Sunday, September 22, 2013
Instant Analysis: Michigan 24, UConn 21
By Chantel Jennings
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Michigan wanted to take the field on Saturday and prove last weekend’s 28-24 win over Akron was something of an aberration in their season. However, what the Wolverines did was the exact opposite. If anything, they looked less composed than they did against Akron and spent a good portion of their game against UConn trailing, before a fourth-quarter rally pushed Michigan to a 24-21 win.
It was over when: The Huskies failed to convert on fourth-and-29 with 1:48 left in the game. It was far from the position Connecticut would want to be in, but after the night the Huskies had, it seemed all too possible that redshirt junior quarterback Chandler Whitmer would be able to create something out of nothing. Whitmer somehow managed to connect on a 26-yard pass to junior wide receiver Deshon Foxx, but it wasn’t enough, and Michigan took a knee with a 24-21 lead.
Gameball goes to: Whitmer. Coming into the matchup with the Wolverines, Whitmer had thrown only three touchdown passes all season. Against Michigan, the 6-foot-1 signal-caller threw for 159 yards and two touchdowns with just one interception while picking apart the Michigan defense.
Stat of the game: Devin Gardner went cold midway through the first quarter and didn’t find a spark until the third quarter. In that time span, Gardner was not only 0-of-7 passing, but he threw one interception, fumbled the ball, was sacked twice (for a total loss of 17 yards) and carried the ball seven times for 32 yards.
What Michigan learned: Maybe it wasn't all preparation. The Wolverines blamed their close Akron victory on a poor week of prep, but this past week they said they prepared better than ever. But the result was largely the same. Perhaps, they need to look more closely at the chemistry of both lines -- an offensive line that failed to get much push all game (though Fitzgerald Toussaint was able to spring out a few times and finish the game with 120 yards on 24 carries) and a defensive line that gave the Huskies huge holes to run through time and time again. And maybe they need to look at Gardner -- a QB who has been lauded as cool under pressure -- who, for most of the past eight quarters, has been anything but.
What it means: Michigan goes into its bye week with the taste of two really nasty games left in its mouth. Gardner had said it always feels like forever when he has to wait to get on the field after a bad performance. Now he has to wait two weeks, and at the end of the road is the beginning of the Big Ten schedule for a Michigan team that is still searching for its identity.