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Posts Tagged ‘John Navarre’

By the Gallon: Michigan 63 – Indiana 47

Sunday, October 20th, 2013


(MGoBlue.com)

Following the first loss of the season the heat was turned up on Michigan’s offense. All it did was score the most points it has scored all season, set the all-time Michigan record for total yards in a single game, and break several individual player yardage records en route to a 63-47 win over Indiana.

Devin Gardner broke Denard Robinson’s single-game yardage record with 584 total yards and John Navarre’s record for passing yards with 503. Senior receiver Jeremy Gallon shattered Roy Roundtree’s receiving record – and the Big Ten’s – with 369 yards on 14 catches.

Despite the gaudy numbers, the game wasn’t over until Fitzgerald Toussaint ran it in from 27 yards out with just over a minute remaining. Indiana answered nearly every Michigan score, utilizing a fast-paced offense to keep Michigan’s defense off balance.

Final Stats
Michigan Indiana
Score 63 47
Record 6-1 (2-1) 3-4 (1-2)
Total Yards 751 572
Net Rushing Yards 248 162
Net Passing Yards 503 410
First Downs 35 28
Turnovers 2 2
Penalties-Yards 4-15 3-20
Punts-Yards 2-73 4-146
Time of Possession 38:34 21:26
Third Down Conversions 7-of-11 8-of-14
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-1 0-of-1
Sacks By-Yards 2-22 2-22
Field Goals 0-for-1 2-for-2
PATs 9-for-9 5-for-5
Red Zone Scores-Chances 6-of-8 4-of-4
Full Box Score

The teams traded punts to start the game, but that was about all of the defense this game would feature. Indiana got the scoring started on its second possession with a 59-yard touchdown pass from Nate Sudfeld to Cody Latimer. The Hoosiers used a quick snap to catch Michigan’s defense not set and Latimer ran right by Raymon Taylor for the long touchdown.

Michigan answered with a five-play, 56-yard scoring drive capped off by a 13-yard Gardner touchdown run. After forcing Indiana to punt, Gardner connected with Gallon for 70 yards to the IU 11-yard line. Four plays later, on 4th-and-1 from the two, Toussaint found the end zone to put Michigan ahead 14-7.

Michigan’s defense forced another Indiana punt and put together a 13-play, 60-yard drive. But it stalled when Gardner was sacked on 3rd-and-4, forcing Michigan to attempt a field goal. Brendan Gibbons’ 39-yard attempt was blocked.

Indiana still wasn’t able to get anything going, punting it back to Michigan and the Wolverines made the most of it, scoring in seven plays. Toussaint carried it in from seven yards out to give Michigan a 21-7 lead.

The Wolverines looked to be in full control of the game at this point, but Indiana responded. A 40-yard kickoff return gave IU good field position and then it took the Hoosiers just three plays to score, this time on a 33-yard pass from Sudfeld to Shane Wynn.

Michigan got the ball back with six minutes left in the half and put together a 12-play, 91-yard drive that ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Gardner to Gallon. It looked like Michigan would take a 28-14 lead into the locker room, but IU got a 50-yard field goal to end the half.

Michigan started the second half with the ball, but on the second play, a pitch from Gardner to Toussaing was fumbled and the Hoosiers recovered at the Michigan 5-yard line. Three plays later, the Hoosiers punched it in on a 2-yard run by Tevin Coleman to pull within four at 28-24.

On the fourth play of the ensuing possession, Gardner connected with Gallon for a 50-yard touchdown, but Indiana matched it once again, this time using an 8-play, 71-yard drive and a 5-yard pass from Sudfeld to Wynn.

Devin Gardner set a school record for passing yards and total yards in a single game (MGoBlue.com)

When it got the ball back, Michigan was forced to punt for the first time since its second possession of the game. With a chance to take the lead, Indiana marched to the Michigan 6-yard line, but Michigan’s defense stiffened in the red zone, holding the Hoosiers to a 23-yard field goal. Michigan led at this point 35-34.

On the third play of Michigan’s ensuing possession, Gardner connected with Gallon for a 70-yard gain to the Indiana 2-yard line. Two plays later, Toussaint punched it in.

