Michigan Wolverines: Michigan Wolverines

Jake Ryan named Michigan MVP

December, 8, 2014
Dec 8
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Michigan capped its 2014 season and the Brady Hoke era at its annual awards banquet Tuesday night. Hoke and most of his staff members were on hand, along with approximately 900 other onlookers to honor the Wolverines players.

Hoke, who was fired by Michigan last Tuesday, said he wanted to keep the focus of Monday’s night ceremony on the team’s senior class.

“This football team showed great resiliency throughout a season that saw many external distractions,” he said from the dais. “I’m very proud of them and very proud of what the coaching staff did."

Interim athletic director Jim Hackett and university president Mark Schlissel also spoke. No one from the university answered questions from the media following the event.

All 12 of Michigan’s outgoing seniors thanked Hoke for pushing them and caring for them. Several spoke emotionally about the way their erstwhile head coach cared for them and their teammates.

Fifth-year senior Jake Ryan won the team’s most valuable player award and two others on his final night with the Michigan football program. Ryan made 112 tackles this season after moving to middle linebacker. He is finalist for the Butkus Award, given to the country’s top linebacker. He was also retroactively named a team captain Monday night.

Hoke opted not to name official captains at the start of the 2014 season because he felt that caused some teams to feel entitled in the past. He met with the team last Tuesday to tell them he wouldn’t be returning in 2015. He told them at that time that Ryan and quarterback Devin Gardner would be honored as this season’s two captains.

Bo Schembechler MVP: Linebacker Jake Ryan

Ryan: “It’s an honor. I just want to thank my teammates. I’ve learned so much from them, and I hope they’ve learned a little from me.”

Dr. Arthur Robinson Scholarship Award (leading senior scholar): Offensive lineman Joey Burzynski

Burzynski: “After my first exams I called home to tell them I got an A-, and my mom said, ‘Careful, those A- will catch up to you.’”

Hugh R. Rader Memorial Award (best offensive lineman): Center Jack Miller

Miller: “I share this award with everyone on the offensive line, probably the most improved group on the team this season.”

Roger Zatkoff Award (best linebacker): Ryan

Robert P. Ufer Bequest (team spirit): Defensive end Brennen Beyer

Beyer: “This season was full of trials of all kinds ... This year more than any other I grew as a leader, teammate and a man.”

Richard Katcher Award (best defensive lineman): Beyer

Captains Award: Gardner and Ryan

Gardner: “I stayed, and I will the rest of my life as a champion.”

Recruits react to Brady Hoke firing 

December, 2, 2014
Dec 2
3:44
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video
When Michigan fired coach Brady Hoke on Tuesday there were only seven commits left in the 2015 class. Those prospects have stayed committed this long, and most plan to do so despite the coaching change.

ESPN 300 offensive lineman Grant Newsome said he picked Michigan for the education and the opportunity within football, not for the coach. Because of that, he plans to stay committed to the Wolverines.

On The Trail Show (noon ET)

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
8:00
AM ET
Join RecruitingNation's panel of experts as they break down all the recruiting news around this week's rivalry games.

Michigan helmet stickers: Week 12

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
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Michigan fumbled away its best chance to become bowl eligible over the weekend with a 23-16 loss to Maryland. A pair of special teams penalties -- one that negated a punt return touchdown and another that gave Maryland a first down inside the 10-yard line -- doomed the Wolverines to a disappointing final home game that seemed fitting for the 2014 season.

Nonetheless, there were a few individuals who stood out about the rest and are receiving awards in our penultimate round of helmet stickers.

Senior LB Jake Ryan: Ryan topped 100 tackles on the season during his final game at the Big House. He finished with a game-high 13 stops, which led the Big Ten on Saturday. On Monday, he was named one of the five finalists for this year's Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker.

Junior C Jack Miller: Miller is the cog in the middle of a much-maligned offensive line that has steadily improved this season. Michigan's running attack in November has been as good as we've seen from the Wolverines in the past two years. It gained 292 yards on the ground against Maryland. If nothing else, Miller deserves some recognition for representing his team well while answering questions about their shortcomings throughout the season.

