5 Takes from Appalachian State

The OL is a work in progress, but a promising start
The starting group of (left to right) Mason Cole, Erik Magnuson, Jack Miller, Joey Burzynski (or Kyle Kalis), Ben Braden had both moments of good and bad on Saturday. At times, Cole looked like a true freshman, and at times he didn't. His one bad hiccup led to ASU's only sack on Gardner.

I thought Jack Miller did everything he could to prove he deserves to remain the starter at center once Graham Glasgow returns from his suspension this week. He looked really solid, as did Magnuson at LG. It seemed like a lot of the big runs of the day occurred over the right side of Kalis and Braden...but we did still see some Burzynski at RG.

Honestly, if they could keep this lineup going for week 2 and beyond, I'd be happy with that. They looked comfortable together. What this group needs more than anything right now is simply just consistency and reps. They can grow into the unit Michigan needs them to be.

Nussmeier could be the missing ingredient
What made the OL look so good was a more simplified, and frankly more sensible offensive scheme – a scheme that features more zone blocking. Once the line realized just how much they could push around the front 7 of Appy State, it was simple to dial up the right plays to maximize the efficiency of Green and Smith. I'm not going to come on here and complain about Al Borges, but the play calls yesterday just seemed to make sense and have a logic to them. I'm probably not the perfect blogger to tell you why, but I know good play calls when I see them.

Play calling aside, I really like seeing Nussmeier on the sideline. Not only does it help simplify the signals and play calls coming in, but I think its a huge benefit for Gardner to have his position coach right there on the bench with him when he comes off the field.

And I don't know if this is an effect of having Nuss on the sideline or not, but I have to mention it because it really made me smile yesterday. Michigan called a timeout after a 2nd down stop with 1:06 left in the 1st half. Appy State threw an incompletion on 3rd down...giving Michigan enough time to run an offensive set to try and score again before half. Now granted, Mike McCray blocked the punt and Ben Gedeon took it to the house for the touchdown...but I love the fact that the timeout was called to begin with. Last year, up 28-0 in the same circumstance...I have to think they'd just let the clock tick down and go to half.

That right there was a moment that stuck out.

Both Devins could be dominant
No question, if they keep playing the way they played in week one, it won't take long for everyone to notice what's going on here. Sure, it was just Appy State and it was only one game...but its tough not to get excited about the potential of a seasoned senior quarterback and a 6-5, 230 pound receiver with mad hops. Gardner had a pretty perfect day going 13 of 14 for 173 yards and 3 scores. His only incompletion was a rushed throw to Funchess over the middle that sailed just behind him. Everything else was crisp and on target. No INTs, not bad decisions.

I don't mean to get head of myself, but how amazing did Devin Funchess look in that #1 jersey? There's just something special about seeing it out there again. I first noticed it from the sidelines during warmups....I had not seen the press release or anything on Twitter yet...so my initial reaction was authentic...and I was thrilled by what I saw. Then I was even more thrilled to see his 7 catches for 95 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Defensive pressure
We heard about it all offseason, we saw a little bit of it in the scrimmage a couple weeks ago...and then we saw it all over the field on Saturday. Maybe the best unit out there all day was the defensive backs who only gave up 127 pass yards, 69 of which came in garbage time in the 4th quarter. While not tallied as actual pass break ups, multiple Michigan defenders...such as Jeremy Clark, had some big hits on receivers that kept them from coming down with the ball and the catch. This is a direct result of having corners and nickels lining up in press coverage instead of a soft zone. That physicalness is exactly what Mattison said he wanted.

Through 3 quarters, Michigan only gave up 7 points, 155 total yards (97 rush, 58 pass), 8 first downs and ASU was only 1-11 on 3rd down. Granted its only Appy State, but thats how its supposed to go against a team like that.

The linebackers played well, but I expected better...I guess. Jake Ryan was pretty quiet all day only tallying 3 tackles and 1 TFL. I suspect he's still growing into his MLB position. After watching the replay on my DVR, it did seem he would run himself out of the play at times...being a little overaggressive perhaps.

The opener Michigan needed
When it was all said and done, Michigan rolled to a 52-14 win that felt just as good as it looked on paper. The defense played very well, the OL surpassed admittedly low expectations, the two-headed monster of Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith was more impressive than most thought it would be...and best of all, Michigan finally was able to put to rest the Appalachian State saga...which was an unnecessary distraction from the moment it was announced 2 years ago. Michigan rolled over a wildly overmatched opponent, it got the season off on the great note and no one was seriously injured (we hear Peppers is fine), so what else could you ask for?

Now, its on to Notre Dame in South Bend. Bring on the Irish!

Related MBN Posts:
• The Two 98s
• Appalachian State Pregame Photos
• Michigan 52 Appalachian State 14

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