Observations on the humiliating loss at Iowa City, 27-30

1-I am thoroughly disappointed and embarrassed to be a Michigan football fan after this humiliating loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes. Let me say first that Iowa deserved and earned the win so let's not take anything away from their effort at all; their effort was heroic.

We went "toe to toe" with the Hawkeyes in the 2nd half, and we "blinked." They out-hustled, outplayed and out-executed us; certainly, we were out-coached.

My first point is the coaching. Our coaching was a huge difference in the game in Iowa's favor. Our special teams were horrid. Our net punting is amongst the worst nationally, it has not improved and Iowa completely took advantage of our poor special teams play. When we adjusted at halftime to come up with the spread out line and having Rivas or Finley run up to give our coverage more time to run downfield, this was something that contributed to our punts being blocked and contributed to our loss.

Our coaches didn't make offensive adjustments at halftime; the Iowa coaches did. The Iowa coaches also made defensive adjustments at halftime that contributed to their victory; our coaches made adjustments, but they weren't nearly as effective. Iowa's coaches were determined that Breaston would not beat them, and their players executed that game plan. Breaston was no threat in punt returns, in passing lanes or in kickoffs to go all the way; that was due to Hawkeye game preparation and execution.

The score of this game was strikingly similar to the Oregon game, and the same problem in preparedness and adjustments by coaches was evident. Special teams were a huge difference, and not in our favor.

2-Navarre did not cause us to lose this game; however, like many games, he did not win it. He is a great guy with a great attitude, and he makes the most of his talent; however, one must expect more out of a 5th year senior quarterback that has had opportunities on the final drive to pull games out. He was 26 of 49 for 389 yards, a school record, but in defeat. He was 10 of 22 in 3rd down, but we had our first four drives in the second half with nothing including three "3 and outs." He threw 2 TDs and had one interception, and was sacked 3 times. Time of possession favored Iowa by almost two minutes; we had 18 first downs, but only 4 in the second half. We had no red zone opportunities in the second half after scoring 17 points on 3 red zone opportunities in the first half. We scored 7 points in the second half, but that was after being two scores down; Iowa had a score to give.

I thought before the game that we'd need to score 30 or more to win. At halftime, I thought 34 would do it, and I was confident we'd score two touchdowns in the second half. Iowa completely shut us down. We went from a 14-0 lead to taking a 20-17 edge at halftime; then, we lost our edge and say 20-17 go to 20-20 and then 20-23 until the Hawks "iced it" at 20-30.

3-Our rushing game continued to struggle. Perry had 87 yards in 24 carries; overall, we had 74 yards net in rushing after 3 sacks were deducted. Our offensive line is not outstanding; we allowed 3 sacks including one fumble that we recovered and it is obvious that they are not as good as we expected this year. I don't think this group is "mean" enough or determined enough. When I think of Michigan offensive lines, I think of people coming off the ball on that last drive and blowing people off the line of scrimmage. This line is too tired to do that.

4-Our receivers did a good job, but some drops really hurt us. Edwards had 7 catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Avant had 7 catches for 175 yards, but one turning point in the game was when he was stopped on the 8 after his 71 yarder, and we were held to a field goal. Breaston had 6 catches for only 50 yards; Perry and Massaquoi had two each.

5-Iowa had 295 yards in 71 plays with 195 yards passing and 100 yards rushing for 14 first downs, three touchdowns and three field goals. Iowa was 6 of 18 in 3rd down conversions, and was forced to punt 9 times. We saw two passing touchdowns against us, and LeSueur's injury really hurt. The last touchdown was over Hall, and Jackson didn't cover either. Chandler was 17 of 34 with one pick by Jackson (that didn't lead to any score), 3 sacks and two TDs. Davis was his leading receiver with 7 catches for 60 yards. Fred Russell ended up with 110 yards on 26 carries; it is too bad he couldn't have been a Wolverine, but knowing Carr & Company, he'd have stayed on the bench behind Perry. What a joke!

Abdul Hodge led the Hawk defense with 13 tackles; Chad Greenway had 9 and Grant Steen had 8. Antwan Allen had 7 tackles, the interception and three pass break ups, and Matt Roth had 5 tackles including 2 sacks and caused the Navarre fumble.

