST LANSING -- Denard Robinson will be the face of this loss -- and, if Saturday is any indication, that face will be driven deep into the Spartan Stadium turf.

Yet, the Michigan football team's 28-14 loss to rival Michigan State rests not only on his shoulders, but the six or so men charged with blocking for him.

The Wolverines were outplayed in nearly every way against a superior and more physical Michigan State team. That much was obvious as the Spartans were putting the finishing touches on their fourth consecutive win in the series.

The Wolverines looked even worse on tape, especially up front.

Robinson was flushed and flustered for much of the game as Michigan State's No. 1-ranked defense bullied a Wolverines offensive line that, more or less, had held its own this year.

The pressure started in the middle with MSU defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, a future first-round pick who dominated Michigan center David Molk. That's not so much an indictment of Molk, one of the country's premier centers, as it is the Wolverines' front as a whole.

Michigan needed to support Molk from either or both guard positions; rather, Patrick Omameh and Michael Schofield had their hands full trying to slow the rest of the Spartans' front. In the end, Michigan State's Kevin Pickelman, Marcus Rush and William Gholston each applied their own pressure.

Molk had perhaps the worst day of his career.

Michigan right tackle Mark Hugye also struggled significantly to hold off the MSU surge, consistently allowing his man to penetrate on pass rush and make plays against the run.

Left tackle Taylor Lewan was better, but was physically battered throughout the game. He left for multiple plays during the first series due to injury, later came up limping after Robinson rolled into the back of his legs and was engaged in various extracurriculars with various players.

He also was punched in the throat by Gholston after he had pushed the MSU sophomore to the ground by his helmet.

What did all this mean?

It meant there were few rushing lanes, and Michigan's running attack, ranked seventh in the country coming into the game, posted a season-low 82 yards. Robinson rushed for just 42, a career low among games he's started.

"To get it out of our running back group, we have to get (more) out of our front first," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "I think there’s some opportunities we missed a little bit, but at the same time, I don’t know how much movement we got consistently at the line of scrimmage.”

Robinson also struggled in the passing game, where he completed 9 of 24 attempts for 123 yards, one touchdown and one interception. At one point, he missed on eight consecutive passes and 11 of 12. His 37.5 passing percentage is the worst of his career among games he's started.

He looked skittish, even gun-shy, because of all the hits, late hits, sacks and blitzes. The junior has been inconsistent this season, but tends to be at his worst when he doesn't have time to set his feet and square his hips.

Against Michigan State, that occurred on most plays.

"They always want to try and protect their prized possession and, (Saturday), they really didn't do a good job of it," said Worthy, who added that MSU's strategy going into the game was to strike fear into Robinson.

And, of course, there were sacks. Seven, to be exact, after Michigan allowed only two all season.

So, what's the problem with the offensive line?

Against the Spartans, Michigan was disadvantaged because it was tipping its hand in the snap count. Michigan State safety Trenton Robinson acknowledged to The Wolverine they knew from film that Molk would snap the ball after lowering his head, then picking it back up.

This wasn't an issue as much in the first half, when hard counts drew multiple offsides calls from the Spartans' defensive front. In the second half, though, MSU appeared to be jumping the snap, a huge edge. Trenton Robinson's admission would explain why.

Still, Michigan has more of a systemic problem than that specific disadvantage in this specific game: Its linemen were recruited to zone block in the spread-option, which favored smaller, shiftier linemen. That, in the end, was part of the reason the spread slowed down during Big Ten play the past two years.

It also was part of the reason Michigan was so consistently blown off the line of scrimmage Saturday, and it became obvious the Wolverines remain limited in physicality and toughness in the offensive trenches.

They'll handle inferior opponents, such as in two weeks against Purdue, but could struggle against bigger lines, such as that of Nebraska.

What can they do to compensate?

There's at least one thing: Emphasize shorter passes, screens and bubble screens (the latter of which were not used at all against Michigan State). That would take some of the onus of the offensive line, and also would provide easier passes for Robinson.

He's certainly not handling the tougher ones well right now.


Backup quarterback Devin Gardner runs against Michigan State on Saturday.

Jeff Sainlar I

Gardner's role in offense
Even before Robinson was knocked out in the fourth quarter, his struggles precipitated more snaps for backup Devin Gardner — and not just in the two-quarterback formations featured the previous two weeks.

Gardner took about 16 snaps against the Spartans, some of which came with Robinson hurt, but others when he was not. It seems Hoke made that call because he has more confidence in Gardner's arm than Robinson's right now.

"Part of what pushed (Gardner's snap count) over a little more was the wind," Hoke said. "It was a windy day. I think Devin, at times, can throw the ball a little more accurately."

