Michigan Football: What Wolverines Must Do to Fix Slow Start

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 15:  Quarterback Denard Robinson #16 of the University of Michigan Wolverines runs up field during a Big Ten College football game against the University of Massachusetts Minutemen at Michigan Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wolverines won 63-13  (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Michigan was expecting to do better than a 2-2 start to the year, but the good news is that there is plenty of time to turn things around.

The season started with a highly anticipated matchup with defending national champion Alabama. Unfortunately, the team failed miserably in the difficult test and lost 41-14 on a neutral field.

Things have not gotten better after struggling against Air Force and losing on the road to Notre Dame.

During the bye week, the Wolverines should have been focusing on the factors below as the team looks to redeem itself in Big Ten play.


Avoid Turnovers

This is the easiest thing to fix as the team begins its conference schedule. It is not a matter of talent, but rather poor decisions that have led to the early struggles.

Quarterback Denard Robinson has thrown eight interceptions already this season. Only SMU's Garrett Gilbert and Dominique Blackmon of Idaho have thrown more in all of FBS. Six of those interceptions came in the two losses to Alabama and Notre Dame, giving his team very little chance to win.

Michigan has a talented offense, but it does not matter how many yards are gained if the ball keeps ending up in the defense's hands.

Once the team is more careful with the football, the points will start to add up and so will the wins.


Continuing Improving Run Defense

After two games, this seemed like a lost cause for the defense. Alabama totaled 232 yards on the ground in Week 1, and Air Force followed up with 290 rushing yards.

Things seem better, as the Wolverines held Notre Dame and Massachusetts to a combined 3.07 yards per carry. Unfortunately, though, neither of these opponents is too intimidating in its rushing attack.

Northwestern, Nebraska and Ohio State all have elite run games and will cause the Wolverines problems later in the year if things do not improve.


Find a Second Playmaker on Offense

Robinson is an elite talent, but he cannot do everything on his own. Someone else on the team needs to help him out and provide yards when defenses key on the quarterback.

Fitzgerald Toussaint is the obvious choice after a big year last year. However, the running back has been inconsistent in his three games. The team needs to get him more opportunities to make things happen to give Robinson some relief.

The squad also needs someone to step up and become a go-to target at receiver. Four different players have led the team in receiving over the first four games, and it makes it difficult for the quarterback to trust them.

Jeremy Gallon had the most receiving yards on the team last season among the returning players, and the junior needs to be a leader on the offense for the rest of the year.



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