|Jerald Robinson almost made two one-handed catches. Unfortunately, he dropped both.|
(image via Boston.com)
We didn't learn much from this game. I didn't really see anyone stand out in this game and make an unexpected impact. There weren't any big plays on special teams, Michigan struggled to get much pressure on the quarterback, none of the second-teamers stepped up to have a great game, etc. A few players saw their first action (Graham Glasgow, Curt Graman, Justice Hayes, Joe Kerridge, Kristian Mateus, Jordan Paskorz, Steve Wilson) and a couple guys record their first statistics (Justice Hayes had 3 carries for 19 yards and 1 touchdown; Mike Kwiatkowski had 1 catch for 16 yards), but this team still has some problems that aren't quite fixed.
Turnovers, please? Michigan is one of 11 teams in the FBS to have zero interceptions. Michigan had a chance in this game, but cornerback J.T. Floyd misplayed a long ball and let it sail harmlessly overhead. Paul Gyarmati did recover a muffed punt, though, so at least we've got that going for us. I'm looking forward to when Michigan gets some good cover corners on the field.
Vincent Smith is Spider-man. That 19-yard reception along the left sideline was ridiculous. He caught the ball, got hit immediately, spun like Kristi Yamaguchi, and kept running. I've never been a huge fan of Smith as a feature back type of player, but I'm going to miss his multi-purpose skills after this season.
Oh by the way, f*** you guys. UMass running back Michael Cox, who played for Michigan from 2008-2011, had a pretty solid game for the Minutemen. He ended with 18 carries for 76 yards (4.2 yards per carry) behind a bad offensive line with not much of an aerial attack. There were a couple plays where he ran east-and-west when there was no hole, losing a chunk of yards. But he had some impressive runs against a Michigan defense that should have been able to clamp down on the running game. I never really thought Cox was a superstar, but I did think that he deserved a shot to play when the aforementioned Smith was being used as a feature back. The knocks on him were always fumbling (he never fumbled at Michigan, though there was a botched exchange in this game), learning the playbook (I didn't see any missed assignments in this game), and running east-west too much (perhaps a fair criticism). The kid is a decent running back. Also, he looked huge.
I'm scared for Michigan's offensive line. The coaches are clearly aiming to redshirt all the true freshman offensive linemen, which will only work if all the starters stay healthy. Joey Burzynski got quite a bit of playing time at right guard and did an okay job, but the backup tackles (walk-ons Erik Gunderson and Kristian Mateus) were like revolving doors. I still wasn't impressed with Michael Schofield at right tackle, either. I thought he played better as a guard last season.
Devin Funchess and Devin Gardner look like studs. Funchess (2 catches, 34 yards, 1 touchdown) outran a safety for a touchdown and caught a low pass in traffic. Gardner (2 catches, 48 yards, 1 touchdown) grabbed a crossing route, outran a safety, tiptoed down the sideline, and launched himself across the pylon for his score. Gardner could have had two more long gainers, too, but he was badly overthrown by Denard Robinson.
Speaking of Robinson . . . I'm probably just a Debbie Downer, because the guy accounted for 397 yards and 4 touchdowns. But he also threw a pick-six, fumbled on the goal line, and missed several open receivers. I don't understand how he can have such poor throwing mechanics after four years of playing quarterback for a major college program. He steps way to the left of his target, lets his arm drop, and throws off his back foot too much. Even the Devin Funchess touchdown pass showed terrible mechanics. Obviously, that play worked out okay, but he did the same thing on the pick-six and it cost the team a touchdown. The kid completed 67% of his passes, threw for 3 scores, and ran for 106 yards. He was the most dominant player in the game. Obviously. But good grief, he's frustrating to watch sometimes.
Frank Clark looked like a stud. UMass didn't run much option, so Clark didn't have much of a chance to look confused and lose outside contain. But he has a knack for knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage and ended up with 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 2 pass breakups. I predicted in the game preview that he would notch his first two career sacks, and while that didn't happen, he abused the opposing tackles and was clearly the most disruptive pass rusher on the field. If he can mature as a player and stay out of trouble off the field, he could be a solid NFL prospect in a year or two. I also liked what I saw from freshman linebackers Joe Bolden and James Ross.