October 11, 2009

Karsch: From the sidelines

Michigan field reporter Doug Karsch watched the final, frustrating moments of U-M's loss at Iowa play out on the Kinnick Stadium turf. This is what he saw and heard, in this exclusive to TheWolverine.com.

Here's Karsch…

On why Tate Forcier didn't enter as Michigan quarterback on the final series: "Let me start with this. I did not notice any unusual friction between Tate and [Rich] Rodriguez before the decision was made. There had been a couple of instances where Denard [Robinson] had started to warm up.

"I noticed Tate shaking his hand, as if he'd banged it up on the last series that he played. Now, whether that was the reason he came or not, I don't know. I reported that on the radio, but I did not notice any usual conflict.

"Just like this team has always been, they were all about whoever their quarterback was. Whether Nick Sheridan or Mark Ortmann or somebody, they were pumping up Denard, talking to him on the sidelines, giving high-fives, stuff like that. I did not notice anything other than they just made the switch at quarterback.

"What Lisa Salters reported was that there was a heated exchange. I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary."

On whether there appeared to be any surprise on the sideline that Robinson was in for the final series: "No, I didn't get that at all. Like everybody else, I went 'Hmmm.' A guy who runs, with no timeouts, they're going to go with him to get them into field goal range.

"Obviously, they have confidence in him in running the offense, which includes more than just running down the field. I guess that's putting their money where their mouth is, but I didn't notice any surprise."

On whether he got to go into the locker room: "I did. I did not see either Tate or Denard while I was in there."

On what he did see: "Brandon Graham was doing his best in the locker room to let this team know this season is far from over, and the fight is far from over. They were obviously disappointed. I didn't get the sense that it was worse than last week.

"Graham made it pretty clear to me that he was not going to let this season slip away. You could see the senior and the leader in him."

On Michigan's line play on both sides: "The Iowa defensive front is good. But it is certainly, by no stretch of the imagination a group that dominated. They didn't come anywhere close to dominating. If anything, Michigan got their ground game going and the guys up front got the job done.

"They struggled far more last week than they did this week. It was obvious in terms of the strides they made in running the ball. I'm not convinced about the hype surrounding Iowa … it's all centered around the one game that everybody watched, against a Penn State team with an offensive line that has some questions about it.

"There is no doubt about it. I thought the Michigan line play was excellent. They lost the game - more than anything else -- because they turned it over five times. When they had the chance to get some of those turnovers back … there was a snap that flies over Ricky Stanzi's head, interceptions that were in the hands of Troy Woolfolk and Donovan Warren and Stevie Brown that I bet they think they should make. Those plays were the difference in the game, as far as I'm concerned.

"The game went about as well as could be expected, with the exception of five turnovers."

On the defense: "The Iowa tight ends … when the defense came to the sidelines, Greg Robinson was constantly talking to the secondary, and specifically the safeties. At halftime when I interviewed him, he flat-out said: 'We're young at that position and we've got to shore it up.'

"The job the corners did was outstanding. Iowa came out for some reason and decided to throw at Warren the entire first half, then Troy Woolfolk in the second half. They really didn't get anything consistent out of it.

"But the third-and-24, the two Moeaki touchdown receptions - there was a lot of discussion with the Michigan safeties about letting those balls get over the top, and Greg Robinson mentioned it at halftime."

On the crowd: "So far, the loudest stadium I've been in this year is Michigan Stadium. That was an amped-up crowd that had all day to get fired up for the game. The blackout was awesome, the venue was awesome, but it wasn't louder than Michigan Stadium, and last week wasn't louder than Michigan Stadium.

"It is amazing the different a year makes. I thought it would be on par with these other places, but I truly believe that now Michigan Stadium might be one of the loudest places in the Big Ten."

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