Observations on the loss to Utah, 23-25!

Postgame Press Conference

Michigan Rewind: Utah

Player Participation

1st Official Depth Chart

1-Utah earns 5 red zones for 16 points while we earn two red zones for 13 points. Difference in the game was red zone opportunities and execution. Michigan team gets 13 points off 3 turnovers compared to Utah's 7 points off 2 Michigan turnovers. Utah didn't lose it, and we couldn't do enough offensively to win it.

3-Utah earned and deserved the win with almost a 12 minute time of possession advantage that resulted in 14 more offensive plays. They had 16 first downs, 341 net yards of offense with 305 net yards of passing. Yes, they did get a punt blocked, and had 3 turnovers; however, they remained poised and didn't give the game away. They overcame 15 penalties for 157 yards, and 3 turnovers. Their defense held when they needed to.

3-Threet completed 8 of 19 for 69 yards and 1 TD, but was sacked twice and ran 5 times for zero yards; he didn't do it at the end when we needed it. He is way too slow afoot and in reads, and stays in the pocket way too long. Sheridan shows flashes he can get the job done, but threw an interception before half that put the Utes up by two scores. Sheridan hit 11 of 19 for 98 yards, one pick and one TD. I was disappointed Sheridan wasn't given a shot late in the game when it was obvious Threet wasn't going to lead us offensively. Mathews had 3 catches for 54 yards, but left the game with a leg injury. Hemingway grabbed two including a TD strike of 33 yards. Shaw grabbed 3 for 17 yards and an 8 yard TD. Odoms had 5 catches for 7 yards, McGuffie had 2 for 22 yards. Butler and Minor also had catches. A pretty weak offense with a lot of work and improvement to do. I wasn't impressed by Coach Rod's handling of the offense, the lack of utilization of time-outs at key points in the game at the end of the 2nd and 4th quarters. Our two point call and execution was poor. Our offense only managed 11 first downs, and had 6 three (or four) and outs by my count.

4-Team had only 36 net yards of rushing with one rushing TD. We were only 3 or 15 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. We started 4 Freshman on offense. Poor offensive preparation, poor execution and poor offensive coaching. Utah was a decent defense, but not a great defense in my opinion. Their defensive backs had great coverage on our wide receivers; their coaches did a great job preparing for the Michigan spread offense, and adjusting throughout the game. Paul Krueger had 9 tackles, 1 sack and a tipped pass; however, his recovery from the stabbing was a great story. Nai Fotu had 7 tackles including 2 sacks. Smith got the pick and 2 pass break ups. Sylvester didn't have a great game, and the officials may have missed another interference call on him.

Michigan Offense=Not much of a threat (Threet) Yards
Rushing: McGuffie, Shaw, Minor, Brown, Sheridan, Threet 36
Receiving: Mathews, Hemingway, McGuffie, Butler, Shaw, Stonum, Minor 167
Returns: Harrison, Stonum, Shaw, Warren, Ezeh 90
Utah Penalties 157
Total 450

4-Defense really brought us back in the game in the second half! We forced 6 sacks, an interception, a blocked punt and a fumble recovery. We held Utah to only 5 of 20 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Ezeh led the defense with 15 tackles, 2 for loss and an interception. Brandon Graham had 7 tackles with one sack, and Stevie Brown contributed 7 tackles as well plus the pass break up that Ezeh grabbed. I was most disappointed in our linebackers, Panter and Evans, who didn't contribute much with 4 tackles each and gave up a lot of catches on coverage. Trent and Warren didn't look all that great at corner in the first half, but were better in the second half; Trent had six tackles and Warren had 5.

Johnson ended up 21 of 33 for 305 yards, 1 TD, 1 interceptions and 6 sacks. Godrey had 7 catches for 84 yards and a TD. Freddie Brown and Brent Casteel had 5 catches each. Asiata netted 77 yards on 13 carries.

5-Special teams were excellent except one play: Mesko's shanked punt. Terrence Taylor blocked an extra point, Lopata hits a 50 yard field goal, punt team forced a fumble by Tim North recovered by Kevin Leach that led to a red zone and touchdown. Mesko punted 3 times for nearly a 43 yard average, and Sheridan kick a nice pooch inside the 20 to the 11. Kickoff returns even look decent with Harrison returning two for 54 yards, Stonum take one for 24. Sakota was awesome, and was four for four in field goals, 6 punts for a 47 yard average and Vroman hit three touchbacks on 7 kickoffs. Field position was a big factor at the end of this game, and Sakota really nailed us backwards.

6-No real surprises in player personnel based on the posted depth chart earlier in the week. A win with Miami sets up an uphill struggle with Notre Dame in South Bend, and I don't like our chances with Wisconsin or Illinois to begin the Big Ten unless drastic improvement is made. The only sure wins on our schedule are Miami-Ohio and Toledo. Our first losing season since 1967 is a reality, and our bowl streak in jeopardy.
Observations on the first half with Utah, 10-22!

1-Utah works for 3 red zones for 16 points while we get lucky with a turnover, and get one red zone for 7 points. Each team gets one turnover for 7 points each.

2-Sheridan shows flashes he can get the job done, but throws an interception before half that puts the Utes up by two scores. Sheridan hits 11 of 19 for 98 yards, one pick and one TD. Mathews has 3 catches for 54 yards, Odoms has 3 for 8 yards, McGuffie has 2 for 22, and Butler, Hemingway and Shaw have one each.

