The Michigan Wolverines (1-1) will host UMass (0-2) on Saturday at Michigan Stadium. Kick off is scheduled for 3:42pm and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
UMass is in their first season in FBS and they are now part of the MAC. The Minutemen opened the season with a 37-0 loss at UConn. Last week they were clubbed 45-6 by Indiana. Michigan fans will recognize the Minutemen’s leading rusher, former Wolverine Mike Cox, who has 20 carries for 54 yards. Cox graduated from Michigan last spring after playing from 2008-11 with the Wolverines as a seldom used running back. He enrolled in graduate school at UMass for his final season of eligibility. ”I’m happy for Mike,” Brady Hoke said on Monday. “That he’s getting to finish out his eligibility, getting to play. I’m going to root for Mike every Saturday but this Saturday.”
Michigan is still sorting things out
Michigan fans still aren’t sure what to make of Team 133. After the Alabama loss, many were expecting, or at least hoping, that the Wolverines would pick up a convincing win against Air Force. Instead, the Falcons took Michigan down to the final series and there are seemingly more questions than answers.
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke is concerned about his defensive line. ”First and foremost, our run defense,” Hoke explained Tuesday during the Big Ten coaches teleconference when asked about his primary concern with the team. “Doing a much better job at the point of attack and a much better job of getting off blocks. That’s one of the things that’s a little bit discouraging. We do a decent job of taking on blocks and pad level and those things, but getting off blocks, I don’t think we’ve done a good job with at all.” U-M heads into the UMass game ranked 113th nationally in rushing defense and 93rd in scoring defense. The defense has forced just one turnover.
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Michigan has yet to get their running backs rolling. So far this season, the RBs have toted the ball 27 times for just 57 yards and 0 TDs. Expect to see the offensive game-plan include a concerted effort to get Fitz Toussaint in a rhythm. ”I think it’s important,” Hoke said. “Anytime we can get the running back involved is huge for us. I think when you see that involvement from the running game with him [Toussaint] and Denard, then complementing with the pass game, it’s worked out well for us.”
Taylor Lewan assessed the offensive line’s performance at Monday’s press conference. ”I think it has been better than I first described it,” he said. “At first I was upset because the running back had seven yards, but people don’t get that we also block for Denard (Robinson) too. He had 200-something yards, so that’s successful on our part. But we need to get the running backs going, whether it’s Fitz (Toussaint), Vince (Smith), or anybody.”
Michigan is playing a lot of freshmen. “I think at one time there were six true freshmen on the field together, redshirt freshmen included in that,” Hoke said. “You know, they’re competing. This whole game’s about competition. Guys who are playing well, guys who are earning time, they’re going to play.” Chief among those freshmen who are earning playing time are linebackers James Ross III and Joe Bolden, tight end Devin Funchess, safety Jarrod Wilson, kick returner Dennis Norfleet and defensive linemen Mario Ojemudia and Ondre Pipkins. Joe Bolden ranks 6th on the team in tackles. Devin Funchess had a breakout game last week with 4 receptions for 106 yards and a TD.
So far this season I am 2-0 predicting the outcome of Michigan’s games. Although I did predict a close loss to Alabama and an easy win over Air Force. This is a game Michigan should win by a large margin. If Indiana can go to UMass and pull out a 45-6 win, shouldn’t U-M stomp the Minutemen? I think so. Michigan wins 49-10