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ANN ARBOR — In the moments after a game that could have become one of college football’s most startling upsets, Brady Hoke changed the course of the week for the Michigan team.
A little after 4 o’clock Saturday, the UM coach decided his team would go through a full practice the following day.
“Shoulder pads, helmets, the whole deal,” Hoke said, noting that full pads are not typically the case for Sunday practices. “They were very receptive. I wouldn’t say they were excited, but they were glad to get back on the field.”
The Wolverines had to be. Their pride was bruised after Saturday’s 28-24 win over Akron — a team that entered as a 38-point underdog but had a chance to win on the game’s final play.
Akron pushed No. 15 Michigan (3-0) to that point. Through the course of Saturday’s game, Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner accounted for four turnovers, and an inconsistent pass-rush coverage allowed Zips quarterback Kyle Pohl to pass for 311 yards after Akron averaged 201.5 yards passing in its first two games.
And the Wolverines likely entered the game with a certain mentality: facing a team that had won only one game in each of the three previous season wouldn’t be as much of a test as some of Michigan’s more notable opponents.
“What happened Saturday was not acceptable,” offensive tackle Taylor Lewan said. "I thought practice was good. We needed that. This team needs that. We’re a tough, hard-nosed football team, and we’re going to find out what we’re made of this week.”
Underestimating an opponent, the Wolverines said, wasn’t just obvious on Saturday.
“We didn’t give our best effort throughout the week,” linebacker James Ross III said. “We knew that everything that happened in that game, we deserved it because we didn’t give it all we had.
“The whole team, it just wasn’t a good vibe. We learned from that game and we know that come these next weeks of preparation, we’re going to take it 100 percent.”
Visibly emotional after Saturday’s win, Lewan maintained that front Monday.
“I’m still mad now,” the All-American left tackle said. “If this team does what it’s supposed to do, it could possibly be a good thing. If we learn from it and play hard, we won’t let this happen again.”
That challenge will come quickly. The Wolverines will face Connecticut (0-2) at 8 p.m. Saturday at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn.
They won’t play in front of the same crowd in the same confines as Michigan Stadium, where they’re 17-0 under Michigan coach Brady Hoke. Yet in three seasons under Hoke, Michigan is 5-7 in games outside of Ann Arbor.
Regardless of their recent road woes, and regardless of the confines, the near-collapse against Akron reminded the Wolverines of one universal truth they will face, in the wake of Saturday’s near-upset.
“We can’t take any team for granted,” right tackle Mike Schofield said. “Every team that we’re going to face, when they play Michigan, they’re going to bring their A-game. We’ve got to realize that no matter who it is, they’re going to bring their best game. We’ve got to be ready for that.”