UMass beat writer: Not even former Michigan RB Michael Cox will save Minutemen
ANN ARBOR -- Not many people are giving UMass a shot at hanging around against Michigan.
Plumer was kind enough answer a few questions about UMass, which is off to an 0-2 start in its first year as an FBS program. It has lost to UConn and Indiana.
How will it fare against No. 17 Michigan (1-1) on Saturday (3:30 p.m., BTN)? Plumer's thoughts:
MLive: UMass isn't just struggling — it's blown-out-by-Indiana struggling. What exactly is wrong with this team right now?
Harry Plumer: What’s wrong with this team is that has an FCS roster against not just FBS competition, but BCS-conference competition. The biggest problem offensively has been the offensive line, which has struggled against bigger, stronger competition, especially with two freshmen starting. That unit will get a boost with the return of tackle Anthony Dima, who started 11 games last year, this week, but will still struggle in the trenches against the Wolverines.
MLive: RB Michael Cox, who leads UMass in rushing, is a name people around here know from his time at Michigan. How has he looked so far?
Plumer: Cox has looked OK at best. In his defense, he hasn’t had a ton of running room in either of the two games so far, but he has struggled to get the ball north-south so far at times, and hasn’t done himself any favors in that way.
MLive: Does UMass have an answer for Denard Robinson?
Plumer: Considering Indiana’ Tre Roberson — a diet version of Denard — ran for 100 yards on four carries before breaking his leg last week, it’s hard for me to believe UMass has much of a chance to slow down the most athletic quarterback in the nation. The UMass linebackers looked especially lost at times against the zone read, and Roberson had two runs where he could have walked backwards into the end zone he had so much space.
MLive: Is there any position on the field where UMass could present a difficult matchup for Michigan?
Plumer: It’s not likely. All I’ve heard from Michigan people is that the defensive line is the weak point, but the offensive line has been the weak point for the Minutemen, so that’s not going to do it. UMass’ best unit is its defensive line, but judging by the size of the Wolverines on the other side of the line of scrimmage, I’d hardly call that a difficult matchup. I suppose if there was one place UMass could excel, that would be it.
MLive: UMass hung around against Michigan in 2010 before falling by five points. It hangs around again if…
Plumer: Denard Robinson doesn’t play.
OK, that was a joke (kind of).
The return of Dima allows the offensive line to open up some holes for the running game. Quarterback Mike Wegzyn has the physical tools to make throws, and if the Minutemen can get a consistent run game going, and keep Wegzyn in third-and-manageable, UMass has the potential to put up a few points in this one.
Harry Plumer's prediction: 45-10, and that’s assuming Hoke yanks Robinson sometime in the third quarter.