Monday, September 17, 2012

Game Review: UMass

For anybody who had any kind of doubt that the Wolverines would dominate this game, I'm sure those feelings were erased around the 15 minute mark of the first quarter. And I'm sure I won't be the only one to admit that it was nice to witness such a lopsided victory because of that feel-good emotion at the end of the day.

This game was never even close, but that does not mean it was useless. In fact, I think this was the perfect tune up game for this Saturday against Notre Dame. As I mentioned in my preview of this game, it was a great opportunity to fix some things that were really haunting the Wolverines through the first two weeks.

For starters, the offensive and defensive lines were far below average against Alabama and Air Force. In fact, it was plain ugly. Both lines are undersized and not very deep, but that doesn't necessarily mean they can't excel. It just so happens Alabama and Air Force are two of the top rushing teams in the nation. Playing a program like UMass was great for those big boys up front, giving them the confidence they need heading into the rest of the season.


The Wolverines pulled it completely together for this one. 63-13 is quite lopsided to say the least, but it was extremely important to be able to run through the basic fundamentals of their game before heading into the meat of the schedule.

The first thing I noticed about Michigan's play was how Denard Robinson went back to being... well... Denard Robinson. And it wasn't just the running I was impressed with. He became a fairly accurate passer and displayed his off season progress all game long.

Robinson threw for maybe the most conventional 291 yards of his career. There was no chucking the ball down field to see who might come up with it. It was sitting in the pocket, running through his progression, then delivering an accurate ball (most of the time). He was also able to bust out for 106 yards on the ground, something we've grown used to.

Something I mentioned in my keys to the game for Michigan was how Fitz Toussaint needed to have an impact on the offense this week. Let's fact it; we were all disappointed with his first week back from suspension against Air Force. And while Brady Hoke mentioned how they did not give him enough carries, 85 yards on 15 attempts is a huge step in the right direction.

And finally, acting as the icing on the cake for Week 3: the offensive and defensive lines. Although this isn't where they need to be in order to compete at a high level in the Big Ten, they showed a lot of improvement from the beginning of the season.

The offensive line consistently opened up gaps for Toussaint and Robinson to burst through. But the best thing I saw was the pocket created for Robinson. It was crazy the amount of time he had to sit in the pocket, and that led to a lot of nice things in the passing game. They knew their assignments and did very well as a unit.


The MinuteMen did not have very much success against the Wolverines on Saturday. The offense looked okay at time, using former Wolverine RB Michael Cox to lead the charge, but it was not near enough to hang with a Michigan offense led by Denard Robinson.

In my keys to the game for UMass, I mentioned how they just needed to simply hold up on defense. There was no magic number for me in my book; the goal was to not let the lid come off. I think you can classify giving up 63 points as letting the lid off.

I also thought they tried to force the passing game. It was no secret heading into Saturday that the weakness on the Michigan defense was up front, and any success found would have to be on the ground. They spent too much time trying to get Mike Wegzyn going through the air. It looked like they simply just forgot about attacking on the ground.

Overall, we can't forget that this is a football program still looking to find its identity. 13 points was by far the most they had put up in a single game so far this season, and both Quarterbacks who took snaps were completely inexperienced. They could have done some things better, in my opinion, to help themselves, but it wasn't like they had a surprisingly bad game.

Lesson Of The Game

If we learned anything in a 63-13 blow out win in Week 3, it was this: Fitzgerald Toussaint is showing that he will be a key factor once again for this Michigan offense.

It is absolutely vital that Toussaint is able to duplicate his production from 2011 if the Wolverines want to accomplish their 2012 season goals. Obviously, this offense clicks much better with him in the game, and his a great compliment to Denard Robinson.

If he continues to take these steps forward, defenses will have a very difficult time trying to find a way to contain both him and Denard Robinson, spelling success for the Wolverines.

Tyler's Prediction Record: 3-0

Notes: 8 different Wolverines scored a touchdown in Saturday's action against UMass.

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