Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 153 of 163

152 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW Top 10 Individual Performances Of 2010 Class 1. Devin Gardner vs. Ohio State, 2013: Michigan limped into its meeting with No. 3 Ohio State having lost three of its last four games. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, were undefeated, had outscored their FBS foes 460‑202 and were heavy favorites to wallop their rival. No one gave the Wolverines a chance, but 32 seconds into the second quarter, Michigan led 21‑14, accumulating 247 yards on its first three offensive series with Gardner completing 8 of 9 pass attempts for 215 yards, throwing and rushing for a touchdown. Over the next three quarters, he would answer OSU signal‑caller Braxton Miller big play for big play, leading the Maize and Blue back from 35‑21 (to 35‑35) and 42‑35 deficits (42‑41) to bring Michigan within an extra point of overtime. U‑M went for the two‑point conversion, but Gardner's pass was intercepted. In the end, Gardner completed 71.1 percent of his 45 passes for a Michigan‑Ohio State rivalry‑record 451 yards and four touchdowns, ran for a TD, and played the entire fourth quarter on a broken foot. 2. Devin Gardner vs. Notre Dame, 2013: When Michigan first hosted Notre Dame in a historic night game at The Big House in 2011, Gardner was a spectator, standing on the sidelines as a backup quarterback. Two years later, he had his own chance to leave an imprint. In only his seventh career start, Gardner joined the Michigan annals by throwing for four touchdowns — a single‑game record matched by 12 winged‑helmet quarterbacks a total of 20 times — and completing 21 of 33 pass attempts (63.6 percent) for 294 yards. He also rushed for a TD. Gardner had Michigan in position for a blowout win, leading 34‑20 when his ill‑advised pass from the end zone was intercepted for a touchdown with 12:06 left. The Fighting Irish inched even closer on a field goal to make it 34‑30, but Gardner responded, lead ‑ ing U‑M on a 10‑play, 75‑yard touchdown‑scoring drive that consumed 4:57, sealing the victory for the Maize and Blue. 3. Jake Ryan vs. Virginia Tech, 2011: Tasked to replace injured starter Cameron Gordon at strongside linebacker for the 2011 opener, Ryan seemed to be good for a game‑changing play or two every week, accumulating seven tackles for loss in the regular season and making an impact beyond the stats. In Michigan's 23‑20 Sugar Bowl win over Virginia Tech, it became apparent early the U‑M offense was destined for a challenging day, and the defense would have to lead the charge. Safety Jordan Kovacs (11 tackles), linebacker Des ‑ mond Morgan (10) and defensive tackle Mike Martin (10) slowed the Hokies, but Ryan was the biggest dif‑ ference‑maker on the day, recording a sack among a career‑high four tackles for loss — U‑M's best single‑ game performance since Brandon Graham had five tackles for loss against Ohio State in 2009. 4. Devin Gardner vs. Indiana, 2013: When Michi ‑ gan welcomed lowly Indiana to The Big House for this mid‑October affair, there were little expectations other than a Maize and Blue beat‑down. U‑M was 5‑1 entering play, coming off a triple‑overtime defeat at Penn State, while the Hoosiers were 3‑3. IU could score, though, averaging 41.7 points per game, and what may have been predicted to be an easy win quickly became a back‑and‑forth affair between two high‑powered offenses. Michigan had 187 yards of offense and 14 points after one quarter of play, and had accumulated 348 yards and 28 points by halftime. Gardner was rolling, completing 12 of 18 first‑half passes for a 237‑yard tally that on its own would rank 99th in Michigan history for a single‑game. The 266 yards he threw in the second half, on 9‑of‑11 passing — he had completions of 33, 38, 50, and 70 in addition to a 70‑yard connection in the first half — would rank 52nd for a single game. Combined, Gardner's two 30‑minute efforts made him the first quarterback in U‑M history to throw for 400 yards when he tallied 503. 