Blake Countess’ performance this season brings to mind another recent Michigan star cornerback who made a name for himself in his first two seasons – Marlin Jackson. The former All-American finished his Michigan career nearly a decade ago and went on to win a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts. But did you know that it was pretty much a miracle that he even made it to Ann Arbor?
It’s true. And now he’s working to help other kids from similar backgrounds beat the odds as well.
Jackson retired from the NFL last season and has since dedicated his time to the Fight for Life Foundation that he started back in 2007. I spoke to Marlin about how his upbringing shaped his decision to start the foundation, what the foundation does, and how you can help.
Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Wolverines’
Last night, as Michigan took to the road to play against a tough opponent in their own arena for the second time this season, it was the offense again that let the Wolverines down. Much like in the Iowa State game earlier this year, and in a later loss to Charlotte, Michigan was simply unable to find any sort of offensive rhythm in a 79-69 loss to Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Despite having John Beilein’s preferred starting lineup on the court, including the recently-injured Nik Stauskas, the Wolverines came out completely flat against the Blue Devils and couldn’t take advantage of a size and strength advantage inside. Duke seemed to want every loose ball more, and an appalling missed shot clock violation on an early Tyler Thornton three-pointer was a pretty clear sign that Michigan would need to play its best game of this young season.
Instead, the Maize and Blue dropped their third game so far, and with Arizona looming in two weekends, Michigan fans are starting to panic. The talent is certainly there for Michigan, but the execution is lacking.
Time and again last night, Michigan’s perimeter players passed the ball around the three-point line, rarely looking inside for Mitch McGary and almost never giving a full-hearted drive to the bucket, against a Duke team that was being overly aggressive. Mike Krzyzewski’s game plan worked to near perfection, as a still clearly hampered Nik Stauskas, Michigan’s leading scorer and best creator, was face-guarded all game long and held to four points – all on free throws – on just two shot attempts.
Early on, it appeared as if Michigan would be run out of the gym. Duke, along with Michigan, was slow out of the gates, but started to pick it up behind eight points from Rodney Hood in the first 13 minutes. Michigan, on the other hand, never got going in the first stanza and didn’t even manage to break double digits until five minutes were left before halftime, at which point the Wolverines had only managed three made field goals.
Somehow, however, Michigan’s defense kept them in the game, as Beilein found himself down by only 10 points at the break after another buzzer-beating three by Thornton closed out the half.
With a clean slate and a golden opportunity with 20 minutes of game time remaining, Michigan started strong in the second half and cut the lead to just six points on a fast break layup by Derrick Walton, Jr. three minutes into the second half.
But as was the case all night, Duke was quick to answer. Jabari Parker, Quinn Cook, and Marshall Plumlee all converted layups before Michigan knew what him them, and within two minutes, the Wolverines’ deficit was back to 12.
For the remainder of the game, Michigan tried to battle their way back into the game on the shoulders of sophomore Caris LeVert, but the closest they would eventually come was a 46-40 hole with nine minutes remaining.
Following a mini five-point spurt from Zak Irvin and LeVert midway through the second half, it seemed as if Michigan was poised to make one final push after trailing by eight to 12 points throughout the evening, but a quick Duke substitution quelled any remaining hopes of a comeback when Andre Dawkins, who had played just three first-half minutes without recording a stat, drained two deep balls on defensive mistakes by LeVert.
From there, the game was all but over. The Wolverines started to look like a well-oiled machine late in the game, but the 19 stat-padding, meaningless points scored in the final two minutes will only be recognized by those reading the box score.
Ultimately, this loss is not a terrible one to take at this point in the season, but with a bad defeat at the hands of Charlotte already on the record, Michigan is in dire need of some quality wins throughout the next couple months.
Michigan certainly is still a Tournament team in my book, and a fully healthy Nik Stauskas will be crucial as Big Ten season kicks off in a month’s time, but a couple more losses in the near future could spell major trouble if this offense doesn’t start to click.
It’s clear at this point in the season that McGary and Glenn Robinson III desperately miss Trey Burke’s ability to get past a defender, stall in the lane, and find them for easy finishes, and it’s going to take a continued team effort to replace the Player of the Year. Derrick Walton, Jr. is rounding into solid form and LeVert has shown flashes of brilliance, but the consistency is lacking in a big way.
When the buckets are hard to come by for this team, there is no Trey Burke to calmly sink the 15-footer that he was so adept in doing, and as this year nears its end, Michigan needs to find a new beginning.
***Quinn Cook*** – 24 points (6-of-11 FG, 2-of-7 3pt., 10-of-10 FT), 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 turnovers in 37 minutes
**Jabari Parker** - 15 points (7-of-14 FG, 1-of-2 FT), 6 rebounds in 33 minutes
*Caris LeVert* – 24 points (8-of-18 FG, 1-of-3 3pt., 7-of-7 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover in 36 minutes
|Final Game Stats|
|01||Glenn Robinson III*||4-9||0-2||0-0||1||2||3||4||8||2||2||0||0||34|
|10||Derrick Walton Jr.*||3-6||0-2||1-1||0||2||2||1||7||1||3||0||0||26|
Tonight marks the opening of the much-celebrated Big Ten/ACC Challenge in which every Big Ten team faces off with an ACC team projected to be as close to equal as possible. For the first 10 years, the ACC was dominant, but lately the Big Ten has become the preeminent power conference in the country, going 3-0-1 over the past three seasons in this contest.
Michigan, coming off a national championship appearance, drew perhaps the toughest game of the Challenge this year as they take on the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium tonight (9:20pm on ESPN).
Boasting a freshman phenom and the transfer of the year, Duke will look to continue its streak of 106 consecutive home non-conference wins, but does Michigan have what it takes to slay the giant? Here are my thoughts:
Make the Studs Work: By this point in the season, everyone has heard of Jabari Parker, the fundamentally-sound, well-built 6’8″ freshman out of Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy who is averaging 23 points and eight rebounds per night while shooting 50 percent from downtown. But many people are still asking “who?” when sophomore Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood’s name comes up. That’s a mistake. Hood, a lengthier and lankier 6’8″ himself, is perhaps Mike Krzyzewski’s best player, and is averaging 20 points and five rebounds a night while shooting a mind-bending 59.1 percent from downtown and 62.2 percent from the field.
If Michigan is to have any chance tonight, the Wolverines will at least have to slow down these two phenomenal players. And yes, it’s a task much easier said than done, but the welcome news for Michigan fans is that two teams have already provided the recipe for accomplishing this monumental feat.
