Grading Michigan: Spartans Roll Over Wolverines

Jason BarczyCorrespondent IOctober 26, 2008

Michigan State 35, Michigan 21

First off, congratulations are in order to Michigan State and their first win at Michigan Stadium since 1990, 18 years ago.

Secondly, it should've been worse.

With three missed field goals and Michigan getting a lucky touchdown on Brandon Minor's 19-yard grab in the first quarter, it could've been a lot worse.

The final score actually should read Michigan State 44-14.

How would that feel, Michigan fans? How would a 30-point loss to Michigan State feel? I am so outraged right now that my feelings on the subject have gone numb, and I want you to describe the feeling to me again.

It's like Jack Nicholson in the classic movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest when he gets a lobotomy at the end.

That's how I feel about the Wolverines' performance on Saturday. But there were bright spots, and Michigan could've pulled the win out.

Let's break it down.



Thank you God for not allowing "Human White Flag" to come into the game. Steven Threet actually held up and played the whole game, which was the most encouraging part of his performance.

However, completing 13-for-27 for 168 yards, throwing three interceptions, and getting sacked four times is not the least bit encouraging. His inaccuracy downfield is astonishing at this point of the season and should've been fixed by now.

That and the miscommunication on wide receiver routes. I'm done drinking the Kool-Aid on Darryl Stonum—one catch for five yards Saturday.

Martavious Odoms has got to do a better job of getting open and possibly breaking routes to do so. It's called improvisation, Martavious. Look it up.

Even though freshman wide receivers and quarterbacks have never really fared that well in college football, these guys have gotten enough experience (eight games into the season now as starters), and the inexperience excuse has run its course.

They've all gotten significant playing time, and it's time to step up.

That goes for the offensive line too.

The offense was able to show a little bit more consistency Saturday. Instead of playing "decent" for just one quarter of football, they played all right for about 40 minutes of a game.

Michigan did lead 21-14 in the third quarter and looked like it could've pulled the victory out, only to fizzle in the fourth quarter.

Brandon Minor once again played pretty good despite what the stats show (55 yards on 15 carries and one catch for 19 yards). He still showed me that he should be starting over Sam McGuffie.

If Michigan could've got a little bit momentum back and got a few more first downs, they might've sustained their lead and won the game.

But they didn't.

Offense Grade: C


I am sick to my stomach thinking about how bad the defense played.

They must've known exactly what Michigan State was going to do. Everyone else in the stands, watching on TV, listening to the radio, or even just keeping track online knew what was coming.

Javon Ringer was obviously going to get the ball a lot, and if they had success with that (they did—Ringer had 37 carries, 197 yards, and two touchdowns), they were going to the play action pass.

As my friend Dave put it, the middle of Michigan's defense couldn't have been more wide open than an East Lansing freshman girl's crotch.

Stevie Brown is a complete waste of breath. The only good tackles he ever makes are on special teams. That's exactly where he belongs.

Brandon Harrison's mistakes aren't as glaring to the naked eye, but if you look hard enough, you'll see them—especially where he just goes completely the wrong way in coverage at the snap.

Same thing goes for Obi Ezeh. In fact, I'm beginning to think that's where it starts: He's the middle linebacker and the field general, and as a leader, he should be doing more.

Brandon Graham is the only one on defense who came to play with his three sacks.

It's a complete joke right now how bad this defense is after returning eight starters from the 24th-ranked unit last year.

Brian Hoyer was allowed to chew apart the Michigan secondary on 17-for-29 passing for 282 yards and three touchdowns, including a 61-yarder to Blair White.

Whoever heard of this guy before the game? Now he's a legend of the rivalry.

Defense Grade: D-


Special Teams

No big gripe on the special teams. K.C. Lopata didn't get the chance to screw things up like Spartans kicker Brett Swenson almost did by missing twice and getting blocked once.

Zoltan Mesko did his job as usual and the returners actually did theirs too by not fumbling the ball once. Amazing.

Having Donovan Warren take that one missed field goal out of the end zone was a nice gamble that would've gone further if it wasn't for a block in the back.

So there—there's my gripe with special teams for the week.

Special Teams Grade: B (just average, you know)


Well, Rich Rodriguez lived up to the history of first time coaches losing this game. I guess that's the first thing he's lived up to in Michigan's past so far.

I wouldn't say he was necessarily out-coached. He must've known what MSU was all about, running the ball and setting up play action. His players just got outplayed in this one.

Michigan actually played better on offense for longer in this game than any other I've seen them play.

There're just no more excuses though. The Scott Schafer experiment has panned out. I'm sick of that guy. He inherits the 24th-ranked defense and this is what he does with it.

He's not a Rich Rod guy anyway, and if there's going to be a ton of new players on defense next year, why not get them started with a new coach as well?

Coaches Grade: C


Final Thoughts

The 1934, '36, '58, and '62 seasons were the only years in Michigan football history where the Wolverines won just two games or fewer (six or more games in a season).

Four times. That's it.

It doesn't look good from here on out for 2008: at Purdue, at Minnesota, home against Northwestern, and then at Columbus.

Every week from here on out, I want to hear how Michigan is preparing for the Ohio State game. They better be doing something every day to prepare for that game.

Winning that game is the only way to save their season. Call me crazy, but I think it could happen.

Just maybe.

Overall Grade: C


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