As an Ohio State student, I should have known better than to put my faith in Michigan.
I expected the Wolverines to come out and compete. I thought Brady Hoke would be coaching a team that was ready for that kind of game. I figured Denard Robinson would be prepared to make big plays on the big stage. But instead I’m asking: Did Denard Robinson even play? Did Brady Hoke even scout ‘Bama? Did Michigan’s players even appreciate the magnitude of this game?
It wasn’t that Michigan didn’t match up against Alabama, it was that it didn’t even give itself a chance to. The Wolverines weren’t prepared and the Crimson Tide was more than happy to take advantage. The focus wasn’t there. The enthusiasm wasn’t there. Michigan wasn’t ready, and I’m shocked.
I didn’t understand Michigan’s play-calling. Why was Denard Robinson not the focal point of its offense? Michigan’s best chance of winning was to stretch Alabama’s defense and force the Tide to defend sideline to sideline, then attack them up the middle. It needed to get Alabama’s defense off-balance.
Michigan instead tried to attack Alabama through the air. So much for Robinson improving his passing this year; obviously that’s not the case. Still, you can’t fully blame him. Michigan didn’t set up its passing game at all. The Wolverines just dropped back Robinson and told him to throw – he’s not that kind of quarterback. He only carried the ball 10 times in the game. Ten. How can you expect to beat Alabama when you don’t even utilize the skills of your best player? Michigan needed to use Robinson early in the game to set up the rest of its offense. Instead it was forced to play catch-up all night.
Maybe the suspension of Fitz Toussaint was a huge deal. Michigan’s offense works best when the opposing defense has to worry about keying two guys; primarily Robinson and Touissant. Without Touissant, the Wolverines offense was missing an element.
Let’s give some credit to Alabama, though. Saban did it again. He lost all those big names to the NFL Draft and has seemingly replaced them immediately. Alabama’s defense is fast, aggressive, and disciplined. The Crimson Tide played physical and left no doubt in our minds that they can compete for another BCS National Championship.
Now that sounds like a safe bet.