Coming off a demoralizing 31-0 loss against rival Notre Dame, Michigan needed to step up and avoid a poor performance at home against an inferior opponent.
It appeared it was heading in that direction... At least for the first half.
The Wolverines (2-1, 2-0 at home) fought off an anemic first half performance to defeat Miami (0-2) 34-10 at Michigan Stadium on Saturday. Michigan's running game was once again the difference-maker in this contest, gaining 276-yards on the ground. Sophomore running back Derrick Green led the way with 137-yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Michigan was also missing receiver Devin Funchess who was not on the dress list after injuring himself late in the game against Notre Dame. Sophomore Amara Darboh filled in admirably, finishing with 88-yards on six receptions and one touchdown.
However, it was clear the Wolverines missed his presence on the field.
"Obviously Devin Funchess can be a difference-maker because of his athleticism and size," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "I think those other guys did a nice job."
Taking a 17-10 lead into halftime, Michigan put the proverbial nail in the coffin with a Devin Gardner 29-yard strike to a wide open tight end Jake Butt for the touchdown to increase its lead to 24-10.
"We had a bluff screen where I kind of bluff the defender and leak," Butt said. "I got the chance to go in there and broke down like I was going to block. The safety came flying up, so I leaked and Devin lofted the ball up and I scored."
Green, who looked like the better running back all game long, broke a 12-yard run for a touchdown to make the score 31-10 in the fourth quarter. Kicker Matt Wile, who has struggled with the kicking game during the season, slotted a 40-yard field goal to end the scoring at 34-10.
"As a running back you want to get fed," Green said. "The more you get fed, the more your energy keeps going up. I felt good and I got the job done."
Green appeared to have solid command of the offensive line, breaking off solid runs and finding huge holes to help his average of six-yards per carry.
Although the score was relatively close for the majority of the first half, the statistics did not reflect the scoreboard. Michigan's defense allowed only 198-yards to the RedHawks, 33-yards on the ground and 165-yards passing. However, the turnovers Miami caused set itself up for quick scores.
"We've played pretty good rush defense so far," Hoke said. "I think the schedule will continue to get tougher, we'll see what kind of defense as we go through it."
Gardner, who threw two interceptions last week, threw another interception in the second quarter and finished with 184-yards and two touchdowns. The interception appeared to be a bit high on a slant route and fell into the defenders hands. The interception, and short field, set Miami up to kick a 26-yard field goal to make the score 10-3. Darboh, who scored his first career touchdown in the first quarter to score Michigan's first touchdown of the day, also had a fumble early in the second quarter.
Michigan also had a fumble in the first quarter after a well-placed squib kick caused some confusion between Wyatt Shallman and Justice Hayes, resulting in the ball squirting free and an easy recovery by Miami. The RedHawks would score a few plays later on a three-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Hendrix to Dawan Scott.
The turnover issues continue into week three. After suffering a handful of turnovers last week, the three turnovers today make it seven in three weeks. Compared to forcing a single turnover in three games, a well played interception by sophomore Jourdan Lewis in the first quarter.
The amount of turnovers is an area of concern for Hoke.
"We're really concerned," Hoke said. "It's the ball security issues we have to deal with from top to bottom."
Michigan faces another big challenge next Saturday when Utah travels to Ann Arbor at 3:30 on ABC. Utah, who is coming off a bye week, has scored 50+ points in both of their games so far.