Junior DE Mario Ojemudia: Ojemudia and fellow lineman Taco Charlton played well while replacing dismissed senior Frank Clark. Ojemudia made five tackles, one behind the line of scrimmage and batted down a screen pass that he nearly turned into an interception. He stepped into a bigger role on Saturday and did so without stumbling.

Picks to click: Week 12

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
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Saturday is Senior Day at Michigan Stadium. Twelve Michigan football players will play their final home game with a chance to extend their careers into the postseason.

The Wolverines(5-5) host Maryland(6-4) Saturday afternoon in the better of two remaining chances to get a sixth victory and become bowl eligible. Michigan has won three of its past four games. Here's a trio of players who will need to be at their best to win a fourth during that stretch.

 Junior DE Mario Ojemudia: Ojemudia will likely make his second career start Saturday. He and sophomore Taco Charlton are responsible for replacing senior Frank Clark, who was dismissed from the team following his arrest earlier this week. Ojemudia had two sacks in a 10-9 win over Northwestern two weeks ago. Maryland's offense is at its best when quarterback has C.J. Brown has time to throw deep. Ojemudia can help eliminate some of that with a good pass rush.

Junior RB Justice Hayes: Michigan's running game has turned a corner during November. Head coach Brady Hoke said the offensive line played its best game against Northwestern before last week's bye. Drake Johnson and De'Veon Smith produced back-to-back games with a 100-yard rusher. Now it's the speedy Hayes' turn for a big day against a Maryland defense that allows nearly 200 rushing yards per game on average.

Senior QB Devin Gardner: The intangible effect in a game expected to be decided by less than a touchdown will come from seniors like Gardner, who is in the home stretch of his up-and-down career in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines should be capable of sending their seniors out with a win, but need to avoid the turnovers and other mistakes that cost them games earlier in the year. If Gardner came play relatively mistake free, he'll give his team a good chance to win.

Michigan helmet stickers: Week 11

November, 10, 2014
Nov 10
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Michigan denied a two-point conversion attempt Saturday afternoon at Northwestern to win on back-to-back Saturdays for the first time since September 2013. The victory wasn't pretty, but the Wolverines have a winning streak and are one more good result away from a bowl game as they head into the final bye week of the season.

Michigan's defense held the Wildcats to 264 total yards of offense and created three turnovers, leading its team to a win. For the third time in four weeks, the defense kept its opponent to one touchdown in a winning effort. That side of the ball gets the majority of our helmet stickers for Week 11.

Senior DE Frank Clark: Michigan's top pass-rusher provided regular pressure on Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian. He finished the game with 1.5 sacks and another tackle for loss as well as two pass break-ups. His biggest play came at the game's biggest moment. Trailing by one, Northwestern opted to attempt a two-point conversion with three seconds left in the game. Clark read the quarterback roll-out perfectly and forced Siemian to trip and fall, sealing the win for Michigan.

Senior LB Jake Ryan: Ryan maintained his regular spot at the top of the stat sheet for tackles this week. The converted outside linebacker made 11 stops from his spot in the middle of Michigan's defense, bringing his season total to 90 with two games left on the schedule. He also intercepted a pass near midfield early in the first quarter.

Sophomore RB De'Veon Smith: After falling behind Drake Johnson on the depth chart last week, Smith responded with his most productive outing of the season. He ran for 121 yards on 18 carries and mercifully broke a 0-0 tie with the game's first touchdown midway through the third quarter.

Picks To Click: Week 11

November, 7, 2014
Nov 7
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Michigan’s chances of reaching a fourth-straight bowl game under Brady Hoke might be at stake this weekend at Northwestern. The Wildcats (3-5) are also fighting an uphill battle to qualify for the postseason. The loser will have to run the table for the rest of November, and both have teams ranked in the top 15 remaining on their schedules.

Hope for the Wolverines (4-5) has buoyed with a win against Indiana last Saturday. Sophomore running back Drake Johnson provided an offensive spark with two rushing touchdowns in that game. He is one of our picks for players that Michigan will need to step up this week in order to keep the optimism in Ann Arbor.

Sophomore RB Drake Johnson: The Ann Arbor native ran for 122 yards in a breakout performance last Saturday. He had only five carries in Michigan’s first eight games. Hoke remained coy this week when asked if Johnson’s big day would earn him more reps, but it was clear he provides a burst the offense has been missing in the backfield. He could be the spark that finally helps Michigan’s offense come together.

