Final Score: Michigan 28, Akron 24
Michigan defeated a surprising Akron Zips squad 28-24 in Ann Arbor to stay undefeated at 3-0, narrowly avoiding a total letdown following the win over Notre Dame.
Let's take a look at how the struggling Wolverines graded out in this performance.
For the full box score, check out NCAA.com
Game Analysis for the Michigan Wolverines
Devin Gardner spread the ball around well to eight different receivers for 249 yards, but he also made numerous mistakes, with three interceptions. The offensive line simply has to perform better against lesser-talented competition.
Gardner has a long way to go and needs to improve his decision-making when pressured.
Fitzgerald Toussaint and Devin Gardner carried the load for nearly 200 yards and generated some huge 30-plus-yard plays.
However, with no push from the offensive line up the middle, this unit struggled to dominate the pace and put Akron away, despite the gap in talent.
Despite the defense pressuring Kyle Pohl regularly, the Akron quarterback stayed poised and found way too many holes in Michigan’s coverage.
Jared Wilson and Blake Countess absolutely saved the Wolverines with two interceptions in clutch moments.
Michigan cannot give up 311 passing yards and expect regular success.
Michigan’s defensive line wore down and let Akron get some important first downs in the second half to keep drives alive and the game too close.
Once Akron got the passing game going, Michigan simply fell asleep on the run, and that cannot happen if the Wolverines are to be a good defensive squad.
Outside of one 55-yard punt, Matt Wile put Michigan in bad field position all day. That punting has to be solved moving forward.
The Wolverines made no big positive plays, and a missed field goal almost cost Michigan the game. Simply unacceptable.
Al Borges put his trust in Devin Gardner to do it all in the second half, but his inexperience made the results a mixed bag.
Terry Bowden made Michigan’s defense look awful in the second half, which is a bad sign for Big Ten play.
1st-Half Analysis for the Michigan Wolverines
Akron forced some pressure on Devin Gardner to disrupt the passing game, but Gardner looked good when given the time to make two or three reads.
Gardner rushed things too much at the end of the half, leading to two interceptions and lost points. There will be no rest for Gardner in the second half at this pace.
The Wolverines struggled trying to run up the middle in the first quarter, but Fitzgerald Toussaint appeared to find a potential weakness running to the sidelines.
Still, 30 yards on 12 carries is not enough against the Zips. Devin Gardner has to avoid silly turnovers in the red zone, as well.
Michigan's defensive line generated pressure with and without blitzes very well.
The pursuit on screen plays was particularly impressive, which shut down one of Akron’s best weapons. Blake Countess made the most important play of the half with another interception.
Akron rushed for 12 yards on the first play from scrimmage, but then the Wolverines completely shut the Zips down after that.
If Michigan can continue keeping Akron under two yards per carry, that should force some mistakes in a desperate passing game.
Michigan generated no positive momentum with special teams, and Matt Wile’s first punt, of 21 yards, led to Akron points.
Brendan Gibbons missing his first field goal is also troubling in a closer-than-expected game. (And it broke a streak of 16 consecutive makes.)
With the run game failing up the middle, Michigan needs to let Gardner air it out more to put this game away.
The defensive calls have been amazing from Greg Mattison thus far, blitzing just enough to keep Akron off balance.