Michigan Football: Wolverines Who Must Step Up in Week 3 vs. Massachusetts

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 08:  Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines runs for a third quarter touchdown while playing the Air Force Falcons at Michigan Stadium on September 8, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Michigan hasn't provided its diehard fans with much reason for optimism in the first two weeks. First, the Wolverines were blown out by defending national champion Alabama in a statement game, and then they narrowly escaped a game against Air Force.

Those are hardly the results expected from a team that started the season ranked in the top 10. Luckily, the Wolverines still have several big games on the horizon, giving them a chance to make an impact if they can start playing better moving forward.

Let's take a look at three players who must start playing at a higher level, starting on Saturday afternoon against Massachusetts, for Michigan to get its season back on track.


Fitz Toussaint

Toussaint returned against Air Force after sitting out the opener due to suspension and failed to make an impression. He gained just seven yards on eight carries, one of the least effective performances of his collegiate career.

The poor season debut comes after a season in which he rushed for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns, providing much-needed balance to the offense. If he doesn't produce at the same level this season, the Michigan offense is in trouble.

Toussaint's poor showing was likely due to game rust after missing the first week, but he must return to his usual playmaking self quickly. Denard Robinson can't do it all himself as he illustrated against the Crimson Tide.


Denard Robinson

Speaking of Robinson, he entered the season in the spotlight after receiving a lot of Heisman hype. So far, it hasn't been warranted when you compare his level of play to that of the other top contenders like Matt Barkley from USC.

The senior quarterback has been effective on the ground, totaling nearly 250 yards and three touchdowns. But the passing game has been a different story. Robinson is completing less than half his passes with just as many interceptions as passing touchdowns.

Although Michigan doesn't need him to morph into Barkley in terms of passing ability, he can't be so lackluster in that area of the game, either. He needs to improve his accuracy for the Wolverines offense to reach optimal efficiency.


Craig Roh

There were questions about the Michigan defensive tackle rotation because the team lost several key pieces after last season, but the defensive ends were supposed to pick up any slack. That hasn't happened through two games.

Roh is one of the main reasons why. The senior has recorded just one solo tackle through three games, and only eight tackles overall. His only sack was split with freshman linebacker James Ross III. Certainly not the start he was hoping for.

The lack of production up front across the board has led to Michigan allowing 66 in two games. Roh must lead the charge when it comes to making the defensive front more consistent. That's where senior leadership comes into play.