The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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200 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW PLAYERS 1. Jeremy Gallon — The 5-8 fifth-year se- nior slot receiver played well above his diminu- tive stature and offered a much-needed big game threat for the Wolverines' passing game. Stockpiling three games of at least 175 receiving yards, including a Big Ten-record 369 yards on 14 receptions (26.4 yards per catch) against Indi- ana, the Apopka, Fla., native set a single-season program record with 1,373 receiving yards and snagged nine touchdowns en route to second- team All-Big Ten honors. 2. Devin Gardner — Despite a porous offen- sive line and a myriad of nagging injuries, the big-armed, elusive redshirt junior produced an all-time great season for a Michigan quarter- back. After overcoming early turnover issues, he accounted for 3,443 yards of total offense and 32 touchdowns against 11 interceptions de- spite missing the Wolverines' bowl game with an injured foot. The Inkster, Mich., product has ac- counted for at least two touchdowns in 14 of his last 17 appearances in the winged helmet, and threw for more than 200 yards in eight games in 2013, including 451 against Ohio State and a school-record 503 against Indiana. 3. Devin Funchess — The sophomore's com- bination of size, speed and skill helped him set a single-season U-M record for a tight end with 748 yards and six touchdowns on 49 catches (15.3 yards per reception). Named the Big Ten Tight End of the Year, first-team All-Big Ten by the media and second-team all-conference by the coaches, the 6-5 specimen became just the second tight end in program history to re- cord two straight 100-yard receiving games. He caught a career-best seven passes for 151 yards (21.6 yards per reception) and a touchdown in a 42-13 win over Minnesota, and added four catches for 112 yards (28.0 yards per reception) and two touchdowns against Penn State the following week. 4. Frank Clark —The freakishly athletic junior defensive end led the Maize and Blue with 12 tackles for loss, contributed 4.5 sacks among 43 total tackles, and was voted second-team all conference by Big Ten coaches. Clark recorded a sack in four games during 2013, highlighted by a career-best performance of nine tackles (2.5 for loss) against Michigan State and an out- ing against Penn State in which he registered two sacks and recovered two fumbles — one of which he returned 24 yards for his first career touchdown. 5. Blake Countess — A first-team All-Big Ten selection by the media, Countess finished the year tied atop the conference and ranked sev- enth in the nation with six interceptions — in- cluding a 72-yard pick-six against Minnesota and a key fourth-quarter theft to seal Michigan's 41-30 victory over Notre Dame. After missing the 2012 season due to a knee injury, the cover corner started all 13 games and made 42 tackles (two for loss). INDIVIDUAL PLAYS 1. The Longest 12 Seconds — After an em- barrassing offensive day in which U-M squan- dered the opportunities provided by a seem- ingly endless number of Northwestern mistakes, Michigan somehow had a chance. Down 9-6 with 2:18 an at its own 22-yard line, the Wolver- ines persevered through a long fourth down and a seemingly debilitating sack to put themselves in position to tie the game. On third-and-24, Devin Gardner hit wideout Jeremy Gallon with a 17-yard strike to reach the Wildcats 27-yard line with 12 seconds left — but Gallon was corralled in bounds, short of a first down and the Wolver- ines were devoid of timeouts. With no way to stop the clock, the field goal unit sprinted onto the field and, despite the mass chaos, converted the most unlikely of last-second field goals to send the game into overtime. 2. How Many Hands Does It Take To Save A Game? — Once again thrust into an unlikely dogfight against an inferior foe, this time at Con- necticut, Michigan needed a game-changing play from junior linebacker Desmond Morgan to survive. Down 21-14 with a little more than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter and UConn driving, Morgan dropped into zone coverage, leapt up, fully extended and snagged an inter- ception on a crossing route with one hand, and returned it 30 yards deep into Huskies' territory. The highlight reel pick was not only memorable because of the athleticism involved, but also because it helped U-M tie the score, reverse its fortunes and avoid an embarrassing loss. 3. Bowling Through The Irish — Late in the first quarter, a wide-open Gallon fled into the middle of the field and caught a 15-yard cross- ing route with a bevy of Irish defenders con- verging. Sprinting toward the end zone, and benefiting from a devastating block by redshirt freshman wide receiver Jehu Chesson that elimi- nated several ND pursuers, Gallon lowered his shoulder and powered through four foes before spinning off a tackle and waltzing into the end zone to complete a 61-yard play. 4. Devin Goes Up And Over — Tied 14-14 against heavily favored Ohio State and driv- ing into Buckeyes' territory, Gardner flipped a bubble screen to sophomore tight end Devin Funchess, who displayed his insane athletic abil- ity by sprinting past a block and leaping over the top of lunging OSU junior cornerback Doran 5 TH E TOP Nov. 16: Michigan pulls out a triple-overtime thriller to take down Northwestern 27-19 in Evanston, Ill. The Wolverines force the extra sessions with a wild scramble at the end of regulation, featuring a 44-yard Gibbons field goal after senior holder Drew Dileo slid into place to spot the ball. Gardner scored on an option run in the third overtime, while Michigan's defense rose up to secure a sack and the victory in Northwestern's last gasp. Nov. 23: The Wolverines lead by two touchdowns, 21-7, going into the second half of a game at frigid Kinnick Stadium in Iowa. The Hawkeyes, however, come roaring back to register a 24-21 victory at home. Nov. 30: Michigan comes within a play of taking down Ohio State at home, but that play — a two-point conversion attempt — goes awry in the Buckeyes' stunner of a 42-41 victory. Ohio State took a 42-35 lead on a Carlos Hyde touchdown with 2:20 remaining in the shootout, but the Wolverines stormed back to score on a two-yard completion from Gardner to Funchess with 32 seconds remaining. The Wolverines went for the win, but Gardner's pass ended up in the Buckeyes' hands. Dec. 2: Lewan repeats as winner of the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year Award, while Funchess garners the Kwalick-Clark Devin Gardner threw for 451 yards and four touchdowns versus Ohio State, but the Wolverines fell just short of knocking off the Buckeyes, losing 42-41. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN 198-203.Year In Review.indd 200 6/19/14 2:28 PM

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