Observations on the Alamo Bowl loss to Nebraska, 28-32!

1-My first point needs to be real clear: Nebraska won this game because they had more desire to win it.

2-We had 6 red zones for 28 points, but Nebraska held us scoreless on two red zones including our last drive. Nebraska had 3 red zones for 17 points, but the last red zone was created off a Michigan turnover for the winning touchdown. Our offense turned the ball over twice in the last two possessions, and Nebraska capitalized for the winning score. Michigan has 7 points off two turnovers compared to 7 points for Nebraska off 3 turnovers including two late in the 4th quarter. Our defense didn't finish and our offense didn't finish; consequently, our team didn't finish.

3-Henne was 21 of 43 for 262 yards, 3 TDs, 1 interception, 1 fumble, 4 sacks, and 38 net yards on 14 carries for a TD. Avant ended up with 8 catches for 90 yards, but a costly late fumble after a catch. Manningham had 3 catches for 37 yards and a TD. Ecker and Massey also caught TDs. Offense had 23 first downs, 395 net yards on 85 plays, but only 133 yards in net rushing. Hart managed 74 yards in 19 carries, and 2 screens for 35 yards. We were 6 of 19 in 3rd and 4th down conversions, and held a 3:00 time of possession advantage that resulted in a 17 play advantage; however, we didn't capitalize because of late turnovers. We fumbled the ball 4 times, and lost it twice; both late in the 4th quarter.

4-Special Teams really look bad! Rivas missed a 25 yard field goal and the interception took us out of a field goal chance. Ryan kicks one out of bounds, and punts 7 times for a 34.4 yard average with virtually no hang time. It was easily Ryan's worst game this year. We take an offside on the opening kickoff.

On the bright side, Steve Breaston had 7 punt returns for 68 yards, and 4 kickoffs for 145 yards setting us up with great field position early in the game when we needed it after falling behind. His 213 yards in returns really helped. He was credited with 224 yards on 13 touches with a pass and a reverse (-2). We did a nice job negating their punt return game by Nunn and Grigsby until the last one that went for 28 yards. Nebraska kicks their only field goal attempt and hits their 2 point conversion to gain the special teams advantage in this game.

5-Our defense said before the game they were challenging themselves to finish the game, and didn't meet the challenge. On the bright side, we did get 5 sacks. We did hold Nebraska to 15 first downs, and forced them into 8 punts. On the dark side, Taylor still passed for 3 TDs and a 2 point conversion, and didn't flinch after throwing 2 interceptions, being sacked 5 times or being hit hard several times. Taylor ended up 14 of 31 for 167 yards, 4 or 17 in 3rd and 4th down conversions and 318 yards in total offense with 67 plays. Most importantly, they were 3 of 3 in the red zone for 17 points. Cory Ross gained 161 yards on 28 carries, and the Huskers netted 151 total yards. They outrushed us, and did so in the critical part of the 4th quarter when they needed to. When we needed to run time off the clock in the 4th quarter; we couldn't do it. Terrence Nunn came through with 4 catches for 93 yards and 2 TDs.

Brandon Harrison has really had a poor first half allowing the missed tackle on Nunn to result in the 52 yard score, and taking the stupid late hit on Ross on their last drive. Leon Hall had a great game with the two interceptions, and was named the game's defensive MVP. Willis Barringer led our defense with 9 tackles.

We are still not getting the linebacker play we need to have a solid defense. How many times did you hear Chris Graham's name called? Graham ended up with 2 tackles. I don't know why John Thompson didn't play more at WILL. I think David Harris played an excellent game at MIKE with 8 tackles, two for loss and contributed on one sack. Alan Branch also had 8 tackles including 5 tackles for loss including 1.5 sacks. Prescott Burgess had 4 tackles and 2 pass break ups, but didn't look very impressive. Pat Massey had his usual 2 tackles. Lamar Woodley only had 3 tackles; he was in on one sack and had one pass deflection.

Our safety play is atrocious. We really need some help at these positions and/or a higher level of play from our current players. Jamar Adams had 2 tackles, Harrison had 3 including a TD saver and Engelmon had one tackle. I wish there was a way statistics could be kept on missed tackles; we'd lead the nation in that one. I think Hall is a solid corner, but all the other positions are really not very solid; some may consider these positions even weak.

I think it was good we played Nebraska since it showed our team how team defense needs to be played in relentless fashion. Our defense does not play for 60 minutes, and definitely takes plays off. Our defense does not tackle well, and takes poor angles in the open field.

6-Nebraska's defense won the game for them forcing two late turnovers. Corey McKeon led their defense with 11 tackles, 2.5 for loss and a fumble recovery. Dan Bullocks had 8 tackles. Courtney Grigsby, Le Kevin Smith, Lance Brandenburg and Adam Ickes had 5 tackles each. Ickes and Blake Tiedke forced fumbles in the 4th quarter. I'd say the only bright side to our offensive line play against the Huskers was Adam Stenavich's handling of Adam Carriker; he was only credited with one tackle and one tipped pass.