Hoke added this during a halftime interview with ESPN: "Devin's throwing the ball pretty good for us. ... There's a lot of wind, so we need to do what's best for Michigan."

Robinson, without question, remains Michigan's quarterback of the present and future, but that was the first public acknowledgment by the coaching staff that Gardner is passing better than Robinson.

What that means is Gardner likely will continue to play a considerable role in the offense, with or without Robinson on the field.

To eject, or to not eject?
I wrote about Michigan State's litany of personal fouls after the game Saturday, and quoted Worthy as saying the Spartans played dirty and were targeting Robinson.

Upon further review, those penalties looked even more egregious -- especially the two on Gholston. He was whistled for jumping on an already-down Robinson and violently twisting his facemask, then again for punching Lewan in the throat. He was not ejected.

Both plays occurred in the third quarter, and many thought Gholston should have been ejected. Mike Pereira, a former vice president of officiating for the NFL who is a rules analyst for FOX, was one of them.

"i wud've ejected him," he tweeted to his nearly 20,000 followers after Gholston threw his punch.

He agreed with the personal foul on the late hit against Robinson.

"That is BS grabbing the facemask and twisting it like that," he tweeted. "Great job of officiating that."

Gholston said after the game he simply was playing with "reckless abandonment," which was his team's game plan, and did not think he played dirty.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio also said he thought his team did not play dirty, and was seen yelling at officials after Gholston's late hit against Robinson.

Offensive line depth
When Lewan left the game, Michigan shifted Huyge to left tackle -- where he began last season as the starter before being supplanted by Lewan -- and Elliott Mealer filled Huyge's void at right tackle. Lewan re-entered the game later in the series.

Two takeways:

  • Starting left guard Ricky Barnum is not in the picture right now. The junior has not played since twisting his ankle against San Diego State, despite dressing and traveling for the Michigan State game. If he did not play with Lewan sidelined, and the game so physical in the trenches, he's not close to getting back on the field.
  • Michigan's depth is extremely limited up front, especially with Schofield, the primary offensive line reserve, already playing for Barnum at left guard. Mealer is the end of the line in terms of guys with any kind of experience.

Countess' stock rising, Woolfolk's falling Troy Woolfolk is not playing like a starting cornerback. Although the senior may continue to start games, as he has all year, it's clear true freshman Blake Countess is playing better right now.


Blake Countess

At this point, Countess is the best option to play alongside junior J.T. Floyd.

Woolfolk's day started poorly on Michigan State's first drive, as he was badly beaten on a stop-and-go, and was bailed out only because receiver Keyshawn Martin dropped the ball in the end zone.

He also took bad angles on two outside rushes by MSU tailback Edwin Baker during that opening drive. After the second, he was replaced by Countess, and the freshman played the rest of the way. Even in nickel situations, it was sophomore Courtney Avery, not Woolfolk, who entered the game.

Hoke has considerable deference for his seniors, so it seems unlikely he would start a true freshman over Woolfolk, a senior revered by his teammates. But, it's likely Countess will continue to see his playing time increase at the expense of Woolfolk.

Another fast start
Lost among its myriad problems was Michigan's continued success on first drives.

Since being held scoreless in the first quarter of the season's first three games, the Wolverines have scored opening-drive touchdowns in each of their past four, even as their competition has increased.

Michigan opened against the nation's top-ranked defense Saturday with a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. It gained just 58 yards the rest of the half, though.

Lost second-half edge
Michigan began the weekend outscoring opponents 114-21 in the second half, making it the country's second-best second-half team. However, the adjustments (especially on defense) that made the Wolverines so tough in previous weeks did not pan out against the Spartans.

Michigan's running game continued to sputter after halftime, and Michigan State actually was more successful on offense than it was in the first half. It was the first time all season the Wolverines allowed more points in the second half than the first.

Part of that can be ascribed to several missed tackles.

The first play of the second half included a missed tackle by Countess and linebacker Jake Ryan. Later on the drive, sure-tackling safety Thomas Gordon missed Baker, who broke free for a 25-yard run that put the Spartans on Michigan's 7-yard line. Then, on third-and-goal, Floyd whiffed trying to grab Martin, who leaned in for the touchdown.

That's the first time this season the Wolverines have really struggled with missed tackles, but they cost Michigan on two second-half scores by MSU.

Pick-six shouldn't have counted
There's no question Isaiah Lewis' interception return for a touchdown that gave Michigan State a 28-14 lead with 4:31 left should have been nullified due to the new taunting rule this year.

Officials now can negate scoring plays on which a player taunts the other team. The rule was employed for the first time last week when LSU punter Brad Wing sprinted for a 50-yard touchdown that was disallowed because he extended the football to taunt Florida players.

