Michigan vs. Iowa: Wolverines Defense Deserves Better from Offense

Phil CallihanContributor INovember 23, 2013

IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 23:  Quarterback Devin Gardner #98  of the Michigan Wolverines is brought down during the second quarter by defensive lineman Drew Ott #95 of the Iowa Hawkeyes on November 23, 2013 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Michigan lost to Iowa 24-21, in a game where its offense was as cold as the weather. The game-time temperature was in the mid-teens, but a brisk wind made it feel much colder—making it maybe the coldest game in Kinnick Stadium history.

#97 Brennen Beyer
#97 Brennen BeyerReese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

The Michigan defense started the game with a bang. On Iowa’s first offensive play linebacker, Jake Ryan forced quarterback Jake Rudock to throw an interception, which Brennen Beyer returned for a seven-yard touchdown. 

Iowa answered with a touchdown later in the quarter, and Michigan added two more touchdowns to take a 21-7 lead into halftime.

Nov 23, 2013; Iowa City, IA, USA; Michigan Wolverines tight end Devin Funchess (87) is tackled by Iowa Hawkeyes cornerback Desmond King (14) and linebacker Anthony Hitchens (31) at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa beat Michigan 24-21.  Mandatory Credit: Reese Strick
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

Then the wheels fell off. Despite Iowa turning the ball over four times (three interceptions, one fumble), Michigan was unable to win the game.

The Wolverines offense, which had shown signs of breaking out last week versus Northwestern, was blanked in the second half. Michigan managed only 45 yards of offense and couldn't answer as Iowa roared back.

In the postgame press conference Brady Hoke, addressed the problems on offense.

“It’s a matter of all 11 players playing together. We need all 11 cylinders to fire, sometimes only 10 hit, sometimes nine. It’s not always the same players. We need to do better.”

The same problems that have plagued the offense all season long returned against Iowa—poor blocking by the offensive line and bad decisions by quarterback Devin Gardner. Added to the mix this week were several drops by Michigan wide receivers.

Nov 23, 2013; Iowa City, IA, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (98) is sacked by Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Christian Kirksey (20) and left tackle Carl Davis (71) at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa beat Michigan 24-21.  Mandatory Credit: Reese Strick
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

Any hope of a comeback disappeared when Gardner fumbled the ball as Michigan tried to move into position for a potential game-tying field goal. Iowa recovered the ball with two minutes remaining and made a first down to secure the victory on senior day.

A visibly shaken Gardner took responsibility for the turnover, "It was my fault, I needed to protect the ball better."

There hasn't been any grumbling from the Michigan defense while the offense has struggled this season. But with a last-minute loss to Nebraska, a near-loss to Northwestern and today’s loss to Iowa, where the offense has gone MIA, the frustration must be growing.

The defense has been good enough to compete for the Big Ten title, while the offense has been mediocre at best.

Brady Hoke will need to make some changes in the offseason to balance the equation.

His defense deserves better than this.

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via Press Conference Source.