ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 01: Vincent Smith #2 of the Michigan Wolverines runs 28 yards for a first quarter first down and celebrates with teammates Kevin Koger #28 and Junior Hemingway #21 during the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Michigan Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Michigan Vs. Minnesota: Wolverines Make Gophers Roadkill In 58-0 Rout

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Michigan Opens Big Ten Play With 58-0 Demolition Of Minnesota

If the idea was to refine the passing game and work in some new packages on offense, Michigan definitely accomplished those objectives in their 58-0 demolishing of Minnesota on Saturday.

The Wolverines’ offense rolled up 580 yards of total offense, 363 of those coming on the ground in an absolutely dominating performance to open Big Ten conference play.

Denard Robinson showed touch and accuracy throwing the ball, completing his first 10 passes and finishing with 169 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-19 passing. Robinson rushed for only 51 yards on the day, but with the emphasis on getting other players involved in the running game and working out the kinks in the passing attack, Al Borges didn’t need to call many rushing plays for his quarterback.

Fitzgerald Toussaint led the Wolverines in rushing with 108 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Thomas Rawls added another 73 yards on 10 carries. Robinson and Smith got Michigan’s other two rushing touchdowns.

Borges also installed a few plays that could give opposing defensive coordinators something else to think about when working up a game play for Michigan. In the second quarter, Vincent Smith threw for a 17-yard touchdown on a halfback option pass to Drew Dileo to give the Wolverines a 21-0 lead.

Smith was a triple threat on Saturday, Besides his touchdown pass, he got a touchdown on the ground, while also scoring on a 28-yard reception.

Of more interest to everyone following Michigan football, however, was an offensive set that had Devin Gardner at quarterback and Robinson in the backfield. Michigan ran several option plays out of the formation, handing the ball to Robinson, pitching to another tailback, and calling designed runs for Gardner.

Minnesota was bound to be hurt offensively with quarterback MarQuise Gray sitting out with a toe injury. Gray participated in pregame warm-ups, but couldn’t go for the Gophers. Max Shortell stepped in at quarterback, but the freshman couldn’t make any big plays against the Michigan defense. He threw for 104 yards on 11-of-22 passing.

Thanks in part to the Gophers’ short-handed lineup, the Michigan defense played perhaps its best game of the season. Minnesota was held to only 177 yards and eight first downs, while committing two turnovers.

One of the Gophers turnovers led directly to a Michigan touchdown. Minnesota was driving for a score, but running back David Cobb fumbled at the Wolverines’ 17-yard line. Defensive back Courtney Avery picked the ball up and ran it back 83 yards for a touchdown, boosting the Michigan lead to 58-0.

Minnesota also had another touchdown wiped off the scoreboard in the third quarter when a 96-yard kickoff return by Marcus Jones was negated by a holding penalty.

However, neither potential score would have been any factor in the game with Michigan holding a dominating lead throughout. Midway through the second quarter — heck, maybe by the end of the first — it was pretty clear that the Little Brown Jug wasn’t leaving Ann Arbor.

Michigan travels to Northwestern next week for its first road game of the season.

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Michigan Vs. Minnesota: Wolverines All Over Gophers, 38-0, At Halftime

It’s been a rough season for the Minnesota Golden Gophers thus far, between head coach Jerry Kill’s health problems with seizures and the team’s 1-3 record thus far (including a 37-24 loss last week to FCS North Dakota State.)

The reeling Gophers looked to be an easy opponent for Michigan as they opened the Big Ten conference season. Thus far, that’s exactly how it’s playing out in Ann Arbor, with the Wolverines running out to a 31-0 halftime lead.

Whatever issues Denard Robinson has been having in the passing game looked to be smoothed out against Minnesota. Robinson has completed 13-of-16 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He has also rushed for 51 yards and a score on six carries.

(During pregame warm-ups, there were some concerns from fans and media when Robinson had a bigger pad than usual on his right elbow. According to MGoBlog, Robinson had an abscess removed from the elbow earlier in the week. It’s possible that may have been a factor in his passing inaccuracy.)

One of the reasons Robinson has only six carries is that Michigan is getting production from its running backs. Fitzgerald Toussaint leads the Wolverines with 85 yards on seven carries.Vincent Smith has Michigan’s other rushing touchdown to go with his 27 yards on the ground.

Michigan has been playing with some creative options on offense. Smith also threw for a touchdown, connecting with receiver Drew Dileo on a halfback pass to begin the second quarter. The offense also lined up three times with Devin Gardner at quarterback and Robinson in the backfield.

Smith and tight end Kevin Koger have the other receiving touchdowns for Michigan. Junior Hemingway leads the team in first-half receiving yards with 42 yards on four catches.

Will Gardner get the nod at quarterback in the second half? Between the large halftime margin and Gardner only getting a little bit of playing time against Eastern Michigan in non-conference play, that seems like a safe bet.

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