Senior DE Frank Clark: Clark has been Michigan’s most physically impressive pass-rusher this season. He has 11 tackles for loss and three sacks. Northwestern ranks 108th nationally in sacks allowed per game (2.88). Clark will get his chances to apply pressure Saturday. In a game that is expected to be a low-scoring battle, a couple big plays behind the line of scrimmage could be enough to flip field position and give the Wolverines an edge.

Senior P Will Hagerup: Speaking of field position, no individual controls that more than the punter. Hagerup has punted 40 times this season for an average of 43.9 yards per attempt (23rd nationally). Michigan and Northwestern each average less than 22 points per game. One or two drives will likely decide Saturday’s winner, and if Hagerup can force the Wildcats to cover as much ground as possible, he could prove to be a difference-maker.

Michigan helmet stickers: Week 10

November, 3, 2014
Nov 3
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Michigan’s young talent got a chance to shine against an overwhelmed Indiana team during Saturday’s homecoming game in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines beat the Hoosiers, 34-10, thanks to an offensive outburst led by a pair of redshirt sophomores. They may be adding more stickers to their helmets before the season is over. For now, here are this week’s winners.

Sophomore RB Drake Johnson: The Ann Arbor native ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns on his 16 carries. Johnson had just five carries this season heading into the Indiana game, but gave Michigan’s offense a quicker, shiftier option in the backfield. Expect to see more of Johnson – who went to school across the street from the Big House and whose mother has coached Michigan’s cheerleaders for 31 years – during the final month of the season.

Sophomore WR Amara Darboh: Not only did Darboh lead the Wolverines' passing attack Saturday, he led the entire Big Ten with nine catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. After dropping a few balls in a loss to Michigan State, Darboh rebounded with the best performance of his career against the Hoosiers. Both Darboh and Johnson are rounding into form after missing significant time because of injuries earlier in their careers.

Sophomore DL Ryan Glasgow: Sticking with the redshirt sophomore theme, Glasgow was one on nine Michigan defenders to register a tackle behind the line of scrimmage on Saturday. He also knifed into the Indiana backfield in the third quarter, pried the ball loose from Indiana quarterback Zander Diamont and fell on the fumble. Glasgow’s individual effort helped set Johnson up for his first touchdown run of the game.
video
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said in a news conference on Monday he doesn't expect to talk to his bosses about his job until the end of the season. That could pose a problem for recruiting as prospects are left wondering what the future holds for the Wolverines now sitting with a 3-5 record on the season.


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Michigan helmet stickers: Week 9

October, 27, 2014
Oct 27
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Praise-worthy performances have been hard to come by during Big Ten play for Michigan this season. Saturday’s 35-11 loss to Michigan State was more of the same for the Wolverines. They did snap a two-year touchdown drought against their in-state rival and hold the Spartans below their average offensive output, which is reason enough to hand out some helmet stickers.

Sophomore RB De’Veon Smith: Smith’s final stat line (11 carries for 39 yards) leaves a bit to be desired, but he did lead Michigan’s running attack and added a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. That score was Michigan’s first against the Spartans since the fourth quarter of their 2011 meeting. It also snapped a streak of 10 consecutive games in which the Wolverines scored fewer points against Michigan State than the previous year.

Senior DE Frank Clark: Smith’s touchdown was set up by Clark’s fumble recovery on the Michigan State 33-yard line. Clark has been Michigan’s most productive pass-rusher this season. He added a quarterback hurry and a tackle for loss to his total against the Spartans while helping to hold Connor Cook in check for a good portion of the game.

Senior LB Jake Ryan: Twelve tackles Saturday gives Ryan 68 stops so far this season. He is the only Big Ten linebacker to make the 15-man semifinalist list for the Butkus Award released Monday morning. He tied Joe Bolden in total tackles against the Spartans, but gets the nod over his teammate in helmet stickers because the only things he drove into the Spartan Stadium turf Saturday were opposing ball carriers.

Picks to Click: Week 9

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
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It’s rivalry week for Michigan, and perhaps a turning point game for head coach Brady Hoke.

