The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 199 Mid-American Conference perennial power Central Michigan 59-9 and defeating rival Notre Dame 41-30 under the lights at Michi- gan Stadium — a score that was deceivingly close due to a number of costly U-M turn- overs. Even after the closer than expected and contentious matchups with outmanned Akron and UConn, the Wolverines destroyed Minnesota — a team that would finish with eight wins — 42-13 to open conference play, offering a glimmer of optimism heading in the meaty portion of the Big Ten schedule. The season ended with an embarrassing 31-14 loss to an average Kansas State team in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, the Wild- cats first bowl win in more than a decade. The Wolverines, who were led by freshman quarterback Shane Morris because of a foot injury suffered by redshirt junior signal- caller Devin Gardner, were wildly inconsis- tent and ineffective both offensively and de- fensively, and were outgained 420-261 yards — a stat that was indicative of the squad's struggles between the impressive win over Minnesota and embarrassing loss to KSU. During this "unacceptable" stretch, U-M unfathomably struggled to put together com- plete games simultaneously on both sides of the ball. In its first loss, a 43-40 four- overtime thriller against Penn State in Happy Valley, the Wolverines offense exploded for 389 yards of offense, but were plagued by defensive inadequacies that helped the Nit- tany Lions rack up 390 yards and force over- time. In four overtimes, Michigan managed just two field goals and missed two clutch field goal attempts, allowing the game to slip away. A week later, the Maize and Blue defense was beyond ineffective and allowed 47 points to Indiana. Luckily the offense, led by 503 passing yards and two touchdowns from Gardner and a Big Ten-record 369 receiving yards by fifth-year senior wideout Jeremy Gallon, piled up 63 points. In subsequent losses to Michigan State, Ne- braska and Iowa, the Wolverines offense sput- tered, averaging just 167 total yards per game, including a historically dreadful minus-48 rushing yards against the Spartans on 29 at- tempts (minus-1.6 yards per attempt). Sandwiched in between these losses was a miracle 27-19 triple-overtime win over a strug- gling Northwestern squad, in which Michigan did not score a single offensive touchdown in regulation. In the final game of the season against undefeated rival Ohio State, the Wolverines displayed the moxie and explosiveness that may have prompted Hoke's uncharacteristic preseason adulation of his team. U-M went blow for blow with the Buckeyes, losing a heartbreaking 42-41 decision when it failed on a two-point conversion following a gutsy decision to go for the win after scoring what initially appeared to be the tying touchdown in the waning seconds. "We played the game to win," Hoke said in the postgame press conference. But the heart-wrenching loss was a perfect characterization of the Michigan's 2013 foot- ball season — one in which U-M lost to both of its most bitter conference rivals, and four of their five conferences losses came by less than four points. Hoke and Co. just weren't good enough when it mattered. Whether using the term "unacceptable" or "embarrassing" to describe the performance of Team 134, the startling step back that cost offensive coordinator Al Borges his job and put the U-M coaching staff as a whole on notice. In the summer preceding the 2013 season, Hoke told reporters that he liked his team, but he refused to make any guarantees. It is a good thing he didn't, because his team did not deliver. By The NumBers -48 — Rushing yards gained by the Wolverines against Michigan State, the worst performance on the ground in school history. 2 — Losses at home in 2013. The Wolver- ines were 14-0 at The Big House during head coach Brady Hoke's first two seasons. +5 — Michigan's turnover margin, the second best in the Big Ten. 10 — Michigan's Big Ten ranking in to- tal offense (373.5 yards per game), ahead of only Minnesota and Purdue. 98 — The jersey number immortal- ized by a "Michigan Legend" patch, worn by redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner in honor of Tom Harmon. 114 — Tackles for loss surrendered by Michigan's offense in 2013 (8.8 per game), which ranked last in the nation. 125.7 — Rushing yards per game by the Wolverines, the sec- ond lowest in the Big Ten in 2013 and third worst for the program since 1962. 270 — Yards lost on 36 sacks by Michigan's offense, the most in the Big Ten. 369 — Receiving yards by Jeremy Gallon against Indiana — a Big Ten record and second most ever in the his- tory of the Football Bowl Subdivision. 1,373 — Receiving yards by Gallon in 2013, a single- season Michigan record. 115,109 — The announced attendance for the second Under The Lights game between U-M and Notre Dame at Michigan Stadium, the largest crowd in college football history. but rallies with 17 unanswered points for a 24-21 victory. In an alarming trend, U-M averages only 3.9 yards per carry, and the struggles of an of- fensive line that has yielded 32 tackles for loss in four games demands a starting line shakeup that will persist throughout the year. Sept. 28: Michigan enjoys the first of two bye weeks, representing the first time U-M has a pair of weekends off in the same season since 2001. Oct. 5: A new starting offensive line featuring redshirt sophomore Gra- ham Glasgow at center produces four rushing touchdowns but only 3.2 yards per carry. However, a strong defensive performance that includes a 72-yard interception return for a touchdown carries Michigan to a 42-13 win over Minnesota in the battle for the Little Brown Jug. Oct. 7: The Wolverines suffer another bad break, announcing that a knee injury sophomore defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins suffered against the Golden Gophers was in fact a blown ACL, ending his season. Oct. 12: Michigan plays its first four-overtime game in program history, but it doesn't end well for the Maize and Blue, who lose 43-40 to Penn State. U-M held a seven-point lead with 50 seconds remaining and had PSU backed up to its own 20-yard line, but the Nittany Lions advanced 80 yards in five plays to tie the score. Michigan had chances to win in the first and third overtimes, but fifth-year senior placekicker Brendan Gibbons' attempts were blocked and sailed wide left. Oct. 17: Michigan announces it has entered into a contract with UCLA to play games against the Bruins in 2022-23, hosting the first year before traveling to Pasadena, Calif., for the Sept. 2, 2023, contest. Oct. 19: In one of the wildest games in Michigan Stadium history, Michi- gan and Indiana combine for 110 points and 1,323 yards of total offense in the Wolverines' 63-47 victory. Gardner sets a single-game record with 503 passing yards, becoming the first U-M quarterback to ever eclipse even 400 yards, while Gallon establishes a Big Ten single-game record with 369 receiving yards. Oct. 23: Michigan announces it will host Central Florida in 2016, Air Force in 2017 and Southern Methodist in 2018. With the Big Ten moving to nine- game conference schedules in 2016, U-M will play only three non-conference opponents per season from 2016-19 and has filled nine of those 12 slots. Nov. 2: Michigan suffers a crushing 29-6 loss at Michigan State, dropping the Wolverines to 6-2 on the year. Seven sacks of Gardner proved the tip of the iceberg in an assault that limited the Wolverines to just 168 total yards, including minus-48 on the ground. Nov. 9: The Wolverines lose their first home game under head coach Brady Hoke, bowing 17-13 to Nebraska at Michigan Stadium. For the second straight week, U-M's offense proved to be missing in action, winding up with minus-21 yards on the ground and a mere 175 yards of total offense. 198-203.Year In Review.indd 199 6/19/14 2:27 PM

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