Just last week, Arizona pulled off a 72-66 win over the Blue Devils by limiting Parker and Hood’s three-point attempts and by forcing them into difficult shots inside the arc all night. The duo still combined to score 40 points, but those 40 points took 35 shot attempts between the pair. Similarly, in an earlier loss to Kansas, Parker and Hood scored 39 but only got off nine threes and shot just 41 percent on two-point attempts.
I think the most logical matchups for Michigan will be to put Glenn Robinson III on Parker and Caris LeVert on Hood and hope that the two wings can limit the outside shots and make their counterparts work inside and force up difficult mid-range jumpers, which both are prone to doing.
White Thunder Domination: Mitch McGary has been fairly quiet this season as he continues to work himself back into shape after a back injury forced him to miss weeks of practice in the fall. If there is ever a time for him to showcase what made him a potential lottery pick last year, however, it is tonight. There will undoubtedly be NBA scouts lining the walls of tiny Cameron and drooling as four potential lottery picks take to the floor, none of whom have a better opportunity to dominate than McGary.
Duke’s biggest weakness all season has been inside play, and it’s not even close. Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood have simply been brilliant, but they do a lot of their work from outside. Amile Jefferson, Duke’s biggest starter, stands just 6’9″ and weighs a measly 210 pounds; he also only plays 15 minutes per game and is not a great rebounder.
McGary, on the other hand, is an athletic 6’10″, 255 pounds and lives to rebound. Michigan needs McGary to dominate on the defensive glass, which both Arizona and Kansas were able to do in their wins, while getting some easy put-backs and being more assertive on offense.
Too often this season, it seems that Michigan is waiting for Trey Burke to run out of the tunnel and create some easy inside offense for McGary and Robinson III, but that will only happen in our dreams. Tonight, look for McGary to really call for the ball down low, which will draw the defense inside and open up the outside shot, be aggressive, and draw some fouls. At some point, Duke may be forced to throw Parker on McGary, and if McGary can wreak havoc inside, good things will happen for Michigan. Free throws will also be critical, and if McGary’s recent 4-of-4 stretch from the stripe holds true, Michigan will be in it until the end.
Paging Nik Stauskas: There is no question that John Beilein will need to draw up a beautiful plan to keep the Wolverines in the game tonight in front of a raucous crowd, but even if everything goes accordingly, I think Michigan still needs a healthy Nik Stauskas to have a chance. Stauskas has been outstanding all season long in shooting lights out from downtown, finding the open man, and throwing down a few monster slams, but he injured his ankle in the loss to Charlotte and is questionable to return to the court tonight.
After Michigan’s blowout victory over Coppin State, Beilein said that Stauskas was unable to get any lift off his ankle, and his status is questionable for tonight. I fully expect Stauskas to give it a go this evening – he’s too big a competitor to sit it out – but he needs to be himself to make a difference. If Stauskas knocks down a couple threes early on and shows signs of the dribble-drive game that have some calling him the most improved player in the country, I like Michigan’s upset chances, but if his gimpy ankle is causing defensive breakdowns left and right, Stauskas will be forced to watch from the bench as Zak Irvin will look to prove himself again in an environment that is difficult for any freshman.
Prediction: Michigan undoubtedly needs to play its best game of this season to win tonight’s showdown. A healthy Nik Stauskas would do wonders, but I think the game ultimately comes down to Derrick Walton, Jr. and Caris LeVert. Both of these young Wolverines have shown promise early on, but neither has had a coming out party on the road against a big-name team like Duke. Ultimately, I think Rodney Hood and Quinn Cook prove to be the difference as the Blue Devils pull away late, 84-74.
|#22/21 Michigan (5-2) vs #10/8 Duke (6-2) – Durham, NC – 9:15pm EST – ESPN|
|(190-429) 44.3||Field Goal %||52.1 (235-451)|
|(66-181) 36.5||3-pt FG %||43.2 (67-155)|
|(101-140) 72.1||Free Throw %||72.9 (159-218)|
|(160-391) 40.9||Field Goal %||45.0 (206-458)|
|(38-115) 33.0||3-pt FG %||27.0 (30-111)|
|Nik Stauskas (20.3), Caris LeVert (13.9)||Points/gm||Jabari Parker (23.0), Rodney Hood (20.0)|
|Mitch McGary (7.8), Jon Horford (5.7)||Reb/gm||Jabari Parker (8.0), Rodney Hood (5.0)|
Michigan rebounded from its Puerto Rico Tip-Off Championship loss to Charlotte with a dominant 87-45 thumping of Coppin State on Friday night. Tonight, the Wolverines look to win their second in a row, but standing in the way is the toughest opponent they have faced to date, the Duke Blue Devils. It’s Michigan’s matchup in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Let’s take a look at Duke:
|Jabari Parker (F)||30.9||23.0||55.4||50.0||73.5||8.0||2.0||3.1||1.8||1.2|
|Rodney Hood (F)||32.6||20.0||62.2||59.1||81.8||5.0||1.9||2.1||0.4||1.1|
|Quinn Cook (G)||34.8||13.4||48.8||38.2||84.2||2.6||6.0||1.8||0.1||0.5|
|Amile Jefferson (F)||15.4||5.8||70.4||00.0||33.3||4.0||0.5||0.6||0.1||0.5|
|Tyler Thornton (G)||21.6||2.9||46.7||44.4||1.000||2.3||2.5||0.6||0.1||1.4|
Jabari Parker (6’8″, 235) is obviously the main man in Durham right now. The freshman from Chicago scored at least 20 points in each of the first seven games of his career. In the eighth, he scored 19 against fourth-ranked Arizona. He can do it inside and outside, shooting over 50 percent from both, and leads the Blue Devils in rebounding and blocked shots. In short, he should be in the NBA right now.
Rodney Hood (6’8″, 215) is a transfer from Mississippi State who sat out last season and has actually been more efficient than Parker in the early part of 2013. He hasn’t been as consistent (only eight points against Alabama but 30 against East Carolina), but is shooting over 60 percent from the field and has made 13 of 22 three-point attempts.
The other member of the frontcourt that gets the majority of the starts is Amile Jefferson (6’9″, 210). The sophomore is rail thin, although he has added 15 pounds since he got to Duke, and has the ability to pour it in on any given night. Against Kansas he scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting, but he has a total of just two points in the last three games.
In the backcourt, Quinn Cook (6’2″, 180) is the main floor general. He’s the only other player averaging in double figures (13.4 points per game) and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of over 3-to-1. He has hit at least two three-pointers in five of the eight games and scored 21 points in the season opener against Davidson.
