Good game overall, the front guys in the defense still not playing hard enough, te OL played well, they actually opened holes for Toussaint to go through...i liked the progress from the previous two games BUT i still dont see is as a "dominating" team where i feel comfortable enough when we play good teams such as NW and osu.. PSU will be playing hard next week since they got embarrased by IU. So that will be a good test for us
Michigan 42, Minnesota 13
Split out wide for most of the game, Devin Funchess set career highs in receptions and yards. [Photo: Bryan Fuller, MGoBlog]
After two ugly victories against overmatched opponents, Michigan entered their game against Minnesota with a reshuffled offensive line and a pressing need to placate the fanbase by not playing down to their opponent. After a slow start, they did just that, scoring 28 second-half points en route to a 42-13 homecoming victory.
The natives were restless during a plodding first half in which the two teams combined for just eight real drives (the Gophers ran out the last 1:25 of the half), due mostly to a 16-play, 75-yard march by Minnesota—during which they converted five third downs—that saw them tie the game at seven. That came after Jibreel Black forced a fumble by Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner on the game's opening possession; James Ross recovered and the Michigan offense capitalized with six runs in six plays, covering 35 yards and capped by an eight-yard Fitz Toussaint touchdown.
The ensuing Gopher drive ate up most of the first quarter, allowing them to not only knot up the score, but keep it close for the rest of the half. This was "old time Big Ten football" in the worst sense—slow-paced, run-heavy, and not particularly effective. Four consecutive punts followed, and the heated battle for field position eventually went in Michigan's favor—after Matt Wile's 55-yard boot was downed by Dennis Norfleet at the Gopher one-yard line, Minnesota was forced to punt it away from the nine, and Drew Dileo took a line drive kick well into Gopher territory. Four plays later, Devin Gardner hooked up with Devin Funchess—who spent most of the game lined up at wide receiver—on a post route for a 24-yard touchdown with 1:25 left in the half. Fitting the general tenor of the game, Minnesota decided to forego any chance at points, running twice and carrying three timeouts into halftime.
If that seemed questionable at the time, it looked more so after Michigan drove 75 yards in nine plays to open the second half, bolstered by an improved running game and the emergence of Funchess, Giant Wide Receiver. The first four plays of the drives were runs of 14, 5, 8, and 9 yards; a 21-yard back-shoulder throw to Funchess set up a two-yard Derrick Green touchdown to cap the drive. The Gophers could only respond with a field goal to cut the Wolverine lead to 21-10; that would be the closest they'd get for the rest of the game.
Much of the credit for that can go to Funchess, who finished with seven catches for 151 yards—both career highs—and set up a late Gardner touchdown run with a 46-yard grab on the right sideline. Even though the numbers don't bear it out, the running game looked improved as well; though Michigan averaged just 3.2 yards per carry as a team, Fitz Toussaint (right, Upchurch) had an impressive 78 yards on just 17 carries, adding a second touchdown run from 12 yards out to give Michigan a 28-10 third-quarter lead that proved insurmountable. Chris Bryant, the new starter at left guard, proved adept as a puller, which allowed Michigan to run the play they'd like to (eventually) make their offensive identity: power.
Most importantly, considering the troubles of the last two games, Michigan didn't turn the ball over once, the first time they've done so since their 58-0 win over these same Gophers in 2011, Brady Hoke's first season at the helm. After looking flustered against UConn, Devin Gardner was very sharp, connecting on 13 of 17 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown while showing a calmness in the pocket that wasn't present in previous games. Gardner wasn't needed much as a runner, carrying the ball just seven times for 17 yards and a TD; in a game like this, that's just fine.
While the defense had trouble getting off the field on third downs, allowing Minnesota to convert on 8 of 15 chances, they were otherwise solid; the Gophers mustered just 281 total yards on 4.5 yards per play and couldn't score a touchdown after their second drive. The inside linebacker duo of Desmond Morgan and James Ross combined for 19 tackles, making it tough sledding for any Minnesota run up the gut. While the Wolverines had trouble covering Gopher TE Maxx Williams, who finished with 54 yards and a touchdown on five receptions, the rest of the Minnesota passing offense generated just 91 yards. While the Gophers missed a couple chances for big completions late, Michigan made up for that when Blake Countess stepped in front of a Leidner throw and returned it 72 yards to complete the scoring with just 1:19 on the clock. The biggest concern on that side of the ball going forward may be the health of nose tackle Ondre Pipkins, who was carted off the field with a left knee injury; he's a critical backup behind Quinton Washington.
Despite the close calls and consternation from the nonconference slate, Michigan now sits at 5-0 and 1-0 in the Big Ten, and after two harrowing wins over bad teams the Wolverines beat Minnesota in a wholly acceptable fashion—the slow pace masked a dominant effort until the game broke open late. In the end, Michigan scored five touchdowns on eight offensive drives, with the defense adding a sixth for good measure while forcing Minnesota to fight for every yard. It wasn't pretty in any aesthetic sense; the score, however, speaks for itself.
I take issue when armchair coaches accuse players of "not playing hard enough." You can play hard and still not play very well. It's fine to point out a player's mistakes, but I recommend not tossing out indictments of work ethic or effort without incotrovertible evidence.
One of my favorites is "they didn't want it enough." And there's the classic "they need to man up."
Some jagoff behind me yelled either "Someone needs to STEP UP" or "Are you KIDDING ME?" after nearly every play. This was particularly interesting/annoying when Minn would gain yards but still be short of the sticks. In other words, even when we did well, he'd bitch.
That sounds like a M fan
Agree didnt mean that they were being lazy or not working hard enough..i guess bad wording, i meant to say we are still not putting enough pressure on the opposing QBs
The offense got some key 3rd downs and had no turnovers. Gardner got bailed out a few times by receivers, probably the most notable one was the Funchess catch at the 1 that was reviewed. That ball hung up in the air a long, long time and from my seats in section 39 (the opposite corner), it looked a good 2 yards inside of where it needed to be. When it was in the air, I was preparing myself for six the other way, and if Minny's secondary was any good it would have been. I can't figure out how to make a new paragraph (enter does nothing), but defensively they really need to clean up those QB draws or teams like Northwestern and OSU will eat us alive.
I guessed 39-19 in the "Guess the Score" for Michigan post. I can't believe it was actually a final score for a game today... Mind blown
Clearly Funchess needs to split his time at TE and WR at 50-50. Also, those old cheerleaders with their old fashion and lame "ra ra ra ra" made me chuckle.
It may look lame and corny now (and probably did in their day too, frankly) but it's a great link to our school's history and traditions. I was glad to see them.
that in his final game of handling the jug, John Falk could hand it over to Taylor Lewan and gets to pack it away in Schembechler Hall and hand the keys to the next guy.
Minnesota is making progress as a program (baby steps), but man their Big Ten schedule does them no favors
At Northwestern, Nebraska, at Indiana, Penn State, Wisconsin, at Michigan State
IU would beat this team right now, would you make them favorites over anyone else? Maybe PSU?
I think the UFR is going to be high on circus catches --- or at least very hard. I think the receivers did a great job, but a better opposing team would have adjusted to the bunch of underthrown balls for ints. Does not instill a great sense of confidence.
There really weren't any under thrown balls that the WRs couldn't easily adjust to and likely win against any CB. The throw behind Williams was really the only dangerous throw all game. Gardner was solid and we all need to give him credit for an above average performance.
The people who watched on TV seem to have a much worse opinion of Gardner's passing than those at the game. No one around me thought he was inaccurate. I get the sense that Gardner's accuracy was one of the "storylines" of the game for the TV announcers. I personally thought he was fine. There was a bit of breeze (mostly north-south) that may have affected passing somewhat, but still, 13-17 is pretty good.
but the only egregiously errant pass he threw was the incomplete to Dileo, high and behind him.
Maybe true, but there's a lot of space between "sharp" and "egregiously errant."
Unless we're talking about the freep reporter.
I think Devin did a great job yesterday, and even with his past mistakes he's still a great QB. Happy to have him wearing the Winged Helmet. He's just having a familiar year, but just later than most qbs, the sophmore slump (I know he's not a sophmore). Most second year qbs seem to go through this, and if you know the game, opposing teams attack new qbs. People forget, this is Devin's first full year at qb, mistakes are going to be an issue. Some mistakes bigger than others, it's up to good coaching to help prevent bad habits.
Overall, I thought it was a pretty decent performance. We didn't turn over the ball and we didn't have many penalties. I thought the O-line was better and a little more physical. Defense was a little meh but I wonder if we prepared for the other QB and were caught a little off guard. The long drive by Minnesota hurt because we couldn't get off the field on 3rd down. I'm not sure how the season is going to go but I thought it was a step in right direction.
I was at the game and Funchess and Chesson stood out as solid, big targets.
For four years (almost to the day) you remain silent. Through the turmoil that was Freepgate, the last days of RR, the coaching search, Denard and all his glory and then his last final, tragic days.
The men's BB team makes an improbable run to the finals and nothing compels you to speak. Brandon, love or hate him, makes changes and changes back and you watch quietly. But when the subject of the size of our WR is brought up.....NOW you'll chime in.
I'm always facinated by long term lurkers and the topic that compells them to speak up for the first time. That would be a facinating study for anybody who has access to the source file showing length of time user name has existed and lag between establishing user name and first comment.
Anyways....I agree with you. I was there too and thought the same thing.
Actually, Mgoblog has a system where you lose points if you don't post for quite some time. I was well into the hundreds in the few months after signing up, then stopped posting for quite some time. My points dropped all the way back to zero, so when I started posting again it looked like I had been signed up for years and was just posting for the first time.
I think everyone lost points, not just if you didn't post for awhile. And I think that was a couple of system switches ago so it might not be happening anymore. Be curious to see if you were still losing points.
Can someone using small words explain to me what significance, if any, there would be for Funchess to be designated as a receiver instead of a TE? Haven't played organized football, so use the small notes. As near as I can tell a TE's primary purpose is to block and secondary purpose is to receive for short throws as needed (dump option?), where as a receiver, although they may block occasionally, is supposed to go out and receive.
Also, is there any reason why Hoke couldn't designate Lewan an eligible receiver if he wanted to? Would that preclude Lewan from working the line?
Say that first & last: Great Win! Beat a bad team comfortably, like they should.
But like Coach Hoke in his post-game interview, it's not hard to identify many areas that still need improvement.
For starters: "Gardner was very sharp" -- on his last two passes, yes, but for most part before that, his receivers helped him tons on passes behind &/or too high or short. As others here have said, better pass defenses (ugh, MSU, e.g.) will break most of those up & intercept a couple. Much much better decision-making tho.
O line looked way better. Quibble here, but does anyone know why it seems they don't block at all when anyone but Fitz gets the ball? Green was hit in backfield every single carry, except his TD, on which he was hit just barely past the line. What's up with that?
D -- made some plays (Countess' INT was a great read, leaving the one receiver just as QB was starting toward the other. Some pressure at the end finally when Mattison dialed up the heat. But no pressure at all still without that (ie, for first 3.5 qrtrs), and poor 3rd down D against a weak O (based on last week v Iowa, only thing I looked at).
On which point, don't look at Minny v Iowa stats if you want to stay all positive on yesterday. Minny had half as many yards (& points) last week, and gave up more yards (by about 100), to Iowa (!) (but also only half the points).
So: great win! (Say it first & last, like I said.) But I guess it's also nice that there's plenty for the coaches to work on this week too!
"On which point, don't look at Minny v Iowa stats if you want to stay all positive on yesterday. Minny had half as many yards (& points) last week, and gave up more yards (by about 100), to Iowa (!) (but also only half the points)."
Don't forget that Iowa had 10 minutes more minutes of time of possession than Michigan did and Minnesota had 10 minutes less versus Iowa than they did this game.
That'll account for most of the yard differences.
