Then came the penalties.
Illegal formation (twice). Ineligible receiver downfield. False start.
"Every time we got some momentum going, the (officials) dropped a flag on us," U of M coach Larry Porter said. "That can demoralize you as well."
Five of the Tigers' first nine snaps were met with flags, and any chance at establishing a rhythm in their new spread offense was diminished.
Porter said after the game that on the plays he was flagged for illegal formations, his set wasn't illegal but simply unbalanced.
When lining up in a formation, the offense must have at least seven players on the line of scrimmage and no more than four players in the backfield on any given snap.
"The refs said that we weren't on the (line)," Porter said. "So (I asked them) what do we need to do? Because obviously (the official) didn't see what was going on out there. So I said, ‘This is what I'll do. I'll make sure the receivers point at you to make sure they're on the ball.'
"So that's what they did. And when they did that, there was too many on the line of scrimmage."
After the Tigers' first drive, which was mired with penalties, they never fully recovered. By the time true freshman quarterback Taylor Reed replaced starter Andy Summerlin, the game was well out of reach.
Porter said it was fairly obvious to him that there was a sufficient number of receivers on the line during the Tigers' first drive.
"I don't think that they need to penalize us for them not understanding what we were doing at that particular time," Porter said.
Porter said he will review the game tape and that he "can't wait to send it in."
"We tried to ask, ‘Okay, what do you need us to do?' And then when they told us, we still were wrong," Porter said. "That was quite frustrating."