The Michigan Wolverines added an exciting new wrinkle to their offense Saturday during a 42-17 rout of Iowa. With senior Denard Robinson joining junior Devin Gardner in the backfield at running back as well as taking a few direct snaps at quarterback, with both at times lining up as a receiver. Some of the formations that they utilized are sure to give headaches to Ohio State as they prepare for Michigan this week.
Devin Gardner’s game management skills keep improving. Today, he looked like he’s close to mastering the position. Accounting for over 350 yards of offense and count ‘em 6 touchdowns, 3 rushing, 3 passing. Gardner continues to make his case that he’s able to guide this offense into the future.
On several medium and long passes, he gave his receivers opportunities to make great plays. And boy did they ever. Jeremy Gallon made several grabs including a 51 yard haul in the second quarter, looking like he stole it from the defender. Mid-way through the third quarter he made a spectacular 31 yard catch reminiscent of Roy Roundtree’s heroics last week. With playing time, Gardner is learning to keep the ball away from defenders and not make bad throws. Iowa defender Micah Hyde had to made a tremendous diving interception to give Gardner his only blemish of the game.
What about dueling quarterbacks?
You have to believe that todays two quarterback rotation/tandem was mostly Robinson’s doing. It was obvious from the start of this, his last home game as a Michigan Wolverine, Denard Robinson was not going to be denied one last chance to show his appreciation for the home fans no matter the pain he’s been experiencing the last 3 weeks.
Just “wanting” to be in the game was all the spark he needed. While not all of the plays he participated in were highlight material, he left no doubt that his legs are working just fine finishing the day with 98 yards on 13 carries. On the last play of the first quarter, a third and short, Robinson took the snap and went to his right for an electrifying 40 yard run.
3 Stars of the game
1. Devin Gardner – was 18 of 23, for 314 yards passing including 3 touchdowns. His feet are equally adept at sniffing pay dirt as he scored 3 touchdowns on the ground as well.
2. Jeremy Gallon had some spectacular grabs on his way to a 5 catch, 133 yard performance.
3. Denard Robinson – just as Devin Gardner had to make adjustments to playing full-time at quarterback, Robinson is having to do the same in transitioning full-time to the half-back/receiver positions.
3 Key plays
1. Jeremy Gallon’s 31 yard reception on Michigan’s fourth scoring drive led to the game officially being called a route. His juggling catch looked eerily similar to Roy Roundtree’s masterpiece of last week. This eventually led to….
2. Vincent Smith went right across the middle, caught a dart from Gardner and then sprinted up the left sideline for an 18 yard touchdown reception. A fantastic play for Vince who showcased tremendous speed and a will to score.
3. Denard Robinson’s 40 yard dash on 3 and 1 at the end of the first quarter was an amalgamation of all the great runs he’s had at Michigan, faking one poor Hawkeye out of his shoes, his socks, his jock, you name it.
Stat of the game
Michigan finished the game 9 of 12 on third down. This shows that offensively players are staying focused, following through on their assignments and getting the job done. Two of the three non-converted third downs were eventually converted on fourth down. Will Hagerup probably felt lonely all day not being needed until late in the fourth quarter.
Aside from the Wolverines being gods on third down today, they were 4-4 in the red zone with four touchdowns. Way to go not settling for field goals. Also scoring touchdowns on each of their first six drives was a fantastic way to close the home schedule in Ann Arbor.
Freshman linebacker Joe Bolden was impressive with 6 tackles and a career-high 2 TFLs.
Fitz Touissant went down with what appeared to be a knee injury, later speculated to be a high ankle sprain, and his status for next week remains unclear. Being carted off the way he was didn’t look promising.
Freshman linebacker James Ross III recorded a game-high 12 tackles.
This was the third team this season Michigan has accumulated over 500 yards of offense (UMass, Illinois).
The Michigan defense racked up 8 tackles for loss.
Michigan has now won 14 straight games at the Big House.
Denard Robinson became the 4th Michigan player to record three 1,000 yard rushing seasons. He joins Tyrone Wheatley, Jamie Morris, and Mike Hart.
Freshman tight end Devin Funchess caught a 29 yard touchdown mid-way through the third quarter. He leads the team with 5 touchdown receptions. Funchess seems sure-handed even with defenders draped all over him.
What it means
In his post-game presser, coach Hoke was evasive as always on his game plan for next week against Ohio State. When asked which of todays formations, plays, etc. we might see next week; Hokes response: “All or none”.
Today’s game should give Michigan fans a warm-fuzzy feeling all over. Offensively Michigan isn’t giving up the ball very often. They are getting great play from the quarterback position. The receivers are catching everything thrown at them. The defense, while giving up a little at the start, seems to settle down after a series or two and stay solid throughout the game.
The intangible – will Denard Robinson make a difference in next week’s game. As badly as he wanted to play today, you have got to believe Robinson is chomping at the bit to have some success at Ohio Stadium. Offensively, it’s time to throw in the kitchen sink with their game plan. Win at all cost next week and leave it all on the field.
Michigan is sure to be an underdog next week, and I’m sure that’s ok with them. Many a Michigan team has gone to Ohio and taken care of business against an over-hyped, over confident Buckeye team.
Prediction: Michigan 48-Ohio State 28