That is precisely what Lewis did, to Robinson, except more egregiously.

As the MSU sophomore safety approached the goal line, he held the ball out toward Robinson and bobbed his head. How is that not taunting, especially in comparison to the LSU play? It was explicit and exceptional.

After the game, Lewis acknowledged this, although he also apologized.

“I thought maybe I shouldn’t have did it,” Lewis told The New York Times. “I was hoping they didn’t throw a flag on it. I didn’t mean anything bad. I was just celebrating.”


Craig Roh (88) and the Michigan defense continued its strong play Saturday at Michigan State.

Defense continues to shine
In a game that raised several red flags regarding the previously unbeaten Wolverines, the defense certainly validated its resurgence this year. It's for real.

Michigan allowed only 21 points to the Spartans' offense, despite not being able to sustain drives of its own, especially in the second half. It wasn't as dominating as it was against Minnesota or in the second half against Northwestern, but went back to the bend-but-don't-break style that worked against San Diego State.

The Wolverines also forced two more fumbles, both of which came on strips from behind, a staple of Greg Mattison's defensive approach. Floyd forced one, and Gordon the other.

Gordon has been strong all season in forcing and recovering turnovers, and has come to embody Mattison's opportunistic approach. The sophomore is one of Michigan's most pleasant surprises this season after unexpectedly earning a starting spot in fall camp.

Michigan is ninth in turnover margin (plus-seven) and fifth in total takeaways (19). It leads the Big Ten in both categories. The Wolverines were an NCAA-worst minus-32 in turnover margin the previous three seasons. In regards to forcing turnovers, the difference between this year and the past three couldn't be more stark.

Third down, third rate
Many things went wrong for Michigan in this game. Its lack of execution on third down was among the most surprising.

The Wolverines entered the game converting 58.1 percent of their third downs, third in the country. Against Michigan State, they were a paltry 20 percent (3-of-15), a precipitous dip due mostly to the Spartans controlling the line of scrimmage and partly to a greater number of long conversions required.

And then there was the play calling.

Offensive coordinator Al Borges has drawn some fire for his calls against Michigan State, most prominently a fourth-down play-action pass while trailing by seven points in the fourth quarter. The play resulted in a sack.

This is a classic example of overthinking. Borges probably thought he'd catch MSU off guard by going over the top on that final fourth down -- but why risk it, considering the gusting winds, Robinson's accuracy issues and the Spartans' consistent defensive penetration?

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

I guess you could call it poor play. I'm more inclined to think if they played State next week the same thing would happen. State's DL is just superior to Michigan's OL. This is what top tier big ten play is all about- why RR failed. That's why Hoke is recruiting guys like Kalis, Magnuson, and Bahr. Sadly, I think the same thing is going to happen against OSU's DL. I hope I'm wrong.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:29 a.m.

Could someone please explain to me the psychology of why a fan of another school would hang out every week on another schools comment board? There are schools that I don't like, yet I have no interest in visiting their comment boards and frankly, could care less how they feel about their own team. I understand that some imature fans like to visit an opponents board and rile them up during the week that they are playing them. That is all part of sports. But to spend every day of the season reading and making negative comments about another team on their comment board, is befuddling to me. Classic example of "get a life", I guess.

Lorain Steelmen

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:19 a.m.

Many years ago, (during the 60's), as a high schooler, in NE Ohio, our mentor was one, W.W. (Woody) Hayes. Laugh if you must, but there was a code of honor to the 'old man'. An assisitant to Hayes, Glenn E. Bo Schembechler, eventually took over at UM, and for ten years, these two 'giants', competed in what may called, the 'golden years' of the nation's TOP colligate rivalry. Often referred to, as the 'ten year war', these two coaches never gave an inch. Their teams epitomized the tough , BUT CLEAN, rivalry. These two teams battled with a ferocity, that has never been matched, ANYWHERE! In those days, any player, that was flagged for a personal foul, let alone a flagrant attempt to do bodily injury, to an opposing player, was IMMEDIATELY pulled from the game, benched, and the respective coach was in his grill! NO player, would ever put his team at a disadvantge, by taking a cheap shot on an opponent. NO player, would dishonor his team, and his school, in this manner. Now we see, Mark Dantonio, not only condoning this 'cheap shot' mentality, but actually encouraging it! Dantonio teaches his kids, and the supporters of Spartan football, that the meaning of being 'tough', is to cheap shot an opponent, and do physical harm. Woody and Bo would not mince words here. They both would say, that Dantono has brought dishonor to himself, to his team, and to Spartan nation. Across the country saturday afternoon, on national tv, the MSU Spartans have assumed a 'new image', not that of the 'valiant warrior', but rather, of the cheap shot artist, the thug, that has no honor or pride! And that new image will REMAIN, as the image of MSU football, until Dantonio leaves. MSU is now sinonomous with THUG! ....MSU THUGS!.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 3:44 a.m.

