If you're a Michigan Wolverines football fan, you've likely beaten up yourself on at least two occasions during the 2012 season: Week 1's 41-14 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide, and Week 4's 13-6 loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Relax this week. Michigan won't lose, and that's guaranteed (bye week).
The Wolverines (2-2) have grossly underperformed through the first four weeks of the year, and have looked like pretenders rather than contenders—a far cry from what was anticipated.
A Heisman Trophy victory for quarterback Denard Robinson won't happen, and neither will a BCS title game. At this point, finishing the season with seven or eight wins may be the best-case scenario for Michigan, which was ranked No. 8 in the preseason polls.
Could force-fitting Robinson into a traditional offense be the culprit of Michigan's disappointing start? What about the fact that the once-improved Wolverines defense looks like it's reverted back to its previous form under coach Rich Rodriguez?
It's still early, yes, but Michigan ranks seventh out 12 Big Ten teams in terms of total defense, giving up an average of 336.5 yards per outing. Considering that Michigan rose from one of the worst defenses during Rodriguez's tenure to a Top 25 outfit in 2011 under coach Brady Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, the lack of tackling and ability to stop opposing offenses from making big plays may be the most alarming issues thus far.
Michigan may be the sixth-ranked rushing team in the Big Ten (184.5 yards per game), but that's largely due to Robinson, who's ran for 90 or more yards in three of four games this season (218 yards against Air Force, 106 against UMass).
Running backs like Vincent Smith and Fitz Toussaint have all but disappeared. Sophomore Thomas Rawls—Toussaint's replacement against Alabama—has yet to hit his stride in a lethargic offense that just can't move the ball without Robinson's feet.
The loss of a key member in the secondary certainly hurts, but so does the lack of consistency from one of Michigan's top offensive linemen.
Good. Bad. Ugly. Otherwise.
We'll cover it all in this nifty little package.