ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan's defense was supposed to be a strength early in the season while its offense struggled. If the Wolverines' season had started at halftime, maybe everything would be going according to plan right now.
Instead, Utah gained 313 yards in the first half and held on for a 25-23 win Saturday. This was even after the Wolverines held the Utes to 28 yards and two first downs in the second half.
"In the first half, I felt like we had some guys who hadn't played a lot and they were playing a little antsy and slow," linebacker Obi Ezeh said. "There's a lot of things going through your mind and messing up is one of them.
"But you've got to keep thinking that if you mess up, mess up at full speed. Blown assignments are a big part of the game offensively and defensively."
Michigan returned seven starters on defense, but still allowed Utah to gain more than seven yards per play in the first half and move the ball well through the air after finishing last season 81st nationally in passing offense.
The Wolverines brought more pressure against Utah quarterback Brian Johnson and finished the game with six sacks, but the early deficit clearly hurt.
"It was awful in the first half," Rodriguez said. "The second half was a little better."
Ezeh was picked as the Big Ten's defensive player of the week after a career-best 15 tackles and a second-half interception. Brandon Graham, an end, had 3 1/2 of the Wolverines' six sacks. Ezeh and cornerback Donovan Warren, who nearly had an interception, said the second-half unit fans saw Saturday will be back.
"They got a couple big plays because guys weren't in the right spots," Warren said. "In the second half, we had guys lined up in the right places."
The Wolverines welcome Miami (Ohio) on Saturday and Rodriguez declined to name a starting quarterback. Nick Sheridan got the start against Utah and Steven Threet led Michigan on two fourth-quarter scoring drives. Both players struggled at times.
"Nick and Steve both knew the mistakes as soon as they made them," Rodriguez said. "That's the first part, the next part is not going out and making them again."
True freshman Justin Feagin will redshirt this season. Tight end Kevin Koger and receiver Roy Roundtree, also true freshmen, might join the quarterback in taking their first years off.
Rodriguez did not address the status of running back Kevin Grady, who did not dress for the Utah game after pleading guilty to a drunken-driving charge during the offseason.
Receiver Greg Matthews (ankle) and defensive end Ryan Van Bergen (ankle) are day-to-day after being injured against the Utes. Running back Carlos Brown (shoulder) is being evaluated further, but receiver Junior Hemingway (shoulder) and defensive tackle Terrance Taylor (foot) are ready to play, Rodriguez said.
Michigan has won all four meetings with Miami and has never lost to a Mid-American Conference team in 23 games. But that hardly mattered to Rodriguez.
"We're not good enough to play bad and win," he said. "We can't go out, mess around and win."