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September 06, 2011 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2011-09-06

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4B - Tuesday, September 6, 2011
From Page 1B
Injuries complicated matters.
LToussaint played in four games
at running back and carried the
ball just eight times all season.
Senior running back Mike
$haw and junior running back
Vincent Smith saw most of the
snaps at running back, but they
were jet Robinson's sidekicks,
meant to just divert defense's
'ttention away from Michigan's
dynamic quarterback. In 10 of
3 games last season, Shaw and
$mith, together, failed to carry
the ball more than Robinson.
Hoke's power running game
may have been invented for
i back like Toussaint. Michi-
gan offensive coordinator Al
Borges wanted to lead with one
cunning back and ride him all
game long. The good ones usu-
ally improve the more you feed
them, he said.
But Shaw wasn't just going
to fade into the background. All
fall camp, the position battle
shifted between Shaw and Tous-
saint. Then, in the last week of
damp, Toussaint started getting
pore reps with the first team.
"I kind of had a clue," he said.
Fridaynight, Hoke announced
Toussaint would be his starter.
Hoke later said the reason was
because he liked the way Tous-
saint finished fall camp.
So Toussaint started to chip.
Four yards here. Five yards
there. When Michigan reached
the goal line on its first pos-
session, it was Toussaint who
punched it in.
"I thought there were some
hard runs," Hoke said after the
game. "I thought Fitz ran the
Mall up in there pretty hard, took
tome guys on, which is what you
ant to see out of your backs."
Shaw started the second
drive, and Smith jumped in as
the third-down back, but again
toussaint punished the defense
busting a10-yard gain then later
diving for another goal line
Touchdown. Chip, chip, chip.
On Toussaint's next carry,
he took Robinson's handoff and
ran between right guard Patrick
Smameh and right tackle Mark
uyge's clean hole and grabbed
,he chunk he was looking for.
t Bronco defensive back came
nto his vision on his right, and
like a true Hoe running back,
oussaint lowered his shoulder
And tried to run him over. But it
ackfired and his daylight had
arkened after 43 yards.
Two plays later, Shaw took a
andoff and the hole was even
digger this time. No defender
as within 10 yards of him when
e scored from 44 yards out.

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Redshirt sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for 80 yards and
two touchdowns on Saturday against Western Michigan

"t t
had g'
that w
get aw
Fitz, h
you ca
get a I
ball to
see th
ning b
agai ns
ran for

hink they both found - carries. And Robinson ran the
ood vision, let me put it ball eight times, about half of
ray," Hoke said. "I think which were designed runs, for
el's got a little bit more 46 yards.
d speed, so he was able to The first play of the game was
ay from the safety. If you a designed quarterback run - a
on that one long run by 39-sweep - to the left for Rob-
he lowered himself to go inson. Borges and Hoke had
;h a guy. And if you watch planned it that way to get him
.n see Junior Hemingway going early. But most of Robin-
ing himself, trying to son's designed runs - three of
block over the top. That's which came on the first drive -
ag to me. That's good foot- were between the tackles or just
me." off them. One can wonder if the
gh, physical, just like hits Robinson takes in Hoke's
wanted. On Monday, Hoke new physical style may be more
nced Toussaint would harmful than the ones that
ly start again against knocked him out of many games
Dame, but Shaw would last season, even if he carries the
e field. ball fewer times.
e Borges wanted, the run- With his speed and foot
acks were the workhorses quickness, Robinson was still
able to dance his way for a few
long gains through that traffic.
But in the rain-shortened game,
enjoy seeing Michigan fans didn't witness
the magic of Robinson in space
lim run the - his longest run went for 12
yards. When he does find space,
all ...That's he may benefit from Toussaint's
thing to me." Near the end of the press con-
ference, Robinson - the nation's
second-leading rusher last sea-
son - was asked if it were ideal
t Western Michigan, not that he was the team's third-
son. In his 2010 debut, leading rusher.
son carried the ball 29 "Oh yeah, I enjoy seeing him
against Connecticut. run the ball, and Mike Shaw get
ssaint chipped away 11 the ball, Vince (too)," Robinson
for 80 yards and two said. "I love seeing those guys
towns on Saturday. Shaw get out in space and make them
r another 54 yards on four miss. That's nothing to me."

