The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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202 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW Feb. 20: Hoke announces extensive coaching changes for the 2014 season, including moving Mark Smith from linebacker to defensive line; Greg Mattison from the defensive ends to linebackers; outside linebackers coach Roy Manning to cornerbacks; and secondary coach Curt Mallory to just safeties. Nussmeier will guide the quarterbacks. March 25: Michigan names Justin Dickens its director of football operations. Dickens had been serving in a media relations capacity. April 5: Michigan conducts its annual spring football game at Michigan Stadium. Hoke describes the overall performance as "inconsistent," but hails a recent scrimmage behind closed doors in which the Wolverines weren't scaling back their offense for fear of spies. April 17: A new broadcast team is announced for Michigan football, with Jim Brandstatter moving from color analyst to play-by-play man, and former Wolverine Dan Dierdorf taking over the color analyst duties. May 8-9-10: The Tennessee Titans take Lewan in the first round of the NFL Draft, while the Denver Broncos select offensive lineman Michael Schofield in round three. The New England Patriots pick up Gallon on the final day of the draft. June 10: Michigan formally adds USC transfer Ty Isaac to the roster for 2014. The Trojans tailback applied for a hardship waiver from the NCAA to play immediately this season, but as of mid-June he had yet to be notified of its outcome. Best Win: Notre Dame There is something about playing under the lights at Michigan Stadium that reverses the luck of the Irish when Notre Dame visits. The second "Under the Lights" game may have lacked the instant-classic drama of the first bat- tle, but a U-M team was once again fueled by an amazing atmosphere inside the vibrant Big House and sent rival Notre Dame back to South Bend with a loss. U-M jumped out to 27-13 halftime lead and, despite a bevy of costly second-half turnovers, held on to conquer the Irish 41-30 in the last meeting between the two schools in Ann Arbor for the foreseeable future. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, wearing No. 98 in honor of program great Tom Harmon, accounted for 376 yards of total offense and five touchdowns. Still, the Maize and Blue had to overcome an ill-advised, fourth-quarter pass by Gardner from his own end zone that was snagged by Irish junior defensive end Stephon Tuitt for a touchdown to cut the lead to 34-27. Notre Dame followed up with a field goal to cut the Wolverines' margin to 34-30 before a Gard- ner bullet to senior slot receiver Drew Dileo late in the game gave the Maize and Blue an insur- mountable 41-30 lead. The victory gave a sneak peak at the offensive prowess U-M was capable of at times during the season, but also the turnover issues and defen- sive lapses that would prove fatal for head coach Brady Hoke's squad later on in the year. Worst Loss: Michigan State Desperately needing a win for both pride and its Big Ten title hopes, a fraudulent 6-1 Michigan team was bullied by bitter in-state rival Michigan State, sending the Wolverines on a downward spiral that would destroy the 2013 season. Offensively, MSU controlled the game on both the ground and through the air, gaining 142 rush- ing and 252 passing yards. Head coach Mark Dantonio's squad converted 9 of 18 third-down to control the tempo of the game. Defensively, Michigan State limited explosive U-M quarterback Devin Gardner to 216 yards and an interception on 14-of-27 passing (51.8 per- cent), and the Wolverines gained just 168 yards of total offense. Michigan's offense was pushed backwards for minus-48 yards on the ground on 29 carries (minus-1.6 yards per attempt), by far the worst rushing output in program history. Gardner was constantly scrambling to preserve his well being and was sacked a season-high seven times. Michigan's defense picked up the slack for its floundering offense at times, and, despite an apathetic performance in the first half, the Maize and Blue trailed just 13-6 at halftime. MSU, though, stormed out of the gate to out- score U-M 16-0 in the second half. With the clear dominance of the Spartans' defense, the 23-point margin of victory was more akin to a 50-point blowout. The loss was the Michigan's fifth against its in-state rivals in the last six seasons and a clear statement on the direction the vicious rivalry is heading. During this skid, Michigan has been outscored by an average of 27.0-11.5, and 2013 marked the second straight season in which the Wolverine offense failed to reach the end zone against the vaunted MSU defense. The loss helped vault the hated Spartans to their first Rose Bowl triumph since 1988. Follow- ing the demolition, the battered Michigan squad would go on to lose four of its last five games — scoring 21 or less points in four of those contests. Quarterback Devin Gardner, wearing No. 98 for the first time in honor of program great Tom Harmon, was at his best against Notre Dame Sept. 7, accounting for 376 yards of total offense and five touchdowns to lead the Wolverines to a 41-30 victory. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA THE BEST & THE WORST On Jan. 9, U-M hired offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier away from Alabama, where he spent two years and helped the Crimson Tide to the 2012 national championship. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL 198-203.Year In Review.indd 202 6/19/14 2:29 PM

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