Yeah...MSU still talks about Mike Hart's comments motivating them. I think this game will motivate UM moving forward as we take back control of this series.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

Chiro, Denard threw 65% of the time. Is he great product passer? No. But why would u have him throw that much into a cyclone of wind gusts all day. Cousin is a much better passer and MSU ran the ball all day. Does that explain it to you. U don't have a poor passer throw it that much into a tornado, which is why MSU ran the ball more. Bty, Denard is why we were 6-0 and he does make some poor decisions some times, but he is the most dangerous player on the field. His passing is good enough. I also think our receivers look slow out there and. Cant seem to getthe separation. IMO


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

Winning superlatives Most all-time wins in college football history (890) Highest all-time winning percentage in college football history (.735) The most winning seasons (112) The most undefeated seasons of teams currently competing in Division I-A/FBS (23) One of only three schools with a winning record against every Division I-A/FBS conference We will rise again like the Phoenix The next ten years should be fun

Graham P. Matthews

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 5:15 p.m.

The players from "Moo U" were playing undisciplined football, which is an indication of their coach's approval of all things unethical, such as his allowing dirty players to continue without his calling a halt to such behavior. While "Moo U" has the last four wins, they still are about 40 wins away from taking the lead in the series. Go Blue!!!


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

For more than 50 years, as a student, alum and parent of alums, I like many others have experienced the years, the cheers and the tears of Michigan football. It is rare to have an analysis as cogent, clear eyed and free of hyperbole as Kyle has written about Saturday's "game" against MSU. There is really nothing I could add, except to tell Mr. Meinke to keep it up and to tell the coaches, who share much of the blame in the debacle, to man up. GO BLUE!

Sparty On!

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:35 p.m.

Can't Wolverine fans ever admit that they were beaten by a better team? Your team is not good, bottom line. You have played cream puffs all season, despite Notre Dame. And on that note, Notre Dame completely dominated you in the first half and you're extremely lucky they fell apart. I'm guessing Catholic schools never played 500 at Denard yells JACKPOT while hurling every ball into the end zone. I'm not here to claim MSU is a dominant force by any means either. Our schedule is very weak and the Big 10 is rather weak in general this year as well. All I know if that we're better than UM. We displayed it on Saturday. 28-14 Quit talking about dirty football...all I'm hearing about is punching and facemask twisting. Hmmm, let's recall the UM-ND game in 2009...who got ejected for punching? And what about the no-call on Persa last week? You know, the one where is helmet was ripped off his head. That wasn't UM was it? Noooo, couldn't have been. The pick-6 was a pick-6 and you should be ashamed that you think it should be recalled based on a technical rule. Here's an idea, don't throw an interception and its not a pick-6. Just admit that you lost. I know...I know... it's a mind-blowing concept to a wolverine, but you might sleep better at night.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 2:59 a.m.

Dude: Every michigan person here is acknowledging that MSU outplayed Michigan and deserved to win. Michigan lost to a better team (though the game was close and could have gone either way, even though Michigan lost). Michigan also was subject to repeated dirty play by the Spartans, which did not affect the final outcome other than continually give Michigan extra opportunities, which they squandered. Any attempt to deny that should be checked by rewatching the game. The way MSU played, the way the coaching staff tolerated it and the way the players and D-coordinator publicly talked about should give you pause and shame, rather than pride and chest thumping. You know it, I know it, we all know it. MSU tainted itself by its play and conduct, which is a shame for them because 4 in a row over your bitter rival is a good accomplishment. I hope it stops next year but more importantly, I hope nobody gets injured by such play for the rest of this year.

Howard the Duck

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

"And Wisconsin has taken notice, trust me. Watch out for them. They are a *complete* team, unlike MSU." So Michigan is sending the big, bad Badgers to exact retribution for Spartan misdeeds? Spartans collect their own debts! Bo is rolling over.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

Thump your chest when Sparty WINS a Big 10 championship!!! Whenever THAT happens, I will congradulate you and Sparty nation.

