M Football 2009: Miscues, Interceptions, Big Plays Seal Fate- M 28, Iowa 30
Sunday, October 11, 2009 - Andy Andersen
The Wolverines at least scared the 12th ranked and favored Hawkeyes in their prime time meeting in unfriendly Kinnick Stadium. The place was rocking, but the tenacious Wolverines hung around and in the process plucked a few of the Hawkeye’s tail feathers, but a total of five turnovers handicaps even the best teams. Two interceptions and three fumbles lost. made this night game a nightmare at times. A third and twelve converted, and a third and twenty-four turned into a TD also contributed to the bad dream. A tight end running wild and making big plays help doom us too. All this packaged a defeat, that was, in spite of the errors, a close and hard fought ball game. Both M’s offense and defense gave great effort, as did the Hawk’s.
The Hawkeyes are probably the best team Michigan has faced as yet this year, and they played like it except for a few miscues. Their defensive line is great, but the Wolverines OL reared up and played even with them or a little better at times. No one had scored a rushing TD on them in 33 quarters, but Brandon Minor had two, and Denard Robinson had one.
The Hawk’s offense is a little erratic at times but they had two big plays on third and long that hurt Michigan’s chances badly. Stanzi, their competent but occasionally erratic QB, converted a third and twelve and threw a third and twenty-four TD pass. That kind of defensive failure again was as perplexing as it was astounding. Combine this with 5 turnovers and you have prepared the elixir of loss.
Brandon Minor returned to action and was spectacular in his physicality and effectiveness. He ran hard, putting the team on his back for a while, but he also carried the ball carelessly in traffic and therefore lost a key fumble on an outstanding defensive play. He lugged 22 times for 97-yards and 2 TDs, and one fumble. Iowa got it.
Tate Forcier did not have the kind of night that he had hoped to have. Again he sat for much of the first Quarter as the Hawks produced a time consuming TD drive but this time, because of the early pick six thrown by Stanza, which was returned 40 yards by Donovan Warren for a TD, the long Iowa drive only tied the score.
Tate did not seem as comfortable as he has seemed in prior games, and threw an interception, and some near misses. It just wasn’t his night, and he often drew the wrath of a totally energized RR, especially late in the game, when RR consigned the QB position to Denard Robinson for execution in crunch time. I was astounded at this late change and still believe it should have happened in the 3rd quarter, not in the late 4th, but Robinson produced. Shoelace engineered an 11-play, 59-yard drive, which consisted mostly of Denard scampering and bulling his way goal ward, and he bulled over for a three yard TD to make it M 28, Iowa 30. It seemed that perhaps another stunning victory was at hand. Unfortunately it was not to be as another stunning loss was at hand.
Some are questioning RR’s decision to leave Denard at the controls for what was Michigan’s final drive, and the effort to get into field goal range to steal a last second victory. I am one of them. Due to field position and the obvious need for some passing because of clock considerations, I thought Forcier should be at the switch. Tate tried to run out but was shooed back, and DRob took the final snaps. Unfortunately, the threat to surmount the two- point difference ended with Denard’s interception, while he missed an open receiver.
RR must have felt Denard needed the chance due to his undeniable success on the prior drive. Who is to say that Tate would not have ended the game in the same disappointing way as the MSU game, with his own interception, but the odds of success seemed to be with him in a passing situation, not Denard, at this time.
Also many are questioning the late onside kick. The Wolverines did not regain possession of the ball and it went out of bounds and was spotted at the thirty-five. If we had kicked deep, they probably would have returned it that far anyway. That’s the way returns were going against the Blue.
Shoelace ended the afternoon 3 of 4 for thirty-yards, one interception, and no TD passes. He had nine carries for 49-yards and a TD. Tate was 8 of 19 for ninety-five yards, no TDs and one interception, one fumble, and one fall down sack.
RR reported post game that there was no dissension on the bench as ABC reported and that the kids were all coach able. It was obvious to all that there were some strenuous and pointed discussions on the sidelines with key players.You have to shout the place is loud.
I am not faulting RR for this. He was into the game, and wanted the win. The criticism of Forcier will simply make him grow and get better. This will not ruin him as some on line “experts” are enjoying predicting. He is too smart, and has too much at stake for that. He will learn from his rough outings, go on and get better. What a future he has at Michigan.
The statistics favored Iowa in total, 319 to 367 total yards, but the Hawks were held to 83-yards rushing. Not shabby, but we sold out to hold the run and they beat us with 284-yards passing to our 124. We had three third down conversions out of 11 tries. Not satisfactory. They had eight of eighteen. Tay Odoms had 4 catches for 76-yards.
The scoring went like this:
1st Quarter: Donovan grabbed the first Stanzi pass and deposited it in the endzone for a 40-yard score. M 7, Iowa 0. Iowa scored on a 34-yard pass to its tight end. Moeaki was a thorn all afternoon. Now it was 7 up. Iowa hit a FG goal from 28-yards. M 7, Iowa 10. Minor answered for the Wolverines. M 14, Iowa 10. Wow, we actually lead early.
2nd Quarter: This quarter belonged to Iowa as they hit a 41-yard field goal and then a 42-yard TD pass. M 14, Iowa 20. Tate and our offense struggled. Much credit for that goes to Iowa’s defense, but much also goes to our mistakes. At the half, it was M 14, Iowa 20. Well, thought I, we are a second half team.
3rd Quarter: Iowa hit another FG of forty-yards. M 14, Iowa 23. It was still in reasonable reach and Minor scored on a 1-yard run. Man is he a tough runner. M 21. Iowa 23. Now it is really in reach.
4th Quarter: Moeaki caught another long pass, one for forty-two yards, and a score.
M 21, Iowa 30 and a win will need a longer Wolverine reach, but desperation soon sets in.
Tate Forcier was replaced by Denard Robinson late in the fourth quarter at quarterback and led a successful drive to a TD, mostly using his feet, and capping the 11 play, 69-yard drive with a three yard score.
M 28, Iowa 30 became the final after Denard was intercepted on the next and last Michigan series.
Tate Forcier had an uncharacteristic day. He was ineffective passing in the second half going something like three for ten. One 35-yard pass to Odom was really risky and could easily have been intercepted. And there was that nasty interception. He had an unforced fumble where the ball slipped out of his hand. How much did the cold have to do with that for a warm weather guy? He fell flat on his face to kill a drive. Not the usual for Forcier. It was a bad afternoon for Tate, but only that.
The talent, the drive and the will are still there, and he will learn from the situation and shine next time. Taken as a whole he is having an extraordinary freshman season. They will enjoy coming back to Michigan Stadium after two nasty road losses to favored teams. They come home to confront Delaware State. They will be ready.
You can’t avoid taking anyone seriously after Toledo and Appalachian State owning our stadium. There is no bye week. But I believe that Michigan will put up a ton of points, and improve some more. I hope that some of the youngsters that have not played except on special teams will get a chance. It ought to be a fun time.
M Football 2009: M 45-EMU 17-Carlos Brown Day (Sunday, September 20, 2009) Andy's take on the return of Ron English, Johnny Sears and the Eastern Michigan Eagles to M Stadium for another battle for Washtenaw County football supremacy, and more.