The Michigan football team will play host to Akron on Saturday, with a kickoff set for 12:01. Coming off of Michigan’s 400th win at Michigan Stadium against rival Notre Dame, the Wolverines will look to continue their early season success in a game that it should win handily. The non-conference game is the first meeting in the history of the schools.
Brady Hoke likes donuts
Michigan (2-0) comes into the contest as a 35.5 point favorite over Akron (1-1) and there is a good chance that they cover that spread. The Wolverines should control all facets of this game and get some of the second and third string guys in for experience before this game is over.
When asked about the matchup against Akron, Brady Hoke mentioned that there was still a lot for them to work on.
“Well, it’s a glazed donut game. Starts at noon. We like those games,” said Hoke. “Our team has been pretty focused on ourselves and what we need to do.”
The offense: Gardner loves Gallon
Devin Gardner, wearing his new No. 98 jersey in honor of former Michigan legend Tom Harmon, played a near perfect game last Saturday against the Irish (if you forget about that interception in the end zone). The redshirt junior quarterback threw for 294 yards and 4 touchdowns and ran for another 82 plus a touchdown last week. The small, yet mighty Jeremy Gallon was on the receiving end of 184 of those yards. Michigan fans should get used to seeing these two to mesh this well all season.
However, on Saturday, look for some other guys to get some looks. Freshman receiver Jehu Chesson has provided some solid downfield blocking in the first two games, especially on Gallon’s long touchdown reception last week. This game against the Zips could be a good chance for him to get some chances to catch the ball.
Joe Reynolds was limited against Notre Dame because of an injury from Week 1. Look for him to see some more action this week. Other guys that could get some more looks this week are Jeremy Jackson, tight end Jake Butt, and even Dennis Norfleet from the slot position.
Fitzgerald Toussaint carried the load for the Michigan running game and did an admirable job against a strong Notre Dame defensive line. He gained 77 yards on 22 carries for the Wolverines. Derrick Green was the only other Michigan back to get a carry and he lost a yard on the play. Expect to see a number of the other guys get carries, including Green, Thomas Rawls, Justice Hayes, and De’Veon Smith. Fitz will see his fair share of carries, but I think the starters will be exiting this game early.
Enter Shane Morris. The freshman quarterback played nearly a whole quarter in Michigan’s opener against Central Michigan. Save for an overthrown pass that was intercepted, Morris was pretty solid in his debut. This matchup will give him another opportunity to see some game action.
The defense: Good, not great (yet)
The Michigan defense allowed 410 yards to Notre Dame a week ago, but overall played pretty well. Fortunately, Brian Kelly decided to stop running the ball, because the Irish had some pretty good success with it. In the post-game press conference, Brady Hoke said he was pleased with the play of the secondary in particular. Blake Countess intercepted two passes from Tommy Rees, including the game-sealer in the final minutes, proving how much the Wolverines missed him last year.
Heading into this week, expect a lot of guys to see playing time. Senior captain Courtney Avery could see some more action after being limited to only a handful of plays last week. Avery is recovering from a knee scope. Jarrod Wilson started his second straight game last week, so I expect to see him out there again. Raymon Taylor was picked on a little bit by Notre Dame, as they targeted him early and often. Taylor handled the pressure well and will continue this trend against the Zips. Dymonte Thomas, one of the stars from the Central game could also see some playing time outside of the special teams game this week as well. Delonte Hollowell also saw quite a bit of playing time last week so I expect him to be on the field quite a bit this weekend.
The backers turned in what I believed to be a sub-par performance. Between Desmond Morgan, Cam Gordon and James Ross III, they totaled just 15 tackles. I definitely look for them to improve their performance on Saturday.
The primary concern in the Michigan defense looking forward was the play of the defensive line, its pass rush in particular. Rees was sacked just once last week and the pressure on him was very limited. Brennan Beyer recorded the team’s only sack.
Rumors were circulating heading into the ND game that Quniton Washington would not be in uniform, but he was. Perhaps he wasn’t at full strength last week, but look for the defensive front to generate more pressure this week. Frank Clark was expected to do big things this year but has been limited through two games this season. I believe the D-line will bounce back and really make things tough for Akron quarterback Kyle Pohl.
Special teams: Gibbons is the man
Senior kicker Brendan Gibbons doesn’t miss. He has made 14 consecutive field goals dating back to last season. Matt Wile shanked a couple of punts against Notre Dame and averaged just over 30 yards per punt. I don’t see this to be a regular trend. Norfleet still scares me on punt returns. Look out when he happens to catch one, though.
The opposition: Akron Zips
The Zips head into Saturday after dropping a game to Central Florida 38-7 and winning their home opener last weekend 35-33 against James Madison. The win against James Madison snapped a 10-game losing streak dating back to last season.
Offensively, the Zips appear to be pretty balanced overall. Both Kyle Pohl and Nick Hirschman have taken snaps for the Zips, with Pohl as the primary QB. Pohl has completed 30 of the 43 passes he has thrown for 241 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hirschman is 8 of 14 for 162 yards and 3 scores.
Jawon Chisolm, D.J. Jones and Connor Hundley are the three running backs that have carried the ball for Akron. On paper, none of them really stand out from one another. I expect them all to get a good number of carries Saturday. The same can be said of their receivers as over 10 guys have caught passes.
The Akron defense has allowed 74 points and 974 yards through its first two games of the season. That does not bode well for them heading into The Big House with the Wolverines playing at such a high level.
Michigan will handle Akron with ease and cruise to a 49-10 victory and improve its record to 3-0. Next week they will travel to UConn for their first road test and final non-conference game of the season. Isportsweb Michigan expert Rob White predicts Michigan will win by a final score of 56-3.
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