Rabid Wolverine

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

That game was absolutely dirty. How can you try to say the game wasn't dirty with the numerous dead ball-personal fouls state had? Seriously? Explain that to me please. Also, last week against Persa Kovacs grabbed the helmet in an attempt to sack him, not a facemask which is illegal. Are we talking small differences, Yes. Those small differences are what makes what the Gholston did to Denard illegal yet what Kovacs did to Persa legal. It is typical for fans to blow it off when it isn't happening to your team, but twisting a guys helmet at the bottom of a dog pile could be looked at as attempted murder. That is blowing things a bit out of proportion given the circumstances, but there certainly was an attempt to seriously injure a player after the play was over. Very similar in intent as the play which put Robinson out for the rest of the game. I am not blaming the loss on officiating or on dirty play by state. We were outplayed by a better team, that is clear. However, I cannot listen to someone insinuate the state didn't play dirty and far far after the whistle. That isn't a rivalry, that is assinine.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:59 p.m.

Your point is valid -- Michigan is not a "great" team, and Michigan State is, all things considered, a better team. But c'mon -- 7 personal foul penalties? And the shame is MSU didn't need to play that way. Play it tough and clean ... beat Michigan soundly and today people would be singing MSU's praises. But as it is, the 7 personal foul penalties taint the victory. And Wisconsin has taken notice, trust me. Watch out for them. They are a *complete* team, unlike MSU.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

I didn't see anything wrong with the way the game was played by MSU. My only complaint is that Michigan didn't play as hard. Bo's teams would have turned this game into a hockey game........ 3 yards and a missing tooth


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:15 p.m.

I guess if you dont kiss a__ your revoved for speaking the truth.Maybe I should talk about fuzzy bunnies instead. UM is not a top30 TEAM. DR is not a QB! The coaching is average at best. 2 more wins at best, I'm sure Nebraska, OSU, will take it easy on UM.lucky you dont have WISKY. If my head was twisted I would have done the same. It's a team sport, so if your one of those fans that think, only if. your wrong. Yes UM got beat up in every way and I wouldnt have it any other way. Pride before the fall, right Mike Heart.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 3:41 a.m.

DonAZ...I can't help you, either. I don't understand a lick of that whole "if my head was twisted..." diatribe. My guess is that his head was twisted.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 6:40 p.m.

Your problem is, you never got over the perfect Michigan 1997-98 team. Were you complaining last Monday after the impressive win @NW? Brady kept saying after ALL of these victories that the team still had a long way to go. Well, that road has gotten a little longer. Get off the ledge and tough it out!


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:54 p.m.

Um ... okay ... I guess. Not really sure what your point is ... or points are. "UM is not a top 30 team" -- I disagree with that. Not top 20? Okay, I'll give you that. But there's a lot of teams in that 20 to 30 range Michigan would beat on a consistent basis. "Coaching is average at best" -- based on that one 4th down play you *might* be able to make that claim. Coaching on the defensive side of the ball is clearly superior to what was present last year. On the offensive side I think Borges is simply working with what he has in his arsenal. Good men, all ... great football players all? Maybe not. "2 more wins at best" -- maybe. It's a plausible scenario. "If my head was twisted I would have done the same. It's a team sport, so if your one of those fans that think, only if. your wrong." -- Honestly, I can't for the life of me figure out what you're getting at there. Some help? "Pride before the fall" -- a somewhat shortened version of the original Proverb, but we know what you're trying to say. It's wise advice for anyone. Including MSU.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

I like that "Bear" defense they were running....


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

The defense could jump start the snap because there was no passing threat. Easier to defend a "run only" offense no matter good they are at running than to defend an offense that is decent in both passing attack and running attack. MSU was the more stronger more aggressive team but UM was in the game until the last 5 minutes. The 4th and inches playcalling and the last missed pass for an interception lost the comeback.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 3:42 p.m.

Lots to nit-pick, for sure. And, at the end of the day, we were a pick-6 and a 4th down conversion away from a tie game at the end; two plays. We'll have to wait two weeks to know for sure, but I don't think this team will collapse like the last three did. Go Blue!


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

Exactly, well said sir


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

Hoke just needs to finish in the top 3 or 4 in the conference for the next two years. The top-notched recruits we are getting believe in Michigan as do I and we will be back to being the premier team in the B1G. We have guys that can play but our talent level falls off significantly with the second string as most positions! We battled against a much better team. 8 or 9 wins will definitely keep us moving in the right direction! GO BLUE!


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 2:27 p.m.

Keep cool my babies Michigan played well against a good team. We are 6-1, I think we will end up 8-4 or 9-3. We have a great recruiting class coming in next year. Urban Meyer said Greg Mattison is the best recruiter in College Football. And Urban Meyer knows more about College Football than anyone (except me). The next ten years are going to be fun... Keep the faith my babies!!!!!


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 10:51 p.m. that we have the right man for Michigan; right ethics, right coaching style, right modest demeanor, right focus, right attention to details.

