Well, that last 30 minutes was ugly. Michigan was up 16-14 at halftime. That included some field goals in the red zone instead of touchdowns, and allowing some big plays to Alabama’s offense. But altogether, a 16-14 halftime lead is better than most of us were expecting. But then Michigan gave up 21 unanswered points, failing to muster much of anything on defense. It was a demoralizing second half.
Hit the jump for more.
Shea Patterson wasn’t good. He finished 16/37 for 233 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. There was a stretch where the announcers were praising him for going 6/9 for 118 yards and 1 touchdown. But the stretches on either side of that span were not compelling. Michigan started off the game targeting the Nico Collins vs. backup corner Josh Jobe matchup, resulting in two incompletions; one was a jump ball that Michigan fans beg for that Collins failed to bring in, and the other was an overthrow after Collins failed to get a great release.
The receivers weren’t good, either. Blame always falls on the quarterback (and coaches), but this is the second game in a row where Michigan’s receivers didn’t live up to their end of the bargain, either. The second half of the Ohio State game was abysmal, and this whole game was subpar. Ronnie Bell (4 catches, 53 yards) had multiple drops, and Nico Collins (4 catches, 48 yards) had defensive backs glued to him for the majority of the game. Michigan 5-star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones had 1 catch for 34 yards. Senior tight end Sean McKeon had 0 catches.
Alabama is very good. There’s been a little bit of talk that we’re seeing the demise of Alabama football, but everyone they have on defense is big and fast. When their backups came in, they didn’t miss a beat. Backup corner Josh Jobe is 6’1″, 189 lbs. and can run. Those guys don’t grow on trees. Except in Tuscaloosa. Michigan was no match for Alabama’s receivers. Jerry Jeudy caught 6 passes for 204 yards and 1 touchdown. That touchdown came on the first offensive play, an 85-yarder from Mac Jones. They got him singled up against freshman safety Daxton Hill, much like Penn State hit a post to K.J. Hamler against Josh Metellus. Many people are probably asking why that was the matchup, but it didn’t really matter. Michigan’s defensive backs need to match up against someone on Alabama’s offense, and all of Alabama’s wideouts are 4.4 guys or better (Henry Ruggs III, who left with an injury, reportedly runs a 4.25). Both the offensive tackles are potential 1st rounders, and Michigan’s defensive ends did virtually nothing.
Aidan Hutchinson is pretty good. The defensive player of the game for Michigan was Hutchinson, in my opinion. He showed great effort and finished with 5 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 quarterback hurry. (He was also called for a ridiculous roughing the passer penalty.)
I didn’t understand the running back deployment. Freshman Zach Charbonnet was averaging almost 10 yards/carry at one point and finished the game with 13 carries for 84 yards (6.5 yards/carry). But the staff went mostly with Hassan Haskins, who ran 18 times for 61 yards (3.4 yards/carry). I’ve mentioned before that I think Charbonnet must be on a bit of a “pitch count” due to health reasons. I don’t think he’s in the doghouse. But that distribution doesn’t make any sense to me. Charbonnet looked great. Haskins looked average.
Lavert Hill was playing not to get hurt, and Josh Metellus was lazy. Honestly, that’s the type of effort that I was afraid Michigan would get in this game. Some guys bound for the next level sort of mentally check out for bowl games. Both Hill and Metellus weren’t 100% committed to giving great effort, and it resulted in some ugly plays. We saw that from Florida a few years ago. Some people say Michigan checked out for the Florida State game a couple seasons ago. I saw a lot of great efforts – Aidan Hutchinson, Zach Charbonnet, Ronnie Bell, Jordan Glasgow, Hassan Haskins – but Hill and Metellus aren’t those guys.
Alabama was winning the field position game. It doesn’t really show up in the box score, but Alabama was doing a great job pinning Michigan deep and making the Wolverines go a long way to score. It seemed like every time Michigan got a stop, they would get the ball at their own 1- or 10-yard line. Michigan didn’t force any turnovers or get any punt returns (Peoples-Jones had 1 for -2 yards).
We expected a blowout. We got a blowout. The first half got our hopes up. That’s the main problem. Some fans started to believe that Michigan could win. If Alabama started off with the 85-yard touchdown and kept blowing out Michigan, there would have been a little bit of an “oh well” feeling. But when you’re dominating Alabama up front and winning at the half, you don’t expect to lose by 19 points.
Next year is Michigan’s year…
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