Michigan must find someone to produce offense beside Denard Robinson (Photo credit: Rick Osentoski - US PRESSWIRE)
So, Michigan played an academy and barely came out victorious. What does it mean?
The offense must find help for Denard Robinson
After counting the victory kneels as team rushing attempts Robinson surpassed the entire team in total offense. Fitzgerald Toussaint didn't have the run blocking we thought he'd have but he also didn't create anything, leaving Denard as the only legitimate rushing threat left for Michigan. The offensive line must find a way to create gaps for the running backs or this offense will continue to rely on a single player, and Michigan will pay for it by the time Notre Dame rolls around.
The defensive front is only getting younger
With Demens and Morgan struggling true freshman Joe Bolden and James Ross were forced to step in, playing well for defenders that are so raw. While this is a positive down the line it has to be seen as a negative for now, especially with Michigan rotating freshman and sophomores in and out of a bad defensive line rotation in front of those freshman linebackers. Michigan gave up four yards per carry on 71 rushing attempts against Air Force after giving up more than five yards per carry against Alabama. And fun fact: Western Kentucky just held Alabama to only 3.3 yards per rushing attempt this weekend. Western Kentucky. Things are shaky up front for Michigan.
Take the jump to see the good.
Denard's improvement in the passing game is real
Robinson's problems have and always will be tied to his footwork, which has been shaky at best in years past. Against Alabama he showed improvement in some plays, at one point stepping up into the pocket before pointing his lead foot and delivering a strike. That play was a major stride by itself, but he continued to show improved footwork and pocket presence against Air Force. On most downs he shuffled his feet well, allowing him to reset and throw accurately instead of taking wide steps or throwing off of his back foot. This allows for his deep balls to be thrown with force instead of sailing in Terrel Pryor fashion, and if Denard Robinson can throw an accurate deep ball everyone in the Big Ten will be in trouble.
The offense does have talent outside after all
Devin Gardner is big, physical and explosive. So is true freshman tight end Devin Funchess. Both will be major assets for Denard because of their massive catch radii and both can still get much better. Gardner's route running looked improved in week two but could still improve as he develops muscle memory and an even tighter grasp of the position. The same goes for Funchess, who still has physical and mental strides to make before even coming close to reaching his potential. If the two continue to improve on a weekly basis the Wolverines will have two imposing threats to go with Jeremy Gallon, Drew Dileo and others.
The defense can improve
Yes, things have been shaky. The good news is Michigan was exposed early and has the luxury of playing another game before playing a team that Denard Robinson can't beat by himself. This means finding a rotation up front that might not be great but won't need as much mid-game experimenting as it did against Alabama and Air Force, who both require a level of preparation that no other offenses will from here on out. The rotation is bound to be littered with freshman, who might be inexperienced but can be expected to improve throughout the year. Since Michigan still has talent and experience on the back side it can toy around with blitz schemes that should help to ease the pain up front. Hopefully.