Here we are again…A new Michigan Wolverines’ season of dreams is upon us and it’s time once again to think big and hope for the best.
Brady Hoke begins his fourth season as head football coach of the Wolverines and the pressure on his shoulders has never been greater. Much is riding on the performance of his team and there’s no more time to learn and grow.
The fanbase is getting anxious for results as progress on the field and off is in a regression stage. The yearly wins are retreating (11, 8, 7) and prior to the season Blue was no longer the all-time leader in winning percentage among college football programs (Notre Dame).
In two years, Urban Meyer has his Buckeyes in the national title spotlight, coached his team to a 24-2 record with one undefeated season and finished first in their Leaders division twice.
Within the state of Michigan, MSU is now the powerhouse program. Coach Mark Dantonio’s team just won the Rose Bowl over Stanford, finished with a 13-1 record and are preseason ranked 8th in both major polls for 2014.
Much of the talk before the home opener was focused mostly on the fact that Michigan needed to get revenge on visiting Appalachian State for what the Mountaineers did to a Lloyd Carr coached Wolverine team back in the 2007 season (beat Michigan 34-32 in the season opener at home).
Yet that talk was irrelevant as the 2014 version of App State bore no resemblance to the 2-time defending FCS champions that visited Ann Arbor some years ago. The Mountaineers ended 2013 with an 4-8 record. Not too dominating.
Yet Michigan easily could have found themselves in a defensive low scoring battle that came down to the wire and ended on another last-second field goal attempt on Saturday. Thankfully they didn’t.
Michigan pounded the new additions to the Sun Belt conference and put up a total of 560 yards from scrimmage.
Quarterback Devin Gardner was able to relax in the second half after throwing for three touchdowns in the first and finishing his day completing 13 of 14 passes for 173 yards with no interceptions. Back-up Shane Morris played a majority of the second for the Wolverines.
Converted TE, now WR Devin Funchess also sat much of the second half after finding himself on the receiving end of Gardner’s three TD scores in the first and finished with 95 yards receiving.
The much meligned Wolverine running game tallied 350 yards on the day as Michigan had two players go over 100 yard mark rushing, Derrick Green (170) and De’Veon Smith (115). Smith added two TD runs and Green one.
The Michigan defense had a fine first half holding App State scoreless, but lacked a bit in the second by allowing 14 points in the half. In all, the Mountaineers accounted for 280 yards of offense.
Overall it was a fine tune-up for the game next week against Notre Dame on the road in South Bend, Indianna.
Nothing more should be taken from the Appalachina State game other than to know that Michigan 2014 should give fans plenty of reasons to be excited and hopeful about the games ahead. Much of the questions have early answers but will need more time for reassurance. Right now, things started as they should.
#1 WR Devin Funchess wore the #1 jersey, a number reserved for only the most deserving of players (outside of the Legends jerseys) and became the fist Michigan Wolverine player to snag three TD catches in a season opener.
#98 QB Devin Gardner passed Tom Brady and moved into 7th all time in TD passes in Michigan history.
#52 Offensive lineman Mason Cole became the first freshman Wolverine to start at left tackle.