Sometime during the second quarter I received a call from my college roommate. He was drunk, at the game, and introducing a bunch of MBA students to the wonders of Michigan football. He was also -- much as I was -- a little concerned about the early going. It was just around the time that a UMass defender returned a Denard Robinson interception for a touchdown, officially making it A GAME. Sure, the Wolverines were up by 11 points because of three scoring drives that covered a combined 181 yards in 15 plays, but it was close. Or it felt close. The difference is tough to tell in the moment.
It was dominance in production only. Michigan didn't effortlessly dominate a hapless group of underdogs, it was just physically better, and even physically superior teams have a hard time pissing away that much of a talent advantage without a full on implosion.
Michigan just looked out of sync. The passing game was largely on minus a few glaring mistakes. The running game produced despite an offensive line that still looked like five talented guys that just met for the first time in the parking lot before the game. The defense was fresh off giving up a 66-yard drive deep into the red zone. Points had been scored. More of them than in the UConn and Indiana game combined. People were concerned in the weird way that they get in an utterly boring blowout when one or two things don't go according to plan in a close vicinity to one another. Given the amount of time some of us spend thinking about (or in my case, writing about) this team, I don't know if this is all that much of a surprise.
Anyway, back to the story. My friend was concerned. He spent the duration of the phone call trying to convince himself -- and me for that matter -- that this team was just sandbagging. Things weren't actually this bad, the team was just putting about as much effort into beating UMass as the rest of us figured they would need. T
In the rest of the quarter UMass would put together another long drive into Michigan's red zone, converting the offense's only other FG of the game. Michigan would tack on another three touchdowns before halftime ensuring a second half devoid of drama.
Last year after the Minnesota win I used the headline "And Nobody Learned Anything At All That Day". Maybe it was a year too early, or maybe its just one of those things we need to brush off from time to time. After three games we still don't know much about this team, but that won't stop us from trying to squeeze out every last bit of information from an informationless contest. Hell, its football. Better make it count.
Game reactions from around the internet after the jump...
UMass Recap: Pleasantly Routine - MGoBlog (Ace)
A half-empty student section, a press box full of beat writers already finishing their game columns, a field littered with walk-ons and freshmen; with eight minutes remaining in the final stanza, Michigan Stadium exhibited all the telltale signs of a blowout. A one-yard touchdown run by Justice Hayes had just given the Wolverines a 63-13 lead, one that stood as the final margin. After the last two weeks, this was a welcome sight indeed.
Yet, the flaws that cost Michigan so dearly against Alabama and nearly cost it against Air Force continue to fester, and pose concern heading into next week's matchup against No. 20 Notre Dame. "I told (the players) the same thing I told you: It's great to win, but if we want to win a Big Ten championship, we need to improve a lot in a lot of areas," coach Brady Hoke said.
Maize and Blue Nation: Michigan Football Blog: Cooper Barton visits with the media - Maize n Blue Nation
Upon Further Review: UMass - Maize and Blue News
Let's be honest for a minute. Michigan wasn't going to lose this game. We all know that. Michigan has greatly superior talent, and UMass has struggled against even weak competition. This game was an opportunity for Michigan to get better in key areas. This wasn't a game against a defending National Champion like Appalachian State was in 2007, and far from Alabama. UMass is a far-cry from that and it showed. Unfortunately for the Maize and Blue that does not mean Michigan played a perfect game.
Stephen J. Nesbitt: Don't use 50-point rout as a barometer for Team 133 - The Michigan Daily (Nesbitt)
Denard Robinson looked across the field, scanning the sea of maroon and white jerseys heading up the Michigan Stadium tunnel. Robinson took off on a jog. He had somebody to track down.
Robinson caught up to Michael Cox, the starting Massachusetts running back, at the 30-yard line and they greeted each other like brothers; their elaborate handshake included a few windmill gestures and ended with a bear hug. Roy Roundtree followed right behind, a grin splashed across his face as he hugged Cox — his classmate and teammate for four years at Michigan.
Michigan dominates UMass in 63-13 victory - The Michigan Daily (Pasch)
On the first drive of the day, the Wolverines looked like they were playing against a scout team. Massachusetts kicker Brendon Levengood booted the ball out of bounds on the opening kickoff, and senior quarterback Denard Robinson led Michigan 65 yards to the house in just five plays.
Michigan 63, UMass 13 - Touch the Banner
We didn't learn much from this game. I didn't really see anyone stand out in this game and make an unexpected impact. There weren't any big plays on special teams, Michigan struggled to get much pressure on the quarterback, none of the second-teamers stepped up to have a great game, etc. A few players saw their first action (Graham Glasgow, Curt Graman, Justice Hayes, Joe Kerridge, Kristian Mateus, Jordan Paskorz, Steve Wilson) and a couple guys record their first statistics (Justice Hayes had 3 carries for 19 yards and 1 touchdown; Mike Kwiatkowski had 1 catch for 16 yards), but this team still has some problems that aren't quite fixed.
Also, this gem:
Frank Clark looked like a stud. UMass didn't run much option, so Clark didn't have much of a chance to look confused and lose outside contain. But he has a knack for knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage and ended up with 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 2 pass breakups.
I heart you, Magnus, you magnificent, sarcastic bastard.
First, the running game. The running game still needs work, as a majority of the yards outside of Denard were gained by the RBs making nice cuts, or bouncing it outside and just using their speed. The offensive line still does not have that cohesiveness many people were thinking they may this year. The push upfront is nonexistence at times, and opposing defenses fight across our reach blocks regularly. The oline needs to work hard on getting a quicker first step and throwing a violent first punch that will help them start to work the defenders momentum in the opposite direction. Once that step and punch have been thrown it makes controlling the dline a little easier. I also believe if maintaining a block is difficult we need to try some more quick developing run plays to get the RBs involved. The slow developing plays are great for Denard, because he can react to defenders and make cuts that use defender's momentum against themselves, also, the read option is obviously one of the most successful plays in our playbook at this time. At this time I am more convinced the running game is on the shoulders of the oline and some changed play calls. The RBs are just as good, if not better than last year.