I’m at a loss for words. Considering the season was in jeopardy, you would think players and coaches would be more energetic that they get a chance to play. However, instead, Michigan for the third straight week played uninspired. They once again looked unprepared.
Saturday’s 38-point loss was the most lopsided loss Michigan has suffered in the Big House since 1935. Just when Wolverines fans think it can’t get any worse, it does. Michigan falls to 1-3 for the first time since 1967 as the Wolverines showed once again that they are not good on either side of the ball. The coaching staff and the players look defeated and there continues to be more questions than answers about the future of this season and beyond. The energetic Harbaugh that the Wolverines hired is nowhere to be found. He frankly looks like he wants out. It’s depressing for fans that this is Michigan football in year six of the Harbaugh era after such a promising and energetic first two seasons.
Michigan's first offensive snap resulted in an interception and that set the tone for the ugliest offensive night of the season. Michigan’s first four drives of the game resulted in one total yard. Throughout the night, the Wolverines offense could not get its speedy athletes in a position to make plays on the outside.
For the second straight week, the Wolverine’s failed to rush for 50 yards and over 2.5 yards per carry. The designed quarterback runs for Milton and outside run attempts for Blake Corum were ineffective as the Badgers consistently found themselves in the Michigan backfield.
In addition, the Wolverines' refusal to take a snap under-center likely cost them seven points in the first half. On fourth and goal, less than a yard away from the end zone, Michigan decided not to QB sneak with their 6-5, 243-pound quarterback and instead took the snap in the shotgun. Milton failed to even get back to the line of scrimmage on the fourth down attempt.
The passing game wasn’t much better, as Milton’s inaccuracy and poor decision-making, like not throwing the ball away, and instead taking a sack in the final minute of the second quarter, got him benched for Cade McNamara in the third quarter. For the second straight week, Milton overthrew a wide-open touchdown pass and the lack of faith in the quarterback is clear, as the Wolverines ran a draw play on 3rd and 8 down 21-0 in the first half.
The only bright spot in the game was Cade McNamara’s first drive. He threw three perfect passes all resulting in over 20 yards and had a beautiful throw to Ronnie Bell on the two-point conversion. McNamara’s last two drives, though, weren’t good, as he failed to complete a pass for positive yardage. The poor play by Milton and nice drive by McNamara certainly will raise some questions about who will be starting under center for the Wolverines against Rutgers. It feels like Michigan’s offense hit rock bottom Saturday, but this team continues to surprise me, so who knows.
For the second straight season, Michigan got destroyed by the Wisconsin run game, as the Badgers ran for 341 yards and five touchdowns. Michigan could not stop any type of Wisconsin run Saturday. The Badgers fullbacks ran for 82 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, while Wisconsin's wide receivers were able to get on the outside with ease on jet sweeps. Wisconsin receivers had 105 rushing yards on 10 carries. Yes, Michigan was missing their top two defensive linemen Aidan Hutchinson and Kwity Paye, but allowing 6.7 yards per carry on 51 rush attempts is unacceptable.
The Wolverines defense is poor at every level. Despite Michigan recording a sack for the first game since the opener, the Wolverines defensive line failed to create much pressure on Graham Mertz and got dominated at the point of attack in the run game. The linebackers aren’t playing well either, as starting linebackers Josh Ross and Cam McGrone looked lost Saturday in the run game and in coverage and have failed to create negative yardage plays all season. The secondary is abysmal. The only reason Mertz didn’t light them up was that Wisconsin was having so much success on the ground that they didn't need to pass.
For the third straight week, Michigan’s defense got torched and failed to create big plays, as they haven’t created a turnover since the opener. The red zone defense was also horrific on Saturday, as Wisconsin scored a touchdown in every drive they reached the Wolverines' 30 yard line.
Like Jim Harbaugh and Josh Gattis, Don Brown looks to have no answers. His defense gets beat no matter what they decide to play. They are not good at stopping the run or the pass and no unit on their defense is particularly talented.
There isn’t much else to say other than the entire team is just flat-out bad on the field. The players are talented, the coaches are supposed to be good, but the sum of the parts is one of the worst in the Big Ten right now.