- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Michigan did not play well Saturday, did not coach well on offense Saturday and overall struggled against a team they had moved the ball well on the prior three seasons.
It was also a game Denard Robinson will like to forget, regressing back to when he first became a starter, throwing off his back foot and making poor reads and worse decisions.
There were, though, some positives -- mostly on defense.
1. Jake Ryan: The redshirt sophomore had another standout game, making smart play after smart play. He only made five tackles but he was around the ball consistently and also had the most impressive Michigan defensive play of the day, a pass breakup in the Notre Dame backfield.
2. Defensive line play: The Wolverines took a big step forward on the defensive line. With the offense continually putting them in a short field, the defensive line was stout and did a good job against a more experienced Notre Dame offensive line. They didn’t get a ton of pressure on Everett Golson and Tommy Rees, but were part of a defense that held Notre Dame to 239 yards of offense.
3. Offensive line play: While the Wolverines struggled in the first half, they rebounded in the second half to block well and open up some holes in the running game for the first time all season. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint averaged 4.5 yards a carry and gained 56 of his 58 yards in the second half.
1. Denard Robinson: The senior quarterback had the worst game of his career Saturday, throwing four interceptions, making poor throws, poor reads and being barely able to run the ball as well. The Notre Dame defense aided in that, but Robinson felt so bad, he apologized after the game. He completed 13 of 24 passes for 138 yards, no touchdowns and those four interceptions, which came on four consecutive passes.
2. Offensive playcalling: Michigan had some creativity, including a wide receiver pass and end arounds with Jeremy Gallon, but there were also some bad decisions, including a halfback pass that was intercepted and a somewhat predictable playaction pass when Robinson was under center in the first half.
3. Receiver play: Part of this was due to Robinson, but no Michigan receiver had more than 40 yards receiving and save for a couple of drives struggled to get separation. Devin Gardner looked like he struggled on a route that resulted in a Robinson interception and Drew Dileo didn’t appear to adjust on the halfback pass -- although that’s a large nit to pick.
4dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy
5dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy
6dDan Murphy and Mitch Sherman