Michigan falls to Utah in Rodriguez's coaching debut

Nino CollaSenior Writer IAugust 30, 2008

The culture has changed and so has the game for the Michigan Wolverines.

Obviously though, with changes there are expected to be growing pains.

Today, those growing pains were on display as Michigan welcomed Utah into the Big House for the season opener. The Utes are far from an underdog, especially with plenty of returning starters and senior leadership and better cohesiveness.

Does Michigan have more overall talent on their team? Maybe, there should always be more talent a program like Michigan than Utah. But, you can never underestimate the team aspect of this game. Utah is more of a well-oiled machine than Michigan is and that is more valuable than talent in this case.

Michigan displayed, especially on offense, why they are a long way a ways from being a competitive football team to some of the bigger guns in the Big-10.

The loss starts and ends with the offense and the overall performance by the running game. It would be an understatement to say that it was disappointing considering it has the most returning talent experience-wise.

The true freshman Sam McGuffie showed flashes with a few runs, including his touchdown, but he also displayed his inexperience with a fumble and a few of those "trying to do to much" plays.

Brandon Minor made the most of his four carries, rushing for 21 yards, while Carlos Brown didn't get as many snaps as you would expect him to get after coming off a strong finish to last season.

Several receivers suffered injuries in the game, including Greg Matthews and Junior Hemmingway. The touchdown grab by Hemmingway is a good sign for a group of receivers that needs someone to step up.

A lot of the blame however must be placed on the under matched offensive line. A relatively new bunch, excluding sophomore Stephen Schilling, had trouble giving time for both Quarterbacks.

It was obvious that when Rodriguez needed to score some points and go to the air, that Steven Threet was the man to go to. Threet took a few more chances than Sheridan did but displayed a better arm and some better throws.

The question Rich Rodriguez has to answer is what type of style does he want to here on out? Does he want to go for more of a passing attack with Steven Threet or does he want to do a little bit more of the option and running attack?

Justin Feagin might be a better fit for the option and if the Wolverines were going to aim for more of manage the offense, rely on the backfield type game, Sheridan might be the guy. Either way, the offensive line needs to provide some better protection for whoever it is.

Defense is where Michigan will win their games this year. They got hung out to dry early with having to be on the field so much, but they managed to hold Utah in check and make the Utes settle for three points.

The second half is a way better indication for how the Wolverine defense will play this year. When they aren't on the field most of the time, they can stay fresh and get pressure up the middle with their big tackles led by Terrence Taylor.

Obi Ezeh looks like he will fill the void left by Shawn Crable, coming down with 15 tackles and making the one interception.

The thing that stood out to me the most was the play on special teams and in the mental aspect of the game.

Typically, I'm seeing Michigan making the mental penalties of pass interference. It was the other way around today and it is a credit to the Rodriguez coaching staff. It seemed like a sounder Michigan team out there today, despite the loss.

I don't remember the last time I saw a Michigan team block a punt, let alone an extra point in the same game. This team did a lot of the little things right today, which is a huge positive to take out of the game.

As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day, especially when Rome lost its entire offense. There are plenty of things that Coach Rodriguez can take away from today's game to build off of.