By now, everybody is aware that Michigan Football picked up, what Taylor Lewan called an embarrassing 28-24 victory over Akron on Saturday. The Zips brought a 27 game road losing streak with them to the Big House and were inside Michigan’s five yard line with a chance to win the game as time expired. The narrow victory seemed to magnify Michigan’s short-comings.
So what’s the problem?
This is year three of the Brady Hoke era and Michigan’s lovable coach has preached from day one that you win in the trenches and he has made that a point of emphasis in recruiting. Yet last week Akron’s defensive line gave Michigan’s offensive line fits and the Wolverines allowed Zips QB Kyle Pohl to operate with impunity in the pocket. Translation, the Wolverines were getting pushed around by the Zips and that is simply unacceptable.
Taylor Lewan is an All-American left tackle, yet Michigan has not been able to generate a consistent rushing attack with their running backs. We’ve heard all about the three new starters along the interior of the offensive line, but as Hoke likes to say, this is Michigan. If the starters aren’t getting the job done, is it time to look at some other options? Michigan’s roster is littered with blue chip offensive linemen. “Like I said, it’s alway been in pencil and we’re going to continue to force people to compete at the position.” Al Borges said at his weekly press conference when asked about the offensive line depth chart. My guess is that Michigan will trot out the same offensive line at UConn this week, but the leash is getting shorter.
Michigan’s starting right tackle, Michael Schofield said on Monday that the offensive line was all over the place against Akron and that they played sloppy. He stressed that they have to improve their fundamentals and techniques. “There is an expectation that we should continue to improve,” Al Borges said. “That’s my biggest issue with this football game is I don’t think we took a step forward, that irritates me more than anything.”
Michigan did not record a sack in the Akron game and the Wolverines have notched just five sacks through three games. Another big red flag with the defense is that they rank 98th nationally in third-down defense. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison started off his weekly presser by addressing the lack of a pass rush. “I’ve got to coach it better,” Mattison said. “Our guys are working hard at it and I’ll put that on me, we’ve got to just get better at it.”
The Wolverines rank 99th nationally in turnover margin and Devin Gardner has accounted for seven of Michigan’s eight turnovers. He’s tossed a whopping six interceptions, including two pick-sixes and fumbled once. In the Akron game, Gardner racked up 4 turnovers. “I made a lot of bad decisions,” Gardner explained in the post-game presser. “Probably played my worst game ever, and it won’t happen again.” Gardner oozes talent and has big play abilities. Despite his turnover woes, he was one of the main reasons Michigan wasn’t upset by Akron. He’ll have to play smarter going forward and I’m confident he will improve his decision making.
Sound the alarm?
Despite the debacle that Saturday turned out to be, it’s not time to sound the alarm and for panic to ensue. This is still the same football team that scored 100 points in the first two games and beat a good Notre Dame team. They’re still 3-0 and have all their goals before them. “We want to go back out there and show what we’re really made of,” said James Ross III.
It will be very interesting to see how Michigan plays on Saturday against a UConn team that surrendered over 500 yards of offense last week. If the Wolverines come out with another sloppy, unfocused effort then it might be time to sound the alarm.
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