He is joined by Tyler Thornton (6’2″, 190), who has started four of the eight games, and while he isn’t counted on to score, he has done a nice job of taking care of the ball and feeding the scorers.
|Andre Dawkins (G)||11.7||7.3||47.1||44.4||87.5||1.0||0.5||0.4||0.0||0.2|
|Rasheed Sulaimon (G)||22.5||7.1||36.2||31.3||75.0||2.5||1.5||0.8||0.0||0.9|
|Matt Jones (G)||8.0||3.5||38.9||25.0||70.6||0.8||0.2||0.2||0.0||0.6|
|Josh Hairston (F)||12.8||2.3||45.5||00.0||80.0||1.9||0.6||0.4||0.1||0.1|
Rasheed Sulaimon (6’4″, 190) could very well be the starter instead of Thornton as he has started four of eight games and plays more than half the minutes. He’s the team’s fifth-leading scorer at 7.1, but started the season with games of 20 points and 13 points against Davidson and Kansas, respectively.
Andre Dawkins (6’5″, 215) started 14 games in the 2011-12 season but took a redshirt year last season He’s a proven three-point shooter, shooting 44.4 percent so far this season and finished fifth in the ACC in 2011-12. In a two game stretch against Florida Atlantic and UNC Asheville, he hit 8-of-14 from downtown.
|Nov. 8||Davidson||W 111-77|
|Nov. 12||#5 Kansas||L 83-94|
|Nov. 15||Florida Atlantic||W 97-64|
|Nov. 18||UNC Asheville||W 91-55|
|Nov. 19||East Carolina||W 83-74|
|Nov. 24||Vermont||W 91-90|
|Nov. 27||Alabama||W 74-64|
|Nov. 29||#4 Arizona||L 66-72|
Duke hasn’t played a true road game yet, although the Kansas matchup was in Chicago and the Alabama and Arizona games were in New York as part of the Preseason NIT. None of the opponents that have come into Cameron Indoor Stadium have been quality opponents, and it shows as Duke has won by an average of 95-72.
However, the last home game Duke played almost ended in an enormous upset. Vermont overcame a 15-point deficit to tie the game with 10 seconds remaining, but Rodney Hood split a pair of free throws and the Catamounts were unable to get a shot off, falling by one. That Vermont, 3-6, was able to come into Cameron Indoor and nearly beat the Blue Devils shows that it is possible, especially for a Michigan squad that is light years better than Vermont.
Kansas and Arizona both beat Duke on neutral courts, and if Michigan wants to show it can hang with the big boys this season, stealing a win in Durham would certainly send a strong message.
Michigan and Duke have met 29 times and Michigan has won just eight of them, the last being an 81-73 victory in Ann Arbor on Dec. 6, 2008. Duke has won the last two, 82-75 in the 2011 Maui Invitational, and 73-71 in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Michigan is 3-9 all-time at Cameron Indoor Stadium with the last win being a 62-61 victory on Dec. 8, 1996.
|The Big Ten/ACC Challenge|
Michigan owns a 5-7 all-time record in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, while Duke has the best Challenge record of all teams at 12-2. Michigan’s last victory was a 79-72 win over NC State last season. The Wolverines are 1-4 in road games in the Challenge with the only victory being a 69-61 win at Clemson on Nov. 30, 2010. This will be the first meeting between Michigan and Duke as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Big Ten has won the last four Challenges.
Braxton Miller completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Heuerman to put Ohio State ahead 35-21 with a minute remaining in the third quarter. Michigan was as good as dead. The Wolverines, 15-point underdogs, hung around valiantly through the first half, but we’ve seen this story before. The game was starting to slip away and everyone in the stadium and watching at home could feel it. Except the players in the maize and blue.
“I think the lasting impression you should take from Brady Hoke’s team is these guys are going to fight no matter what,” said Taylor Lewan after the game. “We’re bred to fight. We’ll fight, claw, scratch, get knocked down, but we’ll keep moving forward no matter what.”
|Record||7-5 (3-5)||12-0 (8-0)|
|Net Rushing Yards||152||393|
|Net Passing Yards||451||133|
|Time of Possession||33:21||26:39|
|Third Down Conversions||8-of-14||3-of-8|
|Fourth Down Conversions||1-of-2||0-of-0|
|Red Zone Scores-Chances||6-of-7||2-of-2|
|Full Box Score|
And fight they did. Ten minutes later, the game was tied and Michigan kicked the ball back to the Buckeyes. Suddenly, the team that was given no chance had taken its punches – figuratively and literally – and gotten right back up.
Ohio State marched right down the field to re-take the lead with 2:41 remaining. But a Michigan offense that had been on life support the previous four weeks still had some fight left.
Gardner to Funchess, 14 yards. Gardner to Dileo, 13 yards. Gardner to Dileo, 11 yards. Gardner to Reynolds, 13 yards. Gardner to Hayes, seven yards. Gardner to Toussaint, 29 yards. Gardner to Funchess, two yards, touchdown.
Michigan was an extra point away from taking the untouchable Buckeyes to overtime. But on this day, in this situation, Hoke had other plans.
“Ohio State’s head coach called timeout,” Lewan said. “We went over and he (Hoke) asked us seniors, ‘Do you want to go for it?’ and I don’t think there was one guy that said no. Every single person said yes.”
Kicking the extra point would have been the conservative route and on any other day the smart choice. Instead, Hoke sent the offense back out for one final play to decide the game.
Gardner dropped back as three receivers stacked to the right started their routes. Funchess, the front man, raced toward the post. The middle man, Gallon, ran to a corner route. The back man, Dileo, ran a curl, sitting down a yard inside the goal line. Gardner, with a man in his face, fired it towards him. A completion sends shockwaves throughout the college football landscape, derailing Ohio State’s national title hopes and 23-game winning streak, and salvaging Michigan’s season.
Instead, Dileo never had a chance to catch it as a Buckeye corner stepped in front and picked it off, ensuring Ohio State a 24th straight win overall and a 10th win in the last 12 meeting with Michigan.
“We play the game to win,” Hoke said afterward. “I thought about it and we did it…we wanted to go win the football game.”
Michigan didn’t win the game and finishes the regular season with a disappointing 7-5 record. But on a day in which 17 seniors were honored – none of which came to Michigan to play for the current coaching staff – the Wolverines rose to the occasion and put a scare into its most bitter rival. Michigan matched the vaunted Buckeyes blow for blow, got knocked down, fought its way back, and fell one play short.
