Michigan takeaways: Failure to stop big plays, drops sour home finale
Five takeaways from The Detroit News' Angelique S. Chengelis after Michigan's 56-27 loss to Ohio State on Saturday.
Defense picked apart
A year after losing 62-39 at Ohio State, the Michigan defensive staff said all the right things about how that will never happen again. Well, it pretty much did. This time, Michigan gave up 577 yards in Saturday's loss to the Buckeyes, a year after allowing 567 yards. And technically, one of the scores last year was on a punt return, so the defense gave up essentially the same total points.
The defense gave up nine plays of at least 20 yards, including seven of 30 yards or more with a long of 57 yards. Ohio State ran for 264 yards, the most since Wisconsin gashed Michigan for 359 yards in the third game of the season.The Wolverines entered the game ranked fourth nationally in total defense and left ranked No. 8.
Run game lacking
Upon closer review, while Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson was having career days, there wasn’t much brewing with the Wolverines run the game the two games heading into Ohio State. That should have been a clue.
After rushing for 303 yards and three touchdowns against Notre Dame, Michigan had 155 yards rushing at Maryland followed by 83 against Michigan State and 87 at Indiana. Against the Buckeyes, Michigan had 91 yards rushing and the running backs accounted for 85 yards on 16 carries. That’s not going to cut it. Ohio State's J.K. Dobbins rushed for 211 yards and four touchdowns alone, averaging 6.8 yards per carry.
This was not a stellar game for the wide receivers, who dropped 12 balls against Ohio State. Nothing was more glaring than the third quarter, though, when six of the eight passes from Patterson ruled incomplete were drops. Catches were made, obviously, since the Wolverines had 305 passing yards and they looked crisp early in the game, but that second-half performance was unwatchable.
Patterson’s home farewell
After transferring nearly two years ago from Ole Miss, Patterson was unbeaten at Michigan Stadium through two seasons until Saturday. He was 18-of-43 passing for 305 yards, one touchdown, an interception and had a critical red-zone fumble in the loss to Ohio State.
Patterson was 4-of-24 passing for 55 yards in the second half, but his stats were largely undermined by all the dropped passes. He became the first Michigan quarterback to have three straight games of 300 yards or more passing. He threw for 366 the week before at Indiana and for 384 yards against Michigan State.
“From Day 1 it’s been a dream come true to come play football for the University of Michigan,” Patterson said. “I wouldn’t change anything, obviously the outcome of this game. I wouldn’t want to go war with anybody else other than the guys in that locker room each and every single week, those coaches, so much respect for those guys and this university. It’s something I’ll cherish and I’ll remember for a very long time putting on the maize and blue. Just very thankful.”
When Ohio State went through its doldrums against Michigan with a 2-10-1 record under coach John Cooper, the conversation way back then among Michigan players was that Ohio State had a mental block when it came to playing the Wolverines. Maybe that was the case, maybe not.
Seems too easy to write off long losing streaks to a “mental block” and the Michigan players disagreed with that assessment when it comes to the Wolverines’ 1-15 record against Ohio State in the last 16 meetings.
“I don’t think so,” Michigan tight end Sean McKeon said. “They’re just a team. They’re not an NFL team.”
No, Ohio State isn’t, but it is doing plenty to block Michigan mentally and otherwise.