We were not able to establish any running game, and we took four sacks and they forced 3 turnovers. They stopped us cold in two red zones, and thwarted another scoring opportunity with an interception. I was very impressed with Bowman; he did great in cover and stopped our drive in the end zone with his pick and had 2 more pass break ups to his credit. Actually, in the second quarter, the interference call in the end zone on Avant ended up as a great play for Nebraska because it turned a sure touchdown into zero points after Rivas missed the field goal.

7-Yes, I'd agree that it was the worst NCAA Division I game I've ever seen officiated. The officials were pathetic, and the Sunbelt crew should never be allowed to officiate games out of their league. The final play of the game showed how out of control they were. The initial TD call on the pass to Nunn that was overturned showed the official had the perfect angle so the review should have never been necessary. We were forced to use our second half time outs to force reviews when the technology was there. They also didn't review the first half fumble by Ross that we recovered.

8-On the player participation, it was too bad that Jerome Jackson and Tim Massquoi couldn't play due to injuries so Hart, Grady and Bradley had to shoulder the load at running back and Ecker and Massey at tight end. It is also too bad that Arrington, Martin and Germany didn't travel with the team because of unspecified violations.

We didn't miss Arrington because Bass did a nice job, and Martin wouldn't have played anyways because of his fumble issues. Germany was redshirting so he was a non-factor for playing time.

We sure took some dumb penalties: two facemasks by Watson and Mason, a hold by Lentz, not being on the line of scrimmage by Long, Harrison's late hit. Nebraska also took some dumb penalties, 9 for 76 yards.

Another note, Gabe Watson didn't start his final game as a Wolverine; Branch started at Nose Tackle and Woods started at Defensive End. Tim Jamison and Rondell Biggs did a nice job off the bench. Morgan Trent didn't play in the backfield or on special teams in the game. I wonder why as he played in all 11 previous games; the only reasonable explanation is some type of injury.

9-Lloyd Carr and staff were outcoached by Bill Callahan and staff, and Nebraska deserved and earned the win; it is better to finish 8-4 than 7-5. Carr is now 0-2 in the Alamo, and Nebraska is 5-0. We are now 7-7 in our last 14 games, and virtually every loss has been an inability to finish games. Yes, I'd say this is our worst team since the 6-6 1984 team.

The play call early to isolate Nunn on Harrison worked to give them the lead, and the 4th quarter showed poise and confidence on the Cornhuskers part to finish with swagger. The Michigan players started their swagger with 11 minutes to go, and didn't finish with swagger. Malone's early play call on the isolation play to Ecker was also an excellent call.

10-Final note! Nebraska beat us 4 times this Fall: wrestling, football, women's basketball and volleyball.

Observations on the first half with Nebraska, 14-14!

1-It was obvious at the start of this game which team came more prepared to play and which team was more physical, yes, Nebraska!

2-We had 3 red zones for 14 points thanks to Steve Breaston's great returns and Leon Hall's great interceptions while Nebraska earned one red zone on an end of the half, 7 play, 80 yard drive for 7 points. Michigan has 7 points off turnovers compared to zero for Nebraska.

3-Henne is 9 of 19 for 84 yards, 2 TDs, 3 sacks, but 9 net yards on 8 carries with some nice scrambles keeping drives alive. Manningham and Ecker have 2 catches each, and Ecker and Massey caught TDs. Offense has 11 first downs, 130 net yards on 41 plays and only 46 yards in net rushing. This really isn't running the ball down "their throats." We are 2 of 8 in 3rd down conversions. We held a 4:30 time of possession advantage, but lost the score advantage on their last drive.

4-Special Teams really look bad! Rivas misses a short field goal. Ryan kicks one out of bounds, and punts for a 33.4 yard average with virtually no hang time. We take an offside on the opening kickoff. Steve Breaston has 3 punt returns for 31 yards, and 2 kickoffs for 95 yards setting us up with great field position early in the game when we needed it after falling behind. We have done a nice job negating their punt return game by Nunn and Grigsby.

5-Our defense has done a decent job, but didn't look good on that last drive. We had two turnovers with the Leon Hall picks, but only created points on one of two red zone attempts. Pass rush has created two sacks, but Ross still has 59 yards on 12 carries. Nebraska has 192 yards in total offense in 35 plays with 2 of 9 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Zach Taylor has 2 TD passes to Nunn and Swift, and is 10 of 19 for 134 yards; he seemed unfazed by Hall's picks. Brandon Harrison has really had a poor first half allowing the missed tackle on Nunn to result in the 52 yard score, and taking the stupid late hit on Ross on their last drive. Our defense is making their 95th rated offense look good. We did hold them to 8 first downs, forced 3 punts and 2 turnovers, but also allowed them 2 TDs.

