MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - It wasn't easy, but the Michigan Wolverines were able to escape TCF Bank Stadium with a 29-26 victory over Minnesota thanks to heroic efforts by the U-M defense and back-up quarterback Wilton Speight.
Heading into that final, the U-M defense didn't exactly look all that heroic. Arguably one of, if not the best, defenses in the nation heading into Saturday night's game, Golden Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner seemingly did whatever he wanted to do against the Wolverines. However, there's no denying the mental errors and inopportune mistakes the U-M defense made throughout the night.
Something that senior linebacker Desmond Morgan noted after the game.
"No question we made a tremendous amount of mistakes in that game," Morgan said. "Coach Durkin always talks about, you know, give our defense, our team, a place a to stand. You can't let what's going for the rest of the game affect how you're going to play the next play. That's kind of the attitude we had there on that last down on that goal line. The guys up front fought their butt off to really get knockback on the line of scrimmage and, you know, just came out with it."
For a defense that has been so strong all season, what exactly caused the unit to come out so flat? Morgan says it all comes down to communication and execution, something they must fix to avoid future disasters during the home-stretch of the season.
"Without seeing the film it'll probably come back to communication errors, technique stuff," Morgan said. "That stuff we know but for some reason we're not executing today. We gotta kind of go back and self-check ourselves, really watch this film intently to really clean that stuff up."
It's possible that the bye week had some sort of impact on the defense, and, couple that with Minnesota's charged up emotions throughout the game, it could've caught the Wolverines off guard slightly. According to Morgan, Minnesota's gameplan was not a surprise by any means.
It just needed to clean a few things up.
"It wasn't anything that we weren't expecting to be honest," Morgan said. "We were making a couple of adjustments to things here and there on the sideline but, again, it goes back to us. We weren't playing technically-sound football and that's something we definitely need to do if we want to keep going forward and be the defense that we want to be."