Mark Ortmann normally watches film of Michigan's previous game only once or twice.
But a day after the Wolverines lost for the first time this season in a 26-20 overtime thriller against Michigan State, the fifth-year offensive lineman spent his Sunday mulling over game tapes. Not once or twice. But three times.
"I just couldn't figure out, really, why we were so unsuccessful at running the ball," Ortmann said Monday. "I was just trying to analyze it a little more."
Michigan (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) gained only 28 yards on the ground against Michigan State after entering the game as the Big Ten's leading rushing team. And the Wolverines' opponent Saturday, Iowa, hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown this season. The unbeaten Hawkeyes (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) are giving up only 122.2 rushing yards per game.
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said at his weekly press conference Monday that the Wolverines' offense wasn't sharp against Michigan State, failing to get into a rhythm until the game's final 4:03, when Michigan scored twice to force overtime. He said it wouldn't get any easier Saturday at Iowa City.
"When you play a pretty solid team and you're not sharp on the road, it's going to cost you," he said.
Rodriguez said that, coming off the Michigan State loss, the Wolverines' offensive line will face an even bigger challenge against an Iowa team with a defensive line that not only limits the opposition's running game but also puts good pressure on the quarterback.
"They're very sound scheme-wise, you don't see them out of position, they don't make mistakes fundamentally and they're very explosive," he said. "They're very aggressive, they jump the ball well and so it's a good challenge certainly for our guys.
"We'll have to play a lot better than we did this past weekend."
Tailbacks Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown combined for only 10 carries and 17 yards against the Spartans while freshman quarterback Tate Forcier had 13 carries by himself. Forcier, who engineered Michigan's fourth-quarter comeback, ran more than Rodriguez would like following a week in which he didn't practice at full strength after suffering a bruised shoulder against Indiana.
Some of Forcier's carries came on reads when he had the option to get the ball to one of his running backs. But Forcier, who appeared winded late in Saturday's game after taking a shot to the ribs, again factored into a late Michigan comeback attempt.
And although Rodriguez would prefer Minor and Brown get most of the carries, he likes the way his young quarterback has been playing beyond his years, giving Michigan a chance to win late in the game.
"I don't think our guys are the type of guys that are going to panic," Rodriguez said. "I think that's one lesson our guys have learned. We're going to face a lot of adversity in a lot of the games. We're not to the point where we can just mess around and beat people and win convincingly.
"So we're going to face adversity. We just need to hang in there and play the next play."