When Michigan is back to the Michigan of old, winning Big Ten championships and vying for national titles, whether it be next year or sometime in the near future, we can look back at this game as the catalyst. And we have guys like Lewan and Gallon and Dileo – the seniors of Team 134 – for saying yes, and Hoke, the coach who entrusted the game’s most important decision to his leaders, to thank.
Following a tough one-possession loss in the finals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off against Charlotte, Michigan needed to come out strong and fast today back home in Ann Arbor against Coppin State.
There was only one problem. A few minutes before the tip, it was announced that leading scorer Nik Stauskas, who had scored 20-plus points in five straight games and single-handedly brought the Wolverines back against Florida State, would miss the game with a sprained ankle suffered in the loss to the 49ers. Stauskas has been Michigan’s best creator by a long shot, and his teammates have struggled a little bit in the early going to find their own shot or even to set up others.
So who would respond? Certainly Caris LeVert was a top candidate to make up some of the scoring slack in Stauskas’s absence, and projected first-rounders Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary were also expected to contribute against an over-matched Coppin State squad. And all those players made big contributions without a doubt; LeVert was back to being his old self with 15 points, four rebounds, and a pair of assists while Robinson III and McGary combined to score 20 points and grab 14 rebounds inside.
The hero, however, was most unexpected. Zak Irvin, the heralded freshman who has struggled mightily with his shot this season, never more so than with a 3-of-14 shooting performance against Charlotte, surprised everyone but himself, his coaches, and his teammates with an outstanding 24-point outburst today to help bury Coppin State 87-45.
Irvin, Indiana’s Mr. Basketball award recipient earlier this season, looked much more comfortable in the offense today, finding the open spots against a zone defense and knocking down corner three after corner three. When the final horn mercifully sounded, the 6’6″ wing had converted six of his 10 three-point attempts and all three of his two-pointers while also grabbing five rebounds in just 26 minutes of time.
The timing couldn’t have been better for Irvin to break out of his slump, and he admitted after the game that it helped get the proverbial monkey off his back.
“Yeah, it’s definitely a relief to finally see some of my shots go down, so I just hope I can continue to do this as the year goes on. With Nik being out, I was able to get more playing time which also let me get on the rebounds, I had five rebounds today, so I was able to help the team on the boards as well.”
If Irvin is able to continue to provide that scoring threat, the Wolverines just become that much more dangerous.
But according to Beilein, the ability to replace Stauskas was just a great team effort.
“The next man-up-mentality certainly worked out, cause Zak, Derrick, Spike, you know, Caris, really played well on the perimeter; Glenn as well…it was a good sign that we bounced back from a tough loss.”
In the first couple possessions, Michigan seemed to be settling for threes that clanked off the rim, and the crowd quietly murmured about another nightmarish performance, but it simply wasn’t meant to be. Irvin gave the team a huge jumpstart off the bench, but even before that, it was apparent that the Wolverines had too much size and athleticism for Coppin State to compete on the boards, as Michigan scored their first six points off offensive rebounds and finished the game with 22 points off those boards.
In all, Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary, and company were instrumental in helping the Wolverines pull down a ridiculous 54.8 percent of their misses and 84.4 percent of Coppin State’s.
With rebounding dominance of that magnitude and a measly seven turnovers, Michigan was able to coast to victory today in a much-needed bounceback game before a rough upcoming stretch that will see games at Duke, versus Arizona, and neutral against Stanford in the month of December.
Michigan hasn’t been invincible through seven games this season, but today was a big step in the right direction. A quick recovery from Stauskas will also do wonders to make this Maize and Blue squad a force to be reckoned with in due time.
Glenn Robinson III looked like his usual self after bruising his tailbone in the first half against Charlotte on Sunday and said he felt fine after the game. He was able to facilitate some offense and seemed to be much more in rhythm than over the past few games. When asked after the game, he said that the team has not talked about the upcoming showdown at Duke at all, but that he is good friends with Jabari Parker and familiar with his game from playing in a lot of camps with him.
Derrick Walton, Jr. continues to impress and seems to be keeping Spike Albrecht off the court with his strong play. Today, Walton put up seven points on 3-of-8 shooting but also dished out seven assists to just two turnovers and pulled down five rebounds in 30 minutes. Albrecht played just 12 minutes, scoring two points and grabbing two boards while handing out four dimes.
Michigan took a lot of threes again today and made them at a respectable 34.5 percent clip, but the big men got it going a little bit more inside, with Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford, and McGary combining to shoot 7-of-12 from the floor for 18 points. Mitch McGary continues to be a secondary option on offense, however, focusing mostly on put-backs right now as he took just five shots in 26 minutes. Against a Duke team that is not big or particularly good inside, McGary will need to be a much bigger threat.
|Final Game Stats|
|01||Glenn Robinson III*||5-11||2-6||2-2||2||4||6||2||14||0||1||0||0||27|
|10||Derrick Walton Jr*||3-8||1-4||0-1||1||4||5||2||7||7||2||0||0||30|
Michigan has lost three of four. Ohio State has won 23 straight. Most around the country don’t give Michigan a chance. The huge Vegas spread is evidence of that. One would think that a Michigan blog would be the most optimistic, so do any of us give the Wolverines a shot? Let’s take a look at our predictions.
Justin: Now that The Game is finally here, Al Borges can finally open up his playbook that he has kept under wraps the past few weeks. No more letting defenders run through the line forcing Devin Gardner to think quickly. No more confounding runs ending up in loss of yards. No more three-and-outs. Michigan will move the ball with ease, torching an overmatched Buckeye defense and putting up 40 points in a big win.
Ok, so that would be fantasy land, right? In all reality, it will be more of the same as what we saw the last few weeks. Michigan will score some points, but the offense won’t simply move in spurts. The defense will do a good job of slowing down the Buckeyes, but it simply won’t be enough. Ohio State is the much better team and, while Michigan will put up a fight, the disparity will show.
Ohio State 38 – Michigan 24
Chris: Ohio State 31 – Michigan 17
Josh: Let me set the table before we dig into this week’s prediction. I hate Ohio State, I always have and I always will, that’s a given. I never root for Ohio State, even if it’s in Michigan’s best interest, on those occasions I just hope they don’t lose so it benefits us but I never root for them, ever.
I lived in Ohio for almost two years and it made me hate them even more. I’ve been to Columbus for Michigan games on several occasions and those fans make me hate them more still. I hate that they have lying cheating coaches who skirt the rules and yet are still heralded by the school as if they did nothing wrong.
However, this year my hatred has seemed to fade a bit. Maybe it’s because I’m a grown man in my mid-30′s and I shouldn’t be harboring hatred towards a school and kids I don’t even know. But more likely it’s because a snowball has a better chance in hell (not the one in Michigan) than Michigan does this weekend. In the end I think I am just trying to temper my expectations and hatred so I don’t get too upset if we play horribly and lose by a ridiculous amount.
