Akron vs. Michigan: Defense Slashed by the Spread as Wolverines Escape Zips

Phil CallihanContributor ISeptember 14, 2013

Sep 14, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Akron Zips wide receiver L.T. Smith (3) makes a catch over Michigan Wolverines defensive back Jourdan Lewis (26) on the one yard line in the second half at Michigan Stadium. Michigan won 28-24. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the Michigan Wolverines played a near-flawless game against historic rival Notre Dame and showed potential to be a great team. Against Akron, they showed that they still have a lot of work to do. 

Michigan is undefeated at home under Brady Hoke, winning 17 straight games, but that streak was in extreme jeopardy until a pass from Akron quarterback Kyle Pohl fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired, preserving a 28-24 Wolverines victory.

The Zips started their final drive with two minutes and 49 seconds on the clock and moved to the Michigan 4-yard line before coming up just short. It was the second time in the fourth quarter that the Zips had failed to punch the ball in for a score in the red zone, with a previous drive ending with an interception in the end zone on their first drive of the quarter.

The Wolverines defense struggled against Akron’s spread offense, giving up 418 yards of total offense and surrendering three second-half touchdownsand very nearly a fourth.

The biggest concern for Michigan is the ease that the Zips moved the ball against the Wolverines defense, having their most success when the game was on the line during the fourth quarter.

The Wolverines defense ran a number of defensive line stunts in the first half which contained Akron. In the second half, the Zips made adjustments which enabled quarterback Pohl to escape pressure and find receivers downfield. The Wolverines defense was unable to cover the Akron receivers, and the Zips churned yardage, reminding many Wolverines fans of the horrific Appalachian State loss during the 2007 season.

Head coach Brady Hoke was terse when asked about the struggles of the defense in his postgame press conference, “We failed to contain the quarterback. We got good pressure on him, but we allowed him to escape and it hurt us.”

The Akron offense had success when it a had a lot of field to work with, when the receivers had time to flood zones and move to open areas. Its two red-zone failures occurred from the 2-yard line and 4-yard lines where Wolverines defenders were able to pressure Pohl before he could find receivers.

If not for two for those red-zone failures, the Zips might have handed the Wolverines an embarrassing early season loss and given the Wolverines another team in Ohio to grumble about.

All quotes collected by author unless otherwise noted.