5-Nebraska's defense is "eating us for breakfast." We certainly aren't going to establish any running game, and we'll probably take some more sacks. I just hope we don't turn the ball over. Henne did fumble, but he recovered it. Penalties have hurt both teams, and unless our offense can respond in the second half, I don't like our chances.

Alamo Bowl Preview: Michigan vs. Nebraska

Offensively, the Huskers have had a challenging year. They were 109th of 119 NCAA Division I teams in rushing with only 91 yards per game, and only 9 TDs on the ground. Their total offense was 95th with 320 yards per game and they were 76th in scoring offense. Their passing game was better than Michigan's with nearly 230 yards per game ranking them 48th nationally. They are led by Junior quarterback and Wake Forest transfer, Zac Taylor and Sophomore widout Terrance Nunn. Taylor's other favorite targets are Redshirt Frosh, Nate Swift, and dimunitive Senior, Cory Ross, with 6 and 3 TDs respectively. Ross is their leading rusher and made 2nd team All Big 12; he and Frosh Cody Glenn have 4 rushing TDs each. The Nebraska offensive line has been developing, but they are led by former Michigan recruit, Redshirt Freshman Lloyd Murtha, at Left Tackle and Junior Center, Kurt Mann. They have a young, athletic offensive line with only one Senior, Brandon Koch, at Right Guard. Nebraska was 11th in the Big 12 in 3rd down conversions, 9th in red zone offense and 11th in sacks allowed with 33.

Their defensive is another story. They are solid, and they have kept the team in a lot of games this year. They are anchored by two Senior tackles, Le Kevin Smith and Titus Adams. Nebraksa led the nation with 46 sacks, 115 tackles for loss and 107 quarterback hits in 2005; compare this to Michigan's 59 tackles for loss, 19 sacks and 9 quarterback hits. Their rushing defense was ranked 28th nationally allowing only 123 yards per game. Their passing defense was ranked 38th allowing 202 yards per game, and total defense was ranked ahead of Michigan at 25th nationally allowing 326 yards per game. Their leading tackler is Sophomore Corey McKeon with 87 tackles and 19 for loss including 7 sacks, 7 pass break ups, 11 quarterback hits and 3 interceptions. Junior Defensive End, Adam Carriker, leads the Cornhuskers in sacks with 9.5 in his 17 tackles for loss plus 19 quarterback hits; he earned 2nd team All Big 12. The other defensive end, Jay Moore, is also a solid player with 14 tackles for loss, 9 quarterback hits, 3 forced fumbles and 3 sacks. Senior Strong Safety, Dan Bullocks, made 2nd team All Big 12 and is their 3rd leading tackler. Unfortunately for Nebraska, their 2nd leading tackler, Bo Ruud, will miss the game; he is replaced by Sophomore Lance Brandenburg. Their pass defense had 12 interceptions and 70 pass break ups as compared to Michigan's 10 interceptions and 37 pass break ups. Nebraska led the Big 12 in red zone defense allowing only 14 touchdowns in 36 attempts. One thing for sure, Nebraska will be coming after Henne on every play.

Their special teams are led by Terrence Nunn who has averaged nearly 20 yards per return on 15 returns ranking him #3 nationally. Former Michigan recruit and starting cornerback, Courtney Grigsby has 30 returns, and is averaging over 10 yards per return. Grigsby and Bullocks led the Husker defense with 10 pass break ups each. Freshman Jordan Congdon has been accurate and solid as a placekicker with 18 of 22 on field goals and 28 of 29 in extra points. He leads the Cornhuskers in scoring as Rivas does for Michigan. Senior Sam Koch averaged almost 46 yards per punt, and was #3 nationally in net punting. Breaston will have a difficult time getting started on kickoffs and punt returns with great Cornhusker coverage on special teams. Nebraska has blocked 5 kicks or punts this year compared to Michigan's two blocks. Former Illinois and Oakland Raider Head Coach, Bill Callahan, will have Nebraska ready to play Michigan in this "building block" game.

Michigan stops the Husker running game, and capitalizes on turnovers to win, 24-10!

Alamo Bowl Game Notes

Alamo Bowl: Nebraska Preview

Alamo Bowl: Michigan Preview

ESPN Alamo Bowl Preview

CBS Sportsline

College Football News Alamo Bowl Preview

Yahoo NCAA Football Alamo Bowl Preview

GoBlueWolverine's Husker Tale of the Tape

Josh Turel on Scout.com

Staff Predictions on The Wolverine

Online Football Playbook

FoxSports: Fearless Alamo Bowl Prediction