Wolverines regroup after first loss

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- No one expected the Wolverines to remain perfect forever.

But maybe far too many expected it to end like this. It was déjà vu -- a defense that couldn't stop the Spartans' run game and a Michigan offense that looked spotty at best.

Through the past two seasons, Michigan players came out of their loss to the Spartans saying they'd use it as fuel, only to end up stumbling, if not falling on their faces, through the rest of the schedule.

"I think it's easy to say, 'Oh, it's the same Michigan team as the last two years,' " junior safety Jordan Kovacs said. "But I have no doubt in my mind that we're not. We're going to improve. We're going to learn from this game."

With next Saturday off, the Wolverines will have nearly two weeks to learn from their mistakes against the Spartans and prepare for Purdue.

But even Kovacs couldn't ignore the fact that this bye week comes at an opportune moment for a team that got beaten up by the Spartans. And while he said he was mentally ready to move on and play again, he also noted that he and his teammates would appreciate an extra week to prepare physically and rehab their bodies before heading into the brunt of the Big Ten schedule.

But perhaps the player who needs to recover the most before Michigan hits the field again is junior quarterback Denard Robinson, who, after electrifying crowds through the first six games, showed against Michigan State that he is quite human.

"We've got to move forward and learn from this game," Robinson said. "That's the biggest thing -- learning from this game and playing Michigan football."

Coach Brady Hoke used the same expression, saying this team will bounce back from a Spartans loss differently than past teams have, because it will react like a Michigan football team should. And that, according to Hoke, means coming in to work.

Michigan is second in the Big Ten's Legends Division behind Michigan State (2-0). However, the Wolverines' wins came over Northwestern and Minnesota, the two teams at the bottom of the six-team division.

After its bye week, Michigan will play two more games in its division -- against Nebraska and Iowa -- and three cross-division games.

An important part of the Wolverines being mentally ready for the rest of their season is being able to focus on this tough loss, according to the coach.

"They need to feel this one," Hoke said. "We all need to feel this one for a while. But, we'll turn the page."

Chantel Jennings covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. She can be reached at jenningsespn@gmail.com or or on Twitter @chanteljennings.