Michigan's disappointing loss ends '07 National Championship title run
Michigan's run for the 2007 National Title ended before it got started as the Wolverines dropped their first game of the season in a stunning loss to two-time defending Division I-FCS (Football Championship Subdivsion f/k/a I-AA) champion Appalachian State. It is the first time that a Division I-AA team has ever beaten a ranked Division I-A team since the inception of subdivisions in Division I in 1978. Michigan was ranked #5 coming into this game but may drop completely out of the Top 25 rankings as a result of this loss.
Although there was a lot of pre-season hype touting that the Michigan offense was going to be high powered in 2007, the Wolverines struggled to move the ball at key junctures of the game. In particular, Senior quarterback Chad Henne (19/37, 233 yds., 1 int., 1 td.) appeared to be out-of-sync for much of the game. Henne often lacked touch on his passes as he was either under- or overthrowing his receivers all too often. Unfortunately, the Wolverines did not have any viable alternatives to which to turn as Henne's back-ups (Mallett and Cone) have never taken a snap during a college game. Ultimately, the Wolverines relied on the ground game (read: Mike Hart) to get them back into the game. Despite battling an injury suffered early in the game, Hart carried the ball 23 times for 188 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Michigan defense was unable to secure the win for the Wolverines as the Mountaineers took possession of the ball with 1:22 remaining and the Wolverines leading 32-31. Appalachian State drove the length of the field (down to the Michigan 5 yard line) and then kicked the go-ahead field goal with :30 seconds remaining in the game. The inability of the defense to make a stop on the last drive to preserve the win was reminiscent of the problems that plagued the 2005 defense that ultimately led to then-defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann's departure.
After the game, Head Coach Lloyd Carr said the following, "Give Appalachian State credit. I thought they did a great job. I felt that we were not a well prepared football team. That is my job and I take full responsibility for that. We played much better defense in the second half but penalties killed us in this game. They stopped too many drives. In the second half we turned the football over twice and we had penalties that put us into bad down-and-distance situations. We had a bad snap on a two-point conversion. We didn't execute. We simply made too many mistakes and had too many missed opportunities. Now we have to fight back and we have to deal with some adversity to find out what we are made of."
Coach Carr went on to say, "As coaches and players we all have to search and take a look at ourselves, understanding that this is a disappointment. Not only in losing, but to play the way we did, is an even greater disappointment. When you have disappointment you can lay down and feel sorry for yourself, but in our case this schedule is about to get tougher. We will see how we respond."
Michigan fans agree that the loss is a disappointment. It is a bitter pill to swallow because all the hopes and dreams that fans had for a National Championship in 2007 are now up in smoke. (DP at MATW even had 2007 National Championship T-Shirts printed). Worse yet, Michigan is being ridiculed as a national laughingstock for becoming the first ranked team to ever lose to a Division I-AA team. Fans will circle the wagons, so to speak, and ultimately regroup but this loss hurts. It will go down in Michigan Football history as one of the most disappointing losses of all-time. Michigan fans do not like to be embarrassed and today they were served a big dose of humiliation. The fans will want to hold someone responsible and Coach Carr has said that the responsibility for the team not being ready rests with him. As he is considered a lame duck anyway, people will not hesitate to lambaste Coach Carr. This could get ugly quickly. This might be a long season unless the Wolverines can straighten out some of these deficiencies and beat Oregon next week. If not, fans will be calling for Coach Carr to hang it up. Last week people were talking National Championship. Now they are talking 6-6. What a difference a game makes. Go Blue!
*Note: Photo of a dejected Terrance Taylor (67) and Will Johnson (97) by MANDI WRIGHT/Detroit Free Press
Labels: Michigan vs. Appalachian State