And now on to what I’d like to see from Michigan this week. Whether we see it is another story.
Michigan is pretty bad at protecting Devin Gardner and giving up sacks. Ohio is pretty good at sacking the QB. I’d just like to see Michigan keep Devin Gardner from getting hurt. We still have a bowl game to play and getting this offense more practices with their starting QB over the next month will only add to their growth heading into the offseason. If Gardner is injured and can’t practice much or at all I think that might slow down any progress this offense might make. I could be wrong but at the very least you don’t want a kid like Devin Gardner to get hurt.
Keep Fitz Toussaint on the bench. I know this sounds harsh especially since he’s a senior but with the line the way it is we cannot afford to have him dancing around and being tentative behind the line when he should just hit a hole and power through it. Derrick Green has shown some flashes of what he can be in the future and right now he needs as many touches as possible. He hits the hole and isn’t someone who can be arm tackled. Even when he doesn’t get much, as long as he gets back to the LOS, he falls forward and gets more yardage. The same cannot be said for Fitz.
Yes, he is a senior and yes not all of his issues are his fault but Michigan football is about putting the best eleven guys on the field and letting them play. He has yet to show me he is one of those eleven.
Find someone not named Jeremy Gallon or Devin Funchess when the going gets rough. Early on Jeremy Gallon was Gardner’s security blanket and for good reason but it became too predictable. As soon as he was in trouble he looked for #21. Once Funchess emerged he became a second outlet, then the top option for a while. But last week Gardner again went back to Gallon when he was pressured and flustered. Urban Meyer and Luke Fickell know this and will key on it. If Michigan is to stand a chance they need to get Jehu Chesson and others involved in the offense.
Take advantage of any positive situations. Michigan has been awful on third down and has failed to punch it in the end zone on numerous occasions when they’ve had short fields. Field goals won’t beat OSU, plain and simple. Michigan needs to take advantage of short fields, turnovers, even just solid field position and make it count.
Throw out the record and past failures of the season and play like this is our bowl game. No, it’s not really but it might as well be since we’ll end up with some mid major team in the bowl most likely. Ohio has locked up their Big Ten title game slot but a Michigan win would give them zero chance at the BCS title (if FSU and/or Bama lose) and that alone would be awesome.
This is not to say they won’t give their hearts and play with full effort, because I feel they already have been, but they need to bring out some nastiness and play like Michigan. I’ll spare you the Brady Hoke intro press conference reference but you know what I mean. If there ever was a game this year for them to play like Michigan, this is it.
Contain Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde. Far easier said than done but if anyone can do it it’s Greg Mattison. By contain I don’t mean shut down, I mean slow down and limit their big plays. Big plays, as we all know, have hurt Michigan this year. The Buckeyes have an explosive offense and stopping all big plays is a tall task, but if Michigan can limit them they increase their chances of hanging with them.
Disrupt their rhythm. When high octane offenses, or any offenses for that matter, get in a rhythm they can be very tough to stop. Getting a few early stops and/or turnovers could slow down the OSU attack and give Michigan a chance to put some points on the board.
Play with reckless abandon. Michigan is already assured a bowl game and a winning season even if they lose their last two games. So why not throw out all the stops and play every down like it’s their last. The defense playing well may be Michigan’s only chance to win this game. Being aggressive and going for the pick instead of the deflection is risky but now is the time to be risky and go for gold. The defense is solid but they need to bring their A-game on every single play and go all out if they want to give the offense a chance.
On Special Teams
If there ever was a game where field position mattered it would be this one. This OSU team is going to score, they’re just too good not to, but at least make them work hard for it by driving the length of the field.
This may tie in more to the offense’s general ineptness than the special teams’ ability but giving OSU good field position all afternoon will spell doom and frustration for Wolverine nation.
From the Fans
I added this section because I think it’s important. I’ve been as hard on this team as anyone this year, and it’s because I expect a lot of Michigan. All through my grade school and high school years Michigan was a dominant team against OSU. They upset good OSU teams and then went on to win the national championship my senior year of high school. Those years led me to expect top defenses, punishing running games and Rose Bowl or bust. I’ve been critical of Al Borges, we all have, and even Devin Gardner and others but at the end of the day I still love Michigan football.
These kids ARE playing their hearts out, they ARE giving 100% effort and for anyone to question that is just disgusting. Expecting more from Michigan is one thing, but calling out players on Twitter or other media and questioning their heart and acting like jerks (or a more colorful word) isn’t cool. And it isn’t the Michigan way.
Win or lose I want Michigan fans to take the high road and not act like fools. Be disappointed if we lose, I will be, but don’t say hateful things to the players. These are 18-22 year old kids, they don’t need constant criticism from people outside the program, they need our support. And win or lose, that is what we should give them.
As much as it pains me to say this I don’t think Michigan stands a chance. Yes, miracles do happen and I’ve seen bad Michigan teams beat good OSU teams before but I’m just not feeling that way this year. Unless the offensive line becomes great all of a sudden I’m not so sure we sniff the end zone much. Inability to convert on third downs, or even long downs could spell very short fields and numerous scoring opportunities for the Buckeyes. Above all else, OSU needs a statement win to impress the voters and Urbs will be looking to keep pouring it on a hated rival.
Ohio State 31 – Michigan 13
Sam: Do yourself a favor and try to stay away from the TV on Saturday if at all possible. The Game will not be much of a game this season in the blistering cold in Ann Arbor as Ohio State hammers one final nail into Al Borges’s coffin with a big win.
Ohio State 31 – Michigan 3
Derick: After completely forgetting about the second half of the game against Iowa, Michigan has lost all confidence in it’s ability to move the ball. Though they put up 21 points in the first half, the team had less than 150 yards as a whole.
Unfortunately, an underrated and underrecognized defense is suffering from the offense’s inability to get first downs, and it spends far too much time on the field.
Ohio State is the best team on Michigan’s schedule, and Michigan hasn’t handled the other 11 games well.
Discounting the first two Rich Rod years, this game would be the most surprising in my years as a Michigan fan if we pulled off an upset.
