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Michigan vs. UMass Preview

September 14, 2012

          


September 15th, 2012 – 3:30pm

Ann Arbor, MI

Song of the week:

“Everybody right here, what you need to do

Be thankful for the life you got, you know what I’m sayin’?

Stop lookin’ at what you ain’t got

Start bein’ thankful for what you do got

– T.I. featuring Rihanna, song “Live Your Life”

Names To Know

1. Mike Cox (RB #5) – Former Lloyd Carr recruit Mike Cox graduated from Michigan at the end of last season and moved on to play RB for the UMass Minutemen in his final year of eligibility. He wasn’t successful in his time in Ann Arbor outside of monster runs in the Spring Game before fading to the bottom of the depth chart. In his first two games with UMass, Cox had -4 yards against UConn and 36 yards on 15 carries against Indiana. His name also tends to bring out 5th grade humor in people, which makes it hard to write statements like, “Mike Cox is not impressive” and “After graduating from Michigan, Mike Cox is now a Minuteman.”

2. Mike Wegzyn (QB #11) – I’m guessing you’ll hear a lot about redshirt freshman Mike Wegzyn from the announcing crew early in the game. He grew up in Northville, MI, and his parents had season tickets for Michigan football before they moved to Tennessee for his senior year of high school. He was not heavily recruited, but managed to get a UMass offer and win the starting job as a freshman. Michigan’s defense hasn’t been dominant yet this year, but this week is going to be a big dropoff in terms of QB play compared to the last 2 weeks. Wegzyn will be making the biggest start of his college career as a true freshman trying to read a Greg Mattison defense. I am envisioning a Kovacs blitz and forced fumble at some point in the game.

3. Perry McIntire (LB #44) – McIntyre is a senior linebacker who will be trying to stop the Michigan running game. He registered 9 tackles against Indiana last week who also had a mobile quarterback in Tre Roberson. The problem for UMass, though, was that Roberson had 114 yards and 2 touchdowns on 5 carries, and that was in limited action because he broke his leg and missed a good portion of the game.

Offensive Strength

I don’t really see any strength for UMass when looking at their games the first two weeks of the season. They scored 0 points and had around 100 total yards against UConn in week 1, then followed that up with 6 points and 280 total yards against Indiana in week 2. The one bright spot was that quarterback Mike Wegzyn executed the dink-and-dunk passing game well against Indiana, completing 18-26 passes for 151 yards. With Blake Countess out, Michigan has backed their corners off the receiver, so there could be a lot of short completions available this week for Wegzyn.

Offensive Weakness

UMass is 121st in the country in rushing yards. Their leading rusher is a guy who was not asked back for a 5th year by the Michigan coaches and has 20 carries for 32 yards (1.6 ypc). A redshirt freshman quarterback and no running game is exactly what the Michigan defense is looking to see after facing Alabama and Air Force the first two weeks of the year.

Defensive Strength

None. I can’t even try to spin this. There is no strength, period.

Defensive Weakness

In week 1, the UConn Huskies put up 37 points on UMass. In week 2, they put up 7 against NC State. Indiana put up 45 points on UMass with their backup QB playing most of the game, and they only put up 24 points in week 1 against Indiana State. To go with the 45 points, Indiana also had 596 total yards, 333 of them on the ground. The Minutemen defense is just not good. If Russell Bellomy doesn’t play at least the entire second half for Michigan, I will be shocked.

My Game Expectations

UMass came to The Big House a couple years ago as an FCS team and kept it close, almost pulling a major upset. I chalk that up to the Minutemen having current NFL player Victor Cruz (NY Giants) on the team and Michigan having Greg Robinson on the sideline. UMass is now an FBS team competing in the MAC and Michigan has competent defensive coaches on the sideline. This game will not be as close as the 42-37 victory in 2010.

I’ve read a lot of people overreacting to the first two weeks of Michigan football. The first game was a mess, no doubt, but the second week doesn’t really mean much either. One Michigan blog posted a great summary of the Air Force game, citing the defense Michigan used was basically the default triple-option defense everyone uses when they don’t have a reason to really study the triple-option. Air Force recognized Jordan Kovacs was responsible for the outside pitch and quickly adjusted to put a blocker on him. Then they ran a play where the “blocker” ran right past Kovacs and had an easy touchdown if he didn’t trip while making a catch with no defenders within 15 yards of him. The rest of the game was Kovacs trying to figure out if the guy running at him was a blocker or receiver, which lead to easy gains on the outside. Michigan finally adjusted on the last 2 series and shut down the Falcons to clinch the win.

I’ve also read people complaining about Denard Robinson. To some he runs too much, to others not enough, and to a lot of people he should be moved to a different position. Anyone who thinks that should go back and watch the Air Force game again. Denard was great passing from the pocket and had over 200 yards running. In my eyes, he has progressed greatly from last year as a passer and as the WRs continue to get better this year his numbers will only improve.

I am not going to try to predict what Michigan will do on offense or defense this week because they really should be playing backups by halftime and just working out the kinks with that group. If the coaches want to run, we should be able to run and if they want to pass, we should be able to pass. The UMass offense is not an elite group, so the Michigan defense should be able to test some new blitz packages and rotate more of the young players through, which might result in some mistakes, but shouldn’t affect the outcome.

My recommendation for this week is to watch this game and be thankful for what we’ve got: Denard Robinson. This is the last low-tier non-conference opponent we will ever see Denard Robinson face as a Michigan Wolverine. Denard should be able to break some electric runs if the coaches let him, and in what should be an easy win, the fans should be able to sit back and just enjoy watching one of the best athletes ever to wear a winged helmet.

Prediction

Michigan wins 41-13

-Mike Randazzo

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