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Sunday, November 4, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Michigan 35, Minnesota 13

By Michael Rothstein

Drew Dileo
U-M wide receiver Drew Dileo will need to step up to help with depth.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In a game without starting quarterback Denard Robinson for the first time since 2009 on the road, Michigan might have learned more about itself than in any other game this season.

The Wolverines likely picked up some knowledge about their future, too. Those are some of the main takeaways after Michigan’s 35-13 win over Minnesota on Saturday.

Michigan had a new starting quarterback, a shakeup of sorts at running back and a different rotation at wide receiver but had as much success as it has had in any game in 2012.

THREE UP

1. Devin Gardner as a future quarterback. 

The backup quarterback turned starting receiver turned replacement quarterback made his case for the full-time job next season Saturday. Not only did he look sharp after a rough first three series, he did it in an offense resembling more of what offensive coordinator Al Borges and Michigan will run starting next season. Gardner completed 12-of-18 passes for 234 yards, two touchdowns and an interception Saturday. More impressive, he completed 11 of his last 15 throws.

2. Michigan’s transition to a pro style offense. 

There will no doubt be growing pains next season no matter who the quarterback is, but Saturday showed glimmers of hope as the team plans on moving from a shotgun hybrid spread offense to a more traditional pro style attack. Michigan ran a lot of pro style offense Saturday, including much more under-center plays than ever before under Borges, and both the comfort level of the coordinator and the selection of plays in certain situations soared.

3. Michigan in the red zone. 

The Wolverines had really struggled there in the month of October, especially against Michigan State and Nebraska, where they were wholly ineffective. Not the case Saturday, as Michigan had three chances and scored three touchdowns against the Gophers.

THREE DOWN:

1.Fitzgerald Toussaint as Michigan’s featured back. 

The redshirt junior’s stranglehold on the position seems to be lessening as sophomore Thomas Rawls had more carries than Toussaint -- and save for a 41-yard run by Toussaint late, ran better. Neither had hugely productive days (Rawls rushed for 2.7 yards a carry and Toussaint 5.4, but take out the 41-yard run at the end and he was at 2.41 yards a rush) but combined were productive enough for Michigan. Look for more of that in the future.

2.Michigan’s future receiving corps. 

With Gardner potentially shifting back to quarterback next season, Michigan is looking at one receiver -- Jeremy Gallon -- with major experience. After that comes either another slot receiver in Drew Dileo and a bunch of questions. Entering next season, the Wolverines will need to find an answer there.

3. Michigan’s pass defense.

The Wolverines weren’t terrible against the pass statistically -- Philip Nelson only threw for 142 yards -- but Michigan was beat deep a good number of times and were also flagged for four pass interference penalties in the second half, which will surely drive Michigan coach Brady Hoke nuts when he watches the game again.