Ohio State 47 – Michigan 14
Katie: Maybe because this isn’t in The Shoe the Buckeyes won’t be lucky this weekend. Michigan could pull off the upset, but without a bit of good fortune and the full support of the crowd I don’t see it being a favorable outcome for the Wolverines. No, The Buckeyes have too potent an offense, and too resilient a defense. Miller is a great QB and a mobile threat as well. Their backup, Kenny Guiton, isn’t too bad either. That in combination with a powerful running game could mean some rather large issues for Michigan. If they have a weakness Michigan can exploit though, it will be in the passing game. The Maize and Blue will have to play their best defensive game of the year not only to keep OSU in check points wise, but to make sure that their fumbling offense won’t have too much of an uphill battle to overcome.
In this game I’m always for retaining that glimmering hope even when the outlook seems bleak. And if we get beat and beat badly, I hope that it will at least mean a change in coaching staff.
Ohio State 35 – Michigan 21
Drew: This week’s “Inside the Numbers” column detailed Michigan’s odds to upset third-ranked Ohio State in “The Game” tomorrow. To summarize those odds in one word: bleak. OSU has won a school-record 23 straight games. Michigan has lost four of its last six. Accordingly, OSU is a 15-point road favorite against U-M. Since 2000, the Wolverines are only 2-10 against the spread versus the Buckeyes. And, in the past three seasons, Big Ten teams that have been more than a two-touchdown underdog have won only five percent of their games.
In rivalry games, though, there is a general attitude that all rational thought and reason should be thrown out the window and that one should expect the unexpected. Michigan fans have experienced this many times before, witnessing the Wolverines record monumental upsets against their bitter rival from Columbus in 1969, 1993, 1995, and 1996 among others. So if Michigan was to surprise the world by handing Ohio State its first loss and salvage its season, it would not be a first.
But do not hold your breath, Michigan fans. It hurts to say it, but it will not happen tomorrow. The Wolverines will fight, claw, and do everything in their power to win tomorrow, but it will not be enough. The Wolverines will keep it close in the first half as Greg Mattison unleashes defensive schemes that confound Braxton Miller. However, an offense as explosive and dynamic as Ohio State’s will not remain dormant all game. The Buckeyes will blow it open in the third quarter, and Michigan’s offense—the one that has scored only 42 in its past four regulations—will not be able to keep pace. A long month of hardship finally will cease for the Wolverines. Unfortunately, it will be on a sour note.
Ohio State 34 – Michigan 13
For more coverage of this week’s game, see: Michigan-Ohio State game preview; Monday’s First Look: Ohio State, and this week’s Five-Spot Challenge. Katie took a look back at Michigan’s big upset of Ohio State 20 years ago; Drew (@DrewCHallett) says screw the numbers, beat Ohio; and a Thanksgiving salute to the seniors that will be playing their final game in Michigan Stadium tomorrow.
Yours truly participated in Yahoo Sports The Post Game’s The Loyalty Report. I provided the Michigan side of why Michigan will win tomorrow, while Johnny Ginter of Eleven Warriors did the Ohio State view.
Finally, tomorrow is the last day to donate to the indiegogo campaign for Vincent Smith, Martaveous Odoms, and Brandin Hawthorne’s Pahokee garden project. Help out a group of Michigan Men who are working to make their hometown a better place.
|#22/20 Michigan (4-2) vs Coppin State (2-2) – Ann Arbor, Mich. – 3pm EST – Big Ten Network|
|(158-367) 43.1||Field Goal %||41.3 (100-242)|
|(56-152) 36.8||3-pt FG %||33.7 (31-92)|
|(88-126) 69.8||Free Throw %||73.4 (94-128)|
|(144-345) 41.7||Field Goal %||46.2 (114-247)|
|(36-98) 36.7||3-pt FG %||38.7 (43-111)|
|Nik Stauskas (20.3), Caris LeVert (13.7)||Points/gm||Sterling Smith (17.5)|
|Mitch McGary (7.8), Jon Horford (6.2)||Reb/gm||Arnold Fripp (6.8)|
With an ugly loss in the finals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off now in the rearview mirror, Michigan returns home to the Crisler Center today to face the Coppin State Eagles, who pulled off a major upset at Oregon State in the Beavers’ game of the year. The Wolverines are still hanging onto a spot in the top-25, but the non-conference schedule doesn’t get much easier after today, with games at Duke, versus Arizona, and against Stanford (neutral site) still on the docket. Here are my quick thoughts on today’s matchup:
Focus: Focus and preparation don’t seem to have been problems in either of Michigan’s losses so far this season, but the importance of a young team concentrating on the task at hand cannot be overstated – especially after a start not quite on par with expectations. Michigan’s freshmen and sophomores need to forget about losing to Charlotte on Sunday and not think about the upcoming showdown at Cameron Indoor Stadium this coming Tuesday and simply worry about putting the Eagles away today. With the uncertain statuses of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III today, the rest of the Wolverines need to step up big and take care of business before groaning about the past or looking forward to the future.
Don’t Settle: In Michigan’s loss on Sunday, it was a perfect storm of unfortunate events that brought down the Wolverines, including two crucial injuries, major foul trouble, and a brickfest that most construction companies admired. And while most of these problems were out of Michigan’s hands, the Wolverines missed outside shots repeatedly while rarely looking inside for their All-American big man. Mitch McGary’s four two-point attempts from that contest need to at least triple today against a lineup that features no starter taller than 6’8″, and Michigan would be well-served to attack the rack all game long, as Coppin State is letting opposing teams (Division 1 only) shoot 55.9 percent inside the arc. Look for Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert, and Zak Irvin to really have an eye for the paint as Michigan wins the free throw battle against a team that loves to get to the line.
Control the Pace: If these three thoughts seem quite fundamental, it’s because they are. Michigan needs to get back to the basics after two early season losses and simply control every aspect of the game at home. This afternoon, John Beilein will surely be stressing the importance of controlling the speed of the game. When the fast break is open, Michigan needs to run. When it’s not, the Wolverines need to move crisply on offense and find the easy open shots. And when Coppin State is looking to push the pace, Michigan needs to slow them down. If the Wolverines dictate the speed of the game and find their confidence on offense, they should coast to a fairly easy win, but if they continue to fire away and let Coppin State play their game, it will be another nail-biter.
Prediction: Michigan has been simply excellent at home and should control this game with relative ease, but Coppin State will look to punch the Wolverines while they are a bit down. I think Stauskas will play about 20-25 minutes and break double digits again while Robinson sits out. Mitch McGary, however, will be an absolute force inside. The Maize and Blue have not lost a non-conference home game since December of 2009, and the winning streak will continue today as the Wolverines beat the Eagles 82-68.
Twelve times in the history of college football’s greatest rivalry have the Ohio State Buckeyes entered the annual season-ending showdown unbeaten. In nine of those they came away with defeat. Tomorrow will be lucky number 13 for the scarlet and gray, and with a school record 23-game winning streak Urban Meyer’s squad has its sights set on a national championship.
