‘We were not happy.’ Michigan OL laments second-half vs. Rutgers

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — If you’re a Michigan football fan treating Saturday’s 20-13 win over Rutgers as a loss, you’ve got company.

The Wolverines had built a reputation over three games of being able to run the ball at-will, and though it looked like the maize and blue were going to be able to do the same against Rutgers after the first drive, it came to a screeching halt, especially in the second half.

Time and time again, Michigan ran into a loaded box with the same results — little-to-no gain. After the game, quarterback Cade McNamara was somber, in the same way that you’d see the starting QB react after a loss. Two days later, the offensive line seems to have a similar mentality.

“We were not happy,” redshirt junior left tackle Ryan Hayes said on Monday. “We were obviously happy that we got the dub, but as an O-line, we didn’t put our best performance together in that second half, so we’re definitely going to take this week very seriously. Obviously a huge opponent. We’re going to do everything we can to not let that happen this week.”

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Hayes is obviously disappointed, but Wisconsin on deck, it was good that Michigan learned a lesson against Rutgers instead of in Madison this upcoming Saturday. The Badgers have the nation’s best run defense currently, allowing just 23 yards per game. Notre Dame rushed 32 times this past week for just 3 yards.

For the moment, with a big game coming up, this was the eye-opener that the offensive line needed.

“I think in the long run it’ll be good to see what we did in the scheme and clean it up,” Hayes said. “We just didn’t have that same energy coming out in the second half. We’ve just gotta do better.”

That said, it wasn’t necessarily surprising. Rutgers loaded the box with defenders and dared Michigan to pass — which it both refused to do and couldn’t do when it tried. But Hayes is confident that the Wolverines can do both under normal circumstances and that this was a special circumstance of the team not performing as well as it could or should have.

“I wouldn’t say we were shocked, obviously we were disappointed and we weren’t executing,” Hayes said. “I think we can run the ball, pass the ball when we want. We weren’t shocked, we just weren’t executing.”

For now, as the team readies to study film on Monday and get onto the practice field on Tuesday, Hayes says that they’re prepared to take on the vaunted Wisconsin defense, knowing that it will be an even tougher challenge than Rutgers was on Saturday.

“Every year when we face Wisconsin, we know they’re going to be one of the best defenses we face all year,” Hayes said. “We have to take this week as seriously as we can. We’re just gonna have our best week of practice and get ready.”

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