No. 20 Michigan insists it won't overlook UMass
Michigan has prepared and played well enough to win at Notre Dame and to beat Connecticut.
The 20th-ranked Wolverines might be able to get away with a lackluster showing and still beat Massachusetts on Saturday, but coach Rich Rodriguez does not want to find out if that's true.
''We're still not good enough to play poorly and win,'' Rodriguez said. ''I don't want to test that out.''
Rodriguez insisted he's not looking at the matchup with an FCS team as a way to give dynamic quarterback Denard Robinson a break from carrying the ball nearly 30 times a game. He simply wants to do whatever it takes to win, knowing James Madison knocked off Virginia Tech last week.
''I'm going to bring it up,'' Rodriguez said.
Virginia Tech became just the second ranked team to lose to a lower division team, joining Lloyd Carr's last squad that was stunned by Appalachian State three years ago.
''It's not like it used to be,'' Rodriguez said. ''There are players everywhere.''
Michigan (2-0) is the only team, though, with Robinson.
The speedy quarterback has run 57 times for 455 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in the final seconds last week against the Fighting Irish. He has completed almost 70 percent of his passes for 430 yards and two scores without an interception.
''He's definitely going to be a challenge and a great opportunity for us,'' UMass LB Tyler Holmes said. ''We see all the highlights of Michigan on ESPN, so we're all excited to get out there against Robinson. I don't know if you can stop him.''
No one has yet, and Rodriguez isn't going to be the one to slow him down by altering his offense or committing to letting Devin Gardner or Tate Forcier take some snaps against the Minutemen. Rodriguez would, however, like to see what kind of depth he has behind running backs Vincent Smith and Michael Smith.
''I would like to get some of those other backs into the flow,'' he said. ''I think Mike Cox and Stephen Hopkins and even Teric Jones have shown us they are getting closer to getting ready to play. We are hoping that Fitz Toussaint may be ready this weekend.''
Michigan's offense and defense have exceeded expectations through two games, but kicker Brendan Gibbons and Will Hagerup have struggled.
Gibbons has made only one of four field goals and is in danger of losing his job to Seth Broekhuizen, creating a wide-open competition. Rodriguez said he's sticking with Hagerup.
UMass (2-0) opened the season with wins against William & Mary and Holy Cross, two games that couldn't possibly prepare the program for what it is about the experience. The largest crowd to watch the Minutemen was 53,190 two years ago at Texas Tech and they'll play in front of more than twice that many people at the Big House.
They don't sound intimated.
''We will be in front of a lot of people, but in reality it is just another football game,'' quarterback Kyle Havens said. ''We're not playing against the New England Patriots. It's just another college football team.''