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November 23, 2013

Report Card: Grading Michigan in a loss at Iowa

Gameday Grades 2013

Rushing offense


D- Michigan rushed for 60 yards, averaging 2.1 yards per carry with freshman Derrick Green leading the way with only 23 yards. The Wolverines' long run, 10 yards, came on a reverse with wide receiver Devin Funchess. Redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner was a non-factor in the running game again, managing only 12 net yards and losing 21 despite only being sacked once.
The offense picked up most of its rushing yards on two drives. It managed only five yards on five carries in the third quarter and four yards on six carries in the fourth. All but 17 of the rushing yards came in the second quarter.

Passing offense


D- Protection was better - Gardner was only sacked once and did a better job stepping up in the pocket rather than pulling down too quickly to scramble - but the dropped passes killed any momentum the Wolverines were able to manage on offense. Sophomore Devin Funchess missed four, including a potential 40-yard gain in the first quarter, and fifth-year senior Jeremy Gallon had one knocked out of his hands he should have grabbed.
Gardner completed 13 of 28 passes for only 98 yards and threw two touchdown passes, one on a scramble to tight end A.J. Williams for his first career touchdown and another to Gallon for a nine-yard score on third down. Senior Jeremy Jackson's third down grab for 18 yards in the fourth quarter was one of the few other highlights on another miserable afternoon for the offense.

Rushing defense


C- Iowa tested the edges of the Michigan defense and usually had room to run with the backs. Mark Weisman, not the shiftiest back in the Big Ten, carried 17 times for 88 yards and a touchdown, including a 22-yard jaunt. Jordan Canzeri managed 50 yards and 4.2 yards per carry.
The Hawkeyes owned the fourth quarter by keeping the ball on the ground against the wind, only having to throw four times. They carried 17 times for 65 yards in the stanza and finished with 168 yards by running straight at the Michigan line and controlling the line of scrimmage.

Passing defense


B- Iowa had some success through the air, including a game clinching third and nine pass on play action that sent the Hawkeyes to victory formation, but the Wolverines intercepted three passes and were in solid position on a number of complete passes. The big breakdown was a costly one - a 55-yard touchdown in the seam to receiver Tevaun Smith in which two veteran safeties botched the play - but was the exception, not the rule.
Redshirt sophomore Blake Countess' interception, returned to the Iowa 28, set up a short field for one of Michigan's two offensive touchdowns, and junior Raymon Taylor picked an interception off the carpet to stall an Iowa drive. Still, this group did give up 239 yards passing and two touchdowns along with 19 completions in 30 attempts.

Special teams


C+ This was a mixed bag. Junior Matt Wile notched two poor punts into the wind and averaged only 35.4 yards on 10 kicks, but he also had a few outstanding punts into the wind and pinned the Hawkeyes at their own three to set up an eventual Michigan touchdown after an interception. Redshirt freshman Jehu Chesson hustled to make a great tackle on the play.
Sophomore Dennis Norfleet notched a 39-yard kickoff return, but the Wolverines gave up a 60-yard kick return just before the end of the first half. Otherwise the coverage was pretty solid. Fifth-year senior Brendan Gibbons didn't attempt a field goal, but Wile's kickoffs were solid given the frigid conditions. Most were fairly deep despite the stiff wind.

Coaching


D The defense came to play and the team played hard, but the offense's nearly failing grade - again - can't be ignored. There's a disconnect on offense, and the staff hasn't been able to figure it out. As Hoke said, nine or 10 guys might be doing the right thing on any given play, but it's the one or two who aren't that are keeping things from working, and it's usually somebody different.
Hoke's timeout with 47 seconds left in the first half rather than waiting for the clock to wind down gave the Hawkeyes a shot at a field goal, and the staff didn't manage its other timeouts well, either, including one after Iowa notched a first down late in the fourth quarter.
Bottom line: Michigan was essentially owned in the trenches by a middle of the pack Big Ten team, outgained 407 yards to 158, and lost despite winning the turnover battle 4-1.



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