Even after two dominant games, Michigan football has ideas for improvement – MLive.com

Michigan's Isaiah Gash (41) tumbles into the end zone through contact during Michigan's matchup with Hawaii at the Big House on September 10, 2022.Ryan Sun | rsun@mlive.com
ANN ARBOR — Michigan is 0-2 on the opening coin toss this season. Once the games have started, however, the Wolverines have been unstoppable.
Michigan has steamrolled its first two opponents, beating Colorado State 51-7 in the opener and topping Hawaii 56-10 on Saturday. Only one team in FBS has scored more points than Michigan. Only 10 have allowed fewer.
To an outsider, Michigan has been near perfect. Inside the program, there’s room for improvement.
Two things stood out to the Wolverines who met with the media on Monday afternoon: forcing turnovers and limiting pressure.
Against Colorado State, Michigan recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass. Several Wolverines said this summer that creating more takeaways was the primary goal this season. It was a good start, but Michigan didn’t force any against Hawaii.
Of course, there weren’t all that many opportunities. Michigan’s defense kept forcing three-and-outs, thus limiting the number of plays Hawaii’s offense ran. Hawaii failed to pick up a first down on seven of its first nine drives, not counting a two-play drive just before halftime. Hawaii gained just 253 yards total, and 148 of those came in the fourth quarter of a game that had been decided in the first half.
Even so, defensive back Gemon Green said Michigan is emphasizing takeaways and better communication. Although Colorado State and Hawaii are rebuilding programs, Green said he and his teammates treat every opponent like Ohio State as far as preparation. And there are elements of Michigan’s performance, he thinks, that indicate the defense is legit.
“Just how we’re flying to the ball,” he said. “We try to keep pressure on teams’ necks. We try to manhandle everybody in front of us so when we get to those (more challenging) games it will be a breeze.”
Offensively, Michigan has had little problem moving the ball, especially with J.J. McCarthy at quarterback. Cade McNamara has struggled a bit, partly because of pressure. Michigan has allowed three sacks this season, all when McNamara was in the game.
Against Colorado State, senior right tackle Trente Jones allowed a sack in his first career start, getting beat on the outside. This past Saturday, starting right guard Zak Zinter got beat on a nice move inside, as did one of his backups, freshman Connor Jones.
A strong offensive line and McNamara’s football IQ made Michigan one of the least sacked teams in the country last season (just one per game). McCarthy will be the starter going forward, but his mobility should help avoid sacks even if there is leakage along the line. Jones said the line needs to improve its cohesiveness, especially on double teams.
If Michigan can clean up the “little things,” as Jones called them, “The sky’s the limit” for the offense.
Michigan’s next test comes Saturday at home against Connecticut, except the Huskies are likely to test Michigan in the same way Colorado State and Hawaii did, which is to say, not much at all.
Michigan will try to force turnovers, protect its quarterbacks, and play to a standard rather than the opponent. The Wolverines appear to be playing flawlessly. They believe they can be even better.
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