'It's on me': Michigan QB Joe Milton takes blame for devastating loss in second career start
Ann Arbor — Michigan quarterback Joe Milton, in his second career start, shouldered the loss to in-state rival Michigan State, blaming overthinking and happy feet.
The underdog Spartans upended the Wolverines, 27-24, on Saturday at Michigan Stadium. Both teams are now 1-1. Michigan had been favored by more than three touchdowns.
Milton was 32-of-51 for 300 yards and he led the team in rushing with 59 yards on 12 carries. A week after he was universally praised for how he handled the offense in his first start, a win at Minnesota, he said his rhythm was off and he was rushing things.
“I was a lot more poised last week,” Milton said. “I got more poised throughout this game. I don’t know why my feet were busy. I think my mind was going everywhere, that’s totally on me. Everybody did what they needed to do. It’s on me.”
The biggest difference was a Michigan State defense that was more physical and squeezed the Michigan run game, making everything more difficult for Milton. He faced a number of third-and-long situations, which isn’t ideal for any quarterback, veteran or one make his second start. The tone was set on the Wolverines’ first drive when he faced third-and-15 and was unable to convert.
“Just got to execute,” said Milton, who was later asked about the pressure from the MSU defense. “None of their pressures really affected me. It was me as a person. I was busy. I’ve got to fix it. Gotta play better.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh thought Milton settled down after the first half.
“Early in the game, he was bringing the ball down and trying to run the ball first quarter too much,” Harbaugh said. “That settled down and he hung in the pocket pretty darn well after that and stood in there and made some big-time throws. He threw the ball, no turnovers.
“There were some exceptional throws and my take on it now until I rewatch it, we would be ... in rhythm and then we wouldn’t, or we wouldn’t be in rhythm and we’d get it and didn’t finish the drives and be in rhythm throughout the drive like we wanted to.”
Milton said that’s where the work will be focused preparing this week preparing for Indiana.
“This game didn’t turn out how it was supposed to, but it happens, it’s life,” Milton said. “Just go watch the film and get better.”
Linebacker Cam McGrone was on the ground for a while being tended to by the medical staff but eventually walked up the tunnel toward the locker room before the end of the first half.
“Cam couldn’t finish the second half,” Harbaugh said, not disclosing his injury. “Wanted to, but doctors held him out the second half.”
Right tackle Jalen Mayfield limped off the field late in the game with an unspecified injury.
“Jalen had X-rays after the game and they were negative,” Harbaugh said.