The game plan wasn't necessarily the problem against the stout Spartan defense said U-M offensive coordinator Al Borges -- the Wolverines just had little room for error.
"It's not hard to game plan," Borges said. "You just need to put the pieces together and hope like heck that under pressure your young players can perform. A couple weeks ago against a lesser defensive opponent obviously, they did a pretty good job. You asked me a couple weeks ago, ‘did you get any confidence?' I said I would tell you after this game.
"The margin of error against really good defensive teams is small, and we just had too many errors that put us in bad situations. It wasn't always the younger guys. But, you know? The middle of our offensive line is young and some things come up sometimes."
Borges said the plan was to pass more on first-down against MSU. When the Wolverines were unable to covert passes, it left them in long yardage situations. It boils back down to protection.
"When you're not protecting, it's always hard," Borges said on his play calling versus MSU. "Then they're crowding the box too. It's hard to run. That can be very frustrating. But the thing about play calling, and again, you got to keep your head as level as possible, otherwise you'll right what I am talking about, you'll panic and start guessing at plays."
Running back Pass Protection
Firth-year running back Fitzgerald Toussaint played most of the snaps against the Spartans, a big reason why is his ability and willingness to pass protect.
"He's always a willing participant," Borges said. "He knows what to do. With the younger players doing that, that's tough now. You put them in that situation. I think I told you guys this from the beginning, the slowest thing to come for a young running back is protection. Targeting the right player and technique that goes with that.
"So Fitz we just like was the most reliable entity in there doing it. A couple times he did a great job. A couple times he didn't. But for the most part he is always willing. He never turned it down one time."
Freshman Derrick Green only played two snaps against MSU. A big reason why, Borges said, is the difficulty of learning pass protection schemes as a freshman.
"I've never had a freshman running back be able to understand all the blitz pick up," Borges said. "He usually doesn't understand till his second year. And when you're playing a team like that that's coming at you from a different angle, you put a freshman in there, you're just setting him up to fail."
In the end, Borges said he wants Green to be in the game in positions where he can succeed.
"He would have got more snaps had we been better equipped to run the ball better. But he has made good progress. He going to be a good back. We just got to find a way to get him in the games, when the game is in balance, put him in positions where he can succeed. And that was not one of those game."