Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Thoughts on Michigan's 33-28 loss to South Carolina

Well, it was a heck of a football game.
But, in the end, Michigan allowed too many big plays to the South Carolina offense and lost the Outback Bowl, 33-28.
After digesting the game for a few hours, I still stand by my initial feelings that this was Michigan’s game to lose, and the Wolverines did just that.
It became clear during the game that South Carolina was not able to really put a drive together on offense, and was living off the big play.
Seemingly all Michigan had to do was keep the South Carolina receivers in front of them to win, but the Wolverines couldn’t do it.
Offensively, I was pretty impressed with Michigan. I thought Devin Gardner struggled with his passing accuracy, but he made up for it with some big throws later in the game and he also had some really impressive runs that sustained drives.
Denard Robinson looked like a competent running back. It is one thing to run from the quarterback position, it is another thing to play the role of the running back. Robinson did that well. He took the handoffs well. He followed his blockers and made good reads on his running lanes. He was a consistent presence in the offense and didn’t do anything to really hurt the team.
Jeremy Gallon made some impressive catches during the day as well.
The offensive line wasn’t outstanding, but wasn’t awful. Obviously Jadeveon Clowney had some massive hits and a key fumble late in the game, but it is going to be a tall order to keep him from making a big play.
Michigan had 29 more plays than South Carolina and held the ball nearly 16 minutes longer than the Gamecocks, yet the Wolverines still lost.
The Michigan defense didn’t come through today. Three touchdowns of over 30 yards, a 64-yard run from Connor Shaw and even a punt return for a touchdown (not that that’s on the defense, but it is still a coverage unit). Those were the plays that Michigan had to prevent. It’s one thing to allow one or two, but five plays of that nature is not acceptable from this defense. Especially against an average offense in South Carolina, that had just 21 rushing yards outside of Shaw’s 64-yard scamper.
I will get into Michigan’s season in a few days, but this loss puts one last punch in the gut to the Wolverines’ disappointing season. You have to call it disappointing. Michigan wasn’t favored in this game, but it had a win there for the taking and lost. The Wolverines failed to beat any team of significance this season and will probably finish outside the top 20 in the rankings.
If Michigan is truly going to get back to being a national power, 8-5 seasons won’t cut it. I am not trying to rain on the Wolverines’ parade, because an 8-5 season isn’t that bad in the grand spectrum of college football. However, Michigan coaches, players and fans want to live by a high standard, so I am holding them to that standard.

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