It took Indiana just four plays to answer, this time scoring on a 67-yard pass from Roberson to Kofi Hughes. IU attempted a two-point conversion to tie the game, but it fell incomplete and Michigan held a 42-40 lead.

Michigan opened the fourth quarter with a six-yard touchdown run by Gardner to cap off an 8-play, 75-yard drive to go ahead by two scores. But once again, Indiana responded. Plays of 17, 20, and and 15 yards put the Hoosiers in the red zone and Roberson scampered into the end zone from 15 yards out to pull IU within two.

Michigan marched right down the field again, getting to the Indiana 2-yard line, but on 1st-and-goal, a botched snap was recovered by Indiana. With 8:34 remaining, the Hoosiers got the ball back with yet another chance to take the lead. But Michigan’s defense had other plans. After two straight six yard runs, Thomas Gordon picked off Sudfeld’s pass at the 35 and returned it 30 yards to the IU five. Three plays later, Gardner found the end zone with his legs from six yards out.

Indiana got the ball back with six minutes left, trailing 56-47 and quickly moved the ball into Michigan territory. On 1st-and-10 from the Michigan 30, Roberson launched a pass downfield, but Gordon was there again to pick it off. Six plays later, Toussaint found a hole and raced 27 yards for his fourth touchdown of the game, this time to put the game away.

The 751 yards of offense set an all-time single-game Michigan record, surpassing the 727 yards the Wolverines put up against Delaware State in 2009. It was also the second-highest in Big Ten history. Gardner’s 584 total yards were just one shy of the Big Ten record for a single game which was set by Illinois’ Dave Wilson on November 8, 1980.

The win keeps Michigan in contention for the Big Ten Legends Division title. At 6-1, the Wolverines now have a bye week to get ready for a brutal five-game stretch that starts with rival Michigan State in East Lansing on Nov. 2. The main question facing Hoke and the rest of the coaching staff over the next two weeks will be how the offense will be utilized the rest of the way, especially with the toughest defense the team will play all year looming next.

Stay tuned for more coverage and analysis of the game and a look ahead at the rest of the season.

The Rear View Mirror Makes a Case for Denard

Monday, October 24th, 2011


It’s no secret that Denard Robinson had a bad game against Michigan State on Saturday or that his passing has not shown much improvement since last season. He went 9-for-24 last Saturday, lowering his season completion rate to 53.9 percent, and threw an interception to raise his season total to a nation-leading 11. Michigan fans across the spectrum are clamoring for Devin Gardner to replace him. So why is this guy still the starting quarterback at Michigan?

Denard already ranks in the top 10 in every passing and rushing category (photo by the Ann Arbor News)

The answer, in short, is because by the time he hangs up his jersey for the last time, Denard will be one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever don the maize and blue. You may scoff at that claim, given the number of signal-callers Michigan has sent to the NFL, but it depends on what your definition of quarterback is.

Is he the best pure, NFL-ready quarterback? No. There are probably a dozen Michigan alums that were better true pro-style quarterbacks. But college football is chalk full of effective quarterbacks who aren’t NFL-style QBs. Denard is one of the best, and the same can be said for his place in the history of college football’s all-time winningest program.

Don’t agree? Look at the numbers. He’s a year-and-a-half into his career as a starter and he already ranks in the top 10 in nearly every major offensive category, both passing and rushing.

Michigan has fielded 132 teams since the football program began in 1879. It has a history as rich as any school in the country. There have been some phenomenal players to take the field, but none have the statistical resume Robinson will have when he graduates.

Putting stats aside for a minute, the main metrics in which any player is judged – and rightfully so – are winning games, winning championships, and beating rivals. Right now, Denard trails in all three, but he’s not as far behind the greats as one would think.

He has a current record of 13-7 as a starting quarterback through his first 20 games. By contrast, Chad Henne and John Navarre were each 14-6, and Tom Brady and Elvis Grbac were 15-5. Brian Griese was 16-4 thanks to the national championship season of 1997, and Jim Harbaugh was 16-3-1. As you can see, Denard’s not far behind the recent greats in the win category. However, judging a quarterback by winning games alone is somewhat misleading unless you look at the talent he has around him.

