ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Media members at Michigan's postgame press conference Saturday were reviewing the sheet of statistics placed on their chairs after Nebraska had ended the Wolverines' 19-game home winning streak.
The line that drew the most interest? The rushing statistics for Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, who had been sacked seven times.
The ugly numbers: 16 carries for minus-32 yards. That was the net result of his gaining 17 yards but losing 49 in Michigan's 17-13 loss to Nebraska.
That's the kind of stat line that will have the local media asking about the plays called by Michigan's offensive staff and whether Gardner held onto the ball too long too many times.
“It's a lot of different things,” Gardner said. “Maybe on a few plays I did hold it a little long. It happens. We have to cut down on the negative plays, keep us in shorter distances.
“I'm the quarterback and I'm trusted to make plays. I didn't make enough plays today to help my football team win.”
Both Gardner and Wolverines coach Brady Hoke said they were fine with the play-calling of Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges even though the Wolverines finished with just 175 yards of total offense.
Several times during the game fans booed the plays called that produced little yardage, especially straight-ahead running plays.
“I liked the play-calling,” Hoke said. “I think we thought we could do some things, and we didn't.”
Michigan finished with 196 passing yards, but the Wolverines' final total rushing number was minus-21 yards on 36 carries. When combined with their Nov. 2 performance against Michigan State, the Wolverines have finished with minus-69 yards rushing the past two games.
“I'm not the offensive coordinator,” Gardner said. “I feel like Coach Borges has a good handle on what to do. I'm going to run what he calls and do my best to make it work.”
Gardner said there were plenty of plays where he believed he and his teammates — who now have lost three of their past four games — could have executed better. Michigan's leading rusher was second string running back Derrick Green, who finished with eight carries for 11 yards.
Hoke tried to shoulder much of the blame for Michigan's struggles by repeating one particular thought six times in the first 4Ĺ minutes of his press conference.
“I've got to do a better job of coaching this football team,” Hoke said. “Guys were working, guys were fighting. … Did we do them well enough? No. That goes on me.”
Hoke said there were several things the 6-3 Wolverines did that he was pleased with. When pressed for specifics, he saluted Michigan's defense for letting Nebraska convert only six of 16 third down plays.
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“Defensively after the first quarter I think they settled in and did a good job,” Hoke said. “Most of the third downs — you want them all — but the critical ones we needed to execute a little better on.”
There were questions on whether Gardner was hobbled after being sacked 14 times the past two games — seven each by Michigan State and the Huskers.
Hoke said the toll of all those hits weren't a problem, saying Gardner's “legs and everything were fine.”
“If I'm out there I'm fine,” he said. “Everybody's beat up in November. There's not a guy out there that's running around fresh unless they haven't played hard and given their all for their team. I'm not the only one that's beat up.”
Neither player nor coach was pleased that the home winning streak had ended.
“Home winning streak, away winning streak, any winning streak, you're disappointed when it's not there,” Hoke said.
Gardner said it always hurts to lose, especially a home game.
“At home, it just puts a little more on top of it,” he said. “We didn't finish, lost at home and ended the streak that we took a lot of pride in.”
With three regular season games and a bowl game to go, Gardner said he and his teammates have only one choice on what needs to happen next.
“We can only go forward,” he said. “We have to get back in tomorrow, watch the film and practice and fix the things we need to fix.”
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Video: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini after the game:
Video: Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong after the game:
Video: Nebraska I-back Ameer Abdullah after the game:
Video: Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory after the game:
Video: Postgame analysis with Sam McKewon: