Devin, did it feel like a basketball game where there’s one guy who’s on fire so you just keep giving him the ball?
Gardner: “I mean, I guess you can say that. I felt like the offensive protected so well and gave me such a good opportunity to hit those guys. [The receivers] did a good job getting open, so it made my job easy.”
With the criticism you’ve been getting, how excited were you to have a record day on offense?
Gardner: “I mean, I just feel like we did a good job of rebounding. It just shows the senior leadership and the leadership on the team that after such a tough loss last week, we could come out and perform and fight like we did and finish the game.”
What is more impressive? The offensive performance or the defense stepping up to make plays at the end?
“Well we knew we needed a couple stops at the end defensively. We were fortunate enough. But offensively, obviously we were pretty much in sync. I thought Devin [Gardner] did a nice job, found the guys who were open. Ran the ball better, which you look at the film and we’ll see why we ran it better. But that was a big part of it. We needed to complement each other. The stops at the end helped complement the offense. But the offense kept moving. Kept bailing us out a little bit defensively.”
Would Kyle Bosch have played if Joey Burzynski hadn’t been hurt?
“With Kyle, being here since January has helped his development. Joey getting nicked up a little bit probably got him in the game a little sooner than he would have. But he was a guy that Darryl [Funk] and Al [Borges] thought was coming along.”
NOT PICTURED: Indiana's defense (far left: Upchurch; center and right: Fuller)
Michigan comfortably defeated Indiana by 16 points, outgaining them by 161 yards and staying even in the critical turnover battle.
Or something like that, at least.
In real life, the Wolverines and Hoosiers traded haymakers, smashing records while combining for 1,323 yards of total offense. I'll spell that out: ONE-THOUSAND, THREE-HUNDRED AND TWENTY-THREE YARDS OF TOTAL OFFENSE. 751 (SEVEN-HUNDRED--okay, you get it) of those belonged to Michigan, a school record. Devin Gardner passed for 503 of those yards, another school record, and added 81 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, breaking Denard Robinson's U-M record for single-game total offense. Jeremy Gallon caught 14 passes for 369 yards and two scores, felling not only the Michigan receiving yards record, but also the Big Ten mark.
On the other side of the ledger, Indiana amassed 572 yards and 28 first downs while scoring on seven of their first 11 full drives. We all know this feel, probably-drunk student (via bubbaprog):
When the above occurred during the game doesn't matter, because it could've been any moment of the game.*
Remarkably, the teams traded punts to begin the game; matters escalated quickly. First, Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld hit a wide-open Cody Latimer for a 59-yard touchdown when Michigan's defense couldn't get set against the lightning-fast Hoosier attack; Raymon Taylor got beat over the top, and the safety help it appeared he expected never arrived.
Michigan responded with a five-play, 56-yard march capped by a 13-yard Gardner scoring run; all but one of the plays was a shotgun run. Clearly, Al Borges wasn't pleased with last week's effort; not only did Michigan come out with two new starting guards, Erik Magnuson and Joey Burzynski, they spread the field to make attacking a porous Indiana defense that much easier.
From there, it was the Jeremy Gallon Show. The Wolverines took a 14-7 lead after a 70-yard Gallon catch set up a two-yard TD run by Fitz Toussaint. By the end of the first quarter, he had 116 yards. Back-to-back first down passes to Gallon set up the next score, too, a seven-yard Toussaint run to the pylon for a 21-7 Michigan lead.
Indiana responded to that score in their trademark lightning-strike fashion, taking just 1:03 off the clock as Tre Roberson took over for Sudfeld, going 3/3 on the drive for 57 yards. That took some luck, as Roberson's second throw went right through the hands of Raymon Taylor, only to be caught by Duwyce Wilson; one play later, Shane Wynn took the top off the defense for a 33-yard score.
The Wolverines looked to carry all the momentum into halftime, going on a methodical 12-play, 91-yard drive that ate 5:19 of the final 5:59 off the clock; a 21-yard touchdown pass to—who else?—Gallon on a wide open flag route. As it turned out, however, 40 seconds was just enough for the Hoosiers to move into field goal range with a little help from a very passive defense, and Mitch Ewald drilled a 50-yarder to make it 28-17 at the half.
