Observations on the win over Connecticut, 24-21
Michigan converted its three red zones for 17 points; the Huskies gained two red zone conversions for 14 points. The Wolverines gained 7 points off one Husky turnover, and Connecticut turned 4 Michigan turnovers into 14 points.
Offense was bad, but like last week, it scored when it had to for the win. Overall, the Wolverines gained 289 net yards, 19 first downs, and were 7 of 18 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Gardner was 11 of 23 for 97 yards, and threw four completions to Jeremy Gallon for 31 yards. Fitzgerald Touissaint gained 120 yards in 24 carries for 2 TDS, and Gardner gained 64 yards in 19 carries for the third TD. We fumbled the ball 4 times, and gave it up twice to go with 2 interceptions; we were forced into 5 punts. Smallwood led the Huskies with 13 tackles, 2 for loss including a sack.
Defense forced Connecticut into six "3 and outs." Overall, the defense won the game with the second half stops, and turnover. Jibreel Black, Ramon Taylor and Joe Bolden led the defense with six tackles each. Michigan had 4 sacks, 2 by Frank Clark. The defensive stops helped the Wolverines gain a huge 12 minute time of possession advantage which gave us 15 extra offensive plays despite the 4 turnovers. We held Connecticut to 206 net yards, 12 first downs, and the Huskies only converted once in 12 3rd and 4th down conversions. We forced the Huskies into 8 punts plus the turnover.
In the end, special team play ended up winning the game for the Wolverines in the second half despite a terrible first half. Gibbons hit the game winning field goal, and the punt return by Drew Dileo helped create momentum even though it was called back on a stupid decision by another freshman, Jourdan Lewis. The miss by Chad Christen was huge for setting up the Wolverine comeback.
The Bye Week isn't going to help this team get better. This team lacks leadership, poise, and confidence. Gardner can't handle pressure, and several Big Ten teams will bring it particularly our rivals. We have no running game other than the quarterback draw so aptly described by Chris Spielman. We are young, and making a lot of bad mistakes that we won't always be able to play over especially in conference play. Hopefully, we can beat Minnesota and start out the conference campaign on a high note.