A film review of Michigan's dominant 44-13 victory over Purdue ...
Critical Drive: U-M's opening drive. Offensive coordinator took the Wolverine offense back to the day back to the days of Bo Schembechler's three-yards and a cloud of dust philosophy, bludgeoning the Boilermakers en route to the endzone on a 17-play, 78 yard touchdown drive.
The Wolverine front bullied a talented front seven, creating creases for Denard Robinson - who was more than content to eat up yardage with his legs. He rushed for 24 yards on the opening drive, and utilized a run to set up the pass game plan to slice through Purdue for 18 yards on 2-of-3 passing (66.7 percent); including a perfect throw on a dig route to gain 10 yards on third-and-seven to redshirt senior wide receiver Roy Roundtree, who was creatively lined up as a stand-up wing back.
On a critical opening drive, the offensive line gave Robinson space on the ground attack, and time in the passing game, and created just enough of a push on first-and-goal from the one to allow redshirt junior Fitzgerald Toussaint to bull his way to pay dirt, giving the Maize and Blue a lead they would not relinquish.
Best Drive: Also the first drive of the game. Uncertainty surrounding the Michigan offense were heightened following a deplorable performance against Notre Dame two weeks ago, and the Wolverines silenced their doubters - at least for the time being - on its opening drive in West Lafayette, at least for the time being.
Brady Hoke's staff got back to basics, dialing up a plethora of quarterback runs by Robinson, while also utilizing jet-motion from the slot and the flank to hand the ball off to shifty junior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon, who carried the ball twice for 11 yards (5.5 yards per carry).
Michigan's offensive line was not perfect, but did enough to set the tone for an offense that ran the ball 14 times on a 17-play, 78-yard drive that ate up nearly nine minutes of clock. It also offered pristine protection on the rare pass attempt, and the Michigan coaching staff kept reads simple for Robinson, who made an accurate throw on an easy 10-yard crossing route to Roundtree on third-and-seven and an 8-yard curl to junior wide out Devin Gardner on a key fourth-and-four.
Worst Drive: Their weren't many, but one in particular sticks out. Already up 21-0, U-M was gifted the ball when sure-handed sophomore return man Akeem Hunt muffed a Matt Wiles kickoff.
Michigan started its drive at the Purdue 26-yard line with a chance to deliver a knockout blow, but, after Robinson gained five yards on first down, moved backwards by redshirt junior right tackle Michael Schofield jumped early, resulting in a false start penalty.
The Wolverines lined up in a strong I with twins to the left side, and tried to bludgeon Toussaint up the gut, but junior linebacker Will Lucas and sophomore safety Taylor Richards both read the play, and assailed the backfield to corral him for a one-yard loss.
On 3rd-and-10, U-M lined up in a tight, shotgun four-wide receiver look against a blitzing PU defense that brought six defenders to line of scrimmage, and pressured Robinson was forced to toss the ball over a well-covered junior wide receiver Drew Dileo's head and into the first row of the seats.
On fourth down, redshirt junior place kicker Brendan Gibbons hit the cross bar on what would have been a career-best 44-yard field goal try, and a Maize and Blue squad that should have essentially ended the game came up empty handed.
Encouraging Trend: Denard Robinson. After an astoundingly poor performance by a senior quarterback in the Wolverines' 13-6 loss to Notre Dame two weeks ago, Robinson displayed why he has been deemed one of the most explosive players in college football.
There have been few players in the history of Michigan football that can replicate what Robinson did against an exceedingly-capable Boilermaker defensive front. Both Michigan State and Ohio State have menacing defensive fronts, but other than those two team the path to the endzone, as well as Lucas Oil Field, should be wide open.
Robinson is a once-in-lifetime talent, for better or for worse, and his record-breaking performance should give Maize and Blue faithful hope moving forward. Watch and enjoy.
What We Learned: That when utilized correctly, senior quarterback Denard Robinson remains one of the most electrifying players in college football.
He valued the ball, committing only one turnover, and totaled 340 yards of offense - including 235 rushing yards on 24 carries (9.8 yards per carry) - en route to setting the all-time Big Ten quarterback rushing record with 3,905 career-yards.
Robinson sliced through a Purdue defense that possesses arguably the most effective roadblock in the middle in senior defensive end Kawann Short, and his performance should provide confidence for Wolverine faithful that the senior signal caller can lead his squad to the Big Ten Championship game in 2012.
Quarterback Grade:- A: Denard Robinson once again looked like the Shoelace of old, passing for 105 yards on 8-of-16 attempts, and scrambled for 235 yards on 24 carries (9.8 yards per carry).
Running Back Grade C-: Sophomore Thomas Rawls looked like a battering ram when called upon carrying the ball four times for 33 yards (8.3 yards per carry), but, aside from two one-yard plunges, starter Toussaint did not impress, gaining only 19 yards on 17 carries (1.1 yards per carry).
Offensive Line Grade - B: The Michigan offensive front created a push, especially on quick hitters designed for Denard Robinson, but still struggled when the Wolverines lined up under center.
As previously noted, starting tail back Fitzgerald Toussaint in particular struggled to find space in the run-game, and Michigan ball carriers not named Denard Robinson struggled to only 2.8 yards per carry on 27 tries.
Wide Receiver/ Tight End Grade: There weren't many chances to make plays for U-M's pass-catchers, as Robinson only attempted 16 passes, but they did grab critical balls on third down to help U-M convert 10-17 third down conversions (58.8 percent).
Robinson tossed a post route late in the second quarter to Gardner late in the second quarter, who lept up and snagged the pigskin to give the Maize and Blue a 28-3 lead, and the converted quarterback would finish with 31 yards and a score on 2 catches (15.5 yards per receptions).
Junior wide receiver led the team with 37 receiving yards on three catches (12.3 yards per reception), including a 28 yard long.
Drive 1: 17 plays, 78 yards, 8:48
Result: One-yard touchdown run by Fitzgerald Toussaint
Drive 2: 8 plays, 63 yards, 3:55
Result: One-yard touchdown run by Fitzgerald Toussaint
Drive 3: 3 plays, negative-one yard, 1:36
Result: Missed field goal attempt
Drive 4: 7 plays, 74 yards, 3:47
Result: 23-yard touchdown reception by Devin Gardner
Drive 5: 1 play, negative-three yards, 0:05
Result: Denard Robinson fumble recovered by Purdue
Drive 6: 1 play, negative-two yards, 0:06
Result: End of second quarter
Drive 7: 5 plays, 14 yards, 2:02
Result: Michigan punt
Drive 8: 8 plays, 61 yards, 4:15
Result: 29-yard field goal by Brendan Gibbons
Drive 9: 6 plays, 16 yards, 2:46
Result: Michigan punt
Drive 10: 5 plays, 51 yards, 2:32
Result: 42-yard field goal by Brendan Gibbons
Drive 11: 6 plays, 17 yards, 3:10
Result: 27-yard field goal by Brendan Gibbons
Drive 12: 4 plays, 33 yards, 2:05
Result: Seven-yard touchdown run by Thomas Rawls
Drive 13: 2 plays, negative-three yards, 0:55
Result: End of game
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