Monday, September 3, 2012

Game Review: Alabama

Final Score - Alabama: 41 Michigan: 10

At first sight, that looks like the opposite score of a traditional Michigan Football opener, with the Wolverines on the winning end. Unfortunately, this was not the traditional opener we are so used to, which is probably part of the reason fans and media are over-reacting to the loss. Everyone knew coming into this game that it would take a near perfect performance from the Wolverines on both sides of the ball to pull out the upset.

So, what went wrong?

You can point your finger at a number of people. Of course, there's the quarterback: Denard Robinson. It's way too easy to either glorify or scrutinize the player who gets the most attention. Rarely, especially in Michigan's case, does the quarterback play a neutral role in a game. Then there's offensive coordinator Al Borges. You could blame Borges for not calling Robinson's number on the ground enough. After all, the general buzz via Twitter was that Denard needed to carry the ball more often for Michigan to be successful. This list could go on and on, but I think you get my point.

In reality, this loss really comes down to two things. First of all, Michigan lost the bottle up front on both offense and defense just about every snap. This isn't because of a lack of coaching, heart, or desire. Honestly, I believe the Wolverines have an above average offensive and defensive line when compared to the rest of the country. However, simply being above average won't cut it when you play a team like Alabama, who consistently has one of the best front lines on both sides in all of college football. Michigan was simply out-matched up front on Saturday night. There is no simpler way to put it.

When you can dominate the line like that, of course the running game will be a fantastic work of art. Alabama RB T.J. Yeldon almost had his choice of what whole to run through. I'm just as big of a Michigan fan as the next guy, but even I have to admit: I was impressed. The Crimson Tide did in fact make it look easy, and, quite frankly, that is why they are so good.

Second of all, the Alabama defense did an incredible job of making Denard Robinson stay in the pocket and try to beat them through the air. If you're pitching against a guy who can't hit the curveball, what do you throw him? Curveball. Same story; different chapter. If you know Robinson hasn't proven that he can consistently beat a team through the air, what do you make him do? Throw the ball. Give the Crimson Tide credit for that because we've been watching Denard Robinson enough to know that it takes serious talent and discipline to contain "Shoelace."

Lesson Of The Game
If you were to take one lesson away from Saturday night's game, let it be this: Michigan is still waiting for Brady Hoke's pieces to fall into place.

Yes, last year was an amazing season with 11 wins and a BCS bowl win. But Michigan did not play a team like Alabama then. This is just walking, living proof that the Wolverines are still under-sized for where Hoke wants to take this team. We obviously can't know who Michigan will play in their bowl game, but the current schedule does not feature another team like Alabama, which is good news for the Wolverines. If that game were to be played another couple of years down the road, you better believe it would be a much closer game.

Tyler's Prediction Record: 1-0

Notes: Denard Robinson is good to go after being shaken up a couple of time in Saturday's game. Blake Countess was injured on special teams and was seen leaving the field on crutches. Taylor Lewan was injured late in the fourth quarter and needed help to the locker room. Brady Hoke did not have any updates on either Countess nor Lewan after the game.

(EDIT) Countess out for the season with torn ACL.

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