Michigan outlasted a game effort from Air Force to pick up its first win of 2012, but Brady Hoke’s Wolverines have hardly answered the questions Week 1’s blowout loss elicited.
Troy Calhoun’s Falcons brought their option offense and challenged the Wolverine defense, running back Cody Getz leading the way with three touchdowns. After falling behind 28-17 on Denard Robinson’s fourth touchdown, Air Force got up off the mat, dusted itself off and delivered some haymakers of its own. Getz’s final touchdown and the ensuing two-point conversion put the very real scare of 0-2 into the Big Blue.
UM defensive coordinator Greg Mattison deserves credit — preparing for the option on a short week of preparation is arduous, and the Wolverines held the Falcons when Michigan most desperately needed it. However, the win might not be the medicine UM needed after Alabama derailed any BCS title hopes it may have held.
A challenging slate lies ahead. After a likely romp against FBS newcomer UMass, Michigan travels to rival Notre Dame. Another road trip to Purdue immediately follows, and Michigan State looms not long after. Offensive coordinator Al Borges must establish a clear identity for his unit by the time Michigan hits that stretch against three defensive-oriented teams. While explosive Robinson had four touchdowns as mentioned, the Wolverines appeared dangerously close of teetering toward the philosophy that earned Rich Rodriguez so much derision in 2010.
No. 16 was called. A lot. It was a deviation of sorts from 2011, when Borges tried to fit the square peg of Robinson’s unique option abilities into the round hole of the West Coast offense. Shoelace never looks fully comfortable dropping back to pass — today he was 14-25 with an interception — but the Wolverines were best last season when having a multifaceted ground approach.
Fitzgerald Toussaint was making his 2012 debut after serving a suspension last week, and was ineffective: nine yards on eight carries. But eight carries is almost half of what he averaged last season, and no other Wolverine rushed against Air Force.