6-The positives we can take from our special teams include Rivas doing a nice job with two field goals and three extra points. Our kickoffs were pretty good by Nienberg and the coverage was decent except the 37 yarder by Ochoa. Breaston had 6 punt returns for 42 yards. Our punting is like something out of a nightmare. We had 8 punts for a 35 yard average with one blocked that led to a field goal, and another partially blocked. Ochoa also broke the 43 yard return that led to the late touchdown in the first half. I can't remember a Michigan football team from the 1960s until now with as poor of a net punting game as this; I'm flabbergasted! It was so embarrassing that we had to put Marlin Jackson on the punt coverage team because our runners, Brent Cummings and others can't get the job done. Their punter, Bradley, connected on nine punts for a 44 yard average, and they stopped Breaston cold.

7-Reid and Shazor led our defense with 8 tackles each. Woods had 7 tackles, 3 tackles for loss including one sack, and we have 13 other tackles for loss as a defense including 3 sacks. Jackson and Manning had 6 tackles each, Diggs and McClintock had 5 each. Another positive was the play of true frosh, Lamarr Woodley who logged a lot of playing time with Van Alstyne out and Steven's bad foot. Our defense did not lose this game, but it didn't do enough to win either. Iowa ended up with 5 red zone opportunities and scored 2 touchdowns and 3 field goals for 23 points; however, what broke our back was that last touchdown, and that could've been prevented with a good free safety covering. Jackson didn't do what a Michigan free safety is supposed to do, at least on that play.

8-Finally, the last critical element in this game was points off turnovers. They scores 6 and we scores zero. They had a blocked punt and an interception for two field goals, and we had one interception for a "three and out."

It is an atrocity when we all know, and most Iowa fans as well, that we have more talent, but couldn't get the most from that talent today. Iowa got every ounce of talent from their team as possible. Ferentz and Co. definitely out-coached Carr and Co. and that was the difference. Hats off to the Hawkeyes! Two years in a row, you beat us by out-hustling, out-executing and out-coaching our team.

I'm sorry to say I've lost confidence in this group. I see us losing to Minnesota next Friday, and after rebounding against Illinois; I see us losing at least one more, most likely to Ohio State. This will give us a solid 8-4 season record and a trip to the Alamo or Sun Bowl. This team could also easily lose to Purdue and/or Michigan State, and end up as bad as the 1984 team that was 6-6, and that would send us to the Motor City Bowl in Pontiac.
Observations on the first half with the Hawkeyes, 20-17

1-Michigan and Iowa have created 3 red zone opportunities each; we earned 17 points and so did they. The difference in the game is the one drive we had for a 47 yard field goal that hit the upright and went over.

2-Navarre hasn't been perfect, and had his usual overthrows; however, he is 12 of 21 for 224 yards and 1 TD, no picks. He has taken no sacks, and we are 5 of 10 in 3rd down conversions. Time of possession is about even. We have 11 first downs, 8 by passing. We have 290 net offensive yards in 40 plays.

3-Our rushing game continues to struggle. Perry has only 60 yards in 16 carries; Breaston and Underwood have one carry each. Overall, we have only 66 yards in 18 carries.

4-Our receivers have been doing an outstanding job. Edwards has 5 catches for 65 yards and one touchdown. Avant has 4 catches for 140 yards including the 71 yarder that almost went for a score. Breaston has 2 catches and Perry one.

5-Iowa has 127 yards in 32 plays, but 116 yards passing for 6 first downs and two touchdowns. We had the first passing touchdown against us in six games. Chandler is 11 of 17 with no picks and one TD. Davis is his leading receiver with 4 catches for 46 yards.

6-Special teams have definitely favored the Hawkeyes! Our net punting continues to be one of the worst in the nation; we are currently ranked 116th of 117 teams. We did have a nice pooch punt downed at the 6, but otherwise, our punt return coverage is atrocious. Ochoa ran a 45 yard return that led to their late touchdown in the last 30 seconds of the first half.

Nienberg has done a nice job on kickoffs, but hurt us with the personal foul penalty. One must admit that the Hawkeyes have done an excellent job on Breaston, the nation's leading punt returner. He only has 3 yards on 2 punts and has had to fair catch 2 others. Iowa has had to punt 5 times, but we have gained no advantage unlike the Notre Dame and Indiana games.

7-Reid and Shazor lead our defense with 6 tackles each. Woods has one sack, and we have 7 other tackles for loss. Diggs has only one tackle and McClintock has only been in on one tackle. Our defense started well, but we are letting them spread the field on us and we aren't responding. It does hurt to have LeSueur out, and they are picking on Hall as they should. We have held Russell to 17 yards in 9 carries.We have held the Hawks to 2 of 8 on 3rd down, but we've done a lousy job stopping them in red zone attempts. We must step up in the second half defensively if we are to win.

8-Penalties have really hurt us. I think we've had 3 personal foul calls and one holding call on Shazor. The last call on the push out of bounds was ridiculous (if that was the call).