IOWA CITY — In a game characterized by an increasingly familiar offensive shutdown, the Michigan football team’s matchup with Iowa on Saturday started off with a defensive bang.

On the Hawkeyes’ first play of their first possession, redshirt junior linebacker Jake Ryan’s hit on Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock forced a weak throw, and the ball fell into the hands of junior linebacker Brennen Beyer.

Beyer returned the ball seven yards for a touchdown, and the Wolverines took a penalty for excessive celebration.

Beyer later said that defensive coordinator Greg Mattison easily anticipated Iowa’s play-action pass, and that’s why Ryan was in position on the edge.

But that play set a precedent for the Wolverines in the first half — it was one of several defensive plays Michigan had to celebrate early in the afternoon before it let up in the second half.

The defensive show continued when redshirt sophomore cornerback Blake Countess nabbed his fifth pick of the season at the beginning of the second quarter, which put him as the Big Ten’s leader in interceptions. Junior defensive back Raymon Taylor tallied the Wolverines’ third interception of the game.

Then, there were the broken-up passes by fifth-year senior linebacker Cam Gordon and senior defensive tackle Jibreel Black on an Iowa third-and-4 and fourth-and-4, respectively, to end the first quarter.

But for all the impressive defensive plays the Wolverines showcased early on, they couldn’t keep up that same level after halftime. The Hawkeyes came out and made a statement with a 55-yard touchdown pass. Michigan responded with a three-and-out, and its defense was forced to take the field again.

The Hawkeyes dominated the possession battle in the second half, keeping a hold of the ball for over 18 minutes. By the time the game wound down, the Michigan defense was simply overworked and out of steam.

Countess, obviously, didn’t blame Michigan’s lack of offensive production as the reason for the defense’s exhaustion. He also said it wasn’t anything Iowa specifically did differently in the second half that posed a challenge to the defense.

“That’s on us,” Countess said. “We have to get off the field as a defense. That’s just missed opportunities as a defense.”

Though fatigue certainly had something to do with the string of miscues in the second half, Michigan also had to make do without two defensive playmakers. Junior linebacker Desmond Morgan left the game early in the first quarter due to an injury, and sophomore linebacker James Ross III suffered the same fate in the second half.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke did not have any information on the nature of the injuries. Sophomore Joe Bolden and freshman Ben Gedeon entered the game in the duo’s absence.

Whether the late-game lapse was a result of an ineffective offense or missed defensive opportunities, Hoke gave his usual post-game rhetoric that the loss was a full team effort.

“Sometimes the game is going to be taken away from you,” Hoke said. “You have got to be a team. We gave up two touchdowns late in the third quarter that we gave up our lead. We have to hold that lead.”

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