Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Michigan at the quarter pole
By Chantel Jennings
This hasn’t quite been the start to the season that Michigan (or its fans) expected. Yes, the Wolverines are 4-0 going into conference play. But en route to getting those four wins, they’ve also posed a lot of questions like: What is going on with this offense? Can Devin Gardner be the QB that Michigan needs? Can the defensive line get any kind of pressure on opposing quarterbacks?
But with four games under their belts, here’s what we know so far about the Wolverines.
Best game: Notre Dame It was the only win so far this season that really held anything that the Michigan faithful could be optimistic about. With plenty of distractions and pressure, the Wolverines pulled out a convincing win over Notre Dame. Michigan accounted for 460 yards of offense (294 passing, 166 rushing) and Gardner had his best game of this season with four passing touchdowns and one rushing score. This game showed everything good about the potential of the Michigan offense and defense.
Jeremy Gallon has become a key offensive weapon for Michigan.
Best player: Senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon He had his mega performance against Notre Dame, but in every other game he has also showed up time and time again as Gardner’s 5-foot-8 security blanket. Through four games he has accounted for 328 yards and four touchdowns on just 22 catches. He is basically on pace to hit the 1,000 yard mark in the regular season. If he does so he’ll be just the 13th player in Michigan history to hit that mark, and the first since Mario Manningham did it in 2007.
Best performance: Gallon and Gardner against Notre Dame Can we harp on the fact anymore that this was really Michigan’s only good win/game? Gardner and Gallon connected for three touchdowns to lead the Wolverines to a 41-30 win over the Irish. That kind of play in the air also opened up the run game for Michigan. Gardner rushed for 82 yards and one touchdown while Fitzgerald Toussaint picked up 71 yards on the ground.
Best surprise: Freshman tight end Jake Butt Other than having an incredible sense of humor about his last name and the fact that he plays tight end, Butt has been an unexpected contributor. He enrolled early, which gave him a jump start in the Al Borges playbook but even the coaches were still a bit tentative about him since he seemed undersized. However, he focused on lifting this summer and came back this fall heavier and in playing shape. There wasn't a ton of discussion about Butt during fall camp but he proved himself and that has allowed him to see the field early. He has only caught six passes for 61 yards, but expect him to be targeted more as the season rolls on.
Biggest disappointment: Akron and UConn games The Wolverines were supposed to blow out Akron and UConn. Their second and third stringers were supposed to use those games to get some snaps and experience. Instead, the Michigan defense had to secure a goal-line stand against Akron to come out with the win and the offense needed to turn in a come-from-behind performance against UConn (as well as its defense continuing to play well despite being put in terrible situations). Those wins -- while they’re marked as W’s on the schedule -- definitely gave future opponents some more confidence in the possibility of taking down the Wolverines.