From Page lB
"Alex Carder is as good as any
guy we may play all year," Mich-
igan coach Brady Hoke said.
"He's got some great weapons
out there."
Sophomore running back
Antoin Scriven capped the drive
with a one-yard scamper on
fourth-and-1 to give the Broncos
the early lead.
Fortunately for Michigan,
the high-powered offense made
up for the defense's miscues on
the Wolverines' first drive of
the game. Junior quarterback
Denard Robinson looked just
as impressive as Carder, going
5-for-5 in the air for 33 yards,
along with four carries for 26
Robinson finished the game
9-for-13 for 98 passing yards,
and eight carries for 46 yards -
very effective but without the
stand-out numbers he displayed
last season.
Early in the game, Robinson
featured some of his signature
plays many thought would not
be seen in this year's pro-style
offense. He played out of the
shotgun for the entire first pos-
session, dancing in and out of
the Bronco defense at every
"There's a comfort level prob-
ably that you want (Robinson) to
feel good about, and I think we
blocked it well," Hoke said. "I
think we were in and out of (the
shotgun) enough."
Starting running back
Fitzgerald Toussaint finished
the drive with a one-yard run.
On Michigan's next posses-
sion, Robinson threw his first
incompletion of the game on
a deep ball to senior tight end
Kevin Koger, as the ball sailed
just out of reach of Koger's out-
stretched hands. This lead to a
three-and-out for the Wolver-
Then came Herron's inter-
ception - the difference in the
game, according to Western
Michigan coach Bill Cubit.
"The game changed when we
went down there and missed a
protection, and the ball squirted
up in the air and got run back,"
Cubit said. "At that point, it was
a 14-point swing."
The Broncos didn't gain a
yard on the ensuing possession,
and the Wolverines took advan-
tage again, putting together a
nine-play, 74-yard scoring drive.
Touissant once again punched it
in, this time from two yards out
to give Michigan the 21-7 lead.
"I thought (Toussaint) ran
the ball up in there pretty hard,"

Fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan van Bergen had three tackles.
Hoke said. "Took some guys on, it's playing football, and that's
which is what you want to see what this is about."
out of your backs." The momentum gained by
Western Michigan quickly Kovacs carried over into the
responded and marched into the Wolverines' next possession, as
redzone, but this time it couldn't senior Michael Shaw scampered
punch it in for the score. The 44 yards into the end zone after
Broncos settled for a 36-yard Toussaint put Michigan in good
field goal by Potter to make the position with a 43-yard rush of
halftime score 20-10. his own.
And at the start of the second Then senior defensive end
half, the floodgates opened - lit- Ryan Van Bergen got into the
erally and figuratively. action, forcing a fumble and
After a three-and-out by scooping it up at the Michigan
Michigan and just one minute 25-yard line.
of play in the second half, both Hoke has stressed the impor-
teams went back to the locker tance of forcing turnovers and
room as rain began to pour and taking care of the ball offensive-
lightning was spotted in the ly, and the Wolverines did both
area. on Saturday with three forced
It was certainly a unique situ- turnovers and no turnovers of
ation for everybody. their own.
"I've never really been "I think our guys really
through anything like that," understand that message that
Kovacs said. "I think we trav- we sent about taking care of
eled up the tunnel several times. the football," Hoke said. "And
I've never done that before." defensively, some guys did a nice
Following about a half- job up front of applying some
hour delay, Western Michigan pressure, or if you were a guy
resumed from its own 13-yard who was coming on a blitz."
line. And then Kovacs took over, After four Michigan offensive
forcing the fumble that Herron plays, the rain came pouring
took in for the score. down, sending the players back
Carder blamed himself for the to the locker room and the fans
fumble. scampering for cover for the sec-
"A sack fumble is inexcus- ond time.
able," he said. "It was a protec- But this time, the players
tion change that I missed. I just didn't come back.
should have saw it. It shouldn't About an hour later, the game
have happened. was cancelej due to a long line
"I take full responsibility for of severe wtather in the area,
that one." giving Michigan the 34-10 vic-
The Broncos came up empty tory. The athletic directors and
again on the ensuing possession, coaches from both schools had a
with Kovacs recording his sec- long discussion and decided that
ond sack of the game and bring- ending the game was the best
ing much of the crowd to its feet. option.
With Michigan now playing Though Hoke was unhappy
a 4-3 and with new defensive with plenty' of aspects of his
coordinator Greg Mattison at team's performance, he also had
the helm, Kovacs will have more a reason to be thankful - his
opportunities to get to the quar- team remai d healthy.
terback - and that was evident "It didn't1 look like this was
in the third quarter on Saturday. going to ges any better," Hoke
"We have some more blitz said. "So it ended, probably not
packages that give me an oppor- the way all if us would like it to.
tunity to come down to the box "But as long as these kids can
and try to make a play," Kovacs be healthy d no one got need-
said. "It's a little different, but lessly hurt n we're all for it."

