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September 18, 2012The Michigan offense didn't face much opposition against a Massachusetts squad that has struggled early this year. Still, both positives and negatives can be discerned from the unit's impressive 63-point output
Critical Drive: The first drive of the game - This one was a rout from the start, so it is difficult to single out a drive that was critical in the Wolverines' 63-13 victory. The first drive of the game, however, in which quarterback Denard Robinson hit freshman tight end Devin Funchess on a 26-yard seam route for a score was important, and should continue to give U-M faithful hope that a legitimate threat is emerging from a position which was a legitimate uncertainty heading into this year.
Funchess has caught six passes for 140 yards (23.3 yards per reception) and two touchdowns in his rookie campaign, and the ease in which the Maize and Blue stormed the goal line should quell some concerns stemming from the first two games.
Robinson also hit fifth-year senior tight end Mike Kwiatkowski for a 16-yard gain earlier in the drive. Although it is doubtful that Kwiatkowski will grow into an impactful pass-catching threat this season, Robinson displayed growth in targeting his big men in the middle, which will hopefully pay dividends for coordinator Al Borges's offense as the season progresses.
Michigan was also able to gain a confidence- boosting push up front on multiple plays, gaining 23 yards on the ground on three carries (7.7 yards per carry), including a 13 yard scamper by Robinson and a seven yard burst by redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint. UMass's line does not come close to resembling Notre Dame's tough front seven, but this successful opening march set the tone for the triumph, and a primetime clash with the Irish.
Best Drive: The third drive of the game- While U-M's opening drive provided optomism for the fan base, it was their second scoring drive that should provide the most confidence. Spanning eight plays and 45 yards, Michigan was able to successfully rely on the legs of a player not named Denard Robinson for the first time this season. The senior quarterback continued to look like a threat on the ground, but Toussaint carried the load, including an 11-yard touchdown run.
He finished the drive with 20 yards and a score on three carries (6.7 yards per carry), and added a 17-yard catch. Robinson accounted for 40 yards to further provide hope that the one-two offensive punch that carried the Wolverines' backfield a season ago is back in prime form. The two accounted for 191 rushing yards despite seeing limited action in the second half.
Worst Drive: The fifth drive of the game - Against a clearly inferior opponent, the only thing that could hurt the Maize and Blue were themselves. They did just that when Robinson threw the ball to the wrong colored jersey on a deep out route, and redshirt junior cornerback Christian Birt returned the interception 32 yards for a UMass score. Although Birt made a perfect break on the ball, the tight coverage should have prevent Robinson from attempting the pass.
It was certainly a questionable decision by the experienced senior, who scrambled for four yards on the first play of the drive to set up a manageable second down. The mistake didn't prove overly costly for a U-M squad that dominated the Minute Men, but a similar lapse in judgement could cost Michigan in Big Ten play.
Drive 1- Plays, Yards, Time of Possession: 5 plays, 65 yards, 2:21
Drive 2- Plays, Yards, Time of Possession: 4 plays, 13 yards, 1:33
Drive 3- Plays, Yards, Time of Possession: 8 plays, 45 yards, 3:57
Drive 4- Plays, Yards, Time of Possession: 2 plays, 71 yards, 0:39
Drive 5- Plays, Yards, Time of Possession: 2 plays, 4 yards, 0:47
Drive 6- Plays, Yards, Time of Possession: 5 plays, 75 yards, 3:02
Drive 7- Plays, Yards, Time of Possession: 5 plays, 55 yards, 2:00
Drive 8- Plays, Yards, Time of Possession: 9 plays, 83 yards, 1:48
Drive 9 - Plays, Yards, Time of Possession: 5 plays, 41 yards, 2:02
Drive 10- Plays, Yards, Time of Possession: 10 plays, 72 yards, 5:08
Drive 11- Plays, Yards, Time of Possession: 5 plays, 22 yards, 2:33
Drive 12- Plays, Yards, Time of Possession: 3 plays, negative-two yards, 2:16
Offensive Player of the Game: Despite a distinct lack of competitiveness from the opposition, and an interception returned for a touchdown, Denard Robinson once again dictated U-M's offense with another standout performance. Robinson continues to prove himself as one of the most electric playmakers in college football, and displayed growth as a quarterback with an efficient 16-of-24 (66.7 percent) 291-yard, three-touchdown passing showing.
The upcoming test against a stingy Notre Dame defense, which yielded only three points a week ago to Michigan State, should prove be a litmus test for the senior signal caller as he continues to make his mark on the Michigan football program.