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Michigan gets 'reality check,' riled up for UConn

The SportsXchange

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- As UConn is likely to find out, you never want to be the next person to enter the ring after someone has angered the bull.

Michigan, angered to the point of humiliation by its struggles to escape with a 28-24 win over lowly Akron last week, will be a spitting, snarling, foaming at the mouth bunch when it takes on the Huskies.

The Wolverines, fresh off a huge win over Notre Dame, looked flat, unmotivated, and lacking in focus when they met the Zips, a team with three total wins over the past three seasons. Michigan spent Sunday in an intense practice session, more or less punishing itself for what it felt was a dreadful performance.

"As a team, if you took a vote, they would have thought that on Saturday we didn't make the incremental improvements we needed to," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "So, since we missed that day, we'd better do it on Sunday. And that's what we did."

Michigan All-American senior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan didn't mince words, calling the Akron game an "embarrassment." Lewan was all in for the full-contact Sunday session.

"The padded practice was good. We needed that, and this team needs that," Lewan said. "I think we were tough, hard-nosed football team and then we got away from that last week. That was . . . a reality check. We need to understand that you only have so many games each year. And I only have so many left, we're counting down."

Lewan, Michigan's outspoken leader, said he wanted the Wolverines to take the pitiful performance against Akron and make it into a positive thing by using it as a motivational element.

"If we learn from it and prepare hard, we'll never let this happen again," Lewan said as the preparations for the UConn game shifted into high gear. "There's not any doubt in my mind that this team understands what happened Saturday is not acceptable."

The 0-2 Huskies have lost to Towson and Maryland, both at home, and Michigan presents the highest profile opponents to ever play at East Hartford's Rentschler Field. Lewan's words should have UConn concerned.

"We're going to prepare like no other team has ever prepared before," Lewan said.

Junior quarterback Devin Gardner, who turned the ball over four times in the Akron game, was almost as definitive when he addressed media questions about whether the Akron game served to snap Michigan out of a funk, and how the poor performance would change the team's preparations for the UConn game.

"You guys can call it what you want, but we're going to respond," Gardner said. "That's what we talked about all summer, responding to adversity."
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