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What to Take from Michigan's Win Over Akron

Michigan started the Akron game looking like a team destined to cover its massive spread. Instead, the Wolverines nearly botched the game. What should we take from the near disaster?

Gregory Shamus

The Good

Chesson finally gets a touch

Jehu finally saw the ball come his way, scoring a touchdown on an impressive catch and run. This ends this week's edition of the "good".

The Bad

Michigan's flaws seem permanent and easily exploitable

Everyone knew this team's major weaknesses heading into the season. Michigan was too prone to turning the ball over. Its interior offensive lineman were young and inexperienced. The pass rush was below average and needed an infusion of explosive edge rushers.

Every last one of these flaws have been exploited by three straight teams, the last of which was Akron. Akron. The Zips put Michigan on the ropes by putting Fitgerald Toussaint down in the backfield, forcing Devin Gardner into extremely poor decisions, and fending off Michigan's lackluster pass rush. Akron hasn't won a road game since gas was damn near free.

The Takeaway

The huge, glaring takeaway here is that Michigan's major flaws are almost certainly going to cost it down the road. The running game is far too inconsistent, slashing for huge chunks one down before putting Michigan behind the chains on the next. This alone is enough to cost it a game against a team like Ohio State, which looked nearly unstoppable on offense this weekend against Cal despite fielding its backup quarterback.

Devin Gardner's turnovers and the defense's inability to get to the passer are even more concerning than the running game. Gardner is clearly still learning the ropes; terrible turnovers in three straight contests have me worried that Gardner will throw a crucial game away sometime in the near future.

The pass rush might be the biggest flaw of them all. Gardner's turnovers can be mitigated against lesser opponents because of his ability to score and make up for them. The pass rush, on the other hand, can't even get to the quarterback consistently when playing bad MAC teams. This is something that can't be fixed by coaching over the course of the season--you either have pass rushers or you don't, and Michigan just doesn't have them.

My expectations for the season were lowered this weekend. Notre Dame looked pedestrian against a bad Purdue team for much of the night, adding to the worry. I don't see this team making it to the Ohio State game undefeated, and a win over the Buckeyes seems less and less probable with every passing week. My gut tells me that Gardner needs to come back to a stronger all-around roster next season if he wants to put a Big Ten title run together.

It's still early in the season. I'll hold on to a glimmer of hope until someone beats this team by exploiting its major flaws to death.