5. Drew Dileo vs. Michigan State, 2012: Considering the dearth of quality players in the 2010 class, this top 10 could very easily be 75 percent Gardner and 25 percent Ryan, but there were a few noteworthy moments for less‑heralded players that merit attention. The undersized Dileo never let his 5‑10, 180‑pound frame define him, playing with a tough ‑ ness that made him a go‑to target for his quarterbacks. In the Michigan State game, Dileo made four important catches, his first three setting up a pair of Brendan Gibbons field goals to stake the Wolverines to a 6‑0 lead at halftime. After MSU took a 10‑9 advantage in the fourth quarter, QB Denard Robinson directed his team 41 yards on eight plays, hitting Dileo for a difficult, bone‑rattling 20‑yard completion to the State 21‑yard line, setting up Gibbons' game‑winning kick with 0:05 on the clock. 6. Jake Ryan vs. Illinois, 2012: On the heels of their 11‑2 2011 campaign, the Wolverines were expecting big things in 2012, but the season was off to a rocky 3‑2 start. Illinois may have been the perfect elixir. The Fighting Illini arrived in Ann Arbor 2‑4, com ‑ ing off 52‑44, 35‑7 and 31‑14 lopsided defeats to Louisiana Tech, Penn State and Wisconsin. Michigan overwhelmed Illinois in every facet, producing a 45‑0 win behind 353 yards rushing and 527 yards of total offense. But the defense may have been the biggest story, smothering the Illini in holding them to 134 yards of offense. Ryan had a team‑high 11 tackles — the second of 10 double‑digit outings in his career — including a career‑high 1.5 sacks among his 3.5 total tackles for loss, and helped harass Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase into a 7‑of‑16 passing afternoon. 7. Devin Gardner vs. Iowa, 2012: Gardner made his starting quarterback debut against Minnesota in 2012, directing the Maize and Blue to a much‑needed win over the Gophers following a catastrophic injury to Robinson a week earlier that would render him unable to throw the ball the rest of his career. Gardner then dazzled the home fans with 333 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns against Northwestern, but he was saving something special for the Hawkeyes. In his third career start, Gardner scored on a one‑ yard rush in the first quarter, then threw 37‑ and 18‑yard touchdown passes and scored on another one‑yard run in the second quarter. He added an ‑ other passing TD and a third on the ground, setting a Michigan single‑game record in accounting for six touchdowns. 8. Jake Ryan vs. Penn State, 2014: The transi‑ tion from strongside to middle linebacker enjoyed some early successes, with Ryan recording 11‑ and 13‑tackle games in his senior season, but he had not yet delivered a breakout performance at his new position. In an 18‑13 win over Penn State, Ryan delivered the full extent of his capabilities, finishing the game with 10 tackles in helping limit the Nittany Lions to 1.5 yards per carry on 35 attempts. Three of his stops came behind the line of scrimmage, including a 12‑yard sack late in the fourth quarter that would culminate in a safety one play later, ending any hope of a Blue and White comeback. 9. Jibreel Black vs. Nebraska, 2013: Black spent his career on the move, beginning at weakside end before moving to strongside end and then to the three‑technique defensive tackle position in his ju ‑ nior and senior seasons. Each move was intended to take advantage of Black's athleticism compared to the players he would line up against, but they required some adjustment. After recording three tackles for loss in the final four games of 2012, Black was ready to deliver more consistently as a senior, and he proved a monster in a hard‑fought 17‑13 loss to Nebraska. On that day, he recorded a career‑high three tackles for loss, the first two helping to stifle a pair of promising Cornhusker offensive drives. 10. Courtney Avery vs. Minnesota, 2011: Among blowout wins, Michigan's 58‑0 thump ‑ ing of Minnesota stood out. It represented the first shutout victory for U‑M over a Big Ten opponent since beating Penn State 20‑0 in 2001, and was the largest victory gap of any foe since posting an identical 58‑0 score over Indiana in 2000. By the time Avery scooped up a David Cobb fumble late in the fourth quarter, the Wolver‑ ines already led 51‑0, but with 83 yards of daylight between him and the end zone, the then‑ sophomore had no intention of letting his touchdown opportunity elude him. The 83‑yard gallop shares top honors with Leon Hall's return of the same distance against Northwestern in 2005 as the longest fumble recovery in Michigan football history. Defensive lineman Jibreel Black had the finest game of his U‑M career in a 17‑13 victory versus Nebraska in 2013, re‑ cording a career‑best three tackles for loss. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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