Posted September 22, 2013

Michigan escapes with narrow win over UConn; more late Week 4 Snap Judgments

Connecticut Huskies, Michigan Wolverines, Snap Judgments
Devin Gardner

Devin Gardner (98) and Michigan narrowly survived an upset bid from UConn on Saturday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Snaps Judgments from the Week 4 late slate. For more content, check out Andy Staples’ story from Florida-Tennessee, Stewart Mandel’s look at Stanford-Arizona State and our early and midday Snaps.

No. 15 Michigan 24, Connecticut 21: A week ago, all of college football watched as Akron took then-No. 11 Michigan down to the wire at the Big House. Though the Wolverines escaped with a 28-24 victory, they required a final-play, goal-line stand to thwart the stunning upset bid from the Zips.

This Saturday, that same Michigan team struggled mightily against UConn, and it showed that perhaps this Wolverines roster — the same roster that convincingly disposed of Notre Dame in Week 2 — has many more holes than many once thought.

Quarterback Devin Gardner ran for a 17-yard touchdown to give Michigan a 7-0 lead in the quarter. But then UConn, which lost its opener to FCS Towson in Week 1, ran off 21 straight points to take a two-touchdown lead in front of its home crowd. Though Wolverines tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for a 35-yard touchdown with just more than five minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Huskies held a seven-point lead over the Wolverines heading into the final period. Brady Hoke’s squad was on upset watch once again.

But Michigan stepped up with 10 minutes left, when Desmond Morgan picked off UConn quarterback Chandler Witmer with a one-handed interception. On the very next play, Toussaint scampered 12 yards for the tying score, and after a defensive stand, the Wolverines got the ball back and converted a 21-yard field goal to claim the lead for good. UConn came within five yards of converting a 4th-and-29 attempt to get into field-goal range, but Michigan managed to escape a surprisingly close call for the second consecutive week.

It’s becoming evident that the Wolverines have a tendency to play down to the level of their opponents. On Saturday the Huskies converted just 1-of-11 third downs and registered a mere 205 yards of total offense, but Michigan shot itself in the foot with two interceptions from Gardner — who completed only 48 percent of his throws — and four total fumbles, two of which were lost.

If the Wolverines are to truly compete in the Big Ten, they must show more discipline, especially on the road. That starts with Gardner; he has thrown a combined five interceptions against Akron and UConn, a far cry from his sparkling performance against Notre Dame in Week 2.

Hoke knows better than anybody that his team is lucky to emerge from the last two weeks unscathed. In Big Ten play, the Wolverines might not be so lucky. [RECAP | BOX]

No. 5 Stanford 42, No. 23 Arizona State 28: The Cardinal had their way with the visiting Sun Devils early, scoring the game’s first 29 points. SI.com’s Stewart Mandel was in Palo Alto and has more from the scene. [RECAP | BOX]

No. 6 LSU 35, Auburn 21: Jeremy Hill rushed for a career-high 184 yards and tied a career-high with three touchdowns as LSU led by as many as 21 in holding off visiting Auburn in a rain-soaked meeting in Baton Rouge. Both Tiger programs are enjoying offensive resurgences, and the effects showed in this matchup: The teams combined for 894 total yards in Death Valley. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger shook off his first interception of the season to register 224 yards through the air on 17-of-33 passing. [RECAP | BOX]

Texas 31, Kansas State 21: The weight on Mack Brown’s shoulders got a little lighter on Saturday as Texas claimed its Big 12 opener with a win against Kansas State. Johnathan Gray rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns as the Longhorns snapped a two-game losing streak. But starting quarterback David Ash, in his first game back since missing a contest with a head injury, sat out the second half after the team’s medical personnel evaluated the quarterback for another possible head injury. [RECAP | BOX]

No. 10 Texas A&M 42, SMU 13: The Aggies’ offense performed up to its lofty standard: It racked up 581 total yards and 28 first downs. Johnny Manziel went 14-of-21 for 244 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 102 yards and two more scores. Through four games, Manziel has reeled off a whopping 1,483 yards of total offense, or an average 370.8 yards per game. That’s a big reason why A&M’s production is surging:

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No. 1 Alabama 31, Colorado State 6: One week after hanging 49 points on Texas A&M, things didn’t go as smoothly for Alabama against Colorado State. Rams head coach Jim McElwain, the Crimson Tide’s former offensive coordinator, might have been shaking his head as Alabama scored just one offensive touchdown in the first half. But Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson’s fumble early in the fourth quarter all but snapped the Rams’ shot at an upset. ‘Bama’s AJ McCarron found DeAndrew White for a 30-yard touchdown on the very next play. [RECAP l BOX]

No. 25 Texas Tech 33, Texas State 7: Texas Tech quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb combined for 434 passing yards, but the Red Raiders’ defense also showed up against Texas State. The Red Raiders held the Bobcats to 240 total yards, including 107 rushing yards. [RECAP l BOX]

