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Michigan vs. Alabama: Wolverines Learn Life Lesson in Loss to Tide

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03:  Head coach Brady Hoke of the Michigan Wolverines talks with his players against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 3, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
James MorisetteCorrespondent IIIJanuary 10, 2017

 Bo Schembechler is fighting like hell from his grave to give someone an earful. In what was supposed to be an exciting, nationally-televised game at Cowboys Stadium, the University of Michigan football team played like the lengthy nose of the Alabama Crimson Tide’s mascot.

Limp.

In an utterly brutal UM performance defined by overthrown passes, abysmally missed tackles and jockstraps left on the field, No. 2 Alabama steamrolled No. 8 Michigan, 41-14.  

A sign of the onslaught to come, things looked ugly for Michigan early in this game.

Quarterback Denard Robinson looked bewildered against Alabama’s lighting-quick, physical, intelligent defense. Unable to adjust to the Tide’s swarming defense, and seemingly stuck between sticking in the pocket and running, Robinson had a very long night.

Michigan’s defense looked even worse. Alabama imposed its national champion will, using its powerful offensive line as its bird of prey. Michigan did not help its cause by making arm tackle after arm tackle against young men barreling down the field like enraged oxen.

The embarrassment continued as this Michigan team, rooted in a proud history of running the football down its foes' throats, could not get anything started on the ground. 

Give Alabama credit. They played an excellent scheme to fence in Robinson and the rest of UM's running backs.

But Michigan head coach Brady Hoke should also receive good credit. It took an incredible amount of courage for him to suspend starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint for putting his desires ahead of his team.

 

Per the Washington Post, Hoke suspended Toussaint for this game after Toussaint pled guilty to drunken driving.

From Hoke:

"It’s not always just about football, or a football decision. It’s about teaching life lessons, and if this helps these kids or someone else make a right decision later, then we’ve won. That is ultimately what we are here for, to help them grow and mature to become better sons, fathers, husbands and members of society."

Michigan undoubtedly missed Toussaint’s services against Alabama. There was nobody to counter an Alabama team that used a three-headed monster in Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon and Jalston Fowler to outrush Michigan 140-20 in the first half and 229-68 overall.

More importantly, Alabama used its rushing attack to eat clock and set up nice play action passes.

While there is no guarantee Toussaint would have had enough of an impact in this lopsided affair, his absence significantly impeded Michigan's ability to provide a healthier mix of run and pass.

Hopefully Toussaint's unfortunate situation will provide the rest of the men on UM's roster a valuable lesson. The lesson is this: The actions you take off the field can have a detrimental impact on your brothers on the field.

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