Michigan received to start the second half; any hopes of opening up a comfortable lead were quickly dashed, however, when Toussaint dropped a pitch from Gardner and IU LB Flo Hardin returned it 13 yards to the Wolverine five. Three plays later, Tevin Coleman dashed through a huge hole in the middle to bring the Hoosiers within four.
Even as the Wolverines tried to slow the game's breakneck pace, Indiana wouldn't allow them to do so; unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they did this by ceding a 50-yard touchdown pass to Gallon on the fourth play of the next drive. The play came on another very successful adjustment by Borges: bringing in two tight ends, going max protect, and letting Gallon and Devin Funchess work against Indiana's generous secondary. Funchess drew a lot of attention from Indiana's back seven, allowing Gallon to roam freely downfield, almost as if he were invisible.
Indiana came back with a five-yard Roberson pass to an uncovered Wynn on a broken coverage, failed to convert a reverse pass on a gutsy (read: questionable) two-point conversion attempt, and after a Michigan punt another Ewald field goal cut the lead to just one point. The offense once again answered the bell, however, this time in the form of Gardner pump-faking and scrambling through several Hoosiers en route to a six-yard score, eating an illegal late hit after he arrived in the end zone.
Despite kicking off from the 50 with a nine-point lead and a defense seemingly incapable of slowing down Indiana, Brady Hoke elected to have Matt Wile boot the ball through the end zone instead of trying a relatively safe onside kick. The Hoosiers made up the 15-yard difference in one Tevin Coleman rush, then cut the lead to two on a 15-yard Roberson scramble.
Hearts quickly jumped into throats and stomachs plummeted into shoes after Michigan moved their way down to the Indiana two-yard line, only for Gardner to fumble the snap on first-and-goal; Indiana recovered and the Big House fell silent as the Hoosiers took the ball with a chance at the lead. Michigan caught two big breaks, however: first, Roberson dislocated his thumb, forcing Sudfeld back onto the field; second, Sudfeld softly tossed the ball in the direction of an open receiver, only for Thomas Gordon (above, Fuller) to undercut it for a critical interception, giving the Wolverines the ball back just three yards worse for wear.
After two runs were stuffed by the Hoosiers, Gardner dropped back to pass, niftily eluded a corner blitz, and took off up the middle, barrel-rolling over a tackle attempt and into the end zone to make it 56-47. Roberson gamely got Indiana into scoring position again on the next drive, but Hoosier hopes were dashed when either a bad overthrow or a miscommunication with the intended receiver resulted in a ball deflecting off Jourdan Lewis's hands and straight to Gordon for his second pick. Toussaint, who finished with 151 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries, capped the scoring with a 27-yard dash up the middle.
This felt a lot like the 2010 Illinois game, with Michigan looking unstoppable on offense and incapable on defense. The difference, of course, is that the offense was supposed to be the big question mark with the defense being called upon to keep the team afloat. For this game's good signs—the offensive explosion and adjustments from Borges—there were plenty of bad ones, especially the defense allowing five different Indiana receivers to record catches of at least 20 yards. One thing is for sure: this team still looks eminantly beatable, and after this week's bye, the Wolverines face the teeth of their schedule, starting with a trip to East Lansing to face the vaunted Spartan defense (and also, thankfully, a Connor Cook-led MSU offense).
*If you must know, it was after Gardner's fumble on the goal line, which stood out as particularly absurd even in this absurdity of a game.
The Sponsor: This liveblog is brought to you once again by Marawatch, purveyor of premium watches. I suppose you don't NEED one. You can always look at the sun and take a guess at the time, provided you paid attention to Trig in high school. Or you can rock the Mickey Mouse watch with the plastic wristband that tells your prospective employer that maybe he should go in a different direction. But if you want a sleek, stylish, practical timepiece that will impress your new boss and keep your retinas safe, Shashi Mara can help you out.
Chaos Avoidance: If you can keep your head while all those about you are losing theirs, you probably don't need the Chaos Mitigation Post. Everyone else should give it a read.
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
By Nick RouMel
Last weekend was an especially heartbreaking one for local sports fans. Both Michigan, on Saturday vs. Penn State, and the Tigers, on Sunday vs. the Red Sox, managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of seemingly certain victory.
These kinds of losses are the most difficult to handle, right? It’s like any near miss. Not just a sports outcome, of course. But a job you don’t get; a relationship that doesn’t work out. They haunt you. You replay every facet endlessly in your mind. “What if I hadn’t picked my nose during the interview?” or “What if Sparky* hadn’t pulled Scherzer after 7 innings?” or “What if Shawn Crable hadn’t missed that blocking assignment on the field goal attempt?”
On the other end of the spectrum, who cares if the Lions lose? They generally suck, with occasional flashes of mediocrity. There are no expectations, year in and year out. So when they win, it’s a happy occurrence. Compare and contrast how terrible you felt when Michigan beat Akron and Connecticut.
I argue that sports ceases to be a happy escape if you feel crappy after a close win and want to slit your wrists after a loss. It’s just replacing one source of stress for another (your job, deadlines, etc.). The weekend is no longer fun; it just becomes tense. The only happy people are those who sell blood pressure medication and alcoholic beverages.
Sometimes it’s easier, in this column, to pick against Michigan, to protect a heart that has been broken too many times. To try and find pockets of grim satisfaction in small things, like the fact that mgoblog user “LivingInOhioSucks” was stupendously hung over on Sunday, because he dared to doubt my prediction.** Or to happily give away my tickets to a co-worker for the Indiana game, who has never been to the Big House.
And to even dare hope: that Scherzer and Verlander will stave off the Sox, and that someday, even these young boys in Maize and Blue will jell and become a team to be proud of once more.
Until then, just remember what the Wizard of Oz told the Tin Man:
“I think you are wrong to want a heart. It makes most people unhappy. If you only knew it, you are in luck not to have a heart.”
INDIANA 35, MICHIGAN 31
* [Yeah, I know.]
** [See Punt/Counterpunt 10/12/13, comment #2. (jump?)]
By Heiko Yang
I’m too broken to write prose, so here is my assessment of Michigan’s offense in the form of a good old-fashioned SAT analogy question.
Michigan’s offensive game plan : Michigan’s offensive goal ::
Go to college : meet women
Monkey wrench : assemble Ikea furniture
Allen wrench : assemble non-Ikea furniture
Sign up for extracurricular activities : become well rounded and meet women
Run 5K : train for marathon
Workout on elliptical : not ready for marathon, train for 5K
Learn three chords on guitar : start jam band
Rehearse stand-up comedy routine : audition for improv comedy
Take pre-med courses : keep career options open
A spoonful of sugar : cure diabetes
Methicillin : treat MRSA
Rhythm method : contraception
Become history major : play to strengths, aim for law school
Charge of the Light Brigade: Survival of the Light Brigade
Ford a 15-foot deep river : avoid caulking the wagon and floating across due to high risk of turnover.
Great Leap Forward : “forward”
Drop classes and change major halfway through senior year : find five easiest credits to meet graduation requirements
Reply-all : reply
“Please remove me from this list” : get removed from this list
Recycle high school essays : pass English classes
Obtain degree in English : find employment
Non-prescription glasses : look more employable
Skinny jeans from Salvation Army : look like unemployment was on purpose
Lottery tickets : acquire wealth while unemployed
Craigslist : sell possessions, purchase more lottery tickets
Click on “missed connections” : meet women
Indiana 30, Michigan 30, refs cancel the game in 5 OT.
[ED: We know. Our correspondents are currently behind enrolled in Football Rehab.]
1. The Six Factors
|Exp Score||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
Holy cow those were a lot of ugly third downs. Michigan averaged 11 yards to go on third and Penn State was nearly as bad at 9. Michigan had a huge advantage in they converted a lot more before third down than Penn State. Plus, both teams were bad at converting, even when accounting for the miles to go.
So Michigan won field position, bypassed third down more often, had more big plays and was slightly more terrible on third downs. That is a pretty outstanding line for the defense. I would take those numbers across the board in any game. Everything except the field position number. Some of that is four overtimes ratcheting up the expected score, but it’s not all of it. The offense as we have discussed forever at this point was either really good or really bad. Call the good stuff, get first downs, call the bad stuff and end up in third and Philadelphia.
