By Luke Pasch, Daily Sports Editor
Published September 15, 2012
In the midst of a grueling regular season schedule, the Michigan football team caught a break on Saturday afternoon, manhandling FBS newcomer Massachusetts from start to finish.
On the first drive of the day, the Wolverines looked like they were playing against a scout team. Massachusetts kicker Brendon Levengood booted the ball out of bounds on the opening kickoff, and senior quarterback Denard Robinson led Michigan 65 yards to the house in just five plays.
From there, the rout was on. Michigan beat down Massachusetts 63-13.
Robinson completed two passes on the first drive — a 16-yard toss to fifth-year senior tight end Mike Kwiatkowski and a 26-yard touchdown strike to freshman tight end Devin Funchess. With those completions, he moved to sixth on Michigan’s all-time passing yards list, passing current New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Later in the first quarter, Michigan was finally able to get redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint going. He had a rough start in his return to the backfield last week when he picked up only seven yards on eight carries after he served a one game suspension the week before.
Against the Minutemen, Toussaint matched his rushing total from last week on his first carry of the game. And on Michigan’s second scoring drive, he slipped a couple of tackles on an 11-yard scamper to the end zone.
Toussaint finished the contest with 85 yards on just 15 carries, and this may have been the bounce-back performance that coaches say he needed to get back in a rhythm.
On the Wolverines’ next scoring drive, early in the second quarter, Robinson completed a quick pass to wide-open junior receiver Drew Dileo in the middle of the field, who ran the ball another 50 yards after the catch down to the Massachusetts five-yard line.
Did he think he’d score?
“I did,” Dileo said. “But I guess that’s why they call me, ‘the white receiver.’ ”
On the play, Robinson moved up another spot on Michigan’s all-time passing last, jumping current San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh for No. 5.
“To be honest with you, the only thing I think about is just winning and going out there and being accountable for my team,” Robinson said. “So, when it comes to records, it’s just going out there and playing football with the team.”
Michigan scored on the next snap on a handoff to senior running back Vincent Smith, who punched it in fairly easily, making the score 21-3. Smith would score again in the third quarter — he found the end zone twice on just three carries on the day.
The Wolverines’ only hiccup of the first half came on the next possession, when Robinson was picked off by Christian Birt on Michigan’s own 16-yard line, which was returned easily for Massachusetts’s lone touchdown of the day.
“Jeremy Jackson came open,” Robinson said. “I just threw it behind him, and it was a bad throw. I mean, it was a good read, just a bad throw. I got to put my feet into it and follow through with the throw.”
Robinson got back on track quickly though. On the next possession, he found a wide-open Devin Gardner cutting across the field, and he took it 42 yards for the score. And on the following possession, Robinson took off for the races, scrambling from one sideline to the other on a 36-yard touchdown run.
On the following drive, the Minutemen marched down the field and kicked a field goal, leaving Robinson and the Wolverines a solid two minutes to work with before the half. Robinson led a methodical eight-play drive down to the Massachusetts one-yard line.
On the ninth play, he kept the ball but fumbled before reaching the goal line, and redshirt junior left tackle Taylor Lewan recovered it in the end zone.
“I think there was a little debate about who actually fell on it first,” said fifth-year senior right guard Patrick Omameh.
Dileo added: “For the record, I’m pretty sure it was (fifth-year senior) Elliott Mealer’s touchdown, not Taylor’s.”
The first half ended with Michigan in control, 42-13.
The second half of the game was more of the same. After the Michigan defense forced a quick three-and-out, the offense started its first drive of the half in Massachusetts territory. On the fifth play of the drive, Robinson found a streaking Roy Roundtree in the end zone for a 19-yard score.
The hookup was encouraging for Roundtree, who has been mostly silent this season despite his role as the veteran leader of a thin receiving corps. The play was just Roundtree’s fourth reception of the season, and it was his longest.
Once Michigan mounted a 43-point lead in the fourth quarter, redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Bellomy entered the game, and Robinson took a seat. Robinson finished his day 16-of-24 passing for 291 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed 10 times for 106 yards and another touchdown.
Despite the solid all-around performance, both coach Brady Hoke and players said there is much to improve on, especially on line play on both sides of the ball.
“Of course, any win is a good win,” said senior defensive tackle Will Campbell. “And every game, everybody is not going to have a perfect game, so everybody’s going to have mistakes that we can capitalize on and correct for the next week.
“If we play like we did today, we will not win next week (at Notre Dame). We need to come out and play like Michigan defense.”
Updated on Sat. Sept. 15, 2012 at 9 p.m.