Biggest Surprises for Michigan Wolverines Through Week 3
It's no surprise that Michigan is undefeated through three games.
But the way that the Wolverines have arrived at 3-0 is a bit perplexing.
In Week 1, Team 134 blew the doors off Central Michigan, 59-9. Notre Dame fell 41-30 in Week 2, and Michigan then appeared to be a top-10 team in the making, one that could challenge for a B1G championship.
Then Saturday happened. Akron came to The Big House and nearly left a winner. That shocked the masses. No one expected the Zips to hang around past halftime, let alone push Hoke to a one-play decision.
Nonetheless, Michigan escaped with a 28-24 win that probably should have gone to coach Terry Bowden's club. But a win is a win, or so it's said.
This slideshow will examine the biggest shocks through the first three games. Akron, obviously, is the heavyweight in the mix. But there's much more than a four-point victory to discuss.
Devin Gardner's Pick-Sixes
Throwing interceptions are part of making mistakes. Quarterbacks tend to learn from them and move forward.
Devin Gardner, though, apparently didn't learn his lesson from Week 2: While backed up against his own goal line, the redshirt junior tossed the football into the paws of Irish defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt—who was in the end zone.
That turnover made Michigan's 41-30 win closer than it should have been.
Gardner has to work on taking better care of the football. He didn't do that Saturday versus Akron. His latest pick-six—a gift, if anything—was a 27-yard touchdown toss to the other guys, who, in this case, happened to be Zips junior linebacker Justin March.
Pick-sixes happen from time to time. But they become more problematic when they're thrown in back-to-back games.
Where Are the Sacks?
Five sacks in three games.
Considering the opposition, that should be an embarrassing stat for Michigan's defense. Greg Mattison's unit is better than that. But facts are facts, and the Wolverines just aren't getting to quarterbacks.
On the other hand, Gardner has been sacked an average of once per game. That's something to build upon, sure. But you also have to consider the opposition.
Game log/cumulative stats on MGoBlue.com
Derrick Green's Lack of Carries
Derrick Green entered Michigan as a 4-star running back, according to 247Sports. The former Hermitage High (Va.) bulldozer was ranked the No. 8 back of the 2013 class. Expectations for the 6'0", 240-pound freshman remain high, despite his lack of carries in the early goings of the season.
With just 13 totes and 60 yards to his credit, Green hasn't been given an adequate shot to show what he can do. He has a touchdown on his resume too; he can get in the end zone, so that's not an issue. The Wolverines are running the ball with a similar philosophy as last year; one guy sees the most action but production lacks.
The frosh touched the ball once Saturday during Michigan's 28-24 win over Akron. Ideally, it was a game in which he should have been called upon several times.
Saturday could have been much different for the Zips if a couple of things went their way on the final play of the game. As they lined up near the goal line on fourth down, quarterback Kyle Pohl dropped back a few steps and floated a pass to the middle of the end zone.
Zach D'Orazio, who had a monstrous day as it stood, slipped while being guarded and watched the pass sail out of the back of the end zone; he got a hand on the ball, but not enough to reel in the catch.
It was a devastating loss for Akron coach Terry Bowden, who told MLive.com's Pete Cunningham that he expected to compete with the Wolverines. Given Michigan's emotion put forth against Notre Dame, Bowden, formerly of Auburn, though the Zips were in a great position to capitalize on a potential letdown.
Bowden told Cunningham the following:
You just kept saying to yourself as a coach -- an old coach, which I think I’m getting to be -- they can’t get that type of emotion again. Not this quick. So I was crossing my fingers, and I think a little bit that was the case. I’ve been there, in that situation and that’s awful hard to get a team ready to go with a game like this, so I know what that’s like.
The fact that the game was decided on the final snap doesn't look great for Michigan, which was ranked No. 11 heading into the match. Bowden knows football, and he was prepared to jump all over Brady Hoke's team. Hoke may have not prepared his players to the same extent as Bowden, the son of legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.
If anything, Week 3's debacle should serve as a wake-up call for Hoke. He remains perfect at home (17-0), but perhaps an asterisk is needed next to the Akron win. That wasn't Team 134 football played Saturday at The Big House.
Well, let's rephrase that. Michigan didn't play Team 134 football. Akron did.
Finishing off an opponent is how great teams win. Team 134 hasn't learned how to do that just yet. Take away the Central Michigan game, and you'll see a team that struggled to put away Notre Dame and Akron.
Michigan's points by quarters, according to MGoBlue.com:
SCORE BY QUARTERS 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total -------------------- --- --- --- --- --- Michigan............ 31 38 42 17 - 128 Opponents........... 13 9 14 27 - 63
It's easy to see where the problem is so far, isn't it? The Wolverines have been outscored 27-17 in the fourth quarter. That's not acceptable, and it's certainly not the trademark of a Big Ten power with BCS aspirations.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81