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.