Henne had probably the best crop of playmakers of any Michigan quarterback, with Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston, Mario Manningham, and Adrian Arrington to throw to, Mike Hart to hand off to, and an NFL No. 1 overall pick, Jake Long, protecting him. Navarre had David Terrelle and Marquise Walker to throw to and Anthony Thomas and Chris Perry to hand off to. Griese had Amani Toomer, Tim Biakabatuka, Tai Streets, an NFL offensive line, and one of the greatest defenses of all time. Grbac had Desmond Howard, Derrick Alexander, and Ricky Powers.

Denard has some talent around him, but right now it pales in comparison to what Henne, Navarre, Griese, and Grbac had. Every single one of those above played or are playing in the NFL. How many of Denard’s current supporting cast will make it to the league?

Chad Henne is Michigan's career leader in all major passing categories, but had a losing record against rivals (photo by the Ann Arbor News)

Now that we’ve established that Denard is right on pace in the win category, lets move on to winning championships. If we’re talking national championships, then only Brian Griese can count in the modern era. We would have to go all the way back to Pete Elliott in 1948 to find the last Michigan quarterback to lay claim to that.

If we’re talking Big Ten championships, then Denard has some work to do. Henne started four years but won just one Big Ten title. Denard still has a chance –albeit slight – to achieve that this season. He also has a year left. Brady, Griese, and Harbaugh each also won one. Navarre won two, although one was in 2000 when he started just four games and split time with Drew Henson.

How about beating rivals? This has a chance to be Denard’s strongest comparison but just like winning games, this takes help. He has beaten Notre Dame both times he’s faced them – and did it almost singlehandedly each time. He’s lost twice to Michigan State and is 0-1 against Ohio State with a chance to even that record at the end of November. That would pull him to 3-3 against rivals, and with a sweep in 2012, he could get to 6-3. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Since he will play nine career rivalry games, barring injury, he’ll either finish with a winning or losing record in those games.

Henne went 5-6 (4-0 against Michigan State, 1-2 against Notre Dame, but 0-4 against Ohio State). Navarre went 4-4 (2-1 against Michigan State, 1-1 against Notre Dame, and 1-2 against Ohio State). Griese was 4-1 (2-0 against Ohio State, 1-0 against Notre Dame, and 0-1 against Michigan State). Grbac was 5-2-1 (2-0 against Ohio State, 2-1 against Michigan State, and 1-2-1 against Notre Dame). Harbaugh went 6-1 (2-0 against both Ohio State and Notre Dame, and 2-1 against Michigan State).

So by that measure, Harbaugh, Grbac, and Griese lead, but again, Denard still has a chance to achieve a winning record, which Henne and Navarre couldn’t. Only Henne had a losing record, so Denard will have to avoid doing that.

Stats-wise, Denard currently ranks 9th in career completions (272), 10th in passing yards (4,011), 9th in touchdown passes (31), 9th in 100-yard passing games (14), and 6th in 200-yard passing games (9). He also has the second-best single-game completion percentage, with his 86.3 percent performance against UConn last season, he currently ranks 5th in career completion percentage (59.9), just ahead of Henne, and 4th in career efficiency rating (145.9), ahead of both Henne and Brady. Last season’s 2,570 passing yards was the 7th-best season total in Michigan history.

By the time his career is over, Denard should conceivably rank third or fourth in every major passing category, behind only Henne and Navarre.

Rushing-wise, he’s like no other Michigan has seen. Michigan has had some agile quarterbacks, but none put up anywhere close to the rushing numbers he has so far, partially because they all had solid running backs alongside them. Denard is already second in Big Ten history for quarterback rushing yards, trailing only Illinois’ Juice Williams, and he’s just 1,080 away from passing Williams.

He currently ranks 10th in Michigan career rushing yards (2,815) and career rushing touchdowns (28). Those numbers are for any Michigan player, not just quarterbacks. He also has the highest career yards-per carry average (6.49), the 4th-best single season yardage total (1,702), and the 5th-best single game total (258). Last week, he passed Tim Biakabatuka in yards. By the time his career is over, he’ll likely rank in the top four in yards and top two or three in touchdowns.

So buckle up Michigan fans, because right now we’re witnessing one of the most prolific Michigan quarterbacks of all time, whether you like his style or not. After he graduates, Michigan will likely go back to the NFL-style signal-caller, and years from now, we’ll all look back with reverence at the Michigan legend that was Denard Robinson. Let’s put to rest the calls for Gardner.

Wolverine Wednesday: The Difference a Year Makes

Thursday, September 16th, 2010


Around this time last year, I wrote this, questioning whether it was time to expand Denard Robinson’s role in the offense. Now, just two weeks into the 2010 season, he’s a human Heisman.

Denard doing his Heisman thing, photo by Sam Wolson / The Michigan Daily

Denard doing his best Heisman pose (photo by Sam Wolson / The Michigan Daily)

I’ll be the first to tell you I didn’t expect Robinson’s development to happen this fast, but even in that article after last year’s Iowa loss, it was less about his future as a quarterback, and more about utilizing his athletic ability given where his development was at the time.

Now that he has, to borrow a phrase from the Fab Five, “shocked the world” with his play during the first two weeks of the season, leading the nation in rushing yards and total offense, and vaulting to the top of the list of Heisman Trophy candidates, it seems absolutely ridiculous to think of him anywhere else but lined up behind the center.

While Robinson has captured the attention of the nation, he certainly has his detractors who say there’s no way he can keep it up through the grind of the Big Ten schedule. He’ll end up getting hurt from all the pounding he takes. He still hasn’t proved he can pass.

Those are all legitimate claims and only time will tell whether they ring true or not, but one thing is for certain: Rich Rodriguez has his man.

To be honest, I still haven’t even figured out what happened in South Bend on Saturday.  I think @cjane87 said it best: “I have had every single emotion over the last four hours.”

The game started out ominously with Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist leading the Irish down the field for a touchdown. Michigan responded with a punt. But then instead of Crist coming back out on to the field it was freshman Tommy Rees who proceeded to throw an interception on his second play, and Michigan took advantage with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Roy Roundtree. Just like that it was 7-7.

Jonas Mouton's first quarter interception led to Michigan's first touchdown of the game, photo by the Ann Arbor News

Jonas Mouton's first quarter interception led to Michigan's first touchdown of the game (photo by the Ann Arbor News)

From that point through the rest of the half, the inept combination of Rees and fellow freshman Nate Montana allowed Michigan to pull ahead 21-7. At that point, I was feeling good about the way things were going, but knew for sure that Notre Dame was going to come back.

Sure enough, the momentum swung back to the Irish as Crist returned to bring the Irish back, and ultimately hit tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 95-yard touchdown to take the lead with just 3:41 remaining. At that point, I may have sworn at the thought of my wife jumping up and down. She’s a Notre Dame fan, and I was out of town for the weekend on a business trip, thankfully.

In retrospect, the quick strike was a blessing for Michigan and served as fuel for the growing wildfire that is Denard Robinson. Unlike the Iowa game last season when Robinson had the chance to lead the offense down the field for the win, but instead threw this (at 2:12), Robinson was fully in command and marched the Wolverines on a 12-play, 72-yard scoring drive that ate 3:14 off the clock and sealed the Michigan win.

Just three minutes after NBC announcer Tom Hammond proclaimed that Rudolph’s go-ahead touchdown would go down as one of the greats in Notre Dame lore, Robinson created his own history, becoming the first Michigan quarterback to win his first start in South Bend since Jim Harbaugh in 1986.

That list includes Steven Threet in 2008, Chad Henne in 2004, John Navarre in 2002, Tom Brady in 1998, Todd Collins in 1992, Elvis Grbac in 1990, and Michael Taylor in 1988. In other words: most of the best quarterbacks in Michigan history couldn’t do what Robinson did on Saturday.

Robinson proved he has what it takes to lead the team down the field for the win, not just with his feet, but through the air as well. He hit Roundtree with a perfect pass to the two-yard line to set up the winning score. He actually went 5-6 on that drive for 55 yards and only rushed for 17 yards.

Notre Dame fans will always argue that if Crist had played the entire game, Notre Dame would have won. They may have an argument there and I may have to agree with them, but the cruel nature of the game is dealing with injuries, and Michigan has faced its far share of them this season as well.

After a rocky first game, Tate Forcier was in full support of Robinson against Notre Dame (photo by John T. Greilick / the Detroit News)

After a rocky first game, Tate Forcier was in full support of Robinson against Notre Dame (photo by John T. Greilick / the Detroit News)

In the same breath that an ND fan can say that, a Michigan fan can say that Rudolph never would have gotten open down field had Troy Woolfolk not suffered a season-ending ankle injury in fall practice.

The fact of the matter is, Michigan won for the second straight year and fourth time in the past five years.

The schedule sets up perfectly for a 5-0 start before another rival, Michigan State, invades the Big House.

We’ll get a good look at MSU this Saturday night as they host Notre Dame.

An ideal scenario for Michigan this week and next is to jump out to an early lead on UMass and Bowling Green, letting the starters play through the first half and possibly into the third quarter before giving way to the backups.

It would be great to get last year’s Notre Dame hero, Tate Forcier, some playing time, as well as freshman Devin Gardner.

Over/Under

Yeah, so I was wrong with my prediction that Notre Dame would win. Don’t call me a sell-out for picking against the Wolverines. As I said in the pick, I desperately want Michigan to win, but have to put bias aside when making my picks. I was only three off Michigan’s point total, but 13 under Notre Dame’s.

For the season, I’m 10 over for Michigan and 34 over for the opponents. I guess I should start respecting defenses, huh?
I Said What?

“The combination of Michigan’s defense this year and Notre Dame’s offense virtually requires Michigan’s offense to score 35-plus points if it wants to win this game.”

If Crist had played the entire game, maybe, but I was a touchdown too pessimistic. (-1)

“While you can’t look at the time of possession alone to determine the outcome of a game, it can certainly go a long way toward helping you win the game.”

Final time of possession: Michigan 34:09, Notre Dame 25:51. Michigan had the ball for just over eight minutes more than Notre Dame. Part of that was due to the 95-yard touchdown pass from Crist to Rudolph, allowing Michigan to put together a game-winning drive while eating the clock, but nevertheless, Notre Dame had just three drives of more than five plays the entire game. (+1)

“Two years ago in South Bend, Michigan lost four fumbles in the rainy conditions and lost 35-17. The weather forecast calls for similar conditions this Saturday, so whichever team takes better care of the ball could be the one that wins.”

The rain held off, but Michigan protected the ball for the second straight week. The only miscue was a fumble by Robinson in the first quarter, but Michigan recovered. On the flip side, Michigan picked off three Notre Dame passes, one of which directly lead to Michigan’s first touchdown of the game. (+1)

“The defense has to employ the bend-but-don’t-break attitude that it used last week, making Notre Dame work to get the ball down the field, rather than making big plays.”

Eh, not so much. The Crist injury may have contributed to Michigan’s success in the first half, but the big plays certainly did happen: A 37-yard pass at the end of the first half, which should have lead to three points, but Brian Kelly chose to go for the touchdown; a 53-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter; and Rudolph’s 95-yard romp for the go-ahead touchdown. Three big plays that lead to 14 (should have been 17) points. All things considered, that’s a success against one of the most talented passing games Michigan will face all season. (-1)

“Michigan’s lines dominated UConn last week on both sides of the ball. There’s nothing to suggest it can’t do the same this week, as Notre Dame has a very young and inexperienced offensive line.”

Michigan didn’t exactly dominate Notre Dame’s offensive line, getting just one sack, though as MGoBlog points out, when Mike Martin and Craig Roh weren’t being double-teamed, they did this, this, and this.

The offensive line did well to not allow a sack for the second straight game and pave the way for Robinson to run for 258 yards. (+1)

So hey, three out of five isn’t bad.

We Can Always Use More Denard

WolverineWatchDenardvsPryor

A new addition to Maize & Go Blue is the Wolverine Watch, which is housed on the right sidebar. Currently, it features a side-by-side comparison of Robinson and Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, as seen above. It will be updated after every game for the entire season to show where the two stand in comparison.

If other Wolverines break out, they will be added to the Watch next to one of the Big Ten’s best at that position. Right now, the only one I could foresee is Roundtree if he continues his pace from the last few games of last season and has more games like his performance on Saturday (eight catches for 82 yards and a touchdown).

Go Blue!