Another big road game and another gut-wrenching loss for the Wolverines. Harbaugh’s record in “big games” is not quite as bad as some make it out to be but it’s not great, seeing how big games are a subjective topic. Either way, this was a big one and, once again, the team came out flat as hell.
It was a valient effort where Michigan was the better team for 75% of the game. Problem is, when you go down in a 21-0 in the first half, it’s hard for anyone to dig their way out. Doesn’t make it any easier being in the intimidating (and really awesome) Happy Valley White Out in prime time.
A lot to build on after this one but that’s about all Michigan can play for going forward with their Big Ten title dreams all but dead.
Michigan 21 – Penn State 28
Here are my takeaways from Michigan’s second loss of the 2019 season:
1. Mistakes and Blues
Michigan just continues to make mistakes that have just killed them in almost every game this year. Another fun trend that’s been showing up in big time road games has been extremely slow starts.
I mean, a timeout on the first play. Really?
Not to mention going down 21-0. That was fun.
But part of that three score hole was thanks to some unlucky calls. But I’m not gonna talk some of the downright garbage calls that, as a Lions fan, I should be used to seeing.
I mean, when the hell did letting a guy run by you as you fight back for the ball become offensive pass-interference?
Or when did a clear push off (that even Mark “Butt Fumble” Sanchez called on the half-time show) not become offensive pass-interference?
Or when did tackling a receiver from behind before the ball gets there not get called as defensive pass-interference?
I said I wasn’t gonna talk about it.
Anyways, the calls were bad but there are always bad calls in games and they were far from the only reason why Michigan lost this game.
- The unpreparedness and extremely questionable decisions and calls from the coaches in game-changing spots were really bad.
- Punting in Penn State territory on the opening drive wasn’t my favorite.
- Shea’s interception following that garbage OPI call on Nico Collins was really bad.
- Giving up 4-5 big plays on defense in the first half alone was really bad.
- Several drops from their go-to players always hurts.
- Kicking a 58-yard field goal with the accuracy kicker instead of just going for it or punting it was just baffling.
- Then after getting full momentum back in the second-half, not calling a time-out when Penn State quick snapped the defensed and got Metellus lined up in the slot one-on-one with KJ Hamler.
As for the Ronnie Bell drop, yes, it was a really bad drop at a huge moment of the game that would have all but tied it up late in the 4th quarter. It was devastating to watch but not just the drop, it was the shot of Bell on the sidelines afterward. People tend to forget that these players are actually playing the game and putting their bodies on the line. Not having beers and blogging about it or yelling about it or tweeting about it, like us.
So, to all the “fans” out there that tweeted and emailed Bell and his father, go find another hobby or smoke some weed or something. Try not to be so angry that you go over the line like the now-infamous Connor Grady.
2. Shea’s Play
Yes, the game was a loss but one thing became clear: Shea Patterson is the right guy for the job right now.
It was a shaky start for the entire offense as it couldn’t finish a drive until nearly the end of the 2nd quarter, even with Patterson making some big throws on third down.
Up and down throughout the game and showed some really happy feet at times in the pocket but he actually played pretty well and showed that toughness this team needed.
He was flustered at times and then calm, cool and collected right after that.
He was struggling with reading the corner blitz and threw an abysmal interception on another ugly screen pass. But then made some big third down throws to move the chains and give the team a chance to win.
His play (along with some improved run blocking and great runs from Zach Charbonnet) helped give the Wolverines a hefty 417-283 total yards advantage. However, yards don’t count for much of anything. Points do. And the offense wasn’t able to make the full comeback when it mattered most.
I do still expect to see Dylan McCaffrey (if healthy) and maybe Joe Milton get more time as the season goes on, especially if another loss happens. But that doesn’t take away from my original thought that Patterson is the right guy for the job right now.
3. Stock Up
- Zach Charbonnet
- If you’re looking for a new Michigan jersey to get, I suggest going with #24 (maybe he’ll get a piece of that pie one of these days too). This kid looked fantastic when the offense needed it most, showing his quick jump cuts and power running style, ripping off 81 yards on 15 carries and scoring Michigan’s first two touchdowns of the game.
- Cam McGrone
- He’s become THAT dude on defense. The guy that makes the big play when they need it. His speed and tenacity stands out and should look even better if he’s (hopefully) paired up with Josh Ross, whenever he can return from his injury.
- Aidan Hutchinson
- Another sophomore that continues to make plays and will likely be a team captain in the next year or two. Batted balls and TFLs are big for a line that hasn’t been able to
- Shea Patterson
- Plenty of people will hate this, including my brother who has been calling for his benching for a while now. He was the main reason why the offense finally found its groove. His play and toughness stood out.
- Josh Uche
- Any 250lb man that can chase a 4.3 receiver 40 yards down field and then make a 20-yard sprint sack in the same game is an absolute freak of nature. His impact is spotty at times but I feel like he’s going to be one hell of an NFL player.
- Only one! It was bad but, hey, no fumbles.
4. Stock Down
- Early Mistakes
- Timeout on the first play, drops by multiple receivers, several offsides/full start penalties. The big game atmosphere clearly got to the team early on. They looked shook from the get-go before finding their footing and making a nice comeback.
- This is a reoccurring issue that needs to change. Whatever the pregame ritual is, it’s probably time to change it up.
- Offensive Pass Interference
- Penn State’s TE Pat Freiermuth had a nice little push off on Khaleke Hudson on the first score of the game, which wasn’t called. And then Nico Collins was called on one later in the first half that negated a huge play, which was followed up by a Patterson pick. Yay.
- Sorry, I don’t wanna talk about it.
- 4th Down Decisions
- Not going for it on 4th and 1 on the opening drive in PSU territory, going for a 58-yard field goal with Moody over Nordin near the end of the 2nd half on 4th and 6. Just baffling at times.
- Safeties on Speed
- Metellus and Hawkins on Hamler. Those were the two huge touchdowns and though the coaches should have helped Metellus on the last touchdown by calling a timeout, Don Brown just needs to be better there and put his fastest guys on their fastest guys.
- Drops…for the millionth time
- Ronnie Bell, man. Have to feel for the kid. That was one of the worst drops in recent history. Even though that was by far the biggest, the receivers had 5-6 in total, which is just unacceptable.
Photo Credit: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog