A-Michigan came out with a game plan to run the ball, and the Wolverines did, carrying 29 times for 114 yards and throwing eight times. Senior quarterback Denard Robinson proved again why he's the most dangerous running signal caller in the game, finishing with 235 of U-M's 304 yards in running the read option better than he has in a long time.
The big concern in the running game remains the running backs - specifically, Fitzgerald Toussaint. The redshirt junior managed only 19 yards on 17 carries, 10 yards coming on two, first half runs (six and four yards). Fourteen of his 17 carries went for two yards or less, and he didn't have a run over three yards in the second half. Sophomore Thomas Rawls was the bright spot in mop-up duty, carrying four times for 33 yards and a touchdown and breaking several tackles. He could earn more carries heading deeper into Big Ten play.
BOffensive coordinator Al Borges didn't call Robinson's number much in the passing game, picking his spots, but he and head coach Brady Hoke showed faith in him on a first quarter, fourth down play after Robinson missed a wide open Toussaint in the flat. Their confidence was rewarded with a conversion, eight yards on a well-thrown ball to junior Devin Gardner, and Robinson threw the ball well from that point. He finished with only 105 yards and a score, but no turnovers and several third down conversions.
Gardner dropped one ball, but the receivers had a solid day. Freshman tight end Devin Funchess made a key grab on a ball thrown slightly behind him, 14 yards to set up a first and goal, and fifth-year senior Roy Roundtree also moved the chains with a key, third down reception, one of eight catches for the receivers.
AThe Wolverines allowed a pair of 11-yard runs to the running backs but not much else in a stifling performance, holding Purdue to 56 net yards and 2.2 yards per carry. The defensive line and linebackers stepped up with their second impressive performance, fifth-year senior linebacker Kenny Demens setting the tone with a big, third and one stop of Purdue running back Akeem Shavers to force a three-and-out on the Boilermakers' first possession. They managed only 24 rushing yards on 11 carries in the first half.
A great sign for the Wolverines - linebackers were the top three tacklers, led by Demens, redshirt sophomore Jake Ryan and sophomore Desmond Morgan with six each. The defensive line built the wall and the 'backers cleaned up as a result.
A-Purdue quarterbacks Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve completed 23 passes, but only one for 20 yards, and that came on a hook and lateral play. A first quarter, 63-yard interception return from sophomore cornerback Raymon Taylor staked Michigan to a 21-0 lead that seemed insurmountable at the time, and was. Redshirt junior safety Thomas Gordon added the Wolverines' fourth pick in two weeks in the second half, while fifth-year senior cornerback J.T. Floyd notched two pass break-ups and was around the ball.
Michigan's corners and safeties were very good in run support, while the cornerbacks and nickel Courtney Avery were outstanding on quick passes to the flats and inside screens, the Boilermakers' bread and butter.
A-A pair of 30-plus yard kick returns allowed and a dropped punt by redshirt junior Jeremy Gallon (which he recovered) were the only blemishes. Redshirt junior kicker Brendan Gibbons made three of his four field goals, missing only from 44 into a stiff wind when he hit the crossbar. The Wolverines recovered a fumbled kickoff on a well-placed kick from sophomore Matt Wile, junior punter Will Hagerup boomed a 57-yard punt into the wind (which was covered well) and freshman return man Dennis Norfleet notched a 38-yard kick return on three attempts. They're taking pride in special teams from the senior class down, and it shows.
A The Michigan offense played to its strengths - specifically, Denard Robinson's legs - in not allowing turnovers to beat them again, as Hoke had promised after a six-turnover game at Notre Dame. The coaches showed guts in going for an early fourth and four from the Purdue 22, setting the tone for the game.
The defense, meanwhile, continues to show great improvement, just as it did last year, allowing only 213 total yards on 61 offensive plays. The stat of the game - Purdue's 1-for-11 on third down (1-for-3 on fourth). The defense continuously got off the field and the offense made the most of it, controlling the ball for 36:11. The two sides of the ball worked in harmony better than they had all year thanks in large part to a game plan designed that way. U-M has gone from afterthought to potential Big Ten favorite in a span of a few weeks.