At minus-seven in turnover margin, Michigan has work to do -- and fast

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Three games into the season and Michigan is ranked near the bottom of the national rankings in turnover margin.

The Wolverines have turned over the ball eight times, including a fumble on a kickoff return last Saturday against Miami (Ohio) and four second-half turnovers in a shutout loss at Notre Dame. Michigan has committed five interceptions.

They have generated only one turnover, an interception against Miami. Michigan is minus-seven and ranked No. 121 nationally.

“It’s something we’ve got to improve on, and we’ve got to do it quickly, obviously,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Tuesday during the Big Ten conference call. “Minus-seven overall right now, we haven’t done a good enough job generating opportunities and generating turnovers.

“We had two opportunities get by us on Saturday that we’ve got to come up with the football. Offensively, ball security is an issue, (as is) communication in the kicking game. On the interception (thrown by Devin Gardner against Miami), the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage. We’ve gotta get our hands on that guy so he can’t get his hands up. We’ve got to make great decisions throughout.”

After a turnover-riddled first half to the season last year, Michigan finished plus-five in turnover margin.

“In some ways we started last year even more in the hole than we ended up at the end of the season,” Hoke said. “It all comes down from a defensive standpoint you’re having great effort and pursuit to the ball so when the ball is out you have an opportunity to get on it.”

Michigan faces Utah on Saturday at Michigan Stadium. The Utes, 2-0 and off last weekend, have not thrown an interception so far this season and have only one fumble.