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October 20, 2013

Report Card: Grading U-M in a win over Indiana

Gameday Grades 2013

Rushing offense


A- Yes, it was "just" Indiana and its 109th rated rushing defense, but the revamped offensive line seemed better at targeting than previous combinations, giving fifth-year senior Fitzgerald Toussaint room to run. Toussaint still lost 19 yards, but his 151 and four touchdowns (4.7 average) was by far his best performance of the year. Redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner scrambled for about half of his 81 yards, including a critical third-and-goal run that iced the game. The Wolverines racked up 248 yards on the ground and looked impressive doing it. The only negatives - two fumbles, one by Toussaint and a dropped snap by Gardner on first and goal from the two that allowed the Hoosiers to stick around.

Passing offense


A+ Gardner avoided the interception for only the second time in his career as a starter, and he was on the money with his throws. He shattered a school record with 503 passing yards against Indiana's porous pass defense, including a Big Ten record 369 yards and two touchdowns to fifth-year senior Jeremy Gallon. Two plays, a 50-yard touchdown and a 70-yard strike, accounted for a third of Gallon's yardage. Gardner averaged a school record 24.0 yards per completion and 17.3 yards per attempt in complete 21 of 29 passes. Protection from the line was solid, too - he was only sacked twice and usually had plenty of time to throw.

Rushing defense


C- The Hoosiers had only managed 48 yards at halftime but finished with 162 and two scores with three runners averaging 4.5 yards per carry or more. They saved their best for the fourth quarter, racking up four carries of 15 yards or more in gashing the Michigan defense. Indiana averaged 4.9 yards per carry, led by back Tevin Coleman's 78 on 11 carries. Coleman didn't lose any yardage, either, and had a long run of 20 yards.

Passing defense


D- Michigan's pass defense was subpar for the second straight week. A long Indiana touchdown to open the scoring was the result of tempo - cornerback Raymon Taylor was looking to get the call when IU snapped quickly and receiver Cody Latimer ran by him - but he and freshman Channing Stribling had their hands on two more balls with a chance to make plays, only to have them result in a key first down on a deflection and a lost battle for the ball and 67-yard Kofi Hughes touchdown. The Hoosiers managed 402 yards passing between their two quarterbacks and 17.1 yards per completion, and were four Latimer yards away from having a pair of 100-yard receivers. Only two, Thomas Gordon interceptions prevent a failing grade. One set up a touchdown, the other all but clinched the win.

Special teams


C- It wasn't a great day for the Michigan special teams in any facet. They allowed a 44-yard kick return, had another field goal blocked (another low kick by fifth-year senior Brendan Gibbons) and saw junior Matt Wile struggle with two below average punts (36.5 average). Sophomore return man Dennis Norfleet broke out with a 44-yard kick return, but he ran backwards on another to start the offense inside the 10-yard line. The biggest positive - Gibbons kept his PAT streak alive by making all nine of his extra point attempts.

Coaching


B- The offensive line shakeups seemed to help, with young guards Kyle Bosch and Erik Magnuson playing well, according to fifth-year senior tackle Taylor Lewan. Michigan was ready to play following a disheartening loss at Penn State, especially on offense. The Wolverines employed more spread principles against an overmatched Indiana defense and simply out-athleted the Hoosiers. Gardner took a pounding, but he's durable - and that's how he's going to have to be used if the Wolverines are going to remain in contention for a Big Ten title. They kept their foot on the gas late in the game when it became apparent the Hoosiers were going to be able to score almost at will, going for the kill on their last drive, completing a third and six to sophomore Devin Funchess for 38 yards to ice it. There remain some issues defensively, but Indiana is going to score points on most teams. The big plays, though - three plays over 40 yards, two of them touchdowns, and another 33-yard score - have to stop if the Wolverines have any shot at a title.



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