Nebraska vs. Michigan: 10 Things We Learned in Wolverines' Loss
The 2013 season has been anything but suitable for "victors" who are "valiant."
Michigan coach Brady Hoke suffered his first loss at The Big House on Saturday night, falling 17-13 to the visiting Nebraska Cornhuskers, who snapped his 19-game streak.
Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner looked lost. That's all there is to it. Explanations can be searched for, reasoning sought after, but the fact of the matter is that Gardner just isn't as dynamic as once thought.
Team 134 (6-3, 2-3) is in trouble.
Michigan's loss taught more than a few lessons, but this slideshow will outline 10 of them.
Michigan Is Stuck with Gardner at QB
Shane Morris, Michigan's freshman future star, hasn't been given adequate playing time this season. That's not because he's not that good, it's because his team isn't that good.
Michigan can't create enough space between it and opponents to justify giving a green frosh a chance at glory. Morris had to take over for Gardner near the end of last week's loss to Michigan State.
And he appeared to be terrified.
There's no way Michigan could have pulled Gardner in favor for Morris, who would have been eaten alive in much the same way that Russell Bellomy was last year.
Bellomy suffered an ACL tear in spring, so he's not an option. Brian Cleary? Probably not. He's a walk-on, and it's doubtful that Michigan would throw him into the fire.
It's live and die with Gardner.
There Is Something Wrong
It's difficult to buy into the idea that Michigan is struggling due to youth and scheme.
And all of the rest of that great football talk.
Let's be honest—something has to be going on with Michigan. There's no other way to explain it. Has the team quit on Hoke? That remains to be seen. But it's clear that it's not putting its best foot forward each week.
Michigan has one touchdown in the past seven quarters. It averaged 42 points per game prior to losing to Michigan State and has scored just 19 since. It's a mess.
Making matters worse, The Big Lead appeared to have caught Taylor Lewan, Michigan's All-American left tackle, doing more than motivating his teammates prior to losing to Nebraska.
It looked like Lewan was scolding them. If you're a lip reader, you can decipher what he said. It was a four-letter word tirade.
Channing Stribling Is Going to Be Good
Take a break from the negative and look toward the future of Michigan's secondary.
Freshman Channing Stribling may just end up being pretty good.
He had a key pass deflection late in the first half and kept Huskers receiver Quincy Enunwa from breaking a 50-yard touchdown. It was a 20-yard reception instead. But hey, if it weren't for Stribling, that catch could have turned into six points.
O-Line Is a Mystery
OK, so we didn't learn that Michigan's O-line has problems this week.
We learned that a few weeks ago.
That being said, Nebraska also had to overcome issues on its line. Starting left tackle Josh Cotton didn't start Saturday due to injury, leaving Andrew Rodriguez as keeper of the blind side. The Huskers have plugged in redshirt sophomores along the way. They've found ways to stay afloat.
Ameer Abdullah rushed for 105 yards, so his line did something right.
Michigan's offensive line has been the butt of jokes for the past two months. Even with two senior tackles grooming young 4- and 5-star recruits, the guys just can't seem to forge together as one.
Lewan isn't innocent, either. Gardner was sacked at least six times Saturday, just a week after being sacked seven times vs. Michigan State. Lewan is Gardner's eyes and ears. But he's failed his quarterback, just as the rest of the team has failed itself.
Fans Have Had It with Al Borges
Lack of power on offense has fans in an uproar.
Al Borges, Team 134's offensive coordinator, may want to change up things before he fails to see Team 135.
The guys at 247Sports know recruiting players. But do they know about recruiting coaches? That might be their next step.
Michigan Needs a Real RB
This slide isn't meant to knock Fitz Toussaint or Derrick Green.
But those two haven't done as well as Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, who finished the day with 27 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown.
The Wolverines offense would be much more dynamic and effective if it had a runner who could run.
Michigan finished with negative-21 rushing yards. That's better than negative-48, right?!
It's speculation, but logic would suggest that Abdullah could do a little something behind Michigan's O-line. It's not like Nebraska's front is a juggernaut. Abdullah reads holes and gaps. He's a smart runner.
He leads the Big Ten with 1,213 yards. He's everything Toussaint isn't.
Execution Is at a Low
Michigan blew its chances of a comeback when Gardner failed to connect with Drew Dileo late in the fourth quarter.
The 4th-and-5 debacle was just one example of how anemic this offense has been this fall. It doesn't strike fear into anyone.
Dileo was essentially wide open but couldn't hang onto the so-so thrown ball from Gardner, who threw for 196 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
Michigan Needs Devin Funchess
If there is one player on Michigan's roster who can't be replaced, offensively speaking that is, it'd be Devin Funchess.
He's a nightmare for defensive backs. At 6'5" and 235 pounds, he basically does as he pleases when he pleases.
Funchess had a beautiful touchdown catch Saturday. He's had a few this year, actually. Big plays are his specialty, and he's emerged as one of the Big Ten's best underclassmen.
Michigan State Beat Michigan Twice in 2013
Michigan State hangover?
Maybe. But that's no excuse.
The Wolverines didn't have enough resolve to bounce back from the most embarrassing loss of Hoke's tenure.
Michael Spath of TheWolverine.com tweeted a phrase that Michigan fans will be hearing a lot of in the coming weeks.
In his press conference, Brady Hoke keeps repeating, "I have to do a better job coaching."— Michael Spath (@Spath_Wolverine) November 10, 2013
In order to avoid another Michigan State-like defeat, Michigan had to do the opposite of what caused it. But it didn't. The Wolverines yet again lacked energy and focus. That led to a Spartans victory, a Huskers win and it could lead to worse before the end of the year.
Hoke has "to do a better job coaching." That much is true. Common sense would suggest that he would overprepare for Nebraska since he obviously underprepared for MSU.
Wasn't the case. Hoke looked like he was out of his league, yet again, despite wearing a stylish headset for part of the game.
Get Ready for Transfer and Hot-Seat Talk
If last week's pummeling wasn't enough to rock the boat, wait until next week when fans voice their opinions on sports radio and message boards.
There were rumblings about Hoke's coaching throughout this past week. Talk shows were flooded with calls. Some of you reading this piece may have been one of the callers who expressed their frustrations.
Some of you may have done so on a message thread.
I'm not going to spread rumors. But read a few message boards and consult with the "insiders" that you may associate with. Team 134 can't be happy. Its players certainly can't be happy, either.
What does that lead to? Attrition. Firings. Negativity. And lots of other not-good stuff. And as a matter of fact, don't bother talking with "insiders" because the writing is on the wall. Fallout is almost certain to follow if Hoke doesn't find a way to right the Wolverines.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.
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