Wolverine Wednesday: Bye Week After Back-to-Back Struggles

This week’s bye week will give the Michigan Wolverines an opportunity to regroup after back-to-back narrow wins over inferior opponents. In week three, Michigan made a last second goal line stand against MAC bottom dweller Akron. The Wolverines followed up their uninspiring win over the Zips with a 24-21 road victory at Connecticut. Clearly, there are some serious problems in Ann Arbor.

Once again, quarterback Devin Gardner did not play like the Heisman hopeful that he was perceived to be at the beginning of the season. Gardner finished with 13 completions on 25 passing attempts, only 111 passing yards, two interceptions, and no passing touchdowns. The junior quarterback finished with 59 rushing yards, only 3.1 yards-per-carry, and one touchdown. Much like in his previous horrific performances, Gardner could not hang on the ball. Aside from his two interceptions, Gardner fumbled on a quarterback sneak, which was taken back for a Connecticut touchdown. He also fumbled on a fourth and two quarterback draw, however was able to gain back possession (which ultimately did not matter because Gardner fell on the ball behind the first down marker). These turnovers gives underdog teams the ability to stay in games.  With a Wolverines team shrouded with questions, one thing is a apparent: Devin Gardner needs to step up his game.

The running game looked a little better than in weeks past. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint had his best game of the season, with 120 yards rushing yards and two touchdowns. Toussaint showed some excellent vision in the open field and good speed. Despite Toussaint’s admirable statistics, it is somewhat disappointing that he did not have more yards against the Huskies than Towson University’s running back, Terrance West, when he played Connecticut.

In fact, Michigan’s offense as a whole was outperformed by Towson’s offense, in terms of their respective games against Connecticut. Towson had more rushing, passing, and total yards, while scoring more points and turning the ball over less. Let that soak in, a Division 1AA school outperformed the once mighty Michigan Wolverines.

Although, this is becoming an all too frequent occurrence in Ann Arbor. With losses to Appalachian State in 2007 and Toledo in 2008, followed by this year’s short comings against Akron and Connecticut, the Wolverines have a history of playing down to their opponent.

After the none too impressive win against Akron, senior captain Taylor Lewan promised Michigan would not come out flat again. Yet, here we are. That promise fell in less than a week.

In his first ever Michigan press conference, current Michigan head coach Brady Hoke was asked if he thought his newly appointed job with the Wolverines was still an “elite” job.

“This is Michigan, for God’s sake,” Hoke said.

But, can that still be said? Does Michigan still hold the prestige that it has been associated with for over 100 years?  Or, are the Wolverines starting to become just another middle of the road Big Ten team?

Only the rest of the season will tell.

 

 

 

Photo via: Kentucky.com

 

Matt Moore contributes writings about the NFL Draft and Michigan Football for ProFootballCentral. Follow Matt on Twitter @Matt23Moore.