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November 14, 2011 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-11-14

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The Michigan Daily I michigandailycom November 14, 2011

MICHIGAN 31, ILLINOIS 14

Redshirt sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has run for 420 yards over the past three games since he became Michigan's lead back, averaging 6.6 yards per rush.
RUNNING TRAIN N

Toussaint runs for a
career-high 192 yards,
defense dominates
By KEVIN RAFTERY
DailySportsEditor
CHAMPAIGN - Illinois entered Sat-
urday's game against Michigan ranked
No. 1 in the Big Ten in rush defense,
giving up an average of just 103 yards
per game.

The Fighting Illini (2-4 Big Ten, 6-4
overall) featured the nation's sack and
forced fumbles leader in defensive end
Whitney Mercilus, who had terrorized
opposing offenses with a combination
of speed and strength up front.
But on Saturday, the 22nd-ranked
Wolverines (4-2, 8-2) tamed Mercilus
and the Illinois defense, as redshirt
sophomore running back Fitzgerald
Toussaint rushed for a career-high 192
yards en route to a 31-14 Michigan vic-
tory.
"Up front is where we executed
well." Toussaint said. "The offensive

line, I give them credit for creating
creases, allowing me to go through
them and explode."
Less than two minutes into the game,
Michigah nearly met Illinois' average,
as the Wolverines scored on the open-
ing drive, going 80 yards on four rush-
es, including a 65-yarder by Toussaint.
On 2nd-and-10 from the 20-yard
line, junior quarterback Denard Rob-
inson took the snap in the shotgun and
handed the ball left to Toussaint, whose
eyes widened.
"It was open," Toussaint said. "It was
a huge hole. I just saw daylight. Coach

always says run to daylight, and that's
what I did."
Toussaint burst through the hole,
past Mercilus. From there, it was a foot
race to the end zone between Toussaint
and the Illinois secondary.
He made it to the Fighting Illini
15-yard line before finally being brought
down by cornerback Tavon Wilson.
"I was just running," Toussaint said,
smiling. "I was looking to score."
Two plays later, Michigan did score
on a nine-yard scamper by Robinson to
give the Wolverines an early 7-0 lead.
"It was great to see our offense go

down the field and score," said Michi-
gan coach Brady Hoke. "It helps your
team, helps your morale.
"I thought we blocked pretty well
early. I thought Fitz really helped us.
He was running the ball very well."
But Michigan's rushing onslaught
didn't end. Toussaint, who said the
holes were the biggest he'd seen this
year, continued to dominate on the
ground, racking up an astonishing 121
yards on nine carries in the firstquarter
- not far off from his previous career
high of 170 yards, set two weeks ago
See TRAIN, Page3B

Mattison finally admits the
return of a 'Michigan defense'

By TIM ROHAN
Daily Sports Editor
CHAMPAIGN - Greg Mattison, the
man who had said his defense would
never play good enough for him - the
man who said perfection was what he
strived for - he was near tears.
He was also the same man who always
said he'd admired how eager his guys
were to learn. Now, his brow furrowed
and his heart poured out of his mouth.
"That was a Michigan defense," Mat-
tison said like a proud father figure,
admitting it for the first time all season.
"They played as hard as they could, they
did whatever they had to do. Without a
doubt, that was a Michigan defense."
The Michigan football team had just
won the game on defense, holding Illi-
nois to 30 yards, including minus-14
first-half rushingyards, before ultimate-
ly allowing 14 points and just 214 yards
of offense en route to a 31-14 victory on
the road.
"They're Michigan Men," said an
emotional Mattison. "We talk about it
all the time, that there's a standard at
Michigan and you've got to live up to
that, and you're judged by it. We haven't

Sophomore quarterback Devin Gardner showed the pocket presence Brady Hoke was look-
ing for on his fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Martavious Odoms.
Gardner redeems him self

The Michigan defense allowed just 214 yards and 14 points against Illinois, but the first half num-
bers were much more impressive as the Fighting Illini were shut out and held to30 total yards.
come to that final point where you win play on the road after losses at Michigan
the game on defense, and we said, 'This State and Iowa. He and the rest of the
is your last away trip to do it.' I couldn't defense didn't want to leave a legacythat
be more proud of this group of guys." they couldn't win on the road. Michigan
Fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan coach Brady Hoke said they just had to
Van Bergen heard the rumblings around See MICHIGAN DEFENSE, Page 3B
campus that No. 22 Michigan couldn't

By MICHAEL FLOREK
Daily SportsEditor
CHAMPAIGN - On a whiteboard
in an Illinois team meeting room, some
leftover remnants of the team's prepa-
ration for the Michigan football team
remained. There were two groups of
circles, lined up in the I-formation.
One group was labeled "is," the other
"2s." In blue dry erase marker, the
Fighting Illini had written "16" next to

the quarterback spot in the"ls" and "7"
under the "2s."
Last week, the charts may have had
the most accurate description of "7,'
sophomore Devin Gardner's role in the
offense since offensive coordinator Al
Borges played Gardner in his "Deuce"
two-quarterback formation in the Big
Ten opener against Minnesota.
Illinois may now want to write "7"
somewhere between the two numbers.
See GARDNER, Page 3B

NO SWITCH TO FLIP
U The fourth-ranked Wolverines were
swept on the road against Miami (Ohio)
over the weekend. Red Berenson was left
searching for answers. Page 2B

STREAKY START
The No. 18 Michigan men's basketball
team started hot against Ferris State,
cooled off, then got hot again, going on a
19-0 run to ice its season opener. Page 2B

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