What started as a fun filled, free donut, fall feeling day at the big house, turned to disaster as the Wolverines found themselves down 24-21 to the MAC’s Akron Zips with just 4:10 left in the game.
Regrouping quickly and scoring on a 4-play, 70-yard drive that took just over a minute, Michigan made a difficult defensive stand inside their own five-yard line to improve to 3-0 on the season.
“Number one, give Akron a lot of credit,” Hoke said afterward. “Their kids came in here, like most Mid-American conference schools, they’re going to come in here to win the football game and play to win the football game.
“They coached it that way, they played it that way. They did a nice job. I told Terry (Bowden) that and I told Chuck Amato, cause he did some things defensively that were a little different.”
Turnovers told the tail on Saturday, namely junior quarterback Devin Gardner’s four giveaways including three interceptions and two fumbles, one of which was recovered by the Zips.
A pick-six by Akron junior linebacker Justin March to start the fourth quarter gave the Zips life, closing Michigan’s lead to four at 21-17 with 14:46 remaining.
“Anytime you don’t take care of the football, and I don’t care if we’re playing Saline high school or the Super Bowl champs, whoever that was, you can’t turn the ball over,” Hoke said.
“And that is number one, turnover margin, that will kill you as a football team.”
Akron earned more first downs (21) than Michigan (19) on Saturday while quarterback Kyle Pohl racked up 311-yards through the air on 25-of-49 passing to go with two touchdowns.
But not all of that responsibility rests on the shoulders of the Michigan secondary.
The most glaring statistic to jump off the box score, and one that has been emphasized at nauseam by the Michigan coaching staff as something that will need to improve moving forward -- sack total. On Saturday, that number was zero.
“I think the way we’ve worked at it it’s surprising it hasn’t been as good,” Hoke said. “To a certain degree, I think what hurt us today, if you go back and watch it was how many times we let him out of the pocket.
“When we had good push up the middle from, whoever it might’ve bad, how many times on the outside. And that’s one thing, going into the game, whatever we did we wanted to do in the cavity, up the middle, and push him to the guys on the outside.”
Michigan punter Matt Wile averaged just 33.0 yards per punt on four total Saturday, including a punt of 22-yards prior to Akron’s go ahead touchdown drive in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Hoke said the punting issues will be looked at closely this week.
“Obviously our punt game needs to go under the microscope in a lot of areas,” Hoke said. “And in the fourth quarter, that’s one thing we want to pride ourselves on.”
Essentially a three-man rotation through three games for the third cornerback spot, true freshman Jourdan Lewis found himself on the field quite a bit for the Wolverines Saturday. Fellow true freshman Channing Stribling shined as the third corner in week one while junior Delonte Hollowell received the bulk of reps in last weeks’ win over Notre Dame.
“We’ve liked how he’s progressed,” Hoke said of Lewis. “Him, Stribling and Delonte, really those three, all get about the same amount of reps and we like how Jourdan’s responded.”
To watch video of Hoke following Saturday’s win, press play below.