The Wolverine

February 2014

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Running On FUMES In 2013, Michigan's Offense Sputtered And Stagnated After A Solid Start BY CHRIS BALAS AND THE STAFF OF THE WOLVERINE Note: This is the second in a two-part series evaluating U-M's performance in 2013, position group by position group. Last month, we covered the defense. This month, we examine Michigan's offense. W hat started off as a season with so much promise for the Michigan offense, especially after a 41-30 victory over Notre Dame in Under the Lights II at Michigan Stadium, unraveled into a spiral of uncertainty and inconsistency by the end of the year. Redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner took a beating in November, including 27 hits in a 29-6 loss at Michigan State. The Wolverines finished fourth in the Big Ten in scoring offense at 32.2 points per game, aided by a 59-point outburst in the season-opening win over Central Michigan and a 63-point explosion against Indiana, but that's where the positives end. They were 10th in the Big Ten in total offense at 373.5 yards per game, 11th in rushing offense at 125.7 yards per contest and didn't have a running back in the league top 10 in rushing. Not good for any Big Ten team — not acceptable at Michigan and probably a big reason why Doug Nussmeier replaced offensive coordinator Al Borges in January. THE LINE STRUGGLED DESPITE RETURNING BOOKENDS AT TACKLE Most of the problems started up front with an offensive line that went through five different starting groups, never jelling. The Wolverines were second to last in the Big Ten with 36 sacks allowed, leading to a conference-worst 270 sack yards. They were dead last nationally in tackles for loss allowed — No. 123 out of 123 teams — with 113. The line did step up with one of its better games in a 42-41 loss to Ohio State, but it was subpar again in a 31-14 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl loss to Kansas State. The running backs managed only 27 yards on eight carries versus the Wildcats. "If you're going to grade them, you can't base their performance off the

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