How my beloved Michigan Wolverines Football Team Lost the 2016 Orange Bowl
U of M Football 2016
If you pay attention to my University of Michigan Sports Page (which can be found HERE), you know that I am a huge Michigan Wolverines Football fan and also a huge Michigan sports fan (in particular Men's and Women's Basketball and Women's Softball).
Before I get going, Happy New Years Eve to everyone!
I attend games whenever I can, and take the time to read about the teams every day etc.
Well, tonight was the 2016 Orange Bowl Game and it would be fair to say that it did not go well for my beloved Wolverines. Yes, there were some terrible non-calls and I still don't entirely understand why Coach Harbaugh didn't use his time-outs before the last FSU TD, but I don't think either of those things determined the game.
Let's talk about the reasons why we lost.
5 Major Reasons The Michigan Wolverines Football Team Lost The 2016 Orange Bowl Game
#5: The Wolverines Did Not Come Out Looking Ready To Play
It was a brutal opening to the game as it barely seemed to take the FSU offense a minute to score the game's first touchdown against the vaunted and #1 nationally ranked Michigan Defense. In fact, I had barely gotten over hearing that Heisman finalist Julian Peppers was out with a hamstring injury before FSU seemed to find the end zone.
Right after FSU scored, Michigan came out and laid an egg on their first offensive series. If it had not been for Seminole Special Teams mistake, this game might have been over before the first quarter was done.
All three Flordia State players that I highlighted this morning Francois, Cook and Walker were absolutely CRUSHING Michigan throughout the first half.
#4 Jourdan Lewis Picked the Worst Possible Week To Have His First "Bad" Game
Lewis missed the coverage entirely on the 92 yard TD play, whiffed on a tackle that would have stopped the 72 yard run in the second half, and he was victimized on the final score of the game (yes, he had established good defensive position on the play but facts are facts and JL gave up the touchdown).
It is sad that Lewis, a true stopper and one of my favorite Michigan players ever, had his worst game on the last game of his Wolverine career.
#3 Bizarro Wilton Speight
It would be an understatement to say that Speight was lacking touch or accuracy tonight.
In the first half alone he missed four wide-open Wide Receivers by at least ten yards (two of those misses would have been TD's that ended up FG's and we only lost by one point). In the second half, Speight did slightly better but he was consistently throwing behind his receivers and god help them if it was a touch throw.
In fairness to WS, he was constantly under assault and never had a comfortable pocket all night (more on that in a second). He took a massive number of hits, had zero running game to speak of, and he lost his safety blanket (Jake Butt) for the game late in the first half.
Still, he was making bizarre decisions all game long, like checking down to receivers who were well short of the marker with time running out at the end of the game when the only hope Michigan had would be deep throws down the middle or quick outs to WR's (who could get out of bounds). He had to know he couldn't afford to check down (at least throw it away to save the clock) but there he was checking down to #4. Why? I still have no idea.
It just seemed like, even in the good moments, like something was really off with Wilton tonight.
#2: The Offensive Line Was A Trainwreck
15 Tackles For Loss.
That was a very Brady Hoke was for the 3 Seniors from the Brady Hoke line to go out. I am sorry, I don't mean to be mean, I realize they are college students and I am not trying to be a jerk.
This is not a new problem. If you go back and look at their stats, they consistently struggled in the second half of the season (and Kyle Kalis, in particular, had a consistently tough second half of the season).
But, as a unit, they couldn't run block all night long (or for the entire season against good defenses) and they let someone from the Defense get to Wilton Speight on virtually every play all game long
#1: Coaching During Winning Time
Michigan has an amazing coaching staff (and what the hell do I know). But nothing can change the fact that we had the lead against Iowa (and lost on the last play), had the lead against OSU (and lost on the last play), and finally inexplicably had the lead against FSU and have up a kickoff return that exposed a defense that had been on the field way too much and had played their hearts out the entire second half.
How does that happen?
I kind of get that maybe Coach Harbaugh told Kenny Allen (who had a great game) to kick it short so that time came off the clock (he had kicked it out of the end zone on every other kickoff all game long).
Maybe it was just bad luck, but it is bad luck that seems to be haunting us this season and from what I remember from my coaching days, that is usually on the coach (luck is preparation + perspiration).
I love Coach Harbaugh, and I am thrilled we have him, but if you get paid the big bucks, you have your team ready to win the game when it is closing time.
I included that embed because I will always root for the Wolverines win or lose (and I fully expect them to be even better next year).
Obviously, my criticism is just my two-cents, in the larger scheme of things I am just a fan watching a football game (not a coach and not a player). All of this is meant with love. No matter what happens, I love my team and have nothing but love for the players and coaches.
I always go back to what Coach Hanlon always used to say, you can tell who "should" win a football game by watching who is winning the offensive and defensive line battles. In my humble opinion, FSU won both battles (although the Michigan defense showed much better in the second half).
Congratulations to the players on both teams for a great game and thanks to the Michigan Football team for putting it all on the line for our entertainment throughout the year. I hope Jake Butt, Taco Charlton, and Jabrill Peppers are all okay.
Taco Charlton, by the way, is 100% for real! I am really looking forward to seeing a bunch of these guys playing on Sundays next year.
If you get a chance, check out the rest of the blog, I cover music and do recaps of several television shows (Mr. Robot, Halt and Catch Fire, The Flash, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, and Black Mirror currently).
Time for Big 10 Basketball season! #GoBlue!
What did you think cost Michigan the game?
What did I get wrong?
What are you looking forward to for next season?
Let me know what you think, leave a comment!