The Wolverines find themselves in the somewhat sticky position of wondering whether they should seek a fix for something that is not really broken. For the most part, quarterback Denard Robinson has been the offense to this point, and that approach is working well, cranking out the yards and producing victories.
It is clear that this is the guy Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez wanted running his offense all along. It took a year for Rodriguez and the Michigan staff to give Robinson the foundation he needed, and for the speedster from Florida to learn enough about the offense that he could feel comfortable at the helm.
What has transpired in the first three games is that Robinson has demonstrated his incredible offensive skills, and led many to believe he might be the fastest player in the nation. He has also put himself in the Heisman Trophy discussion while leading Michigan to a 3-0 start.
The Wolverines need to decide if they want to ride Robinson as far as he might carry them, or if they are more inclined to tweak the scheme now, risking the chance they might louse up this good thing they have going. Robinson leads the nation with 186.33 rushing yards per game, and he had 502 yards of offense in the win over Notre Dame.
It will be tempting to stick with what has worked and challenge the opposition to try and stop the Robinson-centered attack. Until someone does, the Wolverines know Robinson is their best option.
What Michigan has to realize is that a lot of smart coaches are looking at more and more game films, and working on ways to limit Robinson's impact. As the season moves on, they will get closer to accomplishing that, we would think.
Then there is the concern that Robinson is exposing himself to injury far too often, with more than 25 carries per game. The overriding question now is: How will the slight Robinson hold up to the pounding over the course of the Big Ten schedule, which starts a week from now.
--Michigan faces Bowling Green of the Mid-American Conference, and the Wolverines own a slick 26-1 record against teams from the MAC, outscoring those opponents 914-250 in those 27 games.
--Despite his overall struggles in Ann Arbor, Michigan coach Rich Rodrigu
ez has fared well in September. He has gone 9-1 in his September games with the Wolverines, with his only loss coming to Notre Dame in 2008.
--This is still a very young team. Eighty-two of the 124 players on Michigan's roster are freshmen or sophomores in eligibility. There are just 16 seniors on the team.
SERIES HISTORY: Michigan leads 1-0 (last meeting, 2000, 42-7 Michigan).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Michigan has been humming along offensively, gaining in excess of 500 yards of total offense in its past two games. The Wolverines have more than 1,530 yards of offense just three games into the season. The key is to keep the offense evolving, and not be too predictable. QB Denard Robinson has carried too much of the workload to date, so the tailbacks and receivers need to be more productive. Bowling Green probably can't stop Michigan if it keeps things simple, but the Wolverines need to develop more diversity for coming dates.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Michigan opened the season against UConn looking like it had spent the winter patching up a rather flimsy defense. In the second game against Notre Dame, the Wolverines wobbled more, and last week against UMass, they looked like they could not stop anyone -- again. After giving up 439 yards and 37 points to the Minutemen, Michigan needs to be much stronger against the run, slow the Bowling Green spread and regain some confidence before plunging into the Big Ten schedule.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The biggest disappointment is that we took steps back fundamentally from the first game through the second and third. I thought we played tentative as the (UMass) game went on. You can't be a good defense being tentative." -- Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez on his team's suspect showing in the narrow win over UMass.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Bowling Green at Michigan, Sept. 18 -- The Wolverines (3-0 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) are still a little woozy after the close call they experienced against UMass. On paper, the Falcons don't have the talent, depth or weapons to beat Michigan, but neither did Massachusetts, and that one had too much drama. Michigan needs to build momentum going into the Big Ten schedule, and this week is the last opportunity to do so.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Bowling Green put up 40-plus points on Marshall last weekend, so the Falcons can score, and after the shaky performance by the Michigan defense against UMass, Bowling Green will be looking for vulnerabilities. Michigan's best approach is to give its defense a break, sustain its drives and not let the Falcons build any confidence. Michigan's tailbacks need to take more of the load off QB Denard Robinson and give Bowling Green more to worry about.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Tate Forcier -- The sophomore is potentially a ticking time bomb, with no one quite certain how long he will hang around and watch his eligibility disappear while Robinson continues to lead the team. Forcier is not happy with the situation, and hasn't made much effort to hide his discontent.
WR Martavious Odoms -- With teams focusing more and more on slowing the running of Robinson, the Wolverines have to open up more and more of the passing game. Odoms has 81 receptions for 845 yards and one touchdown in his Michigan career.
OL David Molk -- The two-time Rimington Trophy candidate has made 19 starts at center in his career, and after missing eight games in 2009 with knee and foot injuries, appears to be back as the leader up front. Michigan owes a lot of its offensive success to Molk and his comrades.
--DL Mike Martin has 80 tackles, five sacks, and 15 tackles for loss in his career. He set a career-high with 10 tackles and three stops for loss in last year's meeting with Wisconsin.
--WR Junior Hemingway, who had been out with a hamstring injury, made his season debut against UMass and had a 36-yard reception in the game.
--OL John Ferrara missed the UMass game, sidelined with a hand injury.
--LB Brandon Herron did not play against UMass as he continues to nurse an injured ankle.
--S Mike Williams sat out the Wolverines' game with UMass as he recovered from a concussion.
--LB Mike Jones suffered a broken leg in the win over Notre Dame and will likely miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery.
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