A win against in-state rival Michigan State would bring the Wolverines to 4-4 on the season and perhaps turn the tide of negativity surrounding Hoke and his program. A performance like last year’s, when the Spartans held Michigan to minus-48 yards rushing, might prove to be a Rubicon crossing for Hoke’s chances to keep his job. Here are a few players that can play key roles in avoiding a repeat in East Lansing.

Junior WR Devin Funchess: During its bye week, Michigan went back to the drawing board to try to find ways to create more explosive plays. Quarterback Devin Gardner hasn’t been shy about feeding Funchess whenever possible. They connected for a 43-yard touchdown pass -- the team’s longest completion of the season -- in Michigan’s recent win over Penn State. The Spartans defense has been susceptible to big plays this season, and Michigan will need a few of them to keep pace with the country’s third-best scoring offense.

Junior RB Justice Hayes: Michigan’s running backs had 19 carries in the win over Penn State, and nine of those came in the fourth quarter. The Wolverines aren’t likely to find any more consistency in the run game against a fast and physical Michigan State front seven.

Hayes, though, can play a crucial role in the passing game. He’s the Wolverines’ best pass-protection back and can help buy time against Michigan State’s pass rush (which is averaging 3.71 sacks per game). He can also keep the blitzing Spartan linebackers honest by slipping into the passing attack as a receiver at times. The Wolverines gave up seven sacks a year ago in this rivalry. They won’t survive with a similar showing on Saturday.

Junior S Jarrod Wilson: Michigan State’s offense has found ways to pick apart just about every defense its played this season. Whether it’s Big Ten-leading receiver Tony Lippett, emerging tight end Josiah Price or one of the Spartans’ talented running backs, Wilson has a chance to slow down Michigan State’s weapon du jour. The junior made eight tackles in the win over Penn State. He’ll need to have a big day against quarterback Connor Cook to keep the score manageable for Michigan’s offense.
When Michigan kicker Matt Wile struggled in his first two games this season, he said it helped that his teammates were behind him.

That’s not quite as cliché as it may sound.

Sure, Wile’s fellow Wolverines told him not to worry when he missed three of four kicks from that dastardly right hash to start the season. They had his back after he went 0-for-2 in a shutout loss to Notre Dame in the metaphorical way good teammates should. They told him he was still their guy and he’d get the next one, and certainly that steadied the senior’s shaken confidence. What really helped, though, was when they got behind him in a more literal sense.

Michigan’s field goal practice this season has included a chorus of hecklers who stand a few feet behind Wile every time he lines up for a kick. They do their best to distract him, chirping the type of things they hope will make the buzz of 100,000 screaming fans fade in comparison. Dennis Norfleet, the team’s top punt returner/on-field break dancer, is usually the ring leader.

“Norfleet likes to be pretty loud,” Wile said. “They only ever succeed if they can make me laugh. ... They talk about my nonexistent hamster. I apparently have a hamster. I don’t know where that came from.”

Fictional hamsters aside, the wheels inside Wile’s head are now spinning at the right pace when he lines up for a kick. He's made seven of his eight attempts since losing to the Irish. He said the biggest adjustment during that stretch has been not psyching himself out. His only miss in the last five games was a 56-yard attempt that Rutgers freshman Kemoko Turay needed moonshoes to block.

“The guy from Rutgers made a great play,” Wile said. “I definitely would’ve liked to see how that turned out otherwise. I thought I hit it pretty well.”

In his last outing, an 18-13 win over Penn State, Wile made all three of his field goals, including a 42-yarder to tie the game in the third quarter and a 37-yarder to take the lead for good in the fourth. The game-tying kick was the closest Wile came to the right hash -- his mental sticking point earlier in the season -- against the Nittany Lions.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke said he starts the special-teams portion of practice by sending Wile down the right hash attempting kicks at different lengths. He didn’t claim to be Sigmund Freud in straightening out Wile's approach but said he’s made it a point to get the kicker to stop pressing if he starts to struggle in practice.

“If he misses a couple in a row, I’ll just tell him don’t overthink it,” Hoke said. “Sometimes he just flat-out overthinks it instead of just going up there and swinging your leg. I don’t know if you want to call that psychology.”

