JOE D’S NOTEBOOK
MICHIGAN WEEK-Friday: The week of hype and anticipation is almost over. Tomorrow night is just after 8 pm , winless UConn plays 3-0 Michigan in the biggest game in the relatively brief history of Rentschler Field.
Is a big deal? You bet it is. This is Michigan, 11 National Titles, 42 Bowl Games, 42 Big Ten Titles, the winningest team in college football history. It is all there on the top of their game notes. Their history is undeniable. Never has such a prestigious team played at the Huskies home, a home that has been expanded by some 2,500 seats to handle the crowd.
But the game isn’t about history, or heritage. It’s about this year. And yes, Michigan is an overwhelming favorite. Devin Gardner is even better than Maryland’s C.J.Brown who tore up the Huskies last week. Jeremy Gallon is a threat at wide receiver. Michigan has two talented tight ends in Devin Funchess and Jake Butt. Taylor Lewan is an All-American offensive tackle and along with Michael Schofield form perhaps the best tandem of offensive tackles in the country. The Michigan defense doesn’t have familiar names but linebacker Cam Gordon and Desmond Morgan and safety Thomas Gordon are outstanding players.
So what chance do the Huskies have? Well last Saturday, Michigan was proven to be vulnerable by an Akron team that came within one yard of beating the Wolverines in the Big House. And UConn has to be able to do several things they haven’t done this season.
A)- They have to run the ball. Have to.. A ground game similar to last week will be a disaster for the offense. Whether it’s Lyle Mc Combs, Max DeLorenzo or Martin Hyppolite, somebody has to be able to make positive yardage.
B)- They have to give Chandler Whitmer time to throw the ball ..We saw last week that given time Whitmer can deliver the football downfield. If Shakim Phillips doesn’t play, someone like John Green or Dhameer Bradley or Brian Lemelle has to fill those giant shoes. We’ve seen Geremy Davis and Deshon Foxx show their ability, it’s time for some of the youngsters to contribute.
C)- The defense has to stop the run and has to get turnovers - There is a lot of talk in Michigan country about their inability to run the ball. The Connecticut defense can’t get gashed for big plays like they have been in the first two weeks. And the defense has to make Michigan cough the football up and maybe scoop and score on a fumble or get a Pick Six.
D)-Special teams have to be special - No dropped punts, no shanks, no fumbles, maybe break a return or two. Make things easier for the offense.
It won’t be easy but nobody said it would be. This is a chance for this team to show they can compete with a top 25 team.
Our coverage begins with Ray at the Rent at 4, then the tailgate show at 5:30, then our pre game show at 6:30. We hope you can join us.