3-No running game, 4 net yards rushing and no rushing first downs. Offense has 102 net yards and only 4 first downs. Sheridan was sacked once. We had two, 3 and outs. It looks like a long year.

4-Defense stinks!!! Utah amasses 313 net yards, 253 in the air while netting 5 minutes time of possession advantage and 15 first downs. We sack Johnson twice, but allow him to complete 15 of 23 and convert 4 of 8 in 3rd down. Godfrey has 5 catches for 68 yards and a TD. The 7 Utah penalties for 65 yards kept it close. Our linebackers are getting beat as our the defensive backs. Steve Brown was hurt, but returned. Ezeh has 8 tackles, Harrison has 6 and a pass break up.

5-Special teams at least look decent. Terrence Taylor blocks an extra point, Lopata hits a 50 yard field goal, Walk-on Tim North forces a fumble recovered by Walk-on Kevin Leach that led to our only red zone and touchdown. Mesko punts 3 times for nearly a 43 yard average, and Sheridan kick a nice pooch inside the 20 to the 11. Kickoff returns even look decent with Harrison returning two for 54 yards, Stonum take one for 24. Sakota kicks three of three field goals and Vroman hits two touchbacks on kickoffs for the Utes.

6-We'll see how Coach Rod adjusts at halftime, but the Utes will be hard to keep under 30 and it doesn't look like we'll be much of a threat offensively (unless perhaps Threet throws us from behind). I was disappointed the Coach Rod didn't call a time out after the sack to Sheridan, it could have helped calm the offense down prior to the turnover.
Utah Preview: August 27, 2008

Michigan begins a new era of football with a new head coach, coaching staff, philosophy, schemes, etc. at home with a stadium under reconstruction. Michigan is favored by 3 points, and ranked 32nd in the AP poll and 24th in the USA Today/Coach's Poll; Utah is ranked 29th and 28th respectively.

Utah went 9-4 in 2007, and defeated Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl game. The Utes are predicted to win the Mountain West Conference this year; last year, they finished 3rd in the MWC with losses to archrival, BYU, UNLV, Air Force and Oregon State. They defeated Louisville, UCLA, TCU, Wyoming and New Mexico impressively. They ranked 44th in rushing offense of 119 NCAA teams, 81st in passing offense, 79th in total offense and 68th in scoring offense. Rumors in Fall practice are that their offense has struggled. Senior Captain Brian Johnson is their returning quarterback. Johnson will throw to three seniors, Brian Casteel, Freddie Brown and Bradon Godfrey. Casteel missed last season with injury, but was outstanding in 2006. Senior Darrell Mack is an outstanding, big tailback who averaged over 100 yards a game last season. Matt Asiata and Frosh Sausan Shakerin will also see action at running back. Ben Joppru's brother, Chris, is a backup tight end for the Utes, and the only Michigan player on their roster, Neli A'asa, is from Big Rapids and also a backup tight end. Captain Robert Conley anchors thier offensive line; the Utes allowed 67 sacks last season. Our defense needs to send a message early in this one.

Their defense is solid! They ranked #1 in pass efficiency defense, 5th in scoring defense, 11th in pass defense and 18th in total defense. They have a big Somoan influence with 4 starters on defense. Butkus candidate and Junior Captain Stevenson Sylvester is probably their best player at Rover Linebacker while Junior Sean Smith is probably their best defensive back although Brice McCain is also a Captain. Paul Kruger was a Frosh All-American at defensive end. We may struggle against this solid group early, and turnovers against this group would take away our home field advantage.

Special teams features two of the nation's best punters. Senior Louie Sakoda ranked 11th nationally with a 44.26 yard average; Zoltan Mesko averaged 41.09. I would expect many punts in this first game. Sakota will also kick field goals from inside the 40 and extra points; he is consistent. Ben Vroman handles kickoffs and long field goals. Jerome Brooks is their punt and kickoff returner along with Casteel and David Reed.

It should be a defensive struggle unless one team commits a lot of turnovers with first game "gitters." We need our defensive line, and seniors on defense to "step up" to thwart the Utes experience on offense. I'm picking:

Michigan 24 Utah 13
Position Michigan Utah
QB Sheridan, Nick Johnson, Brian
Slot McGuffie, Sam Clifford, Brad (TE)
RB Minor, Brandon Mack, Darrell
X Mathews, Greg Casteel, Brent
Y Odoms, Martavious Brown, Freddie
Z Savoy, Laterryal Godfrey, Bradon
RT Schilling, Steve Hensel, Dustin
RG Moosman, Dave Conley, Robert
C Molk, Dave Taylor, Zane
LG McAvoy, Tim Seiuli, Corey
LT Ortmann, Mark Beadles, Zane
PK Loptata, KC Sakoda, Louie
P Mesko, Zoltan Sakoda, Louie
DE Jamison, Tim Misi, Koa
DT Johnson, Will Talamaivao, Lei
DT Taylor, Terrence Eliapo, Kenape
DE Graham, Brandon Kruger, Paul
OLB-SAM Evans, Marell Sylvester, Stevenson
ILB-MIKE Ezeh, Obi Wright, Mike
ILB-WILL Panter, Austin Fotu, Nai
LCB Trent, Morgan McCain, Brice
RCB Warren, Donovan Smith, Sean
SS Harrison, Brandon Dale, Joe
FS Brown, Steve Johnson, Robert

Coach Jackson and Shafer preview Utah

Game Day

Michigan Press Release

Utah Press Release