Originally written on MaizeAndGoBlue  |  Last updated 11/14/14

Read our preseason UMass preview here.

It wasn’t easy, but Michigan picked up its first win of the season on Saturday against a feisty Air Force team. This week, the Wolverines host a team that can probably be described as the exact opposite of feisty – the UMass Minutemen. You may remember two years ago, in Rich Rodriguez’s last season, Michigan hosted UMass and had to hold off a late rally to beat the Minutemen. This year, Michigan enters as a 45.5-point favorite, the largest spread in Michigan history. Are we in store for another tense situation? I don’t think so. Let’s take a look at how UMass has fared in the first two weeks of the season.

UMass 2012 Statistics & Michigan Comparison UMass | Michigan Rank Opponent Rank Points Per Game 3.0 | 22.5 121 | 88 41.0 | 33.0 109 | 93 Rushing Yards 81 | 283 480 | 522 Rush Avg. Per Game 40.5 | 141.5 119 | 74 240 | 261 108 | 113 Avg. Per Rush 1.4 | 4.7 4.9 | 4.6 Passing Yards 242 | 408 488 | 326 Pass Avg. Per Game 121 | 204 116 | 84 244 | 163 76 | 22 Total Offense 323 | 691 968 | 848 Total Off Avg. Per Game 161.5 | 345.5 121 | 85 484 | 424 107 | 81 Kick Return Average 23.1 | 22.2 40 | 47 26.5 | 32.0 108 | 114 Punt Return Average 1.7 | 2.0 97 | 96 19.7 | 11.0 109 | 96 Avg. Time of Possession 24:44 | 26:36 110 | 102 35:17 | 33:24 3rd Down Conversion Pct 21% | 35% 120 | 96 38% | 48% 62 | 99 Sacks By-Yards 1-3 | 2-21 109 | 89 4-33 | 1-10 65 | 14 Touchdowns Scored 1 | 6 10 | 8 Field Goals-Attempts 0-1 | 1-1 4-4 | 3-5 Red Zone Scores (1-2) 50% | (3-3) 100% 112 | 1 (9-10) 90% | (8-10) 80% 90 | 56 Red Zone Touchdowns (1-2) 50% | (2-3) 67% (6-10) 60% | (6-10) 60%

UMass has scored a grand total of six points in its first two games, getting shut out 37-0 by UConn in Week 1 and throttled 45-6 by Indiana last week. In those two games, UMass was held to just 81 yards rushing on 60 carries. That’s just 1.4 yards per carry. The passing game fared slightly better, but an average of just 121 yards per game has the Minutemen ranked 116th nationally.

Defensively, UMass is allowing 484 yards of offense per game, 240 on the ground and 244 through the air. UConn and Indiana averaged 4.9 yards per carry.

UConn was the team that really shut down the Minutemen, holding them to just 59 yards of total offense and three first downs. In fact, UMass never even took a snap on UConn’s side of the 50. Redshirt freshman quarterback Mike Wegzyn completed just 9 of 22 passes for 56 yards and an interception in the game.

Head coach Charley Molnar is familiar with Michigan (photo from Matthew Cavanaugh, Boston Globe)

Saturday’s game against Indiana should show what we can expect to see from Michigan and Denard Robinson this weekend. IU quarterback Tre Roberson completed 6-of-13 passes for 76 yards, a touchdown and an interception before getting injured. But it was his legs that did the damage, rushing for 114 yards and two touchdowns on five carries. Like Denard against Air Force, Roberson used a pair of long touchdown runs (50 yards and 39) to get the job done.

The running back is former Michigan back Michael Cox (pictured above). He had five carries for negative four yards against UConn but led the Minutemen with 15 carries for 36 yards against Indiana. Senior Chris Burns got 11 carries for 17 yards in Week 1 but lost the starting job to Cox and got a somewhat scathing review from head coach Charley Molnar after that performance.

“Burns’ performance last week was not what he had hoped for,” Molnar said. “For a guy who basically had the job, every rep with the starters throughout summer camp, [he] just didn’t handle some of his responsibilities like a guy who’s been around and should have.”

Speaking of Molnar, you may remember his name. He’s the first-year head coach of UMass, coming to Amherst from some place called South Bend. He was Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the last two seasons and after following Brian Kelly from Central Michigan to Cincinnati to Notre Dame, got his first head coaching gig at UMass. His aim is to transform the Minutemen into a no-huddle spread attack, but it will take some time to put in place and get the right recruits at a first-year FBS program.

When UMass visits Ann Arbor on Saturday, we still won’t learn anything from Michigan, but it will be one last chance for the offense to find its rhythm, the defense to work on its technique, and Denard to pad his stats before the real schedule begins – Notre Dame and the Big Ten.

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