Michigan vows to avoid letdown against Akron
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan vows to avoid a letdown against Akron after beating Norte Dame in a prime time, nationally televised game in front of the largest crowd to watch an NCAA football game.
That won’t be easy.
When the 11th-ranked Wolverines (2-0) host the Zips (1-1) of the Mid-American Conference on Saturday afternoon, they won’t face as tough of a test and there will be fewer fans in the stands.
“The main thing is, every week is important,” Michigan receiver Drew Dileo said Monday. “This week, it’s Akron at noon.”
Michigan coach Brady Hoke, likewise, sounds confident his team will not be basking in the glow of its win over the Fighting Irish on an electric night while they’re preparing to play an inferior opponent on what might be a ho-hum afternoon.
“I think our team has always been pretty focused on ourselves and what we need to do,” Hoke said Monday. “There’s enough out there that we need to do in all three phases.”
The Zips appear to be the perfect team to provide the Wolverines with a tuneup.
Akron, led for a second season former Auburn coach Terry Bowden, barely beat second-tier James Madison Saturday and has lost 27 straight road games since winning at Eastern Michigan nearly five years ago. The Zips will be in the same county as it was against Eastern Michigan, but they will basically be in another world on the football field against the Wolverines.
Hoke, however, is focusing on what the Wolverines want to correct from their 41-30 win over Notre Dame in front of 115,109 people.
“I don’t think we were perfect by any means,” Hoke said. “There’s a lot from offense, defense and kicking game that we can go back to work on and that’s what we have to do.”
In particular, Hoke hopes the Wolverines can run the ball better with their running backs than they did against Notre Dame.
Fitzgerald Toussaint had 71 yards rushing on 22 carries, one of which went for 21 yards, many that didn’t get very far past the line of scrimmage and some ending behind it as he lost a combined total of 12 yards. Quarterback Devin Gardner was effective as a ball carrier, running for 82 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, but Hoke would rather running backs carry more of the load on the ground.
Defensively, the Wolverines gave Tommy Rees plenty of time to throw on many pass plays and failed to sack him until his. And, the Irish had two running backs combined to average nearly 6 yards a carry for a total of 101 yards rushing.
And on special teams, Michigan allowed one kickoff to get returned 50 yards and had a penalty that could’ve been costly in a game that seemed closer than its 11-point margin of victory.
“Are we satisfied?” Hoke asked. “No, not even close.”
It would be difficult, though, to find a fault in Jeremy Gallon’s performance.
The senior wide receiver, recruited by former coach Rich Rodriguez, set career highs with 184 yards and three touchdowns against the Irish. Gallon, the first Michigan receiver with three TD receptions since Mario Manningham in 2006, was named the Big Ten offensive player of the week.
“I could never imagine me doing something like this,” Gallon said.
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