The Michigan Wolverines were pounded by Alabama in a 41-14 season opening loss on Saturday night. U-M was in the game briefly as they forced a three and out on Alabama’s first possession. On the ensuing drive, Michigan picked up a first down and showed signs that they were going to move the ball. Then a 15 yard face mask penalty on Taylor Lewan forced the Wolverines into a 3rd and 26 which lead to a punt. Alabama proceeded to reel off 31 unanswered points and the game was essentially over by halftime.
The Wolverines imploded with 8 penalties for 99 yards, 3 interceptions – including a pick six – and a slew of missed tackles. Alabama was bigger, faster, more confident and better than Michigan. “Obviously, we didn’t play Michigan football, and that is something that bothers our team, bothers the coaches,” Brady Hoke said in the postgame press conference. “I don’t think we played or tackled well enough on defense. We didn’t control the line of scrimmage enough offensively, (we had too many) penalties. I mean, we had a lot of penalties, and that’s usually not like us, so that is bothersome and we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a lot of things to correct.”
The highlights for U-M were few and far between. Will Hagerup punted 6 times for a 51.3 yard average. He also boomed a 62 yard punt in the game. Dennis Norfleet looks like a promising kick returner. Jeremy Gallon hauled in 4 passes for 107 yards.
Denard Robinson struggled with his passing, completing 11 of 26 for 200 yards with 1 TD and 2 interceptions. He only rushed the ball 10 times for 27 yards and a TD. Robinson’s touchdown pass was a 44 yarder to Devin Gardner.
Michigan was unable to get their ground game going with 69 yards on 29 attempts.
Cornerback Blake Countess left the game with a leg injury and did not return. Taylor Lewan was also injured late in the game, but according to reports he should be ok.
As painful as this loss is, it’s not the end of the world for Michigan. “They kicked our butts, but at the end of the day, our overall goal is to go to the Rose Bowl and win the Big Ten Championship,” Jordan Kovacs said after the game. “Oregon lost this game last year and did the same thing.”
The Wolverines will play their home opener on September 8th against Air Force, they will host UMass the following week and conclude the non-conference portion of their schedule with a trip to Notre Dame on September 22nd. Michigan will challenge for the Big Ten title.
Fifteen Wolverines made their collegiate debut against Alabama. James Ross III, Russell Bellomy, Sione Houma, Jarrod Wilson,Mario Ojemudia, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Jack Miller, Amara Darboh, Devin Funchess, Ondre Pipkins, Dennis Norfleet, Joe Bolden, Keith Heitzman, Terry Richardson and A.J. Williams.
Three players made their first career start. Brennen Beyer, Elliottt Mealer, and William Campbell.