On paper it’s easy to see why the Bucks have had such success. They rank third nationally in points scored, eighth in points against, sixth in rushing yards, seventh in total offense, seventh in third down conversions, fourth in red zone percentage, sixth in rush defense, 12th in total defense, and second in sacks. Statistically, they’re about as complete a team as there is in the country. But there’s a reason they find themselves ranked third in the BCS standings entering the final week of the regular season: their strength of schedule.
Michigan isn’t likely to help in that regard given that the Wolverines come in just 7-4, 3-4 in Big Ten play, having dropped three of their last for and four of their last six. Yet according to the Sagarin Ratings, Michigan (46th) is the third best team Ohio State has faced this season, behind only Wisconsin (4th) and Iowa (35th). Three Buckeye opponents are just downright terrible. California (117th) ranks near the bottom of the FBS; Purdue (157th) is behind several FCS schools; and Florida A&M (224th) is near the bottom of the FCS.
While Ohio State boasts an average winning margin of just over 30 points, the Bucks aren’t quite so invincible as it appears. Against teams ranked in the top 70 that winning margin is cut in third, to just over 20 points. Against teams ranked in the top 50, it drops to just 8.5, and both of those opponents were either tied or within one score in the fourth quarter.
Michigan falls within the top 50 and despite four losses has had a chance to win all but the Michigan State game down the stretch. The 15-point Vegas line may be too high.
Much has been made this week about the comparisons to 1969 when a 6-2 Michigan team upset a heavily favored unbeaten Ohio State squad. Comparatively, that Michigan team was better than this one, but the fact that the Wolverines pulled it off and did so again in 1993, ’95, and ’96 shows that anything can happen. Brady Hoke knows that which is why he played up the ’69 game this week, to instill confidence in a team that has lacked it the last few weeks.
Can Michigan pull off what would be an even greater upset than it was in ’69? Will Ohio State dominate as most are predicting? Or will the result lie somewhere in between – a great game that goes down to the final minutes? Honestly, all three are possible, but let’s take a look at how the teams compare.
Michigan defense vs Ohio State offense: When Ohio State has the ball
The offense is what makes the Buckeyes go, averaging nearly 50 points per game. It all starts with quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde. Miller’s improvement since Michigan’s win in 2011 has allowed the entire offense to keep expanding. He’s completing 67.7 percent of his passes, taking care of the football (only four interceptions), and averaging 6.4 yards per carry.
Hyde missed the first three games of the season due to suspension but last week became the first 1,000-yard rusher of Urban Meyer’s career. He has 1,064 yards in eight games, averaging a whopping 7.7 yards per carry. He has eclipsed 100 yards in each of the last six games.
Philly Brown and Devin Smith are talented receiving targets for Miller. Brown leads the Buckeyes with 49 receptions for 596 yards and nine touchdowns, while Smith has 40 for 591 and seven. Tight end Jeff Heuerman is the third leading receiver with 22 catches for 314 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Freshman Dontre Wilson is the jack of all trades that Meyer loves. He has 28 carries for 226 yards and a touchdown as well as 21 receptions for 215 yards and two scores. He also averages 25.8 yards per kick return. Meyer likes to get the ball in his hands in space to use his athleticism.
The offensive line is a veteran group that has done a great job of paving the way for the running game and has also protected Miller, allowing just 13 sacks. It is led by senior left tackle and captain Jack Mewhort who has started 36 straight games.
The Buckeye offense is versatile enough to run spread or power and also utilizes a lot of tempo. Michigan’s defense has struggled against tempo this season – most notably against Indiana – and hasn’t seen an offense this talented. You can bet Greg Mattison will be prepared to at least slow the Buckeyes down. But if the Michigan offense isn’t able to string together drives and give the defense some rest it could be in for a long day.
Michigan offense vs Ohio State defense: When Michigan has the ball
Ohio State’s defense ranks highly statistically in all areas except pass defense, but has been prone to giving up yards and points. Buffalo scored 20, Cal scored 34 – the most they scored all season against FBS opponents -, Northwestern scored 30, and Illinois scored 35.
The defense is led by linebacker Ryan Shazier who leads the team with 108 tackles, 47 more than the next best. He has 19.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
The line doesn’t have a single senior but is a very talented group that has a chance to help break the school’s single season sack record. The Bucks have 36 sacks so far and the school record is 47. End Noah Spence is the leader with 7.5 sacks, while the other end, Joey Bosa, has 5.5. The tackles, Adolphus Washington and Michael Bennett, have 7.5 combined.
The secondary has been the one unit that has been picked on this season. Cornerback Bradley Roby is the one that gets all the attention. He could have gone pro last season but came back and has had an up and down season. The safeties, Christian Bryant and CJ Barnett, are also veterans, but Bryant was lost for the season with a broken ankle against Wisconsin. That has certainly caused some of the problems in the secondary.
Michigan can move the ball on the Buckeyes if and only if Al Borges utilizes a quick passing game with short and intermediate routes from the start. Long drops will put Devin Gardner in the same position he has found himself in the past few weeks: in the face of pressure, resulting in either sacks or poor decisions.
The other third: Special Teams
Kicker Drew Basil has three years of experience as the starting kicker. He has made 8-of-9 field goals this season with a long of 45. Punter Cameron Johnson averages 43.5 yards per punt with 21 of 34 ending up inside the 20.
There’s no doubt about it, Michigan needs to play a perfect game in order to win. Even then, it will need some Ohio State mistakes and a bit of luck as well. Gardner has to be smart with the ball, not throw it away as he has been prone to, and not lose unnecessary yards when faced with pressure. The offensive line has to call the right protections and give Gardner time. Derrick Green has to hit the holes hard and run with a purpose. Jeremy Gallon, Devin Funchess, and Drew Dileo have to catch everything thrown their way. The defense has to prevent the big play but also take the pounding from Hyde without breaking.
The chance of all of these things happening is extremely low. I do expect Michigan to play inspired football, hoping to recapture the magic of 1969, but that will only carry them so far. It will come down to execution and playcalling. Will Borges feature a short passing game early on to keep the linebackers back? If not, Gardner will be running for his life like he has the past few weeks. Can Mattison have his defense ready at the time of snap when OSU goes into its tempo offense, but at the same time defend both the edge and the thumping it will receive from Hyde?
How the first quarter goes will determine the outcome of this one. If Michigan can have some offensive success and get a stop or two early on the Wolverines will gain confidence that they can compete. If they turn the ball over, get a couple of three-and-outs, and fall behind early, the floodgates will open. I think Michigan hangs around just enough into the second half to give some hope but is simply overmatched when all is said and done.
