Observations on the loss to Ohio State, 21-25!

1-Ohio State's offense earns three red zones including one with 47 seconds left in the game and converts all three for 15 points, and converts a big play 26 yard pass to Santonio Holmes for a TD while Michigan earns 4 zone opportunties, mostly off defensive turnovers, and converts all four for 21 points, 2 TDs and 2 field goals. Ohio State deserved to win the game, and outplayed us from start to finish; we were only in the game due to costly mistakes on their part.

2-Henne was 25 of 36 for 223 yards and 1 TD to Avant. We had only 17 first downs and 255 yards in total offense on 61 plays with 6 of 15 in 3rd and 4th down conversions (1 of 8 in the second half. Our rushing attack was non-existent with Hart managing 15 yards on 9 carries before leaving with an injury, and 2 catches for 15 yards. Breaston had 7 catches for 53yards, and Manningham had 4 catches for 64 yards. Henne completed passes to 8 receivers, and played an outstanding game. He was only sacked once, and ran for a two point conversion. It is too bad our offensive line couldn't handle the Bucks because the lack of our offense being able to keep time of possession in the 4th quarter with a 9 point lead was an embarrassment.

3- The Bucks dominated time of possession by nearly 4 minutes, and that has led to an 11 extra plays advantage. It resulted in total offense of 418 yards with Smith completing 27 of 37 for 300 yards, and rushing for 37 yards in 11 carries including a TD. Smith was 6 of 12 on 3rd down conversions, and certainly gets the game ball because the Bucks couldn't have won without him. Pittman had 85 yards in 23 carries including the game winning TD with 20 seconds to go. The Buckeyes had 10 first downs by rushing compared to only 3 by us; they outrushed us 118 to 32. Ginn had 9 catches for 93 yards, Holmes had 6 catches for 72 yards including the 26 yarder with 6:40 to go to put the Bucks within striking distrance. Pittman and Gonzalez had 4 catches each, and it was Gonzalez who went high to grab the final red zone opportunity at the 3 with 47 seconds to go.

Schleigel led them on defense with 10 tackles. Hawk had 7, and Everett had 6. Our defense was disappointing in how we couldn't handle the Buckeye offense from start to finish, but especially in the 4th quarter. Nobody stepped up.

4-Prescott Burgess led the defense with 10 tackles including one at the end of the half that stopped the Buckeye drive, and injured his leg. He should return. Harris had 8 tackles, and Mason and Hall had 7 each. The Buckeye offensive line handled our defensive front all day long except for the turnover we forced when Woodley hit Smith, and Branch recovered early in the second half. We have zero pass rush, and zero push on our offensive line; it is simply embarrassing.

5-Rivas made his extra point, and two field goals plus a nice pooch punt to the 12. Ryan had 3 nice punts including a 50 yarder that forced the Bucks into poor field position with a forced fumble by Hood on Ginn. Harrison, Hood and Mike Massey did a great job on punt coverage. Ryan also had 5 kickoffs with 3 touchbacks. We couldn't get our return game going with Breaston as he only had one 15 yarder, and no punt returns. Of course, our defense only forced two Buckeye punts all day. Huston did a nice job keeping his poise despite missing an extra point and field goal; his kickoffs were excellent with 6 kickoffs, 4 were touchbacks and he had to kickoff from his own 20 once.

6-A lot of injuries in this game: Hart, Henige, Lentz, Stenavich, Massaquoi, Woodley and Burgess left at some time. Henige's injury looks serious so don't expect him in the Alamo Bowl. The Buckeyes played over their injuries and mistakes and deserved the win. They have now beaten us two of the last three in our own stadium, and won 4 of the last 5 games with Jim Tressel winning 4 and losing only once. Lloyd Carr better seriously develop some strategies to turn this around. We need to make major changes in our offensive and defensive lines and that begins with a different recruiting strategy and philosophy. We were "manhandled" today on both sides of the ball.

7-We did some things well in this game. We had no turnovers. We won the points off turnover battle, 10-0. We forced turnovers, and capitalized on those. We had 4 red zone opportunities. We did a nice job on special teams forcing 3 punt returns for -37 yards, a missed extra point, a missed field goal, forced fumbles on punt returns and a shanked punt of only 18 yards.

