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November 02, 2012 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-11-02

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6 - Friday, November 2, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Quarterback a question vs. Minny

By ZACH HELFAND
Daily Sports Editor
As usual, Michigan coach
Brady Hoke spoke this week in a
stream of staccatos, punctuated
by a heavy serving of periods
and peppered with colloquial-
isms that didn't reveal much. He
favored phrases like "we'll see"
and spoke often in the condi-
tional, saying that senior quar-
terback Denard Rtobinson should
be ready with-
out straying Michigan at
into the land of
the unequivo- Minnesota
cal will. That's Matchup:
how Hoke pre- Michigan 5-3;
fers it, espe- Minn. 5-3
cially in a week When: Satur-
when a decla- day 12 p.m.
ration about
Where- TCF
the quarter- task tdeum
back position Stadium
would change TV/Radio:
so much. BTN
In this week
of uncertainty, Hoke rendered
no certainties of his own. Robin-
son should play Saturday against
Minnesota, despite a nerve inju-
ry to his right elbow, Hoke said.
His status, though, might not
be decided until kickoff. Junior
wide receiver Devin Gardner
has taken the bulk of the reps at
quarterback, but redshirt fresh-
man Russell Bellomy could still
get the nod.
"(Robinson's) better," Hoke
said on Wednesday, adding that
Michigan is planning on him
starting.
"It's not all the way cleared up
yet, but it's better."
Hoke said he didn't think
Robinson would sit out, saying,
"We're counting on him," but
he noted that he could make the
decision as late as the kickoff on
Saturday.
Suddenly, the game itself has
been thrust into uncertainty by
the fragile right elbow of Michi-
gan's star.
With Robinson in the game,
Minnesota (1-3 Big Ten, 5-3
overall) is no match for Michi-
gan, on paper at least. Michigan
(3-1, 5-3) rolled to a 58-0 vic-
tory in last year's skirmish for
the Little Brown Jug. Without
Robinson, though, the game is
as as questionable as Bellomy's
arm or Gardner's transition back
from receiver, both major ques-
tion marks.

Breakdown: Blue
should rebound

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By BEN ESTES whether or not Robinson will play.
Daily Sports Editor Michigan coach Brady Hoke has
said all week that his signal caller
Michigan football team should be ready to go, but indicated
e 93rd battle for the Little it could be agame-time decision.
ug desperately needing to Whether Robinson plays or not,
of the poor taste left by last the Wolverines will be up against a
-9 loss to Nebraska. very tough Minnesota secondary.
feat in Lincoln was a huge The unit is second only to Michi-
for the Wolverines, who gan in pass defense in the Big Ten,
r season-long three-game and Derrick Wells is one ofthe con-
streak come to an end ference's best cornerbacks.
ontrol of the Big Ten Leg- If Robinson can't go, indica-
ision. Michigan's defense tions are junior Devin Gardner
cell, but not well enough will get the bulk of the playing time
the Cornhuskers, while at quarterback, having practiced
ise was, quite frankly, a extensively at the position this
after senior quarterback week for the first time since mov-
tobinson left with a nerve ing to receiver at the beginning of
his elbow. the season.
y the Wolverines willtake Neither Gardner nor redshirt
nesota team that shouldn't freshman Russell Bellomy should
near the challenge that play as poorly as Bellomy did
did. The Golden Gophers against Nebraska, when he was
rying to build a program thrown into the fire in a hostile
ach Jerry Kill. With just environment.
Ten win, they don't seem Still, if Michigan can move the
h of a candidate to pull off ball effectively through the air,
upset. it'll be something of a surprise.
The Wolverines will also have to
an rush offense vs. Min- account for defensive linemen D.L.
esota rush defense Wilhite and Ra'Shede Hageman,
who are among the leaders in the
s the key matchup of the Big Ten with 6.5 sacks and four
ven if Rlobinson does play sacks, respectively.
ective against Minnesota, Edge: Minnesota

ERIN KIRKLAOND/Daii
Junior wide receiver Devin Gardner and redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Bellomy could be called on at QB.
The situation is the most deli- out of his control. For one, mov- But Hoke stayed tight-lipped,
cate thus far in Hoke's tenure. At ing Gardner to receiver wouldn't and he praised the team for ar
once, he must balance the health have even been an option if especially good week of practic-
of Robinson, Michigan's best not for a lack of wide-receiver es. Gardner has taken the mos
player, with the fact that Michi- depth. And Hoke simply hasn't snaps at quarterback as the Wol-
gan cannot afford another loss had enough time to recruit and verines try to re-transition hin
in the conference. Hoke must suitably develop young quarter- after they moved him to receiver
weigh placing a heavy burden back talent, like Bellomy. at the beginning of the year.
on the tenuous shoulders of a Yet Hoke's decision will likely Hoke and Borges indicatec
redshirt freshman quarterback, be his most scrutinized in his that Bellomy and Gardner would
Bellomy, instead of the more time at Michigan. Last year, he compete for the starting job if
experienced Gardner. pushed all the right buttons as Robinson can't go. If Robinsot
And he and offensive coor- the Wolverines cruised to a sur- does start, Gardner will move
dinator Al Borges must accel- prising Sugar Bowl berth and back to receiver. Bellomy 'was
erate two months worth of victory. just 3-for-16 with three inter-
quarterback reps into one week With a deeper receiving ceptions in Michigan's loss tt,
for Gardner. corps, Gardner was a service- Nebraska last week.
All the while, Michigan must able backup for Robinson, and After losses, Hoke is 4-0 it
find a way to jump start to its a breakout season from then- his time at Michigan. And he
stagnant offense which hasn't redshirt-sophomore tailback is especially active in practices
scored a touchdown in more Fitzgerald Toussaint took the following a loss, according tt
than two games. As the defense pressure off whatever quar- fifth-year senior center Elliot
has improved dramatically from terback was in the game. Last Mealer.
week to week, the offense has season, Robinson accounted "He's very good at 'Put that
been mired in stagnation, and for 67 percent of the Michigan game behind you, learn from the
the Wolverines have found little offense. This year, with Gardner mistakes, and let's go,' " Mealei
success outside of Robinson's at receiver and Toussaint stifled, said. "He comes out to practice
legs. that figure has ballooned to 77 fired up like we're playing for
In relief of Robinson on Sat- percent. the Super Bowl or something."
urday, Bellomy did not pose a Still, it's been business as For Michigan, it's an infu-
running threat. Borges cautions usual this week for Michigan, sion of confidence in its most
that he is more dynamic than he save for the absence of any quar- uncertain week in Hoke's time
showed. terbacks at the week's mediases- here. It's an early response tt
"Russ is not a wood man back sions. Robinson has spoken with the Wolverines' most press-
there," Borges. "He can actually the media every week but this, ing questions. Will the offense
get out of the way. So we just and Gardner has made several return? Will Michigan rebound
don't do quite as much of that." appearances in the past. Both this time?
No option is perfect, and Hoke quarterbacks, in addition to Bel- And even if Robinson can go,
has been limited by a few factors lomy, were not made available. who will provide the answers?