Blu n Tpa

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

This was a learning experience for everybody from Coach Hoke down to the third string fullback. (Yes, I know Michigan really doesn't have one.) Coach Hoke now knows what to look for from certain coaches in certain game and he needs to plan accordingly. Michigan needs to be able to react to headhunting players being coached by tolerant coaches in no uncertain terms. If the officials couldn't tell after a half a dozen PF penalties that there was an agenda or a method to that type of play, the Michigan coaches sure should have. You set up number 2 with a tackle and tight end block and have a fullback go low. Call is excessive blocking of a "great" physical player by players who were "in the moment". Tell everybody it was "5 seconds of unnecessary roughness". Message sent, and you protected your QB and others. I coach baseball and I have no reservation to taking a shot at a batter to protect my players. You can start it but we aren't going to take it. Be ready. Coach Hoke was smart. Don't say a thing. Just do. Posters have been calling Michigan fans not liking having their QB's head being twisted 90 degrees while pinned to the ground as whinners. So be it. You got away with it last weekend but this weekend everybody will be looking and officials will toss the first msu player that hits UW's QB late, or high, or unnecessarily rough. And when a 330 pound offensive lineman wearing red goes down the line low after a dirty shot I don't want to hear anything from "sparty" about it. Cousins better beware. Teams will now target him like msu did DRob. Let's see how smug he is after a couple of games of that, if he lasts. msu will now reap the whirlwind.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

Wisconsin is going to spank MSU. The pain from embarrassment will be sufficient. MSU is and has always been a bit thuggish in their approach. It's just their way. Better teams overcome by convincingly beating MSU. Alabama did that in a manner last year that shamed MSU as a empty shell ... a pretender ... a team not worthy to be in the same stadium as Alabama. Yes, Mississippi State beat Michigan in the same way. But who among us really thought Michigan would win that game? Not me. Michigan State on the other hand thought by virtue of their co-B1G championship they were in the company of the elites. Ha. Hardly. Not then. Not now. Wisconsin will beat them soundly. And, sadly, LSU or Alabama would likely beat Wisconsin soundly.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:09 p.m.

The twisting of the neck caught on camera is actually a crime. It is an assault. If there is a good lawyer, they could make something out of that. Those MSU players are indeed dirty, sad that those things must be tolerated from the top.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

I will be sorry if any MSU player gets injured from dirty play, just as I'd be sorry if any UM player did. Narduzzi's comments are the most scary and disappointing of all, as he condones dirty play. The funny thing is that MSU did not need the dirty play. Their play during regulation time was just fine, and their offensive line sure did not have a problem playing clean (what did they have? one hold or something? And their toughness can't be doubted)

Scott Crofts

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 1:27 p.m.

I'm not interested in taking any credit away from the guys who actually played and coached in this game, but I have to admit Michigan was in this game mostly due to the 124 yards in penalties MSU committed. To put that in perspective, I believe Michigan had 250 total yards of offense. Even the first drive was aided by at least two penalties, which was Michigan's best effort of the day. The irony of this fact is MSU put themselves in a position to lose a game by there effort to make a physical statement to the School that set the bar for them so long ago. They could and should have won the game easily. I'm interested to see what they do moving forward. We have two weeks off and a favorable game coming up. We have the right coaches and a good group of players. I just wish I could say the same thing about some of our "fans". You never building anything when you only focus on tearing stuff down. Go Blue!


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 3:35 a.m.

I agree that we have the right coaches and, even though these players are a bit undersized and not built for the pro-style Hoke wants to run, we have the right players. And by that, I mean we have a group of Michigan Men that are out there giving the very best they've got until the bitter end. You can't ask any more from them then that.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

"Well maybe not DonAZ or Ghost" ... I can speak for myself and say I make my share of mistakes. What you don't know about me is I'm darn near a full-on nutjob OCD perfectionist who agonizes over every little thing. This post alone took me 20 minutes to compose. :-) The Ghost ... now there's a sage. Darn him. :-)


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 2:28 p.m.

I think you make good points. As one who makes many text mistakes (misspellings, dropped words), I'd say, welcome to the party!! I wish there was an edit option in this discussion board, but we all like the open nature of the replies/comments. Just like it a bit more when we win!!

Blu n Tpa

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 2 p.m.

Don't worry too much about it. There is no "prefict postrs" and everybody hits submit only to see a mistake and say, NOOOO. From Kyle to the lowly 250, we all make mistakes. Well maybe not DonAZ or Ghost, but everybody else. Welcome to the snake pit. Don't be hard on yourself we have LS and goober for that. TiM Go Blue! By the way, what took you so long to join the insanity?

Scott Crofts

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

And the "You never building....." statement. Wow, I stink at English.

Scott Crofts

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

Well, it seems I committed the old "there" vs. "their" foul in my first post. Lovely!


