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)
4 Total Updates since September 27, 2011
over 1 year ago Commentary 0 commentsContinue
over 1 year ago Update 0 comments
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.
over 1 year ago Update 0 comments
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.
over 1 year ago Update 0 comments
(Sports Network) - The Little Brown Jug is up for grabs once again, as the undefeated Michigan Wolverines open Big Ten Conference play this Saturday against the visiting Minnesota Golden Gophers. One of 65 trophy games currently involving teams at the FBS level, the battle for the Little Brown Jug is the oldest, having been established back in 1909.
Minnesota comes into this year's clash sporting a disappointing 1-3 record, having logged a win over Miami-Ohio, but dropping bouts with USC, New Mexico State and most recently, FCS foe North Dakota State. The 37-24 setback to the Bison was even more costly as it was announced shortly thereafter that head coach Jerry Kill, who suffered a seizure on the sidelines in the loss to NMSU, would take some time off to deal with lingering health concerns.
Minnesota has lost four of its last five Big Ten openers.
Coach Kill sees an issue with focus as a big reason for his team's lack of success in the first month of the season, "You have to play disciplined football. We have to change the culture and it's not going to happen overnight. We have to push through it."
Michigan is currently ranked 19th in the nation, having disposed of Western Michigan, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan and San Diego State during a season- opening five-game homestand. The 28-7 win over the Aztecs last weekend earned the Wolverines their third straight sweep of the non-conference opponents on their schedule, and gave current head coach Brady Hoke a victory over his former team. Hoke coached SDSU in 2009-10, and he will try to lead the Maize and Blue to its 42nd win in its last 44 Big Ten openers this weekend.
Coach Hoke obviously likes the fact that his team has won its first four games, but knows the rigors of Big Ten play have a way of tempering one's enthusiasm.
"It's what you play for, the Big Ten championship," said Hoke in a recent media session. "And Minnesota coming in here is game one. We've got to have a great week of preparation and work together and getting to know our opponent. Jerry Kill is a tremendous football coach. He and I both have MAC ties, and he'll have his group ready."
This is the first meeting between these two long-time rivals in three years, and Michigan owns a commanding 70-24-3 lead in the all-time series. The Wolverines have won the last three encounters, and 19 of the last 20 overall.
The Minnesota offense was lackluster at best in last week's loss to NDSU, as QB Marqueis Gray completed a meager 5-of-12 passes for 53 yards with an INT, while backup Max Shortell went 4-of-8 for 71 yards with a TD and a pick of his own. The Bison scored two TDs off Gopher turnovers. The UM ground attack was fueled by Duane Bennett's 74 yards, and Donnell Kirkwood's career-high 70- yard, two-TD effort, but the Gophers finished with just 292 yards of total offense, and lost the game despite converting 9-of-14 third-down opportunities and scoring on all three of their trips to the red zone.
Through four games, Gray is completing just 50.6 percent of his pass attempts for an average of 130.2 ypg, and he has thrown just three TDs against three INTs. Gray is the team's leading rusher as well, having amassed 351 yards, or nearly 90 ypg. Kirkwood leads the way with three rushing scores. DaJon McKnight paces the receivers with 19 grabs for 260 yards and a TD.
Bennett put things into perspective as the Gophers turn their attention to the rest of the season, "We just need to stay together as a team. The last thing we need is to have guys fall apart and go by the wayside. We just need to tip our hats to North Dakota State and make the corrections as a team."
With the offense having difficulty finding its footing, the Minnesota defense hasn't lived up to its end of the bargain either, yielding just shy of 27 points and more than 383 yards per contest. DB Kim Royston is the leading tackler with 42 stops, 15 more than his closest teammate, and a glaring lack of big plays has hurt the Gophers on both sides of the ball. The team has just one sack on the year, and only four takeaways.
In last week's loss, the Gophers were stunned by a 28-point second quarter put up by the Bison, the visitors picking up 336 yards in the game compared to just 292 for the home team. Royston led all defenders with 11 tackles, marking his fourth straight double-digit performance.
Michigan QB Denard Robinson rushed for 200 yards and three first-half TDs to power the Wolverines to a three-TD win over San Diego State last weekend. Robinson, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, added 93 yards passing, with WR Vincent Smith catching three balls for 44 yards. When the dust had settled, the Wolverines had rolled up 413 total yards, 320 of which came on the ground. It was the second straight outing UM had churned out more than 300 yards via the run -- the first time that has happened since the first two games of the 2003 season.
With his impressive effort against the Aztecs, Robinson (2,605) moved into second place all-time in the Big Ten for rushing yards by a quarterback, trailing only Indiana's Antwaan Randle El (3,895). This season, Robinson has rushed for a team-high 552 yards and five TDs, while his exploits in the passing game have resulted in just a 48.6 percent completion rate and an average of only 156 ypg. He has six TD passes against the same number of INTs, and his scoring strikes have gone to six different players. No receiver has more than eight grabs (Jeremy Gallon) to this point in the season.
Michigan has scored on all 13 of its red-zone opportunities thus far, 12 of which have been TDs.
The Aztecs finished with 376 yards of total offense, including 253 through the air, but three lost fumbles and just 1-of-3 success in red-zone scoring opportunities proved to be their undoing. It was a balanced defensive effort from Michigan, as 20 different guys recorded at least one tackle, with Thomas Gordon, Blake Countess and Kenney Demens each tallying seven stops on the day.
Coach Hoke thought his defense put forth its best effort of the season last week, "I think that we got enough pressure on the quarterback at times with four guys, which is something we need to continue to strive for. I think Greg (Mattison) called a nice game. I think the guys in the back end did a nice job, and I think we forced some bad throws, but it all starts with stopping the running game."
Through four games, the Wolverines are giving up just 12.8 ppg and they have come up with 13 turnovers (nine fumbles, four INTs). Demens and Gordon sit atop the team's tackles list with 30 apiece.
Minnesota comes in searching for an identity, while Michigan is confident and ready to begin its trek toward a possible Big Ten title. Too much Robinson coupled with not enough offensive production will prove fatal to the Gophers as they limp out of the Big House with yet another demoralizing loss.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan 41, Minnesota 14