What we did poorly was we choked with the game on the line in the 4th quarter and couldn't keep our poise and the lead. Our defense couldn't come up with big plays at the end to put the nail in the coffin, and allowed too much offense and time of possession by not containing Smith.

8-Our freshman, Grady, Manningham and Bass played well and contributed today. Hopefully, they will help reverse the trend for the next three years of their eligibility. We had 10 official and 6 unofficial visitors although Percy Harvin couldn't make it due to injury. I sure hope they realize there are job openings here immediately for playing time.

9-The internet rumors about Whitner, Long or Kraus not playing were mostly incorrect. Kraus was the only one who didn't play, the other two played the whole way.

10-4 losses is not a good year especially when were ranked in the top 5 at the beginning of the year. Losses to our chief rivals, Ohio State and Notre Dame, with additional losses to Minnesota and Wisconsin is unacceptable. I sure hope our coaching staff comes up with some answers.
Observations on the first half with Ohio State, 7-12!

1-Ohio State's offense earns two red zones and converts both for 9 points while Michigan earns one red zone off a defensive turnover and converts for 7 points.

2-Henne is 14 of 16, but for only 91 yards and 1 TD to Avant. We have only 7 first downs and 103 yards in total offense on 27 plays with 5 of 8 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Our rushing attack is non-existent with Hart managing 15 yards on 8 carries, and 2 catches for 15 yards. Breaston has 4 catches for 21 yards, and Manningham has 3 catches for 26 yards. Henne has completed passes to six receivers as has Smith.

3- The Bucks have dominated time of possession by 3 minutes, and that has led to 8 extra plays. They have 200 yards in total offense with Smith completing 12 of 16 for 129 yards, and rushing for 23 yards in 6 carries including a TD. Smith is 4 of 6 on 3rd down conversions for 12 first downs. Pittman has 52 yards in 12 carries, and Ginn has 4 catches for 57 yards. Schleigel leads them on defense with 6 tackles. Everett and Hawk have 4 each.

4-Prescott Burgess leads the defense with 7 tackles including one at the end of the half that stopped the Buckeye drive, and injured his leg. He should return. Harris has 5 tackles, and Woods forced the fumble that Watson recovered. It is absolutely critical that we come up with some way to rush Smith, and limit his time to make plays in the second half.

5-Ryan has been awesome on kickoffs with two touchbacks. Rivas made his extra point. We have no returns on punts or kickoffs for Breaston because Huston has also been excellent making two field goals, and turning 3 kickoffs into touchbacks. The only mistake has been the missed extra point. Only one punt in the game by Ryan for 34 yards with a super tackle by Mike Massey.

6-Message boards posted prior to the game that we shouldn't expect either Adam Krause or Jake Long to play today. As we say, Bihl has played the whole way at center as has Jake Long. Carpenter and Mangold go out for the Bucks while Woodley and Burgess go out for Michigan.

7-We have to play better defense in the second half, and negate any red zone opportunities for Ohio State. We need to create two or more red zones and convert offensively plus establish some type of running attack that will even the time of possession if we are to win. The call by Carr to go for it at the 28 on our first drive rather than kick a field goal was a mistake. So far, we have won the turnover advantage, and we must do this to win.
Ohio State Preview:

The Buckeyes are 8-2, and 5-1 in the Big Ten with losses to Texas at home and at Penn State. They have one of the best defenses in the nation, and this game will be a challenge for our offense.

