After familiar loss, Michigan insists things are different

By RALPH D. RUSSO

AP College Football Writer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — No. 14 Michigan looked a lot like the team that went 8-5 last season, struggling to make plays on offense while the defense tries to keep the Wolverines in the game.

In the end, against a rival, they came up short. It all seemed so familiar.

Defensive end Chase Winovich insists Saturday night’s loss to No. 12 Notre Dame did not feel the same to him — and this season won’t be the same for Michigan.

“I think the trajectory is we’re coming together in the locker room … I did note is there wasn’t a lot of blaming. It wasn’t like pointing fingers,” Winovich said. “The defense still feels like maybe going into the game we had some different expectations. But at the end of the day you give up 24 points or whatever we gave up, 24, right? Just puts a lot of pressure on your offense.”

Credit the star defensive end for accountability, and Michigan’s defense did make key mistakes that aided Notre Dame’s offense, but the other side of the ball remains the biggest concern after a 24-17 loss that included one offensive touchdown for the Wolverines.

The Wolverines averaged 4.4 yards per play. Top running back Karan Higdon carried 21 times at 3.4 yards per carry. Michigan’s longest run was 10 yards. The Wolverines allowed three sacks, all game changers. One knocked them out of field goal range. Another turned a second-and-goal from the 2 into third-and-goal from the 10. The last caused Shea Patterson’s fumble with less than a minute left that sealed the game for Notre Dame.

The offensive line was a problem last year and it did not distinguish itself against the Irish, but those sacks were not all on them.

Michigan’s defense mostly lived up to its billing after a shaky start. The Irish averaged 4.4 yards per play, and in the second half managed just 69 yards and five first downs.