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 1:26 p.m.

That was really frustrating watching the lack of game plan by Borges. What exactly was the idea behind the play calling on Sat.? It looked like the Offense was having an identity crisis after the first drive. The defense is going to have to carry the day for the rest of the year, and score points if Borges does not stick to a single type of Offense. The D is getting where it needs to be. It is probably half way there. The Offense is no where close. The Oline is set up to fail with the 2 point stance against a very aggressive Dline. RB's have no ability to get flow in the game (come on 10 rushes in a tied game going into the 3rd) and you can't see that MSU is blitzing to the side denard runs to by design everytime. How about a counter trey run!!! WR's have no chance to catch balls 25 yards over their heads or behind them. Lawrence: A offense has to be able to rely on its QB to throw the ball. I believe the style of offense really puts Denard in a horrible possition because he has about 2 seconds to determine coverage and then throw with good fundamentals. That said even when he does have time he throws off of his back foot. I disagree with your comment that because of Denard we were 6-0. It is because of the defense that Mich was 6-0. The D played well enough to have Mich. 7-0. If Mich wants to win they need to play out of the pro formation or I formation. They can beat bad D's out of the RR formation but against solid teams like MSU, Neb, Iowa, OSU, and bowl team that O is not a good one! It does not allow you to set up plays later in the game and allows Defenses to tee off on Denard or make him throw quick and accurately which he lacks that skill set right now.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 3:30 a.m.

The problem with just running out of the pro or I formation is that Michigan currently does not have the linemen needed to do that. Hoke and Borges would both LOVE to do that. Unfortunately, they can't at the moment. And, unlike his predecessor, Hoke is not going to force something down their throats that they can't handle. This team, on occasion, does run out of the more power type sets, but they are simply not equipped to do it every down against the upper-echelon B10 teams. That is where, unfortunately, we are going to have to wait for recruiting and another year of the strength program to kick in.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 11:50 a.m.

Michigan was in the game early in the 4th quarter in spite of all of the adversity and the pressure MSU put on the O-line. Two things that went badly was the Al Borges 4th down call and a short time later, the Denard pick-6. The Wolverine defense played very well given the sputtering offense. The lack of 3rd down conversions really hurt Michigan. The lack of a leading tailback finally caught up as well. This will be an interesting week as Brady Hoke and staff have to pick up the pieces of the worst performance of the season.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 3:24 a.m.

You're right. Despite how badly UM was outplayed, they had a shot to tie the game up with only 6 minutes to play. Then came that fateful 4th down play....along those same lines, I read somewhere (ESPN?) that Michigan should have challenged the spot on Gallon's third down catch that lead to that horrible 4th down play because he may have actually had the first down to begin with. Anyway, even with about 4 minutes to go Michigan was within 7 until the pick 6. So, what my point is, is that as awfully as Michigan played and as well as MSU played, UM had a shot until late into the 4th quarter to actually win it. That bodes well for the future, imo, when Hoke actually gets the O-linemen, etc that he needs to run his power game. Heck, if we can almost beat MSU when we are undermanned, imagine what we will do to them and the rest of the league when we aren't.

1st Down

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 9:33 a.m.

Lewan dominated gholston who armbarred Taylor to injure him...and then later punched him. He will pay for this. Mark it down. Payback is coming for Thug Gholston.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

Wish I had your confidence that the coaching staff at MSU will have any harsh words for Mr. Gholston's poor sportsmanship. Given the statements by staff after the game about his play, it seems more likely they are rather pleased with it, except for the being caught on film part of it all. Bad sportsmanship and thugish play are either part of a coaching plan or the players know better than to do it.

Mush Room

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

"The Wolverines play the game with class" like after the game when they refused to shake hands with the team that beat them. Gholston needs some discipline. The helmet twist and the punch were inexcusable, but I doubt if anyone either on the sidelines or even in the stands would have seen it. The refs and the TV audience had a great view. When MSU coaches see the game films, they're not going to be happy, and neither will Gholston, after they're done with him. At the very least, Gholston will be made to understand that his actions nearly cost MSU a win against their biggest rival and if he's suspended, maybe a Wisky win. Losing Gholston on that defensive line would be a big loss; he's big, strong, fast and maybe just a little mean. But by all means, UM coaches and players, write down Gholston's name and number. I'm sure that will make a big difference in next year's game.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 10:44 a.m.

Payback no, how about redemption. The wolverines play the game with class and dish it out during the play. The way they played after the whistle blew was dirty, and by doing the same it only makes us look like them. For the next few years, we will re-establish our dominance over them by playing hard-nosed physical football. Go blue! Coach Hoke now has a reference point for toughness...let them pop the champagne and feel good about beating us. Meanwhile, there are other big ten games to play. Wisconsin is going to give them a beat-down trust me, and then they go to Nebraska-another loss.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 5:04 a.m.

