Many people, myself included, expected Michigan would shake the dust off from last week’s closer than expected win and flex their muscle at the expense of the UConn Huskies. Instead the Wolverines turned ball over 4 times and had to scratch and claw their way to a 24-21 victory over Connecticut.
The comedy of errors was reaching epic proportions early in the second half as the Huskies claimed a most unlikely 21-7 lead, that was fueled by 4 Michigan turnovers. Finally, after two weeks of head scratching football, the Wolverines said enough was enough. They established a ground game with their 5th year senior back running going right behind their All-American left tackle and the defense rose to the occasion, holding the Huskies to just 78 yards of offense in the second half.
The Wolverines improved to 4-0 with the victory.
1. Frank Clark played his best game of the season with 5 tackles and 2 sacks. His second sack came on a key third down play during UConn’s last drive of the game. That sack forced the Huskies into a 4th down and 30 with 1:48 left to play in the game.
2. Fitzgerald Toussaint got loose with two second half touchdowns and churned out 120 rushing yards.
3. Desmond Morgan was responsible for the play of the game with a sensational one-handed interception when the Wolverines needed it a bad way. He also recorded 4 tackles.
Honorable mention: Jibreel Black, Raymon Taylor
3 Key plays
There were some nervous moments for Brady Hoke in this game.
1. Michigan had just failed to convert on a 4th down and 2 giving UConn the ball back with a 21-14 lead early in the 4th quarter. Desmond Morgan came up with a much needed big play for the defense with a one-handed interception. On the first play after the pick, Fitz Toussaint dashed 12 yards for a game-tying touchdown.
2. Trailing 21-7 late in the third quarter, Michigan’s offense put together their best drive of the game. The Wolverines capped a 9 play, 75 yard drive with an option from Devin Gardner, who was walloped on the play, to Fitzgerald Toussaint, who slithered his way 35 yards through the Huskies defense for a touchdown.
3. After a Graham Glasgow false start, Michigan was facing a 3rd down and 15 on the final play of the third quarter. Devin Gardner rifled a pass to Jehu Chesson, who was able to make a great catch as the ball was nearly on the turf.
Michigan has just been making too many mistakes. I’m not just referring to the plethora of turnovers, but also the costly penalties, shanked punts, kick-offs going out of bounds, and defensive backs being burned deep.
On numerous occasions, UConn was able to collapse Michigan’s pocket with a 3-man rush.
On many of UConn’s incomplete passes, the receivers were open, but the ball was poorly thrown.
Jehu Chesson looked good on punt coverage. He also was responsible for one of the plays of the game when he pulled in the previously mentioned 17 yard pass from Gardner on a key 3d down and 15.
This was the sixth multi-touchdown game of Fitz Toussaint’s career.
After UConn took a 21-7 lead, Michigan’s next play was a 39 yard Devin Gardner run that was called back due to a Taylor Lewan holding penalty.
First half stats, UConn outgained Michigan 128-115. The Wolverines also turned the ball over three times in the opening stanza.
After not recording a sack in either of their first two games, the Huskies notched 3 sacks against Michigan.
Jeremy Gallon extended his consecutive games with a reception streak to 30 which moves him into 4th place on the school’s all-time list.
Michigan is now 5-5 on the road under Brady Hoke.
Jibreel Black racked up 6 tackles and a sack for the Wolverines.
What it means
It’s time to temper expectations. In my pre-season prognostications, I really thought Michigan had a chance to win the Big Ten Championship. After the first two games of the season, I felt even better about that prediction. However, the last two games have exposed many flaws, namely the complete lack of dominance along both lines. The Wolverines will have a much needed bye week, before beginning conference play on Oct. 5 when they host Minnesota.
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