Jordan Glasgow remembers his first tough loss at Michigan — the infamous “trouble with the snap” play that doomed the Wolverines against Michigan State his freshman year. But they didn’t let it stick with them, winning their next four games — including three on the road — before losing to Ohio State to finish 9-3. Michigan capped it all off with a win in the Citrus Bowl.
Last year, the Wolverines did something similar, dropping their opener at Notre Dame before ripping off a 10-game winning streak to finish 10-2 with a loss to the Buckeyes and a berth in the Peach Bowl.
Neither of those things guarantee that Michigan will do the same this year. After all, the Wolverines looked much worse against Wisconsin on Saturday than they did in their previous early-season losses. But Michigan players still remember that they’ve rebounded before, and going forward, the only thing left to do is believe they can do it again.
“There have been a lot of tough losses since I’ve been here and I don’t think we’ve let any of those losses really define us,” said fifth-year senior linebacker Jordan Glasgow. “ … I feel like we can go on to be a successful team and we can improve going forward.”
The Wolverines pointed out again and again Monday that all their goals are still ahead of them. Every Big Ten East winner since division realignment in 2014 has had at least one loss, and losing to a West team like Wisconsin means that it could still hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against other East foes. And Michigan will enter the easiest part of its schedule: home games with Rutgers and No. 14 Iowa and a road trip to Illinois.
Those games could provide a good opportunity to get back on track, but could is the operative word. The Wolverines have shown little cohesion so far, and they’ve struggled to handle in-game adversity. There are multiple areas that need fixing, from run blocking to turnovers to defensive line play. But there’s now plenty of the bad stuff on film for Michigan to learn from. The trick now is to stay mentally strong enough to not get discouraged.
“I’m kinda looking at this loss as a learning moment,” said fifth-year senior offensive lineman Jon Runyan. “I’ve had some hard losses here, this one is early on in the season. It’s against a Big Ten West opponent. Everything we want is still ahead of us.
“We can’t lose another game. It’s tough losing a game in the Big Ten already, but we’ve got everything ahead of us. Can’t dwell on this too much or we’re not gonna be moving forward.”
Runyan noted how the Badgers were able to dictate what the Wolverines did offensively, forcing them to throw the ball way more than they were comfortable with. Against the Scarlet Knights, the first item on Runyan’s agenda is to force Rutgers’ defense to react to Michigan’s offense, rather than the other way around.
But after the Wolverines are done with their film study, there’s no reason to dwell on Wisconsin anymore. If there’s any hope of still reaching the goals they constantly speak of, they’ll have to keep that game in the past and just keep moving forward.
“It was a bad day for Michigan,” said Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. “And I don’t want that to turn into two losses, don’t let one loss turn into two. … This week (is) the most important. Win the next game, come back to work and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”