1,
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offensive coordinator Al Borges
will still rely heavily on his ground
attack. Play has followed this pat-
tern since the loss to Notre Dame,
and there's no indication that the
rest of the season will be different.
Redshirt junior running back
Fitzgerald Toussaint has to step
up, especially if Robinson doesn't
play. The other two quarterbacks
don't pose nearly the threat on
the ground as Robinson, meaning
Toussint wil c forced to carry
the loe The Gophers are 10th
in the iof ce in rush defense
with 178 yards allowed per game,
so the Wolverines should have the
advantage. I f Toussaint again can't
get going, it will be a huge disap-
pointment - and with the passing
game a question mark, it'll mean
Michigan could streiggle to move
the ball.
Edge: Michigan
Michigan pass offense vs. Min-
nesota pass defense
The question of the game is

Minnesota rush offense vs.
Michigan rush defense
Gopher running back Don-
nell Kirkwood packs a punch at
219 pounds and has been a decent
threat this season, averaging 4.4
yards per carry.
But in the past few weeks, the
Wolverines have proven them-
selves to be one of the top run-
stopping defenses around, thanks
to improved gap maintenance by
the defensive line and more consis-
tency from linebackers.
Michigan has shut down better
running attacks than Minnesota's
this season, and though the team
wasn'thappy with itseffort against
Nebraska, the unit stillb'hd down
the explosive Cornhuskers better
than anyone else has. Expect more
of the same against the Gophers.
Edge: Michigan
Minnesota pass offense vs.
Michigan pass defense
The Wolverine back seven prob-
ably isn't as good as the statistics
say, with the team tied for tops in
the country at 145.9 passing yards
allowed per game. Michigan's
hasn't been tested as much as other
top units.
That doesn't mean it's not asolid
bunch, though. Making his third
career start, Minnesota freshman
quarterbackPhilipNelsonwillface
perhaps his stiffest challenge yet.
Nelson has been pretty solid since
taking the reins from MarQueis
Gray, and he has a couple solid tar-
gets in Gray - the team's best ath-
lete - and A.J. Barker. This will be
a test of just how good Nelson is.
Edge: Michigan
Special teams

I
I

Call: #734-418-4115
Email: dailydisplay@gmail.com

RELEASE DATE- Friday, November 2, 2012
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44 Cadiz cohort
46 Pud otice flier
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49 "Gave it mybest"
51 News source
since Dec. 1881
52 Musical
inadequacy
53 Feudal lord
55 Wine flavoring
56 Santa's risky
undertaking?
62 First name in
dictators
63 Eliminate
64 Ryder rival
65 WWII carrier
66 Domingo, e.g.
67 Hides
DOWN
1 Hand holder?
2 Rural expanse
3 Changed-my-
mind key
4 Encouraging
word

1 2 3 4 5 1 7 8 9 10 11
14 15 16
17 18 19
20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30
31 32 33
36 37 38 39 40
41 42 43 44 45
46 47 48
49 50 51
52 53 54
55 56 57 58 59
62 63 64
65 ' 66 67
By Gail Grabo vski
(02012 Tribune Media Services, Inc,

Redshirt junior kicker Brendan
Gibbons has six field goals the last
two weeks, including a career long
52-yarder against Nebraska. With
junior Will Hagerup continuing
to boom his punts, the Wolverines
might have one of the top specialist
duos in the country.
Minnesota isn't nearly as strong
in this department. Kicker Jordan
Wettstein is 9-for-16 on field goals
this season, and the Gophers aren't
great in any other department
either.
Edge: Michigan
Intangibles
Yes, this is technically a rivalry
game, and both teams want to
win the Jug. But its one-sidedness
means it lacks the passion and
intensity typical of most rivalries,
so there shouldn't be any signifi-
cant impactfrom that aspect.
Give the slight advantage to
Minnesota, just because of the
mental lift the Gophers will get
if Robinson can't play and since
they're likely highly motivated to
avenge the 58-0 drubbing the Wol-
verines gave them last season.
Edge: Minnesota S
FINAL SCORE (with Robin-
son): Michigan 38, Minnesota 6
FINAL SCORE (without Rob-
inson): Michigan 23, Minnesota 12

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