The only way Central Michigan could have avoided a beat down was not coming out of the tunnel. Unfortunately for them, they did, and it was ugly. So that raises an interesting question. Why am I not ecstatic about a 59-9 victory? What more could I ask for? Well let’s examine this. Foremost, it was Central Michigan for godssake. So it’s hard to tell what’s really going on with such a lopsided talent bias in tandem with a huge blowout.
I guess what really disturbed me the most was that Devan Gardner threw two interceptions early on, and that set off my alarms. I thought, “Oh no, it’s Denard, without the breakout factor.” I also asked myself, why didn’t this new pro-style, “we’re going to run the ball” offense run the ball with us backed up on the 10-yard line. Well it turns out, Brady Hoke wanted to run a two-minute offense on the first drive for future preparedness reasons. I specialize in the brain, he specializes in football—so I will accept that. Still two interceptions, and against Central, left a bad taste in my mouth. My proclivity for drama aside, let’s look at Devan Gardner objectively.
Granted Devan Gardner is not Denard—Stevie Wonder can see that. However, if you expect Gardner to sit in the pocket, you are sadly mistaken. You will also get burned. The assumption is that Michigan lacks depth at quarterback, so they will protect Gardner at all costs. A different tale unfolded on Saturday. Devan will definitely lower his head and run. He’s not afraid to take a hit either. So when I think about it, this is a great thing. It will be very difficult for defensive coordinators to prepare for Michigan with a dual threat quarterback.
While Gardner’s two interceptions were concerning, there was nothing else to worry about in the 10-of-15, 162-yard, one-touchdown show he put on before exiting in the 3rd quarter. Even with the interceptions, he still finished with a 152.72 QB rating, which would have easily led the Big Ten last year. Gardner also added seven rushes for 54 yards and two more scores. So I say to myself, “self, get over your self.” Take a chill pill Gardner is fine. He’s more than fine. He’s great.
Speaking of great, what about the impressive amount of young talent that Michigan has. Hoke played 13 true or red-shirt freshman, who actually contributed to the winning effort. Freshmen accounted for 21 of the teams 64 tackles. Before the offense could even touch the ball, true freshman, Dymonte Thomas, came up with a huge punt block that led to Michigan’s first touchdown. Channing Stribling had the second most tackles in the game. Offensively, freshmen contributed one touchdown, 76 rushing yards, eight receiving yards and 59 passing yards. Freshman quarterback Shane Morris was 4-of-6 with one interception but looked solid. His performance breathed a sigh of relief into the Maize and Blue Nation regarding the Michigan QB situation. The kid is good, and he’s very composed. Also of note, In the third quarter, freshmen, De’ Veon Smith and Derrick Green split 10 carries in putting together a 55-yard touchdown drive culminating in a touchdown by Green.
While we will know better, next week, it seems the Michigan defensive line, as well as the O-line has gotten better. Yeah there was some issues coming off of blocks, and some tackling concerns—but overall this is a much better team than last year.
So why was I so concerned? This is all good news. Do I need to adjust my meds? Oh yeah, wait a minute: the penalties! There were 55 yards of penalties—not good. CMU didn’t cash in on those freebies, but you can bet Notre Dame will if given the opportunity next weekend. And B1G Opponents will take those free yards to the bank all day long. But in the currency of youth, that’s the instability factor: the substitution infractions, false starts and blocks in the back. Overcoming that will be a part of their growth. And speaking of growth, I witnessed the team grow over the course of the game. It will be a thing of beauty to watch Hoke’s masterpiece come together this season. Oh Hail yeah, it’s going to be a good year.
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