2. Individual Performances
Devin Gardner: +9.1 EV+, +52% WPA, (16th best QB of the week)
Christian Hackenberg: +6.2, +10% (23rd)
Fitzgerald Toussaint: –9.4, –40%, (114/115 ranked RB of the week)
Bill Belton: +1.6, +43%, (36th)
Devin Funchess: +9.8, +25% (18th)
Jeremy Gallon: +7.7, +40% (41st)
Brandon Felder: +11.4, +34% (9th)
Allen Robinson: +6.2, +38% (74th)
Apparently there are factions of the Michigan community who think Gardner is the problem and should be benched. I just don’t get it. Yes, the bar has been lowered a little bit after last season and the first 7 quarters of this season, but that bar started as high as it gets. The turnovers are very frustrating but he adds so much value to the team.
The flip side to the equation is if you benched him, your best case scenario is Christian Hackenberg, and that is pretty much best case with a lot more downside. I think he’s going to be a player, but for this season, I’ll take Gardner any day of the week.
The good news is that Michigan now has two legitimate receiving threats if we get them the ball, and other than the back breaking grab at the end of regulation, Michigan help the Big Ten’s best receiver in check.
3. Game Charts
The Six Biggest Plays
6. +26.5%: Hackenberg incomplete on 3rd and 4 in the second OT
5. -29.3%: Pass interference in the end zone sets up Penn State’s final TD
4. –29.5%: Hackenberg to Robinson at the end of regulation
3. -32.4%: Gibbons field goal from 40 blocked in the first OT
2. +35.8%: Robinson fumbles to open the third OT
1. –38.6%: Gibbons misses from 33 yards in the third OT
What is left to say at this point, Michigan had the game in the bag at 3 different points. There are a lot of things to fix coming out of the game, but that loss had a ton of bad dumb luck.
4. Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Last weekend was one of the least dumb kicking weekends since I started following. No egregious punts from deep in opponent territory, no face saving field goal attempts down by 5 touchdowns. The worst offender was Georgia State. Trailing Troy by 7, they decided to punt the ball away with less than two minutes to play. With two timeouts left their best hope was to get the ball back with no timeouts and a minute left needing a touchdown to tie. Troy ground out the single first down they needed and Georgia State never saw the ball again.
5. State of the Stats
The six factors for all teams can still be found .
- Even with all his turnover issues, Devin Gardner is ranked the #12 QB so far this season, averaging 8.1 points a game above average when adjusted for opponents.
- With the struggles in MANBALL, his value is magnified even more. Replacing the plays where he carries or throws with an average play would result in a loss of 84 points for Michigan on the season, the fifth highest total for any player.
- Fitzgerald Toussaint’s carries are on the opposite side, plays where he carries the ball are college football’s least valuable. Replacing his carries for an average Michigan non-Toussaint play would be worth another 37 points. Solve for the equilibrium, Al.
- Jeremy Gallon is still at the edge of the top 30 and Devin Funchess keeps climbing, rising to #56 in national receiver rankings.
- Michigan’s overall ranking is still holding strong, I have the ranked 19th based on in season results only, 8 points above an average team with most of the value coming from the defense.
|Exp Score||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
|Mich O||31.0 (19)||50% (64)||155 (41)||7.6 (108)||-3% (79)||5.1 (55)|
|Ind D||25.7 (53)||50% (62)||149 (81)||5.8 (85)||+8% (103)||4.5 (30)|
|Mich D||31.9 (111)||49% (37)||98 (13)||7.6 (11)||+8% (103)||3.9 (15)|
|Ind O||24.4 (87)||53% (27)||168 (34)||6.4 (68)||+5% (24)||5.6 (27)|
This game should be some strength versus strength when Indiana’s offense goes up against the Michigan defense. The Michigan defense has moved into the top 15 in Bonus Yards, 3rd Down Distance and Red Zone. The biggest knocks are that they have been given awful field position to deal with and they’ve been poor once they get to third down.
At this point I think anything is possible with the offense, and for that matter this game. I could see this game being close and low-scoring, close and high-scoring or Michigan putting it together on offense for at least one game and looking strong.
If I go with the straight numbers:
Michigan 24 Indiana 21