It seems Michigan are determined to tempt fate and keep games against much inferior opponents closer than they should be, as Devin Gardner continues to make mistake after mistake while the personnel tries to find new excuses for reasons to these poor performances, which won’t take them very far once the Big Ten conference schedule begins for them.
For the second straight week, they managed to avoid an embarrassing defeat, this time coming back from 14 points down to beat Connecticut 24-21, with Fitzgerald Toussaint being the man they should thank more than anyone else.
The offensive line hasn’t been able to really get a serious push against the Huskies, but Toussaint still managed to score two touchdowns on that comeback, finishing with 120 yards on 24 carries. Michigan also got 59 yards on 19 carries from its quarterback, but running was the only thing he did remotely well on the day.
Gardner might be advertised as a quarterback who is cool under pressure, but he seems anything but the model of calmness when the pass-rush is coming at him. He finished the game with only 111 yards on 13-of-25, getting intercepted twice, as the Wolverines ended up turning the ball over four times, including two fumbles. Garnder threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball once in the close win over Akron a week earlier.
We’re Michigan. We don’t play to everyone else’s level and for the last two weeks we have. But we’re going to step it up. We’ve got a major league problem and we’ve got to fix it because that’s not going to win championships.
Maybe that attitude has been part of the problem. This time, a bad preparation can’t be blamed on the close win. The bigger issue seems to be some disappointing performances along the lines, as the offensive line can’t fend off the pressure, while Connecticut enjoyed enough moments without too much pressure on Chandler Whitmer, allowing him to throw two touchdown passes. Michigan might believe they’re that team that used to be the best in the Big Ten and get national championship consideration at some point, but those days are still very far away from what we’ve been seeing.
Devin Gardner has too long of a stretch without anything going for him. Midway through the first quarter it seemed like he lost his ability to complete plays or make good reads, going 0-7 until some time in the third quarter. Meanwhile, he was intercepted, fumbled the ball, sacked twice and ran for 32 yards on 7 carries.
Michigan aren’t the team to get the Big Ten out of the slump it’s in when it comes to comparing with the SEC, Pac-12 or even the ACC at this point, but they have more talent then we’ve seen from them these last couple of weeks. The problem may be with the coaching staff not getting their players to play at the level they’re supposed to, with Gardner at the top of that list. It might be a bit of an ace out of a sleeve, but shaking things up and giving him a benching might be the answer to his inconsistent play recently.