NCF Nation: Jason Olesnavage

Michigan's defense comes out hot

November, 21, 2009
11/21/09
12:42
PM ET
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- One of the weakest units in the Big Ten looks pretty good so far today.

Michigan's maligned defense has held Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes' offense in check. I like Michigan's decision to move Troy Woolfolk back to deep safety after moving him to cornerback midway through the season. The defensive line has shut down Ohio State's run game, and Mike Martin came up with a big sack on Pryor, losing his helmet in the process.

You got the feeling defense would translate into offense for Michigan as Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson led a balanced drive into the red zone. But a questionable third-down call -- I hate the bubble screen -- led to a short field-goal attempt, which Jason Olesnavage missed.

Tough blow there for Michigan as Ohio State still leads 7-0.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


Like most fifth-year seniors, Michigan's Mark Ortmann and Jason Olesnavage have pretty much seen it all.

They've been to the Rose Bowl and lost to Appalachian State. They've handed Florida its only postseason loss under Urban Meyer and endured the worst season in team history last fall. They've experienced a coaching change and been a part of the biggest game in recent Big Ten history at Ohio State in 2006.
 
 Leon Halip/Getty Images
 The Wolverines need Tate Forcier to bounce back from Saturday's loss to Michigan State.


"We’ve been through everything," said Olesnavage, the Wolverines starting kicker. "So from our perspective, I don’t think one loss is going to send us in a downward spiral."

Michigan's old guard isn't the only faction of the team with an inventory of experiences. The Wolverines' freshmen have only five games under their belts and only a few months on a college campus, but arguably no other group of young players in the country has been through more in such little time.

They have dealt with the preseason allegations of NCAA violations against head coach Rich Rodriguez and his assistants, which put Michigan's program under the national microscope leading up to the opener. They have dealt with adversity in games against Notre Dame and Indiana, only to rally back behind their fearless freshman leader, quarterback Tate Forcier. And now they've experienced their first defeat, to a rival no less, as they fell 26-20 in overtime to Michigan State last Saturday.

It was another lesson learned, which Wolverines players hope will pay off as they move on to Saturday night's road showdown against No. 12 Iowa (ABC, 8 p.m. ET).

"We work hard and we deserve what we get," said Ortmann, the Wolverines' starting left tackle. "We didn’t deserve to win on Saturday. Michigan State brought the fight to us, and we weren’t prepared for it. But as tough as it was and as bad as we played as an offense, we still had a chance to win. It gives an inspiration to the rest of the team that we are capable of coming back at any time, if needed, to win a game.

"I think people will go into Iowa with their heads up.”

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