UMass Recap: Pleasantly Routine

Submitted by Ace on September 15th, 2012 at 7:43 PM

Dave Reginek/Getty Images

A half-empty student section, a press box full of beat writers already finishing their game columns, a field littered with walk-ons and freshmen; with eight minutes remaining in the final stanza, Michigan Stadium exhibited all the telltale signs of a blowout. A one-yard touchdown run by Justice Hayes had just given the Wolverines a 63-13 lead, one that stood as the final margin.

After the last two weeks, this was a welcome sight indeed.

Denard Robinson overcame an ugly pick-six to complete 16-of-24 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns, adding another 105 yards and a touchdown on the ground to lead the way offensively. Robinson spread the ball around to nine different receivers, led by Drew Dileo's 91 yards on three receptions. The stars from last week, Devins Funchess and Gardner, each recorded a touchdown reception—Gardner's on a stellar effort to tightrope the sideline and dive for the pylon—and the enigmatic Roy Roundtree found paydirt for the first time this season.

It was a rebound performance for Fitzgerald Toussaint, as well, as he gained 85 yards on 15 carries, showing off the agility in tight quarters that made him so effective last season; after finding little room to operate against Air Force, Toussaint reached the edge on his 11-yard touchdown in the first quarter with help from an A.J. Williams block. Vincent Smith added a pair of touchdowns from inside the ten, Thomas Rawls doled out more punishment than he took, Justice Hayes recorded his first career score, and Dennis Norfleet made his offensive debut with a 15-yard jet sweep that surely made Brian one very happy blogger.

Michigan fans were even treated to a Fat Guy Touchdown, courtesy of a Taylor Lewan recovery after Denard fumbled into the end zone. Lewan, for his part, appeared more concerned about his quarterback's error than excited for his own fortune, sheepishly pointing his palms towards the sky when the officials belatedly signaled touchdown.

The defense limited UMass to 259 yards of total offense, though there was still reason for concern. The Minutemen doubled their offensive scoring output from their first two games—six points—and strung together three first downs in a drive for the first time this year. This should not cause PANIC, of course—six points, fergodsakes—but there are still issues to be resolved, especially on the interior of the D-line.

UMass got paid. Michigan got a chance to breathe easy and give their backups plenty of run. Now the team can look ahead to Saturday night's matchup with Notre Dame; for today, they can feel content about handling business as expected. With the baby seal emphatically clubbed, it's time to move on to the real season, not unscathed but with the ultimate goal—a Big Ten championship—still within reach.


Sten Carlson

September 16th, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

Nice assessment, but you forgot Norfleet getting in the game with the first team offense and getting a carry on a jet sweep.  He's going to be a special player, IMO, and I have a feeling we're going to see more of him every week, and by the end of the season he's going to be another weapon for Denard.  I'd love to see him get the ball in space, on a quick pass, and see what he can do.


September 16th, 2012 at 1:42 PM ^

Even Coach Hoke didn't seem very happy with the line play during his presser. I think it's ok for folks to constructively criticize certain aspects of the team. As well as ND played in the trenches last night I think it's going to be a tough game. I hope I'm wrong, and that Denard does what he does to ND.


September 16th, 2012 at 6:21 PM ^

I agree with you.  But I think some people need to learn the difference between constructive criticism and bitching.

When coaches or other knowledgeable people point out specific mistakes and point out what a player needs to improve on, that is constructive.  When Brian UFRs the offense and shows how a particular missed block , bad read, or other error led to some disastrous play, that's constructive.  When somebody presents a reasoned argument (i.e., one using facts and logic vs. emotion and vitriol) for starting Bolden over Demens or makes case for Avery over Taylor, even that  is constructive.  Those types of discussions increase our collective interest and understanding of the game (or, at least they seem to).

What I have a problem with are the whiny, "I wish we didn't suck so hard" posts.  "Our line can't block and Denard keeps throwing PIX-6 and other teams run though us like shit through goose I'm so ashamed I wanna die aiigh not happy with 8-4 fuuuuh" = not helpful.     

Generic MGoBlogger

September 16th, 2012 at 8:15 PM ^

Please... people stop whining about what needs to be done.  I think we ALREADY understand that both lines need help and the running backs need to pick up their production. Let's focus on the positives in Denard and the surprising wide receiver production from the past two games.  I'm saying all of this because let's remember about this time last year, we were all fretting about not only our defensive execution but also whether we were going to have an effective offense with Denard trying to run a more pro style offense, not to mention the unknown future of the running backs (Sound familiar?).  But Brady Hoke answered all of these concerns by creating a more effective defensive line, teaching the o-line to create holes for the running backs to navigate, and (mainly Borges) molded the team around Denard to make him more comfortable running the offense.  I am confident that Brady will do the same this season as he did last season to address the concerns regarding the offensive and defensive lines. Don't forget that this is only the THIRD GAME and we had similar concerns last season.  Let's just enjoy the win and look forward to Notre Dame. GO BLUE!