Ouimet On Notre Dame Game: Why They Lost

Now that there is a little emotional distance between Michigan fans and the game … here is former U-M staffer Mark Ouimet's analysis of why the Wolverine lost. There's an easy answer, and some deeper reasons.

Ouimet:

The easy answer to why Michigan lost is the costly turnovers and mistakes – they made four and three led to Notre Dame touchdowns. However Notre Dame also made four turnovers. So it is true that Michigan needs to win the turnover battle to do well, we can also call turnovers a tie in the game – this allows us to look at other things.
In a nutchell:
- Offensively – Michigan scored field goals instead of touchdowns (until they finally got a TD at the very end of the game).
- Defensively: Michigan did not attack and force the Notre Dame into mistakes.
- Special teams: two mistakes – a fumble catching a punt, and a blocked punt deep in Michigan territory … the punt block led to a Notre Dame touchdown.
Offensively:

- Michigan had 56 yards rushing, 1.9 yards per rush … that meant 2nd and 8 every time. I agree with Coach Carr that they have to find a way to run the ball. You need 2nd and 6 or 7, not 8.

- The offensive line contributed to the lack of a rushing attack. Remember that Mark Bihl and Mike Kolodziej won their starting jobs in very close contents … either rt both could very well be replaced this Saturday.

- Chad Henne was 25 for 40, but only averaged 6 yards per completion. When he dropped back he felt pressure and checked down to secondary receivers too often. Overall though he did a fairly good job in his first road game – the problem last Saturday was not Henne.

Third down conversions: Michigan was only 33% … they need to get that to 50%. Part of that was Henne checking down early to short-gain receivers.

Defensively:

- Michigan had zero sacks. They kept 6-7 men in the box and did not blitz much, except for maybe a linebacker. Michigan did create four Notre Dame turnovers, on three interceptions and a fumble. But they did not attack/pressure Brady Quinn very much.

- As far as defensive personnel: Ernest Shazor played well. Gabe Watson played well. Pierre Woods did not see the field that much … senior Roy Manning is playing ahead of him. At linebacker, Lawrence Reid was the main guy as usual. I think we'll see more of Chris Graham – he's fast.

Then there were Michigan's four mistakes of course … they created short fields for Notre Dame, and three of then led to all but one of Notre Dame's touchdowns. Even though the turnover margin was 4 to 4 … four is too many.

The future:

Will Michigan cut down on turnovers? Yes.
Will Michigan run the ball better? Yes.
Will Michigan attack more on defense? I hope so.

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