There is nothing like college football, if you don’t believe me then you must have not watched the Michigan vs Penn State game which went into 4 overtimes before a victor emerged. Unfortunately if you’re a Michigan fan, you didn’t like the outcome seeing as Penn State came out the victor defeating Michigan 43-40 after four overtimes.
Let’s be real, if you’re a Michigan fan, you can’t be surprised, Michigan has not played good consistent football on either side of the ball all season. It was only a matter of time before they fell to a Big Ten team, it just happen to be tonight and frankly they have no one to blame but themselves for this loss.
Now let me start by saying that quarterback Devin Gardner is not the only problem Michigan has and he is not the only reason that they lost. As I have said many times, a lot of the issues start with the consistency of the offensive line. They continue to allow pressure on Devin Gardner and that’s one of the many reasons he looks uncomfortable. The offensive line’s inconsistency also stops the running game from being effective. For those who say the running game doesn’t matter, let me tell you right now, it matters. The running game brings balance to this offense and takes pressure off quarterback Devin Gardner. One of the reasons Michigan lost this game was their inability to run the ball, especially in the fourth quarter with under two minutes left. Michigan should have been able to count on the run game and run out the clock but instead they were forced to pass.
I have to also put some blame on the kicker, you can’t miss three field goals and go un-blamed. Now mind you, one of his field goal kicks were blocked, which I blame the offensive line for but after that, the blame goes on the kicker for the other two missed field goals.
Now getting back to Devin Gardner and his issues. I honestly don’t feel he is trusting his instincts as a passer. He tends to panic under pressure and instead of throwing the ball away, taking the sack or scrambling. Instead he decides to force a pass which gets picked off or nearly picked off. He also has a tendency to telegraph passes which is why defenders are able to pick him off. Then I am somewhat concerned with how much running he does, I know he is a versatile quarterback but when he has more than 10 rushing attempts, his pass production goes down. Most people also fail to notice that Michigan wide receivers fail to get open or even catch the ball consistently. Wide receiver Jeremy Gallon definitely knows how to get open & make great plays but after that, I question who will step up. Tight end Devin Funchess played a pretty good game but honestly he should have had a great game. He finished the game with two receiving touchdowns when he should have had four receiving touchdowns. Unfortunately he dropped two touchdown passes in this game, that were very catch-able. Don’t believe me, go back and look at the film. Drew Dileo is another nice receiver but has issues getting open, which doesn’t make Gardner’s job any easier. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely put blame on Gardner in this one, mainly because he threw three interceptions which were all bad decisions and throws on his part. Then he also had the delay of game call late in the fourth quarter which took Michigan out of field goal position and allowed Penn State to tie the game in the fourth quarter. However, I repeat, he is not the only one to blame. You have to blame this loss on the entire offense from Devin Gardner, to the inconsistent offensive line and running game and the dropped passes by receivers and inability to get open.
For those saying freshman quarterback Shane Morris should be starting, I have to disagree. Morris is a talented player and I had the pleasure of watching and evaluating him while he played at De La Salle. However, I don’t feel he needs to start right now. I don’t think its smart to put a un-experience quarterback in this current situation where you have an inconsistent offensive line and no consistent running game. Morris has a strong-arm but at times in high school he was known to have issues in decision-making along with accuracy. Morris will have his time but I don’t think that time is now.
Moving onto the defense, for the most part they played solid. I still believe they could have performed better but it was because of the defense, that the Michigan offense had chances to win. I still have issues with the defensive line, who cannot create consistent pressure on the quarterback. I hope to see that improve especially with defensive end Jake Ryan back in the lineup but others will still have to step up. Then the biggest issue of all has to be the inconsistent secondary who continue to make average quarterbacks look superior. I’m not trying to take anything away from freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg but I felt this Michigan secondary could have played better especially late in the game and in the multiple overtimes.
As I said earlier, there is no reason to be shocked by this Michigan loss. Penn State deserves a lot of credit for this impressive victory and taking advantage of their opportunities unlike Michigan. If your Michigan, you take this loss personal and you learn from it, no need to feel sorry for yourself. Michigan is still in contention to compete for a Big Ten title but if they continue to play like this, they won’t be. I look forward to seeing how Michigan bounces back next week against Indiana.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
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