Next Up: Michigan's special teams disappointing

While Michigan was expected to contend for a national championship, their special teams have let them down. Find out where the Gophers' next opponent is good and where they're vulnerable.

Another blocked punt and another loss for the Wolverines. And this one will knock them out of the national championship hunt for good.

The Wolverines got out of the gate well against Iowa, racing to a 14-0 first-quarter lead. With Iowa back on its heels, the last thing Michigan supporters thought would happen was that the Hawkeyes would find their offense and ruin the Wolverines' day.

And yet Iowa stormed back in all phases of the game, including the one that has been so vexing for Michigan. Special teams were a culprit in the Wolverines' loss at Oregon ... and it cost them again this time.

Head coach Lloyd Carr decided to go with freshman PK Garrett Rivas as his punter. Because of injuries to the punt protection team, the Wolverines used an unusual rolling punt formation in which Rivas would catch the snap, run to his right and punt the ball on the move.

The results were not good. In addition to a punt block, the Hawkeyes also got a 43-yard punt return from Ramon Ochoa that led to a key Iowa touchdown late in the first half.

Michigan's offense moved the ball well throughout the game, out-gaining Iowa 463-295. However, those special teams miscues cost the Wolverines for the second time this season and they now have to find the resolve to handle an impressive Minnesota team on the road.


NOTES, QUOTES
GAME BALL GOES TO:
QB John Navarre -- While he did throw one interception, Navarre was on his game. He completed 26-of-49 passes for 389 yards and two touchdowns. Navarre had good touch and generally kept the Iowa defensive backs off balance throughout the game.

KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Jason Avant -- The sophomore from Chicago had a brilliant game. He caught seven passes for 175 yards and generally tormented the Iowa defense throughout the game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I take full responsibility for this loss. We changed our punt protection as a result of a couple of injuries and we gave up a couple of plays that were really the difference in this game." -- Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr, following the loss to Iowa.


STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD:
The Wolverines demonstrated the kind of passing game that was of a national championship caliber. However, as good as the passing game was against an athletic Iowa defense that had previously stifled Miami of Ohio's Ben Roethlisberger and Arizona State's Andrew Walter, it was not good enough to overcome special team breakdowns.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: The special teams were abominable once again. Another punt was blocked and the Wolverines also gave up a long return that set up a second-quarter touchdown. Coming two weeks after their loss to Oregon, the Wolverines are completely out of the national championship picture.

INJURY IMPACT: DE Larry Stevens (left foot) was unable to practice or play on special teams. As a result of his absence, head coach Lloyd Carr changed Michigan's protection schemes and the Wolverines were unable to avoid special team mistakes.



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