Yards Per Min of Possession -
Iowa - 12.8 YPM
Minn vs Iowa - 6.7 YPM
Michigan -13.3 YPM
Minn vs Michigan = 8.3 YPM
So, that goes to how Minny did so much better v us than v Iowa, but it's not a counterargument that we compare better than the numbers I considered suggest is it? I mean, that we had it 10mins less & they more than they did last week is how, in what way, they did better v us than v Iowa, right? (Their 3rd-down conversion rate / our D inability get off field on 3rd is the root of that extra ToP.)
Minny played Nelson at QB against Iowa instead of Leidner, so comparing the performances is a little problematic. I would have rather faced Nelson, who's pretty much a statue back there.
That Minny's O much better with the new QB. & I buy some of that. Guy made some plays & some good throws.
First I hope the Minnesota's headcoach, Jerry Kill is doing well this morning.
As for the game there was a lot, we as fans were trying to see, and may have missed. But from MY view I think the coaches did exactly what they had to do. They took the game out Devin's hand, and tried to establish a run game (which from my view, needs more work).
Devin looked defeated at times and he wasn't doing a bad job. His confidence has been shaken, and establishing a run game is crucial.
Fitz, is not a threat, hate to say it, and I really mean that. Green, nice to see some of his potential but they won't let him have game experience. My question, where are the rest of the backs? The coaches always claim to have talent but never use it. But I knew they would be in a bind when Al said he wanted one runningback to carry the load, one back, REALLY?
Here's one thing that bothers me, Devin Funchess. The kid wanted to play WR, they wanted him at TE. Funchess claims to have embrace the TE position. Coaches, hey Funchess! How about playing some WR? Funchess, ok! Coaches....damn he's good! I understand they had a need at TE but the kid is good, and a threat! So as fans we will have to see what they will do with him at the next game.
Granted I'm being sarcastic but it's obvious this team is lacking something, and I hope the coaches and players get it figured out this week. Because Michigan losses to NW, OHIO, and MSU if they don't. Two out of the three looks like they have more talent and are willing to use it. The third, well, it's East Lansing, and Michigan doesn't look like a tough team (soft).
Now, go into Happy Valley and pull out a good road win, then beat the Hoosiers. Go into the BYE week undefeated, then the real season starts.
First of all, there was improvement, and the changes on the OL were the correct ones to make. It's pretty clear to me that Bryant's health was the main thing keeping him out of the starting lineup. It was a good victory, and one we needed for our confidence. Funchess playing at WR looked unstoppable, and that's something we need to continue to do. Funch, Chesson, and Gallon, with Dileo in the slot is a legit corps of receivers.
Overall, Devin looked more confident, but still not to the level of ND Devin. In rewatching some of the plays, a lot of Devin's inaccuracy came from him being a beat slow delivering the ball. Hopefully, he'll continue to gain confidence so he can deliver those throws on time. It's clear he can be accurate when his head's right. He did do better near the end of the game, probably since he knew the game was in hand and he relaxed some.
The running game went from putrid to just average. That said, Devin didn't scramble much, so when he starts to do that again, we'll have another weapon. Borges' playcalling in the fourth quarter didn't do our backs any favors, but it's Minnesota fergodsakes - their DEs are alomst the same size as Green. I would have expected a bit better results, even when Minny knew what was coming.
It was hard to take much from this game regarding pass defense, but the run defense seemed to still be an issue, especially up the middle and dealing with scrambles and QB runs. Losing Ondre hurts; hopefully they can move Willie Henry over, since he's seemed to play well. The DL as a whole just looks unimpressive, as a result of past recruiting I'm sure.
With our schedule remaining, it looks like 8-4 to me. We're clearly not as good as Ohio, and we'll lose at MSU and Northwestern. We could win the others and be 9-3, but I see another road loss or dropping a game to Neb or (shock) Indiana at home. Hopefully, we'll improve enough to get to 10-2 or so.
The game at Northwestern scares the shit out of me. They are pissed after giving that game away to us last year. We can't defend option offenses, they will have their way with us. They have a golden opportunity to beat us playing at home.