- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Detroit Lions reporter
Michigan rebounded, kind of.
The Wolverines improved their record to 1-1 after beating Air Force, 31-25, but struggled in doing so. Denard Robinson was literally the entirety of Michigan’s offense and the Wolverines’ defense discovered more holes and perhaps more young players who need to see the field than they had initially hoped.
All of those things are represented in this week’s Michigan Ten, rating the biggest difference-makers for the Wolverines based on performance and other happenings within the team. Think of this like a stock rating, where guys can move up and down:
(Previous week’s rank in parentheses)
1. QB Denard Robinson (2): The senior returned to form Saturday -- and was maybe even better. He was much more accurate than he was a week ago against Alabama and put together his third 200/200 game -- 208 yards passing and 218 yards rushing. His 426 combined yards trumped Michigan’s overall 422 offensive yards.
2. WR Devin Gardner (7): The junior continued to show improvement in his second game at his new position, being targeted a team-high eight times and notching a team-high five catches for 63 yards. The scary thing for opponents is this: He is still raw. Even he admits he is still learning the nuances of blocking and route running. But his improvement since last week was massive. He’s also on a two-game touchdown streak.
3. TE Devin Funchess (NR): He barely played against Alabama. In his second career game, though, Funchess showed his potential. Funchess had a team-high 106 yards receiving and caught his first career touchdown pass. He also showed he can run good routes and create separation from his defenders. He’s also evolving into a matchup nightmare who will only improve as he sees more snaps.
4. KR Dennis Norfleet (4): The freshman spark may not have had to do as much work as he did against Alabama, but he averaged 25.6 yards per return. He has shown the capability to break a big one as well, as he came close twice Saturday.
5. LB Jake Ryan (NR): Wearing a new number, Ryan had a team-high 11 tackles Saturday against Air Force. While he made some mistakes and overran the option from time to time, he mostly did a good job being around the ball and making plays.
6. LB Joe Bolden (NR): The freshman had 10 tackles in his first significant playing time. He replaced fifth-year senior Kenny Demens for the entire second half and was around the ball constantly. An early enrollee, he is starting to make a push for major playing time. He also had a key goal-line stop on an Air Force fake field goal attempt.
7. LB James Ross III (9): Another freshman who saw significant second-half playing time, he was around the ball often and made a big fourth-down stop in the fourth quarter. He has good lateral movement and is another freshman who will push for playing time.
8. DE Frank Clark (NR): Suspended for the season opener against Alabama, Clark built quickly on the end of his freshman year. He was the only Michigan defensive lineman who could get off Air Force blocks consistently and either get into the backfield or outside to help with containing the pitch. He had four tackles and a team-high two tackles for loss.
9. CB J.T. Floyd (1): Just another quiet, consistent game for the fifth-year senior. He had seven tackles, but didn’t make many mistakes and settled into his role as Michigan’s top cornerback. He’ll be tested more in the coming weeks when the Wolverines play more pass-happy -- or pass-at-all -- attacks.
10. P Will Hagerup (5): The junior continued his booming ways -- he’s ranked third nationally in punting -- averaging 45 yards a punt against Air Force. For the second straight week he was a field-changing weapon for Michigan.
Michigan rebounded, kind of.The Wolverines improved their record to 1-1 after beating Air Force, 31-25, but struggled in doing so. Denard Robinson was literally the entirety of Michigan’s offense and the Wolverines’ defense discovered more holes and perhaps more young players who need to see the field than they had initially hoped.