Ohio State 38 – Michigan 24
Thanksgiving is a time for all to remember what they are thankful for, and on Saturday 17 Wolverines will take the field for the final time in Michigan Stadium. They’ll play their hearts out, hoping to redeem an otherwise lost season and play spoiler to their most bitter rival’s perfect season. But before we get there, let’s take some time to thank those men of the maize and blue that made the decision to attend the University of Michigan.
|Career starts||Consecutive starts||Honors|
|46||39||All-Big Ten first team (2012), second team (2011), Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year (2012), Walter Camp first team All-American (2012), Rotary Lombardi Award semifinalist (2013)|
Thank you Taylor Lewan for sticking it out for all five years. Thank you for forgoing sure millions in the 2012 NFL Draft to return to school, finish your career, and help mentor the young offensive linemen. Thank you for carrying on the tradition that so many linemen before you began. Your senior season hasn’t gone as planned, but you’ll go down as one of the all time Michigan great left tackles and while it doesn’t show right now, your leadership and guidance of the young guys will pay dividends in the coming years. May a long and productive career in the NFL await you.
|Career Receptions||Career Rec Yards||Career Touchdowns||Career YPC|
Thank you Jeremy Gallon for working hard to improve for five straight years. You committed to Rich Rodriguez while he was in the process of recruiting smaller guys but didn’t really even get to play in his offense. Thank you for sticking with Michigan through the coaching change and forcing yourself into the leading role in an offense built for taller receivers. You’re on pace to finish in the top five in every career receiving category and top two in single season receiving yards, despite standing just 5’8″. Whether the NFL comes calling or not, thank you for being a bright spot in an otherwise down season and best of luck for your future.
|Career Rushes||Career Rushing Yards||Career Touchdowns||Career YPC|
Thank you Fitzgerald Toussaint for bringing excitement back to the Michigan backfield for the first time since Mike Hart left. We’ll always have 2011 when you ran for 1,041 yards and, along with Denard Robinson, became the first Michigan tandem to rush for 1,000 yards in the same season since the 1970s. This season has been tough and last season ended with a gruesome injury, but thank you for pushing hard to overcome the injury and work your way back into the starting role.
|Career FG Attempted||Career FG Made||Career FG %||Career PATs|
Thank you Brendan Gibbons for your improvement throughout your five years in Ann Arbor. Your freshman struggles are a distant memory as you have become one of Michigan’s all-time best field goal kickers. Your game winning kicks against Virginia Tech in the 2012 bSugar Bowl and Michigan State in 2012 will always be remembered, as will your other game-tying kicks. You are proof that vast improvement can be made year-to-year.
|Career Receptions||Career Rec Yards||Career Touchdowns||Career YPC||Career Punt Ret||Career Yds/Ret|
Thank you Drew Dileo for coming north to play for Michigan and providing a set of sure hands. You’ll always be remembered for your big plays in helping Michigan end its losing streak to Michigan State in 2012, but more so for your hard work and dependability. When Hoke needed sure hands at returning punts, you filled in. Your ability to hold for field goals has been steady and the slide into the hold for the game-tying field goal against Northwestern this season will go down in history.
|Career Games Played||Career Starts|
Thank you Michael Schofield for giving this year’s squad a veteran presence on the offensive line along with Taylor Lewan. While the season hasn’t gone as planned, your guidance of the young linemen will pay off down the road. You started your career at guard and then held down the right tackle spot for two years. Although you don’t have the accolades of Lewan, you’ve been a steady contributor and may you find a spot at the next level.
|Games Started||Tackles||Sacks||Tackles for Loss||FF||FR||INT|
Thank you Thomas Gordon for holding down the secondary and providing a veteran presence while Hoke’s young guys work their way into the lineup. You were the team’s third-leading tackler in both 2011 and 2012 and currently rank sixth this year. Your interception ended this year’s Northwestern game in overtime and you led the Big Ten in fumble recoveries in 2011. Thank you for a productive career.
|Games Started||Tackles||Sacks||Tackles for Loss||FF||FR||INT|
Thank you Cam Gordon for your flexibility over the past five seasons and being willing to play wherever you were needed in order to see the field. You came in as a receiver, switched to safety and then to linebacker and were named to the CollegeFootballNews.com Freshman All-America second team in 2010. A back injury forced you to miss time in 2011 but you fought your way back in 2012 and have played a key reserve role at linebacker and even defensive end the last two seasons. Perhaps most importantly you were named Academic All-Big Ten each of the last three seasons, so big things are in store for you when your playing days are done.
|Games Started||Tackles||Sacks||Tackles for Loss||FF||FR||INT|
Thank you Jibreel Black for an under the radar but productive career. You waited your turn, serving as an important reserve defensive lineman in 2011 and 2012 before working your way into the starting lineup this season. You recorded three sacks in the final four games of 2011 and made a key sack in overtime against Northwestern this season.
|Games Started||Tackles||Sacks||Tackles for Loss||FF||FR||INT|
Thank you Quinton Washington for giving the team a veteran leader on the defensive line despite coming to Michigan on the other side of the ball. You started your career at right guard in 2010 before switching over to the defense. You blocked a kick against South Carolina in last season’s Outback Bowl and have held down the middle of the defense in the absence of Ondre Pipkins this season.
|Games Started||Tackles||Sacks||Tackles for Loss||FF||FR||INT|
Thank you Courtney Avery for outperforming your recruiting rankings and earning a spot as team captain this season. You’ll be remembered for your interception on Ohio State’s final drive in 2011 to seal the win, ending their winning streak. You tied a Michigan record for longest fumble recovery against Minnesota that same year. You’ve battled injuries but always found a way to get on the field. You were given the honor of wearing the No. 11 Legends jersey to honor the Wistert brothers, Francis, Albert, and Alvin, and that will be something you can be proud of when your playing days are over.
Thank you Joe Reynolds, Jeremy Jackson, Jareth Glanda, Erik Gunderson, Dylan Esterline, and Kristian Mateus for your contributions to the Michigan football program over the last four or five years. You helped prepare the team for battle week in and week out and can take pride in being able to don the maize and blue. Best of luck wherever your post football careers lead you.
These 17 young men will be honored prior to Saturday’s game, so regardless of how you view this season make sure to get there in time to give them the ovation they deserve. If you’re not happy with the way this season has gone, you can bet they feel it ten times worse, but all of them came in under a different head coach and, stuck out the transition, and have laid the foundation for Hoke’s future success.