Michigan defense still can't create turnovers, a major concern for Brady Hoke and company
ANN ARBOR -- Michigan said all the right things this week when it came to turnovers.
They admitted they needed more bodies flowing to the football. Said they continued to work hard on them and practice, and insisted they still emphasized them in every team meeting.
Only when the lights came on Saturday, the walk never followed the talk.
Michigan's defense still came up empty in the turnover department Saturday during a 63-13 win over Massachusetts. The Wolverines did recover one fumble, but it was a special teams play on punt coverage.
"Turnovers," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "We've been terrible at creating turnovers.
"If we don't start creating some turnovers, we're going to get beat."
Through three games this season, the Michigan defense has created just one turnover -- a meaningless fumble recovery toward the end of the first half against Alabama, a game that turned into a Michigan blowout loss.
Last season, through three games, Michigan had already gotten its hands on 10 turnovers -- a theme that would remain constant for the remainder of the season as the Wolverines' opportunistic defense improved itself in virtually every category.
This season? Nothing's been very opportunistic. Michigan is currently a minus five in turnover margin this season.
And what's worse? Opponents have put the ball on the ground a total of seven times -- but the Wolverines have picked it up just twice.
The Wolverines have also not recorded an interception this year.
"I just think it comes down to more people getting to the football," Michigan junior safety Thomas Gordon said. "You've got to play with an intensity to commit turnovers."
Michigan's defense hasn't exactly been sparkling so far this season. UMass gained just 259 yards of total offense Saturday, but the Minutemen might be the worst Football Bowl Subdivision in America.
The Wolverines had their early struggles on defense last season, too. But always seemed to find a way to make a difference by coming up with big turnovers.
Never was that more apparent than last season against Notre Dame, when Michigan let the Fighting Irish to rack up more than 500 yards of total offense -- but still won the game by forcing and recovering five Notre Dame turnovers.
Michigan's second series test of the 2012 season comes next Saturday, against that same Notre Dame team. And if the defense can't find a way to get the ball back, it could be in for a long night.
"Once you get more people to the football and get more people in that pile, we'll get more turnovers," Gordon said. "Obviously we haven't been doing that so far."