One Day Later: Week Five

A brief look back at the Maize and Blue's crushing loss to the rival Michigan State Spartans on Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium. What did we learn in the Wolverines first loss of the season? What does Michigan need to do differently in order to get back on track against No. 12 Iowa next week.

When Michigan State running back Larry Caper exploded through the Wolverines secondary from 23-yards out to down the Maize and Blue 26-20 in overtime Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich., it felt as if Michigan's magic had finally run its course.

Freshman quarterback Tate Forcier led the Wolverines back from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the score 20-20 with just 2-seconds left in regulation, Michigan's third come from behind effort in five weeks, but, unlike the games against Indiana and Notre Dame, an untimely overtime interception and Caper's 23-yard scamper sealed Michigan's fate.

What, though, did we learn about the Wolverines in this loss to Michigan State, the second in a row against the Spartans for the first time since 1967? Are there any positives to take from such a heartbreaking loss to an in-state rival?

We learned, or in some minds cemented, the fact that Tate Forcier is a warrior. Yes, the fact that the offense was unable to move the ball for three and a half quarters is what put Michigan in its hole in the first place, but, for the third time this season, when the chips were down, the freshman delivered. Michigan's final drive of regulation, a 90-yard drive to knot the score 20-20, took less then two minutes, and saw Forcier rack up 39 yards passing plus 38 more on the ground, and all in his first road game.

We learned that David Molk meant more to this offense than we had realized. Coming into the game with the Big 10's best running game, the Wolverines couldn't move the ball on the ground against a stingy Michigan State defense. The Wolverines finished with just a net of 28 yards on the ground, and that includes the 38 Forcier yards on the final drive of regulation. Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown combined for just 17 yards. Neither back averaged more than three years per carry.

We learned that the defense can create turnovers when it gets to the opposing qb. On the first possession of the game, Ryan Van Bergan's pressure on MSU quarterback Kirk Cousins led to a Stevie Brown interception. Michigan couldn't convert the short field into a touchdown, but it gave Michigan a 3-0 lead just minutes into the game. Michigan State also threw a second interception late in the game and deep in Michigan territory, again when Michigan dialed up a blitz.

We learned that the Michigan defense needs depth. On the field for over 40 minutes again, the Michigan defense looked gassed near the end of regulation. We've seen some substitutions along the defensive line, but breathers for the linebackers and secondary hsa been few and far in between. And that was before sophomore cornerback Boubacar Cissoko didn't see a single snap in the game against Michigan State yesterday afternoon.

Most importantly, though, we learned that this team will never give up. In its first road game of the season and down 14 points to the rival Spartans, this U-M team never gave up. It's taken on the moxie of its young freshman QB. With that never say die spirit, win, lose or draw, expect the Wolverines to be in a lot of tight ones the rest of the season.

The Wolverines are on the road again Saturday, this time against the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City.

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