Michigan Fades Fast Against Illinois

Jason BarczyCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2008

You see what happened was...I don't know what happened. I'm so mad right now there's steam coming out of my ears.

Michigan looked dominant in the first quarter, but sputtered its way through the second and third quarters and ended up with the worst home loss since Florida State in 1991.

Juice Williams absolutely destroyed the Wolverines. He made them look foolish; he even fooled me on a number of occasions. He broke a Michigan Stadium record with 431 yards of total offense.

It was incredible watching him on Saturday dissecting the Michigan defense. The only thing that cools the steam coming out of my head is knowing that Michigan and Rich Rodriguez's offense will one day look like what Illinois displayed in its 45-20 win.

And it will, folks; just be patient.

There has already been a lot of grumbling from friends of mine and other Michigan fans that Rich Rodriguez was not the right hire and he needs to go.

It's been five games! If anyone comes to me with that talk on here I will destroy them and declare them Buckeye fans. That's a warning, so don't post anything here about getting rid of RichRod.

On with the grades:



After jumping out to a 14-3 lead at the end of the first quarter, the offense looked—and this is as simple as I can describe it—anemic.

The Wolverines had 65 yards of total offense in the second and third quarters combined, in which they punted seven consecutive times.

I can't even count how many times they went three and out (five, after looking it up) and what makes me so mad is that they looked so good in the first quarter.

I was actually at the game and I remember looking up and seeing at one point that Michigan had more than twice the yards Illinois had. Then a few minutes later, Illinois had tripled their yards and Michigan's hadn't changed.

Steven Threet missed on a couple big chances to not go three and out by vastly overthrowing his receivers. Near the end of the first half, he overthrew a wide open surefire touchdown to Martavious Odoms that would have put Michigan up 21-17 at halftime.

His final numbers were not good. Threet was 18-for-35, with 250 yards and two touchdowns, and he fumbled three times (losing one) and was sacked four times.

He was sacked more times on Saturday than he had been all season. Illinois's defensive line, anchored by Martez Wilson, dominated Michigan's front five.

That brings me to the running game. Michigan had just 69 net yards rushing. Sam McGuffie had 70 yards on 19 carries and Brandon Minor only carried three times.

Minor needs more carries and he needs them now. McGuffie cannot carry the load by himself; he's only a freshman. I wouldn't expect to see Michael Shaw very often, especially after Rodriguez reamed him after fumbling the ball.

And where was Kevin Grady inside the 10-yard line? How about giving Mark Moundros the ball?

All I know is that Michigan has always been successful when it had a good running game, and the Wolverines just don't have it right now.

On the plus side, I like Martavious Odoms. He reminds me a little bit of Marquis Walker. Kevin Koger had a touchdown taken away from him but he is emerging as a good tight end.

I don't know why Darryl Stonum wasn't dressed for the game but playing guys like Zion Babb, Tony Clemons, and Laterryal Savoy is a waste of time.

Throwing to them is an even bigger waste.

Overall Offense Grade: D



Oh boy, did they look like the classic Michigan defense facing an athletic quarterback or what?

Juice Williams looked like Vince Young, Dennis Dixon and every other spread, running quarterback Michigan has ever faced.

He'll certainly be mentioned near the top of that list after setting the Michigan Stadium record for total yards.

And it wasn't just the run up the middle that fooled everyone; he passed the ball perhaps better than he ever has in his career.

Wide receivers were wide open and he was remarkably accurate. Williams passed for 310 yards and two touchdowns on just 50 percent passing, but the ones hit were incredible, including the 77-yarder that Donovan Warren got burned on.

A lot of people were complaining about Charles Stewart going for the ball on that play, but I have to wonder why Warren was so far behind on the play.

Michigan did a good job of stopping the Illini running backs. None had over 53 yards but Juice ran wild for 136 yards.

Michigan's defensive line put some pressure on Juice, getting 11 tackles for loss. I felt some of them should have been sacks, but none were counted in the official stats.

Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh had their names called the most often on the day, with Ezeh leading the way with 15 tackles.

What really killed the defense was the demoralizing touchdown drives that took just four plays each. One was in the second quarter and the other just after halftime.

When you give up long touchdowns in just four plays, it really hits you in the face and takes a lot out of defense.

Still, they needed to play better and not look like a typical Michigan defense facing a spread offense.

I thought after practicing against it for a few months now, they would know what to do and how to handle a quarterback like Juice Williams. Apparently, it's going to take longer for their defense to transition into one that can stop the spread.

Overall Defense Grade: C-


Special Teams

I really held out hope that Michigan might be able to come back on Illinois until a certain moment in the game.

Michigan had just scored a touchdown to pull within 31-20 and then K.C. Lopata whiffed on the point after. It wasn't blocked at all. He just pushed it right and it hit the goal post.

That took all the hope I had out of me. Then Martavious Odoms fumbled a kick return after looking pretty good throughout most of the day.

I thought Michigan had finally found a returner that could hold onto the ball, and then he proved me wrong. However, Greg Matthews looked pretty good as the punt returner.

Zoltan did his thing, including a 55-yarder that pierced the upper atmosphere.

Overall Special Teams Grade: C



Rich Rodriguez is fuming right now about Michigan's fumbling woes. After reading a Free Press article in which he said that coaching staff is doing everything it can to fix the problem, I think he's out of ideas.

He was livid at Shaw for fumbling and I don't know the last time I've seen a Michigan coach that mad. God knows Carr never got that angry.

You know, he's calling the right plays; the execution just isn't there and it's frustrating.

Everyone wants to blame the coach right away but the players are just too inexperienced.

My biggest question mark on the coaching staff is Scott Schafer. Where is this so called blitz happy coach? All I heard about this guy was that he was a blitz-happy aggressive coach.

But all I've seen so far is the same Michigan defense getting burned by an athletic quarterback.

And will someone please fire the special teams coach?

Overall Coaching Grade: C+


Final Thoughts

My final thoughts are that I want to take a high powered drill to my temple.

Instead of turning the corner after the big comeback against Wisconsin, they reverted back to form and sucked it up.

It's like the Wolverines took two steps backward instead of using the momentum from last week's big win to take advantage and put to rest any worries about making a bowl game.

Now they have to win four of remaining seven games to be bowl eligible, and even then it's sketchy that they'll make one.

Overall Grade: C-


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