There are a few Wolverine players with something to prove after Michigan stumbled out of the blocks in this young 2012 season to a very shaky 1-1 record.
Their season-opening loss to Alabama was disappointing, commemorative uniforms and all, as no Wolverines' player stepped up in that game.
According to this ESPN article, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke defended his players who didn't step up and prove their value.
"Obviously, we didn't play Michigan football, and that's something that bothers our team, bothers the coaches," Hoke said. "Win or lose your first game, you learn a lot."
Those top Michigan players did appear to learn a lot from their loss to Nick Saban's Crimson Tide, as the Wolverines beat Air Force in their second game.
They edged out Air Force 31-25, and there was good news and bad news from that victory.
Good news—Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson accounted for 426 yards of total offense.
Bad news—every yard of Robinson's 426 yards was needed to squeak out a win over an Air Force team that entered that game with a 19-game losing streak against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.
With those two games behind them, here are a few of Michigan's top players that absolutely have something to prove going forward.
Why does a guy who personally accounted for 426 yards in last week's game have something to prove? Because that is what comes with the territory of being a Heisman hopeful.
Robinson needs to have that mentality in this Saturday's game versus UMass and every week he steps on the field to lead the Wolverines.
He can't afford to be a no-show like he was in the game against Alabama.
It's clear the Michigan offense goes as Robinson goes, so he needs to recognize that and be accountable.
6'5", 229 pound true freshman Funchess exploded onto the scene last week against Air Force. He had four receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown.
He set a high bar for himself, and he can't afford to take a step back.
He needs to prove to Robinson he can be a go-to target and that last week wasn't a fluke.
Senior Linebacker: Kenny Demens
Demens is a fifth-year senior and was Michigan's leading tackler last season, but he's been a disappointment thus far in 2012.
He desperately needs to play with something to prove, as he headlines a Wolverine defense that is currently allowing an average of 33 points per game.
Demens has to step up and prove that he can lead on defense. In this ESPN article, Demens' defensive teammate Thomas Gordon accurately placed emphasis on what the Wolverines need to make sure they do.
"With the more freshmen out there, that's how much more you have to communicate."
After serving his one-game suspension, Toussaint's contribution in the Air Force game was to average less than a yard on eight carries.
Toussaint has the most to prove, as he's still trying to get back into the good graces with the coaches and fans.
It would be an utter disappointment if Fitzgerald doesn't amass more than 100 yards rushing against a UMass defense that has more holes than Swiss cheese.
As we look ahead to this week's matchup, Michigan gets a gift from the FBS gods as 0-2 UMass blows into town.
The Minutemen limp into Michigan Stadium this Saturday having allowed opponents an average of 41 points against them, and an offense that is mustering an average of just three points.
Wolverine players are not taking this game lightly, as defensive tackle Will Campbell stated in this ESPN piece.
"We don't see it as a team we're going to blow out."
This UMass game is just what the doctor ordered for Michigan, especially since the Wolverines head into Notre Dame Stadium next Saturday night for a 7:30 p.m. (EST) game against the Irish.
Next Saturday against Notre Dame will prove to be Michigan's first legitimate test since the Wolverines got steamrolled by Alabama in the season-opener.
Michigan and Notre Dame are pretty evenly matched, as this ESPN preview details, and it should be a dog fight where both schools will sure to battle to regain national prominence.
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