UMass vs. Michigan: Marquee Wolverine Receivers Step Up in Blowout Victory
Some easygoing home cooking was just what the AP No. 17 Michigan Wolverines needed on Saturday, as their marquee receivers continued to show promise in a 63-13 blowout victory over UMass.
Freshman tight end Devin Funchess immediately put to rest any assertions of a fluke coming off of his breakout, 100-yard performance last week. On the opening drive against the Minutemen, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson found Funchess wide open across the middle off play action to put the Wolverines up 7-0 early.
After not even appearing on the two-deep depth chart at the outset, Funchess has taken advantage of his opportunities. As new center Elliott Mealer said after Funchess' Big Ten Freshman of the Week performance, it wasn't too shocking for the players in the Wolverine locker room (via Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com):
During camp, I think a lot of freshmen were standing out, but [Funchess] in particular. He did a great job in camp, and obviously you guys got to see that (Saturday) during the game.
For the third week in a row, another Devin stepped up for Michigan. Last year's backup quarterback Devin Gardner continued his speedy yet effective conversion to wide receiver, catching a 42-yard touchdown toss for his third trip to pay dirt in as many weeks.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign of all was the reemergence of senior wideout Roy Roundtree, who has been a massive disappointment since his second year in which he caught 72 passes for over 930 yards and seven TDs.
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On an afternoon where Robinson completed passes to nine different receivers, Roundtree grabbed two for 25 yards, but most importantly, found the endzone for the first time in 2012 with an 18-yard scoring snag.
The running game hasn't been in question, as Robinson has been at his scampering best and starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint continues to get acclimated coming off of a suspension in the opener.
Saturday was an important tuneup at the Big House for the Wolverines, and it was key for Robinson to find as many different targets as possible ahead of a stern road test next week in South Bend against heated rival Notre Dame. Developing chemistry in the passing game that was very inconsistent in the first two contests is essential if Michigan wants to contend for the Conference Championship this season.
The Minutemen game arrived in the nick of time for a Wolverines team that has already faced heavy adversity early in the season, consisting of a blowout against Alabama in the first game and a scare at home against the Falcons last week.
How balanced the Wolverines pro-style attack is will determine their chances of winning the Big Ten title, but the supporting cast around Robinson is striding in the right direction and making big plays for their three-year starting quarterback.
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