UMass kicked off to begin the game, and it sailed out of bounds. The rest of the afternoon wasn’t much better for the Minutemen as Michigan cruised to a 63-13 victory. Michigan had nine touchdowns scored by eight different players and was 6-for-6 inside the red zone. Denard Robinson accounted for almost 400 total yards and four total touchdowns, and Fitz Toussaint looked like his old self again with 85 yards and a TD. No Michigan receiver caught more than three balls (Drew Dileo), as Denard (and Russell Bellomy in the fourth quarter) spread the ball around well.
Devin Gardner showed off his extreme athleticism on a 42-yard touchdown reception in the first half that was almost surreal to watch as he outran the defense, tip-toed the sideline and dove to the pylon after being shoved by a UMass defender. Dileo added a nice 66-yard reception to set up one of Vincent Smith’s two touchdowns, and even redshirt freshman running back Justice Hayes got in on the action late with the first TD of his career.
Speaking of first touchdowns, Taylor Lewan scored his first on a fumble recovery after Denard fumbled on the goal line. Hopefully this is the last time Lewan finds himself in the end zone that way.
Michigan didn’t take long to put points on the board as Denard hit a wide open Devin Funchess on a 26-yard slant on Michigan’s fifth play of the game, and he took it in for six. The rest of the game went pretty much the same way as Michigan put up 42 before halftime.
However, UMass gave a good effort and had its moments. Former Michigan running back and alum, Mike Cox, ran the ball hard and was tough take down, while the Minutemen took back an interception for their only TD of the day. Their best play, however, was a flea flicker in the second quarter that went for a big gain inside the 20. The drive stalled though and they had to settle for a field goal, as they did on one other drive as well. In the end, Michigan was just too much, as we all expected, and the Wolverines prevailed 63-13.
Despite the end result, the Minutemen fought and fought hard. Both their offensive and defensive lines gave Michigan all they could handle in the early going, but faded as the game went on. Denard was 16-24 for 291 and 3 touchdowns, but he wasn’t as efficient as he could have been and still struggled to make good reads and stepping into his throws. The pick-six he threw was a horrible ball that should never have been thrown in the first place.
The Wolverines still have a lot to work on but this game gave them a nice confidence boost and a glimpse of the uptempo spread-style offense Notre Dame will employ next week, as UMass head coach Charlie Molnar is a former assistant of Brian Kelly’s going all the way back to his days at Central Michigan. If Michigan wants to leave South Bend with a win next week they will need to bring their A-game. Notre Dame looked very good, especially up front, against the Spartans in East Lansing on Saturday night and year three looks to be the year for Brian Kelly and the Irish, something not every recent ND coach can say.
Brady Hoke will most likely never be satisfied with his team’s effort, and that’s fine with me. There is always something to be improved upon. Look for Michigan to have a good week of practice and be ready to take on the Golden Domers under the lights next Saturday in what should be another epic battle.
1. Denard Robinson
Passing: 16-24 291 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception
Rushing: 10 rushes for 109 yards, 1 touchdown
Why? Denard was his vintage self on his lone touchdown run, pulling down a would-be pass, rushing to his left, cutting back across the field, and outrunning the defense to the end zone. But he also got it done with his arm, passing for nearly 300 yards in three quarters. He spread the ball around to nine different receivers and passed Tom Brady and Jim Harbaugh on the career passing yards list.
2. Drew Dileo
Receiving: 3 catches for 91 yards
Why? The diminutive receiver had the best game of his young career, nearly reaching 100 yards receiving. He provided exactly what Michigan needs – another receiving weapon to step up. If Denard can continue to find Dileo and Jeremy Gallon from the slot position, it will take some of the pressure off of Devin Gardner and Roy Roundtree on the outside.
3. Fitz Toussaint
Rushing: 15 rushes for 87 yards, 1 touchdown
Why? In his second game back from suspension, Toussaint showed what we all saw last season: shiftiness and a knack for picking up yards. It was important to get him going with Notre Dame coming up, and he made the most of it, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
Honorable Mention: Taylor Lewan. The junior left tackle recorded the first touchdown of his career, recovering a Denard fumble at the goal line. Denard said after the game that Lewan wasn’t happy about it because if he had made the block, Denard wouldn’t have gotten hit and fumbled in the first place, but he’ll happily take the points.