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October 04, 2013 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-10-04
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Breakdown: a test
for rush defense

Jug history at forefront
in the Big Ten opener

This is not the Minnesota foot-
ball team that Michigan has beaten
by a combined 80 points the past
two seasons. In that same span, the
Golden Gophers have won just four
Big Ten games.
In the 100th edition of this series,
Jerry Kill's Minnesota team will be
hungry to give its seniors at least
one win over the Wolverines for
their college careers. Here's where
each team will have an edge on Sat-
urday at the Big House.
Michigan pass offense vs.
Minnesota pass defense
Nowhere have the Wolverines,
struggles been more evident in the
two nail-bitingvictories over Akron
and Connecticut than in the play of
redshirt junior quarterback Devin
Gardner. Long stretches of incom-
pletions and mystifying decisions
by Gardner have cost Michigan
deeply in the past two weeks.
Minnesota's defense presents
some ball hawkers - five different
players have intercepted passes this
season. Gardner has repeatedly said
he is excited to get back on the field
Saturday after turning the ball over
seven times in the lasttwo games.
Gardner made his first-ever start
as a Michigan quarterback against
the Golden Gophers last season. He
threw for 234 yards, going 12-for-
18, with three touchdowns, two
through the air.
The tone will be set early. As
Gardner goes, so likely will Michi-
gan (4-0). If he struggles, it'll once
again be closer than necessary.
Edge: Minnesota
Michigan rush offense vs.
Minnesota rush defense
The Wolverines will display a
new offensive line, with redshirt
sophomore Chris Bryant joining it at
guard and redshirt junior Graham
Glasgow sliding over from guard
to center. Space for redshirt senior
running back Fitzgerald Toussaint
to run through hasn't come easily
in four games. Whether or not the
new-look line will have more than
a negligible impact remains to be

Fifth-year senior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint will likely share more carries.

In the Michigan backfield, Tous-
saint should have company Sat-
urday. Freshmen running backs
Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith
were given an increased workload
during the bye week, and the coach-
ing staff hasn't kept secret its inten-
tions to give them more carries
going forward.
Edge: Michigan
Minnesota pass offense vs.
Michigan pass defense

things difficult for a team without a
passing game. The Wolverines are
ranked 18th in the nation in rushing
yards allowed per attempt.
Golden Gophers running back
Donnell Kirkwood has dealt with
an ankle injury but will likely get
plenty of carries Saturday. David
Cobb leads theteam with five rush-
ing touchdowns.
Special teams

Daily Sports Editor
Jeremy Gallon says that after
practice, the seniors always
emphasize that the Michigan
football team needs to play like
something is on the line - like
a trophy or a Big Ten champion-
Come Saturday, the Wolver-
ines will be
playing for
both. Minnesota
Michigan at Michigan
(4-0) opens
conference Matchup:
play against Minnesota 4-1;
Minnesota Michigan 4-0
(0-1 Big Ten, When: Satur-.
4-1 overall) to day 3:30 p.m.
start its hunt Where: Michi-
for a confer- gan Stadium
ence cham- TV/Radio:
pionship. But ABC
there's a more
short-term reward at stake.
Minnesota is not much of a
Michigan rival, and the all-time
series isn't very close - the Wol-
verines have a lopsided 72-24-
3 record against the Golden
Gophers. Despitopll that, there's
still a reason the Minnesota game
is always circled on the Wolver-
ines' calendar. There's the Little
Brown Jug to protect, after all.
Last Sunday marked the offi-
cial end of the bye and the start
of Minnesota week. Michigan
coach Brady Hoke started the
team meeting with an explana-
tion of the Jug: its origins, its
history, its significance, going
back to its first appearance in the
1903 game. Twenty-six members
of the 114-man roster come from
outside Big Ten country, and
Hoke wanted to make sure each
one of them was as Jug-literate
as their teammates who came to
Michigan already familiar with
the matchup.
Longtime equipment manager
Jon Falk, the man responsible for
keeping the Jug safe, also con-
tributed to the players' education
- he opened Tuesday's practice
with a speech on the trophy's
The Wolverines have won the
last five matchups with the Gold-
en Gophers, and that's one thing
about the Jug that Hoke tried to
emphasize above all else: "You'
don't want them to come over to

your sideline and take it back."
Not a practice, meeting or
moment went by this week when
the Jug wasn't-brought up. There
are reminders on the walls. The
message is impossible to ignore.
"I do believe that those games
that you have the privilege -to
play in (are important) because
of the history and tradition that's
been there," Hoke said.
But for as much as Michigan
talks about tradition and pride,
there's still a much more press-
ing matter at hand. The jury is
still out on which team - the one
that beat Notre Dame or the one
that barely squeaked by Akron
and Connecticut - will show up
Redshirt junior Devin 'Gard-
ner made his quarterback debut
against Minnesota' last season.
Even though he notched his first
interception, he still threw for an
impressive 234 yards.
Gardner's decision-making
abilities have since been at the
forefront of discussion over
the past few weeks, despite a
plethora of other issues plagu-
ing the Wolverines. Hoke already
shuffled up the interior line and
expects to see a well-rounded
Minnesota squad in Michigan
"They're going to be a physi-
cal football team because that's
the way (Minnesota coach Jerry
Kill) wants his teams on both
sides of the ball," Hoke said.
"From a defensive perspective,
I think they're pretty doggone
salty. Offensively, they want to
run the football."
Hoke handily beat the Golden
Gophers, 58-0, in 2011 - both
his and Kill's inaugural season
as head of their respective pro-
grams. Even though the margin
of victory narrowed to 35-13
in 2012, no current Wolverine
knows what it's like to lose the
Minnesota may not be Michi-
gan's marquee matchup of the
season, but Gallon still had dif-
ficulty putting what the game
means into words.
"Celebrating with your team-
mates, playing for something
other than yourself ... it means a
lot to me and my team," Gallon
said. "Just knowing that the Jug,
that trophy, is comingback home
to you."

The Golden Gophers (0-1 Big Minnesota
Ten, 4-1 overall), who are coming aging just ei
off a 23-7 loss to Iowa, have split return, while
time at quarterback between Phil- average 14.81
lip Nelson and Mitch Leidner. Min- Chris Hawtho
nesota's offense focuses on the read goals so far. H
option, so don't expect many fire- have come fror
works from the Golden Gophers' 50 yards. Mic
aerial attack - it's ranked 114th in bons has conni
Division L Jeremy Gal
Meanwhile, the Michigan sec- to break a pun
ondary has been adequate so far. It down every tit
will be nice for it to get a breather Edge: Michi
from what has been a heavy work-
load. The Wolverines have defend- Intangibles
ed the pass more often than all but
12 Division I teams. Saturday, the Michigan w
secondary will be able to commit to its home fans t
stopping the run. like the one
Edge: Michigan Dame than th

opponents are aver-
ght yards per punt
the Golden Gophers
per attempt. Kicker
rne is 5-for-7 on field
lowever, both misses
m distances of at least
higan's Brendan Gib-,
ected on four of five.
Ilon is still a threat
nt return for a touch-
'ill be eager to show
hat this team is more
that handled Notre
e.one that probably


The Constant Gardner

Minnesota rush offense vs.
Michigan rush defense
Michigan's rush defense, which
hasn't allowed a touchdowp on the
ground yet this season, should make

should've lost to Akron. Seventeen
consecutive home wins never hurts,
Edge: Michigane
Prediction: Michigan 34,
Minnesota 14

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