LINCOLN, Neb. -- Michigan’s run of strong play -- and its hold on the Legends Division and a potential Big Ten championship berth -- ran into a major detour on Saturday when Denard Robinson went down and the Wolverines lost to Nebraska, 23-9.
It was a game which answered many of Michigan’s fears for the season -- what would happen if Robinson were injured and couldn’t return, what could happen if the defense was pressured and passed on too much, and whetherthe running game could get going.
The answers were simple: Not well. Not good enough, and not at all.
Still, Michigan had some strong performers and also learned even more about itself entering the final month of the regular season in this edition of the Michigan 10.
1. QB Denard Robinson (3): The senior showed just how valuable he is to Michigan’s team by not doing a thing. When Robinson left the game due to injury in the second quarter, the Wolverines’ offense departed with him.
2. K Brendan Gibbons (4): As Michigan’s offense stalled, Gibbons continued to show his competence as a kicker, making three more field goals -- again, all of Michigan’s offense -- including a career-long 52-yarder.
3.LB Desmond Morgan (2): The sophomore had nine tackles and a pass breakup, actually outplaying OLB counterpart Jake Ryan. Morgan was once again a sound defender, this time against the most mobile quarterback the Wolverines have seen this season.
4. LB Jake Ryan (1): A subpar game by his standards, Ryan still had four tackles and a tackle for loss. Like Morgan on the other side, he tried to help contain Taylor Martinez a good amount, but also dropped in coverage when necessary. He missed a couple of tackles, which is unlike the redshirt sophomore. Ryan is still Michigan’s leading tackler.
5. DE Craig Roh (NR): Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has praised the senior this season, saying how productive he has been despite not putting up big numbers. That changed Saturday, when Roh had five tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.
6.LB Kenny Demens (9): Demens led Michigan in tackles with 10 and had a tackle for loss. More importantly against a team like Nebraska, five of his tackles were solos, which meant he was getting to the ball and wrapping well.
7.WR Devin Gardner (NR): Gardner might have had only one catch, but his value to the team skyrocketed Saturday when backup quarterback Russell Bellomy proved he wasn’t quite ready yet for the primetime atmosphere at Nebraska. While Michigan said it had no plans to pull Bellomy for Gardner, it is possible Gardner’s role could change -- again -- depending on the severity of Robinson’s injury.
8.S Thomas Gordon (8): The ballhawk had six assisted tackles and is still Michigan’s top non-linebacker tackler with 46. He did appear to misplay a long pass on Nebraska’s first touchdown drive, but was still the best of a rough bunch in the secondary.
9.WR Roy Roundtree (NR): He had only one catch, but the fifth-year senior looked better than he has all season against Nebraska. Besides the 32-yarder he hauled in, he had a 55-yard catch in the first quarter overturned on review. His route running also appeared much better than it has the past few weeks.
10.DT Quinton Washington (NR): His statistics aren’t gaudy, but he continues to improve, including forcing a fumble in the first half. He also posted two tackles. He has become a comfortable option for Michigan in the middle of its defense.