Breaking: Michigan doesn't expect flashy

OK, this isn't really 'breaking,' but here's the grip-and-grunt alert

Marc Morehouse
Published: November 18 2013 | 2:33 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 11:39 pm in
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About two weeks ago, after Michigan State held Michigan to minus-48 yards rushing, a man from Wolverine Lake was picked up for drunk driving in Dearborn.

His blood-alcohol level at the police station was 0.24 percent, above the states 0.17 percent super-drunk standard. While being booked, he said he drank so much because he was upset that the University of Michigans football team lost 29-6 at Michigan State University the day before. He said he also was upset with the play-calling of offensive coordinator Al Borges.

Well, it was the worst rushing performance since the school started playing football in 1879. UM followed that up with a rushing performance of minus-21 rushing in a home loss to Nebraska.

And a weekend later, after the Wolverines tipped Northwestern, 27-19, in three overtimes, Michigan might still be driving its fans to drink. UM is 7-3 (3-3 Big Ten) heading into Saturday's game at Kinnick Stadium against the Hawkeyes (6-4, 3-3), who were idle last week.

Michigan rebounded with 139 rushing yards against the Wildcats, when it took a miraculous 44-yard field goal to send the game into OT. Now, the Wolverines are up to 96th in the nation in rush offense with 135.7 yards a game.

In the run up to the Northwestern game, offensive coordinator Al Borges talked about the transition from an option offense (Denard Robinson) to more of a pro-style attack (Devin Gardner, who'll QB the Wolverines against Iowa). The numbers bear this out.

"I don't think there's any question we have the guys here to run any system we want, but there is a transitional phase here and you guys all know it," Borges said. "We're two years behind, really, because we didn't do it in the beginning. We have to start doing what we want to do. With that comes some growing pains.

"We've got a direction we want to go, and that's where we're going to go. It'll take, and when it does take, this program will be where we want it to be."

The chaos at running back might've settled last week in that starter Fitzgerald Toussaint didn't play because of not enough practice following a concussion. That opened the door for freshmen Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith. Green, a sturdy 240-pounder, started and received the bulk of the carries, taking 19 handoffs for 79 yards. Smith, meanwhile, had 8 carries for 41 yards.

During his Monday news conference, UM coach Brady Hoke said Gardner, who had his most total yards offense in three weeks with 245 against Northwestern, is beat up but better off than he was two weeks ago. Last week, though, he had to call a timeout because he couldn't feel his left arm. He had to rub it back to . . . consciousness?

"I think his attitude and just fighting, we kept going," Hoke said. "We called a timeout, he told me 'Coach you need to call a timeout, I can't feel my left arm,' so we called a timeout, and he worked it back where he could feel it and did a tremendous job."

Nineteen of the 31 sacks the Wolverines have allowed (10th in the Big Ten) have come in the last three games.

"I knew Devin was tough," Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan said. "What has it been, 19 sacks in three games? I didn't know he was that tough. Obviously, we don't want to get him sacked the rest of the season, but if he does, I know he's going to get up. That speaks volumes for him as a leader."

Michigan's offense is transitioning to something that Iowa's offense has been at times this season -- physical on the line of scrimmage, play-action passes and fine tight end play (UM tight end Devin Funchess is sixth in the Big Ten with 42 catches for 68.4 yards a game).

Hoke doesn't expect Iowa to be flashy.

"They'll be physical at the point of attack," Hoke said. "They are not going to be flashy, and you know that going in."

Sophomore linebacker James Ross III doesn't expect flashy from the Hawkeyes.

"I haven't really got to the film yet, I plan on doing that today, but as for last year I know what this game is all about," Ross said. "It's about being really physical, not too flashy."

And Lewan . . . you know.

"They're not a flashy defense, they're not a flashy offense, they're not a flashy team," he said, "but they get the job done."

This sounds like last week's Northwestern-Michigan game turned out to be -- four quarters and three overtimes of grip and grunt.

Schedule 2013
DateOpponentResult / Time
8/31vs.Central MichiganW59 - 9
9/7vs. 14Notre DameW41 - 30
9/14vs.AkronW28 - 24
9/21atConnecticutW24 - 21
10/5vs.MinnesotaW42 - 13
10/12atPenn StateL40 - 43
10/19vs.IndianaW63 - 47
11/2at 24Michigan StateL6 - 29
11/9vs.NebraskaL13 - 17
11/16atNorthwesternW27 - 19
11/23atIowa11:01 CT
11/30vs. 4Ohio State11:00 CT

Leaders
Passing Yards:D. Gardner2411
Passing TDs:D. Gardner15
Rushing Yards:F. Toussaint601
Rushing TDs:F. Toussaint11
Receiving Yards:J. Gallon1062
Receiving TDs:J. Gallon7
Interceptions:B. Countess4

Offense (FBS Rank)
Yards:3833 (78)
Passing Yards:2476 (47)
Rushing Yards:1357 (91)
Points per game:34.3 (35)
Yards per game:383.3 (77)
Touchdowns:39 (41)
Field Goals:16 (13)

Defense (FBS Rank)
Yards:3476 (15)
Passing Yards:2364 (67)
Rushing Yards:1112 (8)
Points per game:25.2 (46)
Yards per game:347.6 (16)
Touchdowns:24 (20)
Field Goals:22 (114)

Schedule 2013
DateOpponentResult / Time
8/31vs.Northern IllinoisL27 - 30
9/7vs.Missouri StateW28 - 14
9/14atIowa StateW27 - 21
9/21vs.Western MichiganW59 - 3
9/28atMinnesotaW23 - 7
10/5vs.Michigan StateL14 - 26
10/19at 4Ohio StateL24 - 34
10/26vs.NorthwesternW17 - 10
11/2vs. 22WisconsinL9 - 28
11/9atPurdueW38 - 14
11/23vs.Michigan11:01 CT BTN
11/29atNebraska11:00 CT ABC

Leaders
Passing Yards:J. Rudock1916
Passing TDs:J. Rudock14
Rushing Yards:M. Weisman777
Rushing TDs:J. Rudock5
Receiving Yards:K. Martin-Manley304
Receiving TDs:C. Fiedorowicz4
Interceptions:B. Lowery3

Offense (FBS Rank)
Yards:3979 (68)
Passing Yards:2040 (82)
Rushing Yards:1939 (43)
Points per game:26.6 (73)
Yards per game:397.9 (67)
Touchdowns:27 (86)
Field Goals:14 (26)

Defense (FBS Rank)
Yards:3192 (8)
Passing Yards:1892 (11)
Rushing Yards:1300 (19)
Points per game:18.7 (10)
Yards per game:319.2 (7)
Touchdowns:21 (12)
Field Goals:11 (55)

Big Ten
Leaders
ConferenceOverall
4Ohio State6-010-0
16Wisconsin5-18-2
Penn State3-36-4
Indiana2-44-6
Illinois0-63-7
Purdue0-61-9
Legends
ConferenceOverall
13Michigan State6-09-1
Minnesota4-28-2
Nebraska4-27-3
Michigan3-37-3
Iowa3-36-4
Northwestern0-64-6


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