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Published: Monday, 9/9/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

UM WOLVERINES FOOTBALL

Michigan hopes to overcome lack of energy

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. Michigan head coach Brady Hoke.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

ANN ARBOR — This Saturday will be a completely different scenario for the Michigan football team.

Unlike last Saturday, there will be no halftime video of Beyonce introducing the Michigan marching band. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps probably won’t be at the game. Eminem likely won’t be in the stands or on a halftime interview, either.

And Michigan’s opponent won’t be one of the nation’s top 25.

Instead of playing in a nationally televised game, under the lights and against a traditional rival, the No. 11 Wolverines (2-0) host Akron at noon Saturday, a team that is coming off a 1-11 season in 2012 and eked out a 35-33 win Saturday over FCS opponent James Madison.

“It was electric, and it was definitely something that was helpful, when it was loud,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said of Saturday’s atmosphere for Notre Dame. “It was enough of a distraction, to some degree, and that was great. I liked how the team stuck together, because we weren’t perfect by any means. But it was great to win the football game. Now, it’s going to Akron and we’re starting to work on the Zips and what they’re all about.”

Could this week’s lack of hoopla become a cause for any kind of letdown by the Wolverines? The key, they believe, is in the approach.

“The main thing is that every week is important,” senior wide receiver Drew Dileo said. “Last week, we had a night game against Notre Dame and what’s important this week is Akron at noon. Regardless of the team, the conference, anything like that. This week, it’s Akron.”

There’s also a bit of incentive for Hoke, a fan of playing in early afternoon games. He emphasized that point Monday during his weekly press conference.

“It’s a glazed donut game,” said Hoke, referring to his ritual of stopping for glazed donuts prior to football games, as well as the athletic department’s promotion of giving glazed donuts to students before noon home games. “It starts at noon. We like those games. I think our team has always been pretty focused on ourselves and what we need to do, and there’s enough out there we need to do, that we’ll go back to having a great work day [Tuesday] and Wednesday.”

The Wolverines are 16-0 at Michigan Stadium in three seasons under Hoke, a stretch that includes two wins against Notre Dame, wins in 2011 over Nebraska and Ohio State — and wins over mid-major programs, including Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and Massachusetts.

Hoke doesn’t have an answer for his team’s success in Ann Arbor.

“I wish I knew,” Hoke said. “There’s probably something for the routine that’s different, the comfort of sleeping in the same bed, maybe. I don’t know. I can’t answer that. The players play hard at home.”

Dileo pointed out the importance of preparation for each home date he’s played in over the past three seasons.

“You attribute that to Coach Hoke and his staff,” Dileo said. “They came in and it was something they really emphasized, with the hard work and physicality he brought in with him and his staff. Really, it’s a will to win at home. It’s to defend the Big House.”

DUO HONORED: The Davey O’Brien Foundation named Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner it’s quarterback of the week, while the Big Ten named Michigan receiver Jeremy Gallon as the conference’s offensive player of the week. Against Notre Dame, Gardner was 21-for-33 passing for 294 yards and four touchdowns and led the Wolverines in rushing, and Gallon had a career high with 184 yards on eight catches and three touchdowns in Saturday’s win against Notre Dame.

UCONN KICKOFF TBA: Connecticut posted on its football program’s Twitter account Monday morning that the time for the Sept. 21 game against Michigan will be announced Saturday night.

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.



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