Ul E~

While the defense added 14 because of his ability to run with linebacker Cam Gordon was
OBINSON points of its own, Robinson car- the football." scratched from the game due to
rom Page 1B ried the offense to 288 yards and BRUISED BUT NOT BAT- the back injury.
20 points. The stats weren't too TERED: The pain of watching The announcer made the call:
Included a number of shotgun high, but the production was last year's defense now fifth-year "No. 29, Troy Woolfolk,
snaps and designed quarterback right where it was supposed to senior cornerback Troy Woolfolk injured on the play."
tuns. be. was still fresh in Michigan fans' The 110,506 in attendance let
When that wasn't enough, "Al had a plan that he thought minds. out a collective groan. He was
Robinson improvised. Late in would be successful against what Little more than a year after helped off the field, carted to the
the second quarter, when a pass- they did defensively," Michi- Woolfolk broke his right ankle locker room and didn't play for
ing play broke down, Robinson gan coach Brady Hoke said. and was out for the season, Wool- the rest of the game.
eluded a defender in the back- "Denard's always going to have a folk sat near midfield clutching "It's tough to see a guy like
field and cut up the middle for a hand in what we do. Number one, his leg, unable to get up. This that go down again," redshirt
2-yard gain. he's a quarterback, but secondly came after redshirt sophomore junior safety Jordan Kovacs said.

"But at the same time we knew
somebody else was going to have
an opportunity to step in and
play we've got some experienced
guys at corner."
But this wasn't ddji vu.
Instead of breaking his right
ankle, Woolfolk only sprained
his left. Hoke said he thought
Woolfolk and Gordon would
play next Saturday against Notre
"(Woolfolk) felt better yester-
day," Hoke said on Monday. "I

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think em cy-wise he could
have got ba in there on Satur-
day and Paul Schmidt our train-
er did a good job with all those
things. Cam, he tweaked his back
early in the week, felt better but
still just didn't feel good enough.
"There was no sense for us to
try and put him out there where
he could prolong the recovery
After the game, a reporter asked
redshirt senior linebacker Bran-
don Herron whether he was on
special teams. Herron sheep-
ishly raised his hand. He knew
what was coming.
Western Michigan averaged
over 30 yards per kick return on
their six attempts. Part of that
had to do with the defensive
touchdowns that were scored.
A lot of defensive starters play
on special teams. The long runs
on Herron's touchdowns were
immediately followed by a kick-
off, leaving tired players to cover
the kick.
Hoke didn't sugarcoat the
performance after the game.
"Kickoff returns were awful,"
Hoke said.
The other side was a lot quiet-
er. Freshman Matt Wile punted
just two times. Redshirt sopho-
more kicker Brendan Gibbons
didn't have much work to do.
The Wolverines went for it and
converted on the only fourth
down opportunity within field-
goal range. Gibbons still found
a way to cause Michigan fans to
worry though, as he missed an
extra point.
NOTES: Fifth-year senior
linebacker Marrell Evans, soph-
omore running back Stephen
Hopkins and redshirt junior
offensive linemen Ricky Barnum
were suspended from the game.
Hoke said he expects them back
for Notre Dame.



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