They are led on defense by their three Senior linebackers, A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schleigel. Carpenter leads the Big Ten in sacks and Hawk averages nearly 11 tackles per game. These three average 21 tackles and 1.5 sacks per game. These three plan to create havoc for Chad Henne. They lead the Big Ten with 38 sacks; this is twice the amount of sacks that we have. In the backfield, Ashton Youboty is a great cover and has 8 pass break ups; he will be tight on Jason Avant. Junior Strong Safety Donte Whitner, Freshman Cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, Senior Free Safety Nate Salley and Senior Tyler Everett will make thier presence felt in the backfield. When Henne isn't worrying about the linebackers, he'll be looking for Senior Mike Kudla on the pass rush. Junior David Patterson, Seniors Marcus Green and Quinn Pitcock also anchor their line. Their defensive line leads the nation in rushing defense limiting opponents to 78.7 yards on the ground, 198.6 yards in the air, 277.3 yards in total offense and 14.2 points per game. The Bucks lead the conference in total defense. Only 8 rushing and 6 passing touchdowns have been accomplished by Buckeye opponents. Tough Gopher back, Laurence Maroney, who knocked out both our safeties, was held to 13 yards in 7 carries by the Buckeyes in the second half. They have limited opponents to the least first downs, 15 per game, and least 3rd down conversions, 27.2%, in the Big Ten. They have only allowed 10 TDs in 22 red zone attempts. Only two teams have had more than two red zones against the Buckeyes this season: Texas and Michigan State. Texas had 4 red zones and converted 3 while MSU had 5 and converted only 3 with the blocked field goal before haltime resulting in a 10 point turnaround.

On offense, they are led by senior quarterback Troy Smith. He currently leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency with a 150.3 rating. He has only allowed 4 interceptions, and scored 8 rushing TDs while averaging nearly 239 yards in total offense per game. He is a multiple threat option quarterback who can run and throw as he demonstrated last year, and averages 56 yards per game on the ground. His favorite target is Santonio Holmes who averages nearly 19 yards per catch and 78 yards per game; he has 9 TDs. Hall will need to have his best game as a Wolverine to blanket Holmes. They also have Sophomore Anthony Gonzalez who caught a 68 yard TD pass against Michigan in 2004, Roy Hall and Ted Ginn along with senior tight end Ryan Hamby. Their rushing offense has improved and is averaging 196 yards per game. They are led by Sophomore tailback, Antonio Pittman, who is averaging 111 yards per game. They also have Maurice Wells. Their offensive line is led by seniors, center Nick Mangold and tackle Rob Sims. Former Michigan great, Walt Downing, has his son, T.J., starting at right guard. Our defensive line will need to limit their running attack to less than 100 net yards if we are to win in my opinion.

Dangerous Ted Ginn lurks on punt and kickoff returns. He ran one back against Michigan last year, and is itching to execute a repeat performance. This year, the Sophomore has 21 punt returns for a 12.2 yard average with one TD. On kickoffs, he has a 29.6 yard average on 18 returns including one TD against Minnesota. Senior Josh Huston is a solid kicker, and the team's leading scorer; he has 18 field goals (of 21 attempted) and 39 extra points (of 39) and he is the most accurate placekicker in the conference (82.4% on field goals). Sophomore punter A.J. Trapasso is averaging 40.9 yards per punt, and has dropped 17 of his 40 punts inside the 20, another 13 have been fair caught so this only leaves 10 that have been returnable. One can count on the Buckeyes to sport excellent special teams coverage on punts and kickoffs. Breaston will have a difficult time finding room against the Buck's stellar special teams.

Penn State was so successful against the Bucks because the converted both their red zone attempts into rushing TDs, and their defense completely thwarted the Buckeye offense. Also, the Bucks couldn't convert any Penn State mistakes into points. In fact, they had no turnovers and converted 2 Buckeye miscues into points. Texas was successful because they have a solid defense that held the Buckeyes to 13 first downs and 111 yards in net rushing and 255 yards in total offense, and their quarterback, Young, is so awesome especially in the red zone. Still, it took and incredible 24 yard TD pass late in the 4th quarter, and a mistake by the Coach Tressel by inserting Zwick instead of Smith on the last drive that sealed the Longhorn victory.

It will take a perfect game from the Wolverines: no mistakes, no turnovers and the ability to move the ball offensively especially on the ground. We must do enough offensively to keep a time of possession advantage. Defense will need to come up big, and hopefully create some turnovers and at least one red zone opportunitys for the offense. We must stop the Buckeye running attack, and force them to beat us in the air. Special teams will need to contain Mr. Ginn while hopefully breaking some big plays by Breaston. Special teams creates field position advantage, and we must be able to keep the edge there. I'm predicting a Michigan win in another nailbiter. Anyone have a defibrillator?

Michigan 19 Ohio State 17

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