If there could be a better way to start the 2014 season, I don't know what it would be. Both Michigan's offense and defense showed their muscle against a wildly over matched Appalachian State team in the Big House today.
The brightest spot, for me at least, was seeing Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith both rush for more than 100 yards...the first time a Michigan running back duo has done that since Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown did it in October of 2007. The offensive line, albeit against a smaller than normal defense, looked much more composed and comfortable with the Nussmeier zone blocking scheme.
Mason Cole and Ben Braden were your tackles. Joey Burzynski got the start at left guard over Kyle Kalis, though they did end up splitting time. It will be interesting to see what happens when Graham Glasgow comes back next week after serving his 1 game suspension. I thought Jack Miller looked pretty good at center.
Both Devins had quite a day. Gardner was sharp and consistent all day going (ok, he only played 2 and half quarters) 13 of 14 for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns...all to Devin Funchess who looked perfectly comfortable wearing the #1 jersey...the first Wolverine to wear it since Braylon Edwards in 2004.
Not to be outdone, the defense was dominant. Until garbage time in the 4th quarter, Appy State had struggled to move the ball with any sort of consistency. Starting RB Marcus Cox only ran for 47 yards on 11 carries. And QB Cameron Bryant was hurried and banged around all day. Desmond Morgan and James Ross led the way with 6 tackles each, Dymonte Thomas, Joe Bolden and Ondre Pipkins all tallied 5 tackles. Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton both registered a sack.
Jabrill Peppers looked like he took a dirty hit to his leg early in the game. He went off the field limping but did return immediately. But after halftime, he did not come back from the locker room. Hoke confirmed it was his ankle, and said in the post-game presser that he will be back next week...so sounds like it was precautionary.
All in all, it was an ideal start to the 2014 season and exactly what this program needed. We'll have more to say about the game in the coming days, and we'll be posting our pregame photos shortly. In the meantime, sit back, watch some more football and bask in the glow of finally beating Appalachian State and being 1-0.