Oct 12, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan Wolverines tight end Devin Funchess (87) catches a pass in the end zone for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Michigan 43-40 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

Michigan Football: Michigan at Penn State — What Happened and What It Means


Posted at 5:30am — 10/15/2013

Michigan Football: Michigan at Penn State — What Happened and What It Means

Trading Opportunities To Lose
Michigan Loses to Penn State

In one of the most gentlemanly games in Big Ten history, Penn State and Michigan traded opportunities to win or lose several times in Saturday’s four overtime game that Penn State eventually won as a result of a semi-gift interference call in the endzone that secured a two yard touchdown run.

Penn State gave it all, it appeared, but misfired. Michigan appeared to give reasonable effort, but also misfired.

The game analysis will be put forward in a series of observations, independent but somewhat linked. Frankly, the reason for this format is that it is less painful than a more cohesive, flowing narrative.

First, Michigan deserved to lose. Several chances were presented for a win and the defense could not protect a ten-point lead in the fourth quarter. Conservative play calling and untimely penalties kept Michigan from scoring more points or running more clock. There was a chance to win the game in regulation and several chances to win in overtime.

Folks from a school down south of Michigan consider the Michigan staff as being very inferior at end game strategy. This could be debated but no clear answer is probable. Michigan had seven seconds in regulation and the coaches had three choices: kick a 52 yarder with Wile, who has a stronger leg; kick a 52 yard field goal with Gibbons, whose normal range is about 47-48 yards in non-wind conditions, or run another play, a quick four second out and hope to pick up three to five yards against a defense that had corners playing as much as ten yards off the ball. The choice was Gibbons and the result was a field goal effort right down the middle but 3 yards short.

Sep 21, 2013; East Hartford, CT, USA; Michigan Wolverines kicker Brendan Gibbons (34) kicks a field goal against the Connecticut Huskies in the fourth quarter at Rentschler Field. Michigan Wolverines defeated the Connecticut Huskies 24-21. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 21, 2013; East Hartford, CT, USA; Michigan Wolverines kicker Brendan Gibbons (34) kicks a field goal against the Connecticut Huskies in the fourth quarter at Rentschler Field. Michigan Wolverines defeated the Connecticut Huskies 24-21. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

After being given the game, Michigan’s offensive coordinator basically diddled the chances of winning away by running the ball for negative or short yardage, setting up a medium range field goal effort where the line collapsed and Gibbons had his kick easily blocked. Later, Gibbons caught the disease caused by constant team foul-ups and pushed a shorter field goal attempt. Michigan never really went for a touchdown but relied on trying to hold on and make a kick. Michigan finally made a kick, but Penn State made a touchdown, end of game. There were clearly better options than Toussaint for negative two.

When the game is long and a player puts a hand around a receiver in the endzone on the road, and the refs want to go eat, the flag will fly for interference. The call was a little ticky-tacky (except in East Lansing where this happens every play) but that is the chance you take.

Running the ball from a power formation to the left side on first down early in the game again yielded little, anywhere from two yards to minus yardage. Finally, Borges started throwing the ball a little bit and the team moved. In the preview it was stated that Michigan should not fall in love with a mythical power running game and attack Penn State where it is most vulnerable, through the air. In the overtimes, the return to the non-existent power running game gave Penn State a chance to hang by a thread, and the Lions survived, courtesy of Michigan’s “coaching and execution generosity.

Oct 12, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (98) runs the ball during overtime against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Michigan 43-40 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

Michigan and Penn State remain works in progress, but Michigan mistakes early and an undisciplined, stupid penalty by Kalis wiped out opportunities. Penn State can give credit to Devin Gardner for its first 14 points. The conclusion is starting to become obvious that Michigan will have turnovers, cannot run the ball against even average competition, and will rely on Gardner’s touchdown or turnover machine to favor the touchdowns. Like it or not, Michigan’s offensive staff may have to let the ball fly more, even with the constant risk of turnovers.

It was painful to see four Michigan linemen pushed five yards deep in the backfield on pass protection. One excellent Lion defensive lineman caused havoc all day, and the PSU linebackers reacted well all day.

Hackenberg is going to be a Sunday player, baring injury and Robinson changed the game with one play. The outstanding coaching of Bill O’Brien will move him forward.

Hackenberg had far too much time to set up shop in the pocket and just comfortably step up and deliver after being protected for five seconds.

This game means a ton for Penn State and its recruiting and may or may not affect Michigan. The sloppy play and missed opportunities could not be very impressive.

Oct 12, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Indiana Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson on the sidelines during a game against the Michigan State Spartans during the first half at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Millen’s agreement with the Michigan offense just running the ball for no gain and kicking a medium range field goal was practically the kiss of death, a stamp of disapproval for the Wolverine strategy.

Indiana has clear trouble defending the run and Michigan is quite aware of this condition. But Indiana’s offense will drive the Wolverines nuts. With the lack of pass rush and the difficulty of linebackers to cover in space, Indiana may have a field day. Indiana beat Penn State on speed matchups and will attempt to do the same in Ann Arbor.

One loss does not eliminate Michigan from conference consideration, but it is not farfetched to say that with Michigan’s schedule and current level of play, this dog may have left the porch. Unfortunately, it must be restated that Michigan deserved to lose, through no fault of anyone or anything else.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu

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Tags: #GoBlue Big Ten Conference Coach Al Borges Coach Brady Hoke Coach Greg Mattison Football Go Blue Michigan Football Michigan Wolverines

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