I guess two weeks gives u enough time to study Mokes tendencys which does give them the edge. On the other hand, this game was lost by terrible play calling and decision making by Hoke and Borges. The coaching staff had a blue print of exactly what they were going to do by just studying the Ohio state game and how they contain. Borges didn't prepare and pretty much lost the game. NOT Denard!!! Denard, regardless of picks thrown, is the reason we were 6-0. Devin needs to be a back up, thats it. Unless they are both in there together. This team needs to live and die by Denard, not putting in Devin to screw up on a play and then putting in Denard to make it up in two plays. Devin will have his time. Devin and Denard misdirection is pretty slick. I think alot of the reason Denard passing is bad is the coaching is trying to teach him the foot work, which RR never did, and now Denard is over thinking it. IMO. Go Blue!!


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 3:57 a.m.

First off: thanks for the detailed analysis. I believe every realist among Michigan fans understands we must acknowledge the limits of this team, particularly that of the offensive line. Having said that, I also keep in mind that most of us fans were talking ONLY about an 8-4 season and very few people thought Michigan would beat MSU at the beginning of the season. When they actually did lose, I think many people over-reacted. Event that's understandable: because MSU played dirty, no one can convince me otherwise. Now let me remind Kyle Meinke (he says with a big, teasing GRIN) who it was who posted repeatedly about Michigan's offensive line being key to this game?? You'd think I'd get a share of the byline on this story, or at least some acknowledgement of Tru2Blu76 in this article. But nooo! Sincere best wishes to the Michigan Offensive Line: you guys are tough and you're fighting an uphill battle all the way. Just keep it up - Michigan fans are still behind you - if for no reason but that you deserve respect for your effort and resolve. Go Blue!


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 3:54 a.m.

Woolfolk should start as he is a 5th year veteran but there is no point with investing with Woolfolk, he has 5 games left, the investment that Countess has this year will be for 3 more years.

Matt Patercsak

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 3:52 a.m.

our line is small. and we do not have a bruising beast fullback. MSU converted 6'3 260 D-end Todd Anderson to fullback to put dents in defenses and its working. id rather lose trying to run power then lose attempting some sort of hybrid offense. I'm a big fan of the brand of football that MSU plays (dirtiness and fan base aside), beating your opponent into the ground with a punishing running game and stout defense used to be the namesake in ann arbor. I hope coach hoke puts our players through a real physical week this week to get them acclimated to the level they need to be with teams like OSU and Nebraska, because playing patty cake like we did saturday will not fly against the buckeyes. I'm worried for the season. but i know the players will come and we will be punishing people in the future.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 3:22 a.m.

One other comment Kyle: I believe that two of the O-linemen you mention were recruited by Lloyd Carr (Molk and Huyge), so your comment about recruitment for the zone blocking spread offense does not totally compute. I think it is just difficult to block certain defensive linemen and defensive strategies. The dirty play by MSU was there usually after the plays, but it had nothing to do with their effectiveness as a bull-rush or keeping in your zones. The linebackers were also excellent. Michigan just has to get better at doing what they are supposed to do--block, create lanes, etc.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 6:01 a.m.

The last couple years of Lloyd Carr's coaching career, he switched to a zone blocking scheme. That means Molk and Huyge, although recruited by Carr, were still recruited for the same blocking scheme that Rich Rod employed for the past three years. Although Carr recruited them, and not Rich Rod, the comment about them being suited for the zone blocking scheme is still fully applicable. Every coach at the professional level that i have heard talk about the transition from zone blocking scheme to power blocking scheme has said that it takes a minimum of 2-3 years for a player to fully transition to the pro-style blocking. The reason is almost solely due to increasing their size. Until we look like Wisconsin up front, we simply can't run the power blocking scheme for any meaningful success.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:03 a.m.

Yes, Kyle could have said instead that RR TRAINED all these guys for the zone blocking scheme. That's all though, for the most part, RR holds the major blame. Carr, I truly believe, lost heart for his job long before he "officially" announced it. Even so, if Carr had handed HIS version of a BSC team to RR: Rodriguez would have ruined it by trying to force it into his mold.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 3:09 a.m.

Thanks for that great analysis Kyle. Your comments about the penalties are pretty eye opening. Interesting about Woolfolk. It's too bad, but I am not sure his play 2 years ago was not great either. I expected him to be better in the fundamentals, but he always tried to play the speed game--make up for lack of angles etc with speed. It's not working against the better competition. Spielman was all over him yesterday, rightly so. Countess looks like the real deal.