Wile does use a few tricks to keep himself mentally centered. If he feels doubt creeping in on the sideline, he visualizes the referee raising his arms after a successful kick. While he’s lining up, he’ll crunch his upper body into an awkward stance to remind himself to stay compact when he strikes the ball.

He has worked with a kicking specialist back in his hometown of San Diego to remove some kinks from his form. Most importantly, he says, he knows he has his teammates standing behind him.

“Now I don’t care where I kick from,” Wile said. “If I’m on the field, in my mind I’m going to make the kick.”

Michigan helmet stickers: Week 7

October, 13, 2014
Oct 13
11:30
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Michigan had a reason to celebrate this weekend for the first time in more than a month. The Wolverines beat Penn State 18-13 on Saturday to avoid the program’s first 0-3 start in conference play in more than four decades.

The atmosphere at the Big House has been lacking excitement this season, but Michigan can still put on a good show in primetime. The Wolverines are now 3-0 when they play at night on their home field. Here are some of the players who shined brightest under the lights:

PK Matt Wile: A week after having a game-winning attempt blocked at Rutgers, Michigan’s Matt Wile connected in the fourth quarter on a field goal that wound up clinching the victory. Wile was 3 for 3 on Saturday, splitting the uprights from 45, 42 and 37 yards out. He buoyed a struggling offense by providing 10 of the team’s 18 points. The senior has made seven of his last eight kicks since missing two against Notre Dame. The only unsuccessful attempt in that stretch was the 56-yarder that Rutgers blocked a week ago.

Gardner
QB Devin Gardner: Gardner showed his growing leadership on the sideline by barking at this team regularly in the second half. He showed it on the field by returning to the game with a hobbled ankle and completing two passes to set Wile up for his fourth-quarter field goal. He also hooked up with wide receiver Devin Funchess for a 43-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the game. Gardner has completed 63 percent of his pass attempts since regaining his starting spot against Rutgers.

DE Brennen Beyer: Two of Michigan’s six sacks came from Beyer, who had a dominant day against the Penn State tackles. He finished with four total stops. Beyer’s biggest contribution came late in the third quarter when he and fellow end Frank Clark pinned Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the pocket on a third-down play. Hackenberg panicked under pressure and tossed an interception across his body to cornerback Jourdan Lewis. Michigan tied the game with a field goal four plays later.

Michigan helmet stickers: Week 6

October, 6, 2014
Oct 6
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Michigan has had to settle for moral victories for most of 2014, and even those have been few and far between for the 2-4 Wolverines. Saturday’s 26-24 loss at Rutgers was Michigan’s most competitive game against a Power 5 conference opponent this year.

An offense that struggled throughout September produced three touchdowns and remained perfect in the red zone. The defensive front kept Rutgers under 50 rushing yards and remains a team strength. The leaders of those efforts win our helmet stickers for this week's performance at the midway point of the regular season.

QB Devin Gardner: Head coach Brady Hoke hoped that a week on the sideline would help his veteran quarterback get a new perspective on the mistakes that were holding him back. Gardner returned to the starting lineup Saturday, and while he wasn’t his best self, showed definite signs of improvement. He scrambled for two rushing touchdowns and completed 13 of his 22 passes for 178 yards. The offense demonstrated signs of life that it hadn’t in two previous losses.

LB Joe Bolden : The junior led Michigan with 10 tackles Saturday night, his third double-digit total of the season. Bolden emotionally defended his coaches after losing to Minnesota at home a week earlier. He put the blame on himself and his teammates for failing to execute. He executed well in New Jersey, helping to hold Rutgers to 2.5 yards per carry on the ground.

P Will Hagerup: Specials teams took its lumps against Rutgers with a costly blocked field goal from 56 yards out late in the game. Hagerup did his job well, though. He averaged 47.5 yards on his four punts and kept Rutgers from returning any of them. His 61-yard boot in the second quarter flipped field position and Michigan took advantage on the next possession to take a 17-12 lead, its last of the day.

Video: Struggles hurting Michigan recruiting?

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
4:30
PM ET
video

National recruiting analysts Craig Haubert and Tom Luginbill break down how schools can recruit against Michigan during the Wolverines’ on-field struggles. National recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton shares how members of the 2015 class are reacting.

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BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12