Michigan Football: Winners and Losers from Week 3 Game vs. UMass

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IISeptember 16, 2012

Michigan Football: Winners and Losers from Week 3 Game vs. UMass

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    It was bound to happen, right? 

    The Michigan Wolverines' offense finally came to life during Saturday's 63-13 thrashing of the visiting UMass Minutemen, flexing its muscle early and often, getting everyone involved and helping the team forget two previous lukewarm showings in Weeks 1 and 2.

    Wolverines coach Brady Hoke told The Wolverine.com, "It's great to win, but if we want to win the Big Ten championship, we've got to improve in a lot of areas. They start up front on both lines of scrimmage."

    Hoke's postgame thoughts lend a hint as to whom the winners and losers were during Week 3. But let's summarize a couple talking points before the grand breakdown.

    Winner: Denard Robinson, of course. He showcased his highly criticized arm and actually appeared to be more of a quarterback and less of a guy who's under center and just runs, runs, runs.

    Loser(s): The guys on the offensive and defensive lines. Hoke was far from thrilled by the way those two groups played, despite a huge victory.

    As promised, let's get into the analysis and break down the successful players and the ones who weren't...well, the ones who weren't so successful.

Denard Robinson Wins...and Wins Big Time

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    Despite throwing a touchdown pass to UMass' Christian Birt, Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson was golden Saturday.

    "I left a couple throws out on the field, and there was the pick-6," Robinson told the Associated Press. "I read that play perfectly, but I made a terrible throw."

    Robinson shouldn't be so hard on himself; he fueled the fire that is the Legend of Shoelace during a 63-13 victory over the visiting Minutemen.

    One of the biggest knocks on Robinson is the fact that he lacks a high-caliber arm and great accuracy. Well, all of that is true: Robinson isn't exactly former Stanford star Andrew Luck when it comes to tossing the football.

    However, Robinson proved that his hard work has indeed paid off. Extra workouts, arm-strengthening exercises and hours spent to improve his mechanics were evident Saturday.

    Robinson threw for a season-high 291 yards and completed a season-high 16 pass attempts (16-of-24) en route to leapfrogging Tom Brady and Jim Harbaugh on Michigan's career-passer list; he's now fifth in school history with 5,630 yards.

    Passing two legends is great, but it's not Robinson's focus.

    "To be honest with you, the only thing I think about is just winning and being accountable for my team," Robinson told the Detroit News.

    Robinson's big, three-touchdown day through the air overshadowed the fact that he was nearly unstoppable on the ground, rushing for 109 yards and a score.

    Yeah, he did a little with his legs against UMass.

Devin Funchess Wins Again

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    He's just a freshman, and Michigan is just three weeks through the 2012 football season, but tight end Devin Funchess appears to be getting better and better.

    The brawny, 6'5", 240-pound frosh opened Michigan's scoring frenzy Saturday with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Denard Robinson. The catch put the Wolverines on the board first, and they never looked back en route to hanging a 63-13 win on UMass.

    It may be a little early to say this, but Funchess is developing into a star before our very eyes.

    And not just a localized star, either. Funchess is on the fast track to being one of the top tight ends in the Big Ten if he continues to play the way he's playing.

    For the second consecutive week, Funchess comes out a winner. He was honored as a top freshman by the Big Ten in Week 2, and he certainly showed off his talent Saturday with 34 receiving yards from just two catches.

The O- and D-Lines Lose, According to Hoke

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    Michigan held UMass to just 112 rushing yards on the ground. But the Minutemen made good on seven of 17 third-down conversions. Michigan's offense put up a season-high 585 total yards of offense.

    So the lines played well, right?

    Not according to Wolverines coach Brady Hoke, who was somewhat disappointed in the way the units played Saturday.

    "I wasn't frustrated with our offensive linemen, because I know how hard they go to work, how much they put into it, but at the same time, they've got to do better," Hoke told The Wolverine.com.

    "I like our offensive line, it's my favorite part of the football team because of the work that they do. We put a lot of pressure on them, just like we do the defensive line. And if you're going to be good at football, you'd better be good on your offensive and defensive line.

    "I don't think we moved the line of scrimmage as well as we needed to. We better play with better leverage, combination block better when we're doing that, and we'd better finish."

    Hoke probably expected mistake-free football given the opponent. Not to knock UMass, but it really served as a glorified scout team for the Wolverines, who will tangle with Notre Dame next Saturday. Anything less than a gargantuan win would have been unacceptable.

    Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson echoed similar thoughts as Hoke regarding the offensive line; it does work hard, and getting better is inevitable.

    "We've been challenging ourselves in practice, working hard every day," Robinson told The Wolverine.com. "We're challenging everyone up front to do better. We've been working and working, and it's finally picking up and paying off."

    Saying that the offensive and defensive lines were "losers" is a judgment call. But if Hoke was disappointed, then the label fits.

    Maybe I'm just being overly critical. We'll just call the linemen "non-winners."

UMass and QB Mike Wegzyn Lose Big, but Sort of Win

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    UMass hadn't scored a touchdown prior to meeting Michigan.

    Christian Birt's 32-yard pick-six changed all of that.

    Now, the ball is in the offense's court. The defense notched the first touchdown of the season, so the offense has to follow suit and start scoring.

    On a somewhat related note, considering UMass quarterback Mike Wegzyn a winner might be justified. It's a judgment call, but the Michigan native showed at least a fraction of poise and confidence when facing a much bigger, faster and more talented defense than what he saw prior to Saturday.

    Kudos to Wegzyn for not collapsing under pressure; he took his fair share of lumps, sure—but he was effective in the first half and engineered a couple should-have-been touchdown drives.

    Wegzyn completed 14 of 29 passes, hooked up with five different receivers and threw for 141 yards—nothing too impressive, but a good start against a good team for a freshman.

    However, UMass coach Charley Molnar failed to see any type of silver lining to Saturday's 63-13 loss to the Wolverines. He's correct, to an extent. No coach wants his team to lose the way UMass lost.

    "It was a sloppy day for us in just about every area," Molnar told the Associated Press via ESPN. "Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong."

Roy Roundtree Must Be Feeling Better, so That's a Win for Michigan

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    Roy Roundtree is coming off knee surgery, so that's probably why he hasn't been targeted much during the first three weeks of the season.

    As an attempt at humor, I jokingly poked fun at Roundtree's "emergence" during Saturday's game. 

    Roundtree is too good of a player to stay down for long, and he looked more nimble in Michigan's win. That's a good thing for Michigan, which could surely use his presence and hands to lighten the load for Denard Robinson.

    Roundtree had an 18-yard touchdown reception (two catches totaling 25 yards) and could be on his way to feeling better after a pesky surgery.

    Look for more Roundtree in the coming weeks—that is if he's on a quick pace to recovery. Either way, it was a welcome sign seeing one of the Wolverines' top receivers make a big play and presumably gain confidence.

     

    Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.