NCAA FB

Unranked Michigan can evenly share blame for loss

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)

Brady Hoke took the blame for something in Michigan's 43-40, four-overtime loss to Penn State.

It wasn't conservative play-calling.

The Wolverines were called for delay of game late in regulation, leading to them punting and giving the Nittany Lions a shot to send the game into overtime.

''That's me, totally,'' Hoke said Monday. ''That's my fault. I've got to help (Devin Gardner) and I let him down.''

Michigan didn't call one pass play on its next-to-last last drive of regulation, when it was called for the delay, to get the Nittany Lions to use all of their timeouts. After punting into the end zone, the Wolverines didn't seem to blitz much as Penn State drove 80 yards down the field to send the game to overtime.

The Wolverines did ask Gardner to throw on their next possession and he delivered with two completions for a total of 30 yards to set up Brendan Gibbons 52-yard field goal attempt that was short.

In the first of four overtimes after a defensive stop, Fitzgerald Toussaint ran twice for 1 yard each and Gardner carried it for no gain to set up Gibbons for a 40-yard kick to win the game only to have it blocked.

Gibbons made two field goals in OT and missed one, but Penn State converted a fourth-and-1 from the Michigan 16 and went on to score a game-winning touchdown in the fourth OT.

''I would expect our defense, if we have to make somebody go 80 yards in 52 seconds to make a stop,'' Hoke said.

After watching and analyzing the game, did Hoke think Michigan played was too conservative?

''I would say no,'' he insisted.

The Wolverines (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) will get a chance to bounce back from its first loss on Saturday at home against Indiana (3-3, 1-1).

Michigan's standout left tackle, Taylor Lewan, didn't play in the second half at Penn State - mostly because of a hip injury, Hoke said - but is expected to return against the Hoosiers.

Hoke hopes that helps the team run the ball better, ideally with running backs - not Gardner.

Even though Michigan's best chance on offense appears to be letting Gardner run the ball, Hoke wants to avoid making that a primary plan.

''Who's going to play quarterback if he takes all these hits?'' Hoke asked.

The third-year coach at Michigan is taking some hits for the way his team has played at times this year. Early in his weekly news conference, he talked about how his players didn't perform as expected in critical situations in Saturday's loss.

''We need to execute in multiple areas better,'' Hoke said. ''And when the opportunity comes, you have to take advantage of it and make plays when you need to make plays.

''We didn't do that throughout the game.''

Michigan's weakness going into the season, when it was ranked No. 17, was the interior of its offensive line. Several weeks later, the only thing that has changed is some of the players who have gotten a chance to play left guard and center.

Right tackle Michael Schofield said it was painful to watch film of the Penn State game and see Toussaint getting hit soon after getting the ball in the backfield early and often. And when Schofield found out Toussaint had just 27 yards rushing on 27 carries, it bothered him.

''It kills me to hear that,'' he said. ''We're definitely going to try to improve this week with our fundamentals and techniques to try and get our running game going.''

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage

Tagged: Michigan, Penn State, Brendan Gibbons, Devin Gardner, Fitzgerald Toussaint

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