ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- As if minus-48 rushing yards weren’t quite enough of a bruise to the Michigan offensive line's ego against Michigan State, left tackle Taylor Lewan needed to add insult to injury. Or maybe, just another injury as cameras caught him in the act of twisting the face mask of Michigan State senior safety Isaiah Lewis during the Wolverines' 29-6 loss on Saturday.
The Big Ten is looking into it right now, but Michigan coach Brady Hoke said that he doesn’t think Lewan deserves a suspension. And that if he did believe that, he would’ve already suspended the captain himself.
Lewan said the Lewis face mask twist happened at a time when he was trying to keep quarterback Devin Gardner safe in the middle of a dogpile.
However, that wasn’t the only time Lewan’s emotions got the better of him during the loss.
“It’s tough at times, definitely when you’re in a huge rivalry game like Michigan-Michigan State,” Lewan said. “A couple of those face mask deals were on accident. ... A couple of those were very blatant and I apologize for that. There are different ways to go about it, but I lost my composure for a second. That’s not OK to do. That’s not representing the University of Michigan the way it should be. That’s not taking pride in the rivalry that we have with Michigan State.”
Hoke said he and Lewan had a discussion regarding Lewan’s in-game behavior and Hoke made it clear that it was unacceptable for any player, especially a captain, to behave that way.
“It’s not what we want to portray or be,” Hoke said. “It’s not who we are.”
Lewan agreed and described his own actions as “poor and immature.” He said he tried to find Lewis following the game to apologize but couldn’t find him. However, Lewan said he also believes Lewis understands.
“I think he would agree with me that it’s the heat of a rivalry game,” Lewan said. “That’s not who I am off the field.”
The scene is strangely reminiscent of two seasons ago when, following a very physical Michigan-Michigan State game, the discussion was about possible sanctions as well. Only then, Lewan was the victim of a William Gholston punch to the neck.
Gholston suffered a one-game suspension for his actions. But Lewan said he didn’t think he could compare the two incidents.
“I don’t know how similar or how different they really are,” Lewan added.
But he has owned up to his actions and did seem genuinely apologetic Monday after having seen the plays.
"There's no other way to make it look like I'm a good person in that situation," Lewan said. "That was inappropriate of me. That's not representing Michigan well."