The performance put out by the Michigan Wolverines this evening was tough to understand. While ackowledging a Herculean effort was needed to even stay in their game with Alabama, the concerns regarding the kind of product they were putting out there on the field were not as pronounced. Al Borges, Michigan's offensive coordinator, came over from San Diego State with Brady Hoke last season. In many ways, he took Denard Robinson to places he had never dreamed of in 2011. But he seemingly took the night off at Cowboys Stadium tonight, playing to a conservative gameplan, and not allowing the strengths of the team to manifest outward.
Borges repeatedly chose to run delayed draws out of the shotgun all night, never seeming to provide any sort of momentum for his struggling offense. He also refused to move one of the nation's best runners outside the pocket until after the second half, keeping Robinson from providing the spark that Michigan was desperately seeking. There were missed tackles all night by Wolverine defenders, allowing Alabama to matriculate down the field as if they were elephants running through flowers. Greg Mattison's defense, which made strides last season towards some semblece of respectability, was shredded.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke had all offseason to prepare for this nationally televised game in Jerry Jones' crib. The strategy employed by him and his coaching staff left many Michigan fans stunned and confused, however. The game that brought so many down from Ann Arbor had turned into a nightmare with each and every painfull cautious play. Not running Robinson early in the game allowed the Tide to get comfortable, recognizing what was unfolding in front of them, and deciding to let the Wolverines make their own mistakes.
It ended up being a disappointing way to serve your fans who traveled the twelve-hundred miles to represent the school. The decision to suspend Fitzgerald Toussaint was an important one for Hoke, a poignant gesture to keep the program on its toes. It did end up hurting the Michigan running game, but so did the inexplicable abandonment of designed runs for Robinson. This game serves as a huge learning tool for Hoke and his staff, with the hope being that the gameplan aims to be more aggressive as the season lingers on. What Alabama showed tonight is that Michigan wasn't quite aggressive enough.