No. 16 Miami 77, Savannah State 7: Things got out of hand quickly in this one. The ‘Canes scored on their first seven possessions and freshman tailback Gus Edwards rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns. Miami broke the school record for points in a game, overtaking the previous mark of 75 scored against Fordham in 1954 — something it accomplished in only three quarters. That prompted this:

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Northern Illinois 43, Eastern Illinois 39: The Huskies were challenged by their in-state opponent, as both offenses moved the ball at will. NIU and Eastern Illinois combined for 1,179 yards of total offense in a game that wasn’t always as close as the final score indicated. Eastern Illinois jumped out to a 20-0 first-quarter lead before NIU scored 30 unanswered points to take back the lead. Still, it took a Keith Harris eight-yard touchdown run with 8:25 remaining to lift the Huskies ahead for good. NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch had a big night, reeling off 424 of his team’s 602 total yards. [RECAP l BOX]

Missouri 45, Indiana 28: Missouri quarterback James Franklin ran in a touchdown and Tigers’ defensive end Kony Ealy chalked up a pick-six to break open a tie game just before halftime and top Indiana. Missouri hadn’t played the Hoosiers since 1992 but snapped an eight-game losing streak in the series. [RECAP | BOX]

Utah 20, BYU 13: The Holy War again came down to the final minutes despite Utah holding a 20-6 lead in the fourth quarter. BYU’s Michael Alisa punched in a touchdown run with 5:13 remaining to come within one score of the Utes, but on the Cougars’ next possession, quarterback Taysom Hill (359 total yards of offense) was intercepted by Michael Walker on 4th-and-13 with 1:37 to play. Viewers also witnessed a scary moment when Cougars’ running back Jamaal Williams landed awkwardly on his head in the third quarter and was carted off the field. BYU confirmed that the tailback is being treated for spine and shoulder injuries. [RECAP | BOX]

No. 13 UCLA 59, New Mexico State 13: The Bruins honored late receiver Nick Pasquale in a memorable way against the Aggies. UCLA trotted out only 10 men on the field for their first offensive possession in memory of Pasquale, who was hit by a car and killed two weeks ago. It didn’t take long for the Bruins to find their groove once the game got rolling, though; UCLA scored the contest’s first 45 points and Brett Hundley threw for 286 yards and three scores in the rout. [RECAP | BOX]

5 comments
Eyzwidopn
Eyzwidopn

Speaking to the ABC reporter right after the game, Hoke said that the turnover problem started last year and he doesn't know why it's happening.  Hoke should look no further than "accountability" for the answer. 

Hoke and Borges let Denard off the hook for his turnover problems because they adopted a "live with it" attitude due to the hybrid offense they were stuck running with Denard at QB. But what effect did that "blind eye" approach have on the rest of the team. 

Yes, this is a young team and mistakes are to be expected but what type of environment are these mistake being made in? For all of Denard's exciting plays, he cost the team games with his bad decision making and let's be honest, poor QB fundamentals. But the real story is If Hoke really held his players accountable, was trying to teach them what "accountability" means for the team, on the field and ultimately in life, then he would have pulled Denard after multiple turnovers in multiple games... just like he should treat Gardner now.  

If a running back fumbles repeatedly he's pulled (just ask Wilson for the Giants), so how is it Gardner has 7 turnovers the past 2 games and he has yet to sniff the bench? And it's not just the past two games, it's the fact that Gardner has at least one turnover in his past seven games at starter and it's only getting worse. If there's no threat of Gardner losing his job or at the very least being benched during a game to give him a different perspective, then how deep can his effort to stop turning the ball over be? 

Accountability.  If this program has championship aspirations then standards have to be set and met by the coaches and filtered down to the players. Any player who doesn't live up to those standards, on and off the field, will only hold the team back, cost the team games and keep the program in also-ran status. 

Start giving Morris more reps in practice because come B10 play, this team can't afford to wait for Gardner to "get it," or find his confidence... and if the coaches keep treating Gardner like they did Denard, then UofM isn't playing for championships, it's just coddling players and seeding a breeding ground for bad habits and mediocrity.

TL1961
TL1961

It's obvious Michigan is not a Top 15 team, but every year the winner of Michigan - Notre Dame automatically gets ranked well above where they deserve to be based on the overrating of the other one.

"Ooooohhhh....they beat ND. They must be a powerhouse."

Nope.

ChaPSP1956
ChaPSP1956

michigan just isnt physical enough or athletic enough!,they are not a top 15 team from what ive seen and they show no improvement on fundamentals,which is very  disconcerting! they are back to scramble,and despo/qb bolt ball! no blocking!,no def line penetration,!no pass game of scheme,or logic!  BRADY WHAT ARE YOU DOING?,AND WHATS THE PLAN? TRAGIC! WOEFUL! HIGHSCHOOL BALL AT BEST! 

AaronDunckel
AaronDunckel

Michigan just simply has to play more disciplined - as a fan, Im disappointed in the showing after coming out flat last week vs Akron.  You can't simple "get up" for the tougher games...  there needs to be better preparation and a greater focus on turnovers, because this mistake-prone football just isn't going to cut it