Rays of Light: “They Fell Apart”

Former Michigan standout and Big Ten Network analyst Marcus Ray dissects the breakdowns on both sides of the ball in the Wolverines' woeful 35-11 loss to Michigan State. He also changes his tune on Devin Gardner.

Sam Webb:   It was not about their preparedness, they had a good plan, but by readiness and that ultimately is a reflection on coaches.  So again, you talking about both side of the coin for Michigan in that game. 

Marcus Ray:  “It’s very disheartening to see a team fall apart on both sides of the ball.  The problem with Michigan is that they can’t put four quarters together.  Now offensively, they got back to what they do, which is make a few plays like on offense, they’ll have success and then things will start to happen bad.  For example, they came out on the first play of the game, a nice little roll out pass, half roll because they were expecting that same six man pressure two guys underneath and three deep, which leaves the outside wide open.  Nussmeier expected that, found Funchess on about a nine or 10 yard gain on the first pass of the game.  Michigan gets all the way down to the 30-yard line and the next thing you know, Devin and the running back miss the exchange, then there is a fumble and there is a turnover.   Of course the turnovers were unforced.  Like I stated last week, I think Michigan State is getting away with murder because they only run three defenses.  I think their offense is very predictable but there is nothing that anybody can do about it, especially when you don’t execute.  Michigan struggled mightily moving the ball.  I was standing right on the sideline and kept looking at the stats and I was like they’re still under 70 total yards, minus two yards rushing.  The performance wasn’t as bad as last year offensively, but it still wasn’t good as far as being able to run the ball.  In that game, you’ve got to be able to run the ball.  It’s a tough man contest.  I expected the score to be somewhere around 31-13.  When somebody asked me, I said I think that, it’ll be close like it was last year, they’ll be a play in the second quarter that’ll spring the game open by two scores and then the better team is going to wear Michigan down.  That’s just the way I saw it defensively.  I thought they missed a lot of tackles.  I thought they left some plays on the field where Greg Mattison called a corner blitz and the safety just played poor technique.  You don’t zone turn whenever you’re a safety and you have to go over the top and play man-to-man on the #1 wide receiver when you come off the hash.  So fundamentally, there were some things there that didn’t give Michigan a chance to win at all.  When you miss blocks like Michigan did from time to time in the run game.  I watched it.  Doug Nussmeier calls a counter play, Shilique Calhoun does a great job of wrong arming the ball where you come off the edge and the tackle blocks down and you hit the first puller with your outside shoulder and it forces the ball to bounce and guys start falling, then you free up your linebackers.  I think you saw one team executing and playing with more passion and energy and another team that was just out there.  I thought the defense held up for the most part, which I expected in the first half, but then later on in the game things just kind of went downhill.”

Sam Webb:  Let’s talk about quarterback play.  Again, I’ve been quite vocal, as have you, who’s there, who’s the guy that gives them best chance to win.  At the same time, you’ve got to talk about the other side of it.  He didn’t give him much of a chance to win on Saturday with the mistakes that he made.  Again, he did make some good plays.  There were some throws that were just flat dropped.  His guys didn’t always help him out.  Let’s talk about the mistakes he made during the game on Saturday.

Marcus Ray:  “The conversation changes every seven days in football.  It’s on a game to game basis.  A month ago, Devin Gardner gave Michigan the best chance to win, but that was a month ago.  Right now, he does not give Michigan the best chance to win because he does not take care of the football at all now.  I think he did make some nice throws.  There was a post pass across the middle to Darboh.  He made some other nice throws, but then the carelessness with the football.  There was one play where he was falling down and he just tossed it across his body across the middle.  Just threw it across the middle falling down, blindly.  That was a turnover waiting to happen.  You flick the pass on a shovel pass, nobody was there but green shits.  I don’t know if he’s playing scared or if there is a lack of confidence or if it is just to a point where everybody…maybe not everybody but the quarterback is starting to tank it.  Shane got in and threw one ball that should have been caught by Norfleet.  It was a great ball.  The other thing about Devin is that his ankle was still hurt.”

Sam Webb:  There was no question about that.

Marcus Ray:  “So he was immobile.  Whenever he got pressure he didn’t think to run.  I think he just threw the ball wherever and I think he got confused.  Just like I showed you on film with that pick six, he misread the coverage.  He saw the middle of the field closed, but when you see three safeties in between the hashes, it should tell you that one of them, that it is a cover-2 defense, if the guy in the middle doesn’t go straight back to defend the post, then the middle of the field is going to be open.  Devin looked presnap, saw a safety in the middle of the field, but that safety never got any depth.  That safety was responsible for Jake Butt down the middle.  Jake ran right by this guy and Devin never looked at him because his presnap read told him that Jake wasn’t going to be open.  It’s not how they line up, but how they wind up.  I think that’s where in this offense this year, Devin Gardner has regressed.  I don’t think he understands post snap reads.  I don’t think he has confidence and whenever things break down and he can’t run, he’s just going to throw it up.  Michigan State had a good defense dialed up on that play, but they let a Guy Williamson, who I think is an average football player get away with murder.  He stole one and got his confidence back.”

To hear Ray'sbreakdown in its entirety press play below.

The Michigan Insider Top Stories