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Posted on Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

Your chance to grade Michigan's performance against Air Force

By Pete Cunningham


Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson celebrates with fans at Michigan Stadium after Michigan's 31-25 win over Air Force on Saturday. (Daniel Brenner |

It wasn't as easy as Michigan fans probably would have liked, but Michigan got its first win of the season on Saturday with a 31-25 victory over Air Force. Michigan football writer Kyle Meinke graded several Michigan players' individual performances against the Falcons, and while the report card was much more flattering than it was against Alabama, there's obviously still much room for improvement.

Now it's your turn to grade the Wolverines' performance on offense, defense, special teams, coaching and overall.


Denard Robinson confirmed what many have suspected for quite some time: He's really fast, and really good. Robinson threw for 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns and ran for 218 and two more scores. The Devins, Funchess and Gardner, combined for nine catches, but Fitz Toussaint failed to rush for more than ten yards in his return from suspension.


Oh, that triple option. Air Force had 417 yards of offense, but it wasn't all on the ground as the Falcons passed for 127 yards to complement its ground attack. Air Force ate up yardage in chunks all day, but in the red zone Michigan was able to tighten up coming up with several stops while backed up deep in its own territory.

Special Teams

How 'bout that Dennis Norfleet? The true freshman kick returner once again had plenty of practice returning kicks with Air Force scoring so often. Norfleet showed he's more than just a speedster, bouncing off of tackles for extra yardage on many returns. The punters, kickers and punt returners weren't showcased very often.


Clock management was an issue at the end of the first half, and the defense didn't seem exactly prepared for the triple option and Michigan, a 21.5 point favorite, had to fight and claw for a six-point win. But it's always easier to point out the negative than the positive when it comes to coaching. Here's some balance: A win, is a win, is a win.


Put them all together and what do you get?

Pete Cunningham covers sports for


cactus charlie

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:33 a.m.

Denard was great but it is time for the offensive line to play like a real Michigan line. For the last 2 games they have failed to establish a good running game for the running backs. This line has no excuses-start playing like Michigan linemen such as Jake Long and Hutchinson. No excuses. The defense simply is horrible. No excuses-Air Force ran at will as did Alabama. Finally number 6 in the defensive backfield has been awful. Cactus Charlie


Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

The bad news: the defense looked like RichRod was back. The good news: Air Force had 90 plays compared to Michigan's 57 but only managed to score 4 times. I would prefer to deny the first and dwell on the second. Thanks to great recruiting. As for the seniors, they need to take it up a notch (or two, or three)!


Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 12:38 p.m.

How about a grade for the officiating? I saw so much illegal forward motion by AFI thought I was watching arena league.


Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

Air Force is a very small school with perhaps 4500 students. The AF football team is comprised of true student athletes, unlike Big Ten teams whose general make up are NFL wannabes who take some miscellaneous courses during the semester to remain eligible. Case in point, Denard, who is listed as a "senior" but will probably not have enough credits in any particular major to graduate in the Spring. This win should be as much or more concerning to the coaching staff than the loss against Alabama.


Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 6:49 a.m.

I thought the defense played pretty well. They gave up 290 yards rushing... on 71 plays. The longest run they gave up was 18 yards. They limited the big plays and gave Air Force plenty of chances to make drive-ending mistakes. They tightened up in the red zone and appeared to be relatively fresh even at the end of the game after 3 hours of defending the fast-paced Falcon offense. I don't think people realize how tough it is to stop an offense like that with just a week to prepare. They are ultra-disciplined and the coaches are very good.


Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 3:34 a.m.

This game was like a RR game from 2010. Bad defense and Denard was mosat of the offense. We eke out a win against a team where not a single player was good enough to be offered a Michigan scholarship. i'm just grateful they let Denard run or we'd have lost the game. One bright spot- nice to see Devin catching the football.


Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 2:41 a.m.

So what exactly is different about Robinson's defense from the 2010 RichRod era and Mattison's defense so far in 2012? Michigan is averaging giving up 33 points per game so far. We were deeply embarrassed and put to shame today! Something has to change soon or the scores will continue to balloon against us.


Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 6:52 a.m.

Air Force put up 250+ yards on TCU and Boise State last year (both excellent defenses, particularly TCU's), and 350 on Oklahoma in 2010. This offense is tough to stop.


Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 2:22 a.m.

I was not impressed. In fact, it felt a lot like the Sugar Bowl. We won, but it did not feel like we won. This is not a 9 or 10 win team. This is a 7-8 win team.


Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 2 p.m.

Agreed. This team "survived." Shut down Denard and you shutdown their offense. Add to that a defense that can't stop the run and you have a team that will get crushed in the Big10. 7-8 wins is generous.


Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 6:44 a.m.

It felt like the Sugar Bowl? We moved the ball at will today. We couldn't get anything going at all in the Sugar Bowl.

Jojo B

Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 2:04 a.m.

I'd give a D to the defense up until the last few minutes of the game when they deserve an A. They finally figured out how to stop Air Force from doing that swing out/pitch the ball play. (I was going mad watching Air Force do that routine over and over again without our defense catching on.) And kudos to Jake Ryan for the last two game winning plays. That confirmed that the D had woken up!


Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 6:43 a.m.

If you think that play was successful because our defense "didn't catch on", then you don't understand that play and how it fits into the Air Force offense.

I like Chicken

Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 12:11 a.m.

Air Force played hard and made it a close game. I hoped for a better game after the pounding they took from Alabama. Overall, I have to say the best part of the game was the Bald Eagle and the Bomber.