The Wolverine

2013 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Top Storylines Of 2012 with a 12-10 victory. 1. ROAD WOES — Michigan matched up with four teams that were Michigan never scored a touchdown — but didn't need to. Redshirt ranked at the time, and none of those contests were in The Big House. The sophomore linebacker Jake Ryan played the game of his life against the Wolverines lost each of those games, plus a key conference road battle, to Spartans, recording 10 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Michigan held end the season at 8-5. its opponent to less than 13 points for the fifth consecutive game. The first of the quartet was No. 2 Alabama in the season opener at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The defending national champions overwhelmed Michigan 4114, running for 247 yards and averaging 5.9 yards a carry while holding the Wolverines to 69 yards on the ground and 2.4 yards per attempt. Three weeks later, No. 11 Notre Dame, buoyed by six U-M turnovers, held off Michigan 13-6 in a rare night game in South Bend. Next up was the Wolverines' first trip to Lincoln, Neb., since 1911 to face a Cornhuskers team looking to erase the memory of their 45-17 embarrassment in Ann Arbor a year earlier. An injury to Denard Robinson necessitated sending redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Bellomy out to replace him. Bellomy struggled, passing for only 38 yards with three interceptions, and U-M stumbled to a 23-9 loss, its only defeat to an unranked team. The regular season ended with a battle against Urban Meyer in his first season as the Buckeyes' head coach. The OSU defense shut down the Wolverines in the second half, never allowing U-M to cross midfield and collecting three turnovers, and No. 4 Ohio State won 26-21 to finish its season 12-0. Michigan recorded the 900th win in program history, and snapped a four-year losing streak to In the Outback Bowl, No. 11 South Carolina ral- its in-state rival, when the Wolverines notched a 12-10 victory over Michign State. photo by lon horwedel lied to beat Michigan 33-28 on a 32-yard touchdown pass with 11 seconds remaining in the game. 4. INJURIES AND AILMENTS — Much to the Wolverines' dismay, they 2. DEVIN GARDNER'S EMERGENCE — Backup junior quarterback Devin Gardner started the season as a wide receiver to bolster that position's thin ranks, but ended up giving the Maize and Blue faithful a tantalizing view of what was to come when Denard Robinson was sidelined for three games with an injury to his elbow. Gardner seized his opportunity, passing for 234 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Minnesota in his first career start, throwing for 286 yards against Northwestern, and torching Iowa at Homecoming with three scores through the air and three on the ground. In five games at quarterback, Gardner completed 75 of 126 passes for 1,219 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. 3. THE DROUGHT IS OVER — The Wolverines finally snapped Michigan State's intolerable, four-year winning streak in the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy. Redshirt junior kicker Brendan Gibbons nailed three stressinducing kicks, including the game winner from 38 yards out as the clock ticked down to zero to award Michigan its 900th win in program history Sept. 8: Michigan survives a scare from a game Air Force squad, winning in its home opener (3125). Freshman tight end Devin Funchess racks up 106 yards to become only the ninth freshman in school history to post a 100-yard receiving game. Sept. 15: The Wolverines demolish Massachusetts 63-13, posting a 50-point margin of victory. Sept. 22: In what would become a theme to the season, turnovers cost Michigan in a 13-6 loss to Notre Dame in South Bend. Senior quarterback Denard Robinson accounts for all six giveaways, tossing four interceptions and losing two fumbles. found themselves injured early and often in 2012. Much-hyped corner Blake Countess' sophomore season was cut short when he landed awkwardly on punt return coverage against Alabama. Quarterback Denard Robinson left the Nebraska game late in the first half after jamming his thumb and bumping his shoulder, injuries that would plague him the rest of the season. Redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint left the Iowa game in the first half after breaking his leg, a blow to a running game that was overly dependent on Robinson. 5. TOTING THE ROCK — Brady Hoke's first season marked a return to old-school, smash-mouth "Michigan" football. In 2011, tailbacks accounted for 1,633 yards, the position group's highest output since 2007. That total would not be approached in 2012. Michigan backs ground out a mere 932 net yards in 2012, less than Toussaint's 1,041 the year prior. The line did not get the pushes it had produced a year before, and holes for the backs were hard to come by. Oct. 6: U-M derails Purdue 44-13 in its Big Ten opener in West Lafayette. Robinson sets the Big Ten career rushing record for a quarterback, ending the game with 4,495 yards to eclipse former Indiana signal-caller Antwaan Randle El's total by 10 yards. Oct. 13: Michigan's improving defense leads the way in a 45-0 shutout of Illinois. The Wolverine defenders allow just 134 total yards of offense, and redshirt sophomore linebacker Jake Ryan ties a career-high with 11 tackles. Before the game, former U-M standout Gerald Ford is honored as a "Michigan Football Legend." Oct. 20: Michigan ekes past Michigan State 12-10, thanks to the super toe of redshirt junior kicker Brendan Gibbons. His field goal with five seconds remaining ends the Spartans' four-year winning streak in the series. Oct. 27: Continuing their daunting road slate, the Wolverines lose to eventual division champion Nebraska 23-9. Robinson leaves the game late in the first half when he re-injured a nerve in his elbow and is replaced by redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy. The rookie quarterback struggles mightily, completing 3 of 16 passes for 38 yards while throwing three interceptions. The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview  ■ 193

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