- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
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Michigan opened its 2013-14 season Saturday afternoon with a 59-9 win over Central Michigan. It’s hard to glean too much from games of that nature, but a few facts were very evident in the Wolverines’ blowout victory.
Michigan’s has a lot of young talent. Michigan played 13 true or redshirt freshman on Saturday against CMU. And not only did these guys play, they contributed. Freshmen accounted for nearly a third of the team’s total tackles (21 of 64). True freshman Dymonte Thomas who came up with the huge punt block that led to the Wolverines’ first touchdown of the game and Channing Stribling had the second most tackles of anyone on Michigan’s roster. Offensively, freshmen made up for one touchdown, 76 rushing yards, eight receiving yards and 59 passing yards. Freshman quarterback Shane Morris was 4-of-6 with one interception but looked solid for a true freshman in his first collegiate appearance. However, the freshmen offensive highlight came on a drive in the third quarter, when freshmen De'Veon Smith and Derrick Green split 10 carries in putting together a 55-yard touchdown drive capped off by a Green touchdown.
Devin Gardner isn’t Denard Robinson, but don’t expect him to sit in the pocket. With so little depth behind Gardner at the QB position, most people thought it would be smart to keep Gardner as safe as possible -- meaning in the pocket. However, he showed on Saturday that he wasn’t afraid to take off and scramble, even if it means eventually being hit. The Wolverines weren’t primarily under center by any means and ran some very quick offense, especially early in the game. Keeping Gardner’s offensive options open will keep the Wolverines as a team that’s tough to game plan for, even without Robinson on the roster.
The defensive line has gotten better. The Wolverines have been talking about how much their D-line improved over the offseason and that getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks was one of their biggest goals this season. But we’ve heard that before and didn’t see much of a result. However, it seemed as though the Michigan D-line was much improved on Saturday. Granted, these things need to be taken with a grain of salt considering they were facing what could be one of the least talented offensive lines they’ll see all season. But it was a starting point and it showed a lot of promise. The defense accounted for four sacks and two quarterback hurries.
Penalties. Penalties. Penalties. The Wolverines racked up 55 yards worth of penalties, which isn’t a very good sign. Those are yards that they just gave over to CMU and while the Chippewas weren’t able to capitalize on those opportunities, plenty of Big Ten teams would be glad to. While the Wolverines’ youth has been a good thing, the substitution infractions, false starts and blocks in the back would be the flipside of that kind of inexperience.