Friday, September 14, 2012

Preview: Michigan vs. UMass

Maria Menounos is from Massachusetts. True story.
Rush Offense vs. UMass Rush Defense
After Denard Robinson's 218-yard performance against Air Force, Michigan is now #74 in the country with 141.5 yards/game on the ground.  However, the offensive line has really struggled to create holes for anyone else, as Thomas Rawls ran for 9 yards against Alabama and Fitzgerald Toussaint gained just 7 against Air Force.  Indiana rushed for 331 yards against the Minutemen, including 115 from quarterback Tre Roberson (on just 5 carries) and 86 from freshman running back Tevin Coleman.  If Michigan can't manhandle UMass up front and run the ball with someone other than Denard Robinson, then it will be a long season.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Offense vs. UMass Pass Defense
Interestingly, everyone but Tre Roberson did well passing the ball for Indiana against UMass.  They were 26/40 for 275 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception; Roberson had 7 of those incompletions, including the pick.  Through two games, the Minutemen have 3 interceptions and 1 sack.  So far this season, Denard Robinson has thrown 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, so it's possible that UMass will add to that interception total; however, the offensive line has allowed just 1 sack, so it will be a struggle getting to the quarterback.  UMass doesn't have any athletes who can match up with Devin Gardner or Devin Funchess, and Jeremy Gallon should be able to do some damage, too.
Advantage: Michigan

Rush Defense vs. UMass Rush Offense
Michigan is currently #113 in the country at stopping the run, allowing 261 yards/game; however, that's a bit misleading because they played one of the top rushing teams in the country (Air Force) and the national champions (Alabama, duh), who are pretty good at running the ball, too.  The Wolverines aren't as good up front as they were last season, but they won't be #113 in this category by the time the season ends, either.  Meanwhile, UMass has run the ball 60 times and netted 81 yards, an average of just 1.3 yards/attempt.  Defensive end Brennen Beyer and backup defensive tackle Richard Ash will both miss this game due to injury, but the Wolverines should do a pretty good job of handling the rushing attack.  Fans shouldn't be surprised that Alabama and Air Force ran for a bunch of yards; if UMass follows suit, that's very bad news.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Defense vs. UMass Pass Offense
Starting quarterback Mike Wegzyn is 27/48 on the season for 0 touchdowns and 1 interception, and he's a 6'5", 215 lb. pocket passer.  The top receiver is 5'10", 185 lb. Marken Michel with 8 receptions for 82 yards.  Michigan hasn't done anything spectacular against the pass this season (2 sacks, 0 interceptions), and there have been some breakdowns in coverage this season.  If UMass puts any big plays together, I think they'll have to come in the passing game, where they might be able to take advantage of a couple slow-ish safeties and a depleted cornerback position.  I expect them to try to dink and dunk their way down the field and hope that eventually they can hit something deep.
Advantage: Michigan

Roster Notes
  • Former Michigan running back Michael Cox transferred to UMass after last season.  He wears #5. During his career with the Wolverines, he had 19 carries for 169 yards (8.9 yards/carry) and 2 touchdowns, and also caught 1 pass for 11 yards.
  • Head coach Charley Molnar was previously the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame.
  • Cornerbacks coach Jeff Burris played defensive back for Notre Dame in the early '90s and then played for the Bills, Colts, and Bengals.
A Look Back . . . 
Here's my review of Michigan's 42-37 victory over UMass in 2010, as well as my awards from that game.

  • Denard Robinson sits on the bench for the entire second half
  • Frank Clark gets his first 2 career sacks
  • Vincent Smith attempts a halfback pass
  • Michigan 52, Massachusetts 3


  1. This is a good game to experiment wildly on both sides of the ball. We haven't been able to establish an identity yet.

  2. Not predicting a good day rushing for UMass? Don't forget that your boy Cox will be carrying the rock.

    1. UMass's offensive line is terrible. Otherwise, I might.

  3. Easy win for UM this time around (shudders at thoughts of 2010 game), but UM doesn't cover the huge spread. UM wins 45-10.

  4. Mike Cox averaged 8.9 ypc while at Michigan? He must have been the greatest back in the history of the program!

  5. Predicted to cover the spread. 45.5 at the moment.

  6. Our running game continues to struggle. Denard will break some big ones, of course, but we'll get stuffed 8 or 10 times for little or no gain, even by UMass. No runner but Denard will have a decent game. UMass will be ready to exploit the weaknesses in our defense and will move the ball better than they have all year, aided by the Michigan coaching staff's not having the toughness to run up a big score.

    Michigan 42 UMass 14 Decent, but disappointing against this team.