Analysis: Looking forward 

September, 2, 2012
9/02/12
7:55
PM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Michigan opened its season with a thud and a dud, being crushed by No. 2 Alabama, 41-14, in the Cowboys Classic.

There were some positives for the Wolverines, though, amongst the obvious plethora of negatives. Here, we look at some things Michigan should continue to explore and some things, for the time being, the Wolverines might consider abandoning.

Here are the formations that worked.

  • Michigan seemed to favor the two-back, three wide receiver set with Denard Robinson in the shotgun. This is a small departure from last season, when the Wolverines heavily favored the shotgun, singleback, three wide receiver set so often familiar to teams running the spread. Perhaps the absence of running back Fitzgerald Toussaint had something to do with the switch, but it was Michigan’s favored formation Saturday.
  • A formation which moved safety Jordan Kovacs up essentially to a linebacker slot. This was damaging in play-action-circumstances, but Kovacs is Michigan’s surest tackler and also one of its best run defenders. Having him close to the ball, especially when the defensive line is being beaten repeatedly, helped to keep some of the Crimson Tide’s second-level rushes from being massive gains.
Here are the formations that didn’t work.
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BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12