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September 02, 2014 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-09-02

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28 - September 2, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michiganclaily.com

Five Things We Learned: App. State

Appalachian
State an inferior
opponent, but
plenty to observe
By MAX COHEN
Daily Sports Editor
Entering Michigan football's
season opener against
Appalachian State, there were
numerous questions about how
it would respond to last year's
mediocre 7-6 season. With new
offensive coordinator Doug
Nussmeier making his debut,
the offensive was a mystery.
Though Michigan likely
didn't display the full breadth
of its offense in the 52-14 rout of
the Mountaineers, some things
can be gleaned about the team
from the victory.
1. Devin to Devin is the next
big thing:
It started on Michigan's first
offensive play, an 11-yard screen
pass from fifth-year senior
quarterback Devin Gardner
to junior wide receiver Devin
Funchess. The chemistry
between Gardner and Funchess
was evident throughout the
entire first half.
The duo combined for
seven receptions - three of
which were touchdowns -
and 95 yards in the half. The
Mountaineers had no match
defensively for Funchess,
perhaps best displayed on his
third touchdown catch. Gardner
threw the pass to the back of the
end zone, where Funchess made
the catch over the outstretched
arms of defenders.
Wherever Gardner threw the
ball, Funchess caught it. The
pair cited improved chemistry
and extra work in the offseason
as the key to their success.

season, Michigan's offensive
line was the team's biggest
question mark going into the
season. The line got the job done
in the season opener, but how it
will look in the future is unclear.
Fifth-year senior Joey
Burzynski started at right
guard, but was relieved by
redshirt sophomore Kyle Kalis
in the first half. The offensive
line was more effective once
Kalis was inserted. Hoke said
Monday that he doesn't yet
know who will play the position
in the next game, but that he had
a plan. He didn't care to divulge
that plan to the media.
There is a similar conundrum
at the center position. Redshirt
junior Jack Miller started and
played the entire time the
starters did. But redshirt junior
Graham Glasgow returns from
suspension for the Notre Dame
game, putting the position
in flux. Glasgow started nine
games at center in 2013 while
Miller started four.
Once again, Hoke said he has a
plan for incorporating Glasgow,
but didn't want to share how or
if he will incorporate Glasgow
with the media.

F b M r r s LLpU/naiy
Devin Funchess become the first Michigan receiver to record three touchdowo passes inoa season opener, doint all the damage in the first halt on Saturday.

Last season, graduated wide
receiver Jeremy Gallon was
Gardner's favorite target. It
appears the role has transferred
to Funchess, the converted tight
end, this season.
2. Norfleet will finally be a
regular part of the offense:
For two years, junior slot
receiver Dennis Norfleet has
displayed tantalizing shiftiness
and speed for Michigan as a
punt and kick returner. He
appeared sparingly on offense,
though usually in specialized
packages and formations.
Norfleet was listed as the
team's starting slot wide
receiver before the season,
but it was unclear how he'd be
used. Saturday, Norfleet was

part of many of the Wolverines' press more:
offensive packages, catching
three passes for 30 yards. Throughout the offseason,
Michigan coach Brady Hoke Michigan's defensive players
commended Norfleet's blocking emphasized that they wanted
after Saturday's their defense
game. Monday, to be more
Hoke said aggressive. It
Norfleet has It appears Jeremy manifested
matured in the season
dramatically Gallon's role has opener
since last when the
season, leading tranferred to cornerbacks
to the extended covered the
playing time. Funchess. receivers off
"He just is the line of
one of those scrimmage.
infectious guys They pressed
that has great energy, and you frequently at the line of
want a guy like that on the field," scrimmage, helping shut down
Hoke said. Appalachian State's passing

for 127 yards in the game at a

rate of just 3.8 yards per pass.
Defensive coordinator Greg 5. Very little:
Mattison said Monday that the
new strategy stemmed from Though theE
a lack of aggressiveness the were positive, the
coaching staff noticed in last should be treate
year's game tapes. was: a game agai:
Mattison said he expects opponent. Michig
cornerbacks pressing to last year in its s
be a staple of his defense, win last season,
but admitted it could be victory over Cent
problematic against strong- The win wasn't
armed quarterbacks, such as any way of the r
Notre Dame's Everett Golson. season, which i
Still, expect the strategy to calls against low
be prominent as the season Connecticut.
progresses. Notre Dame ha

I

early returns
season opener
d as what it
nst an inferior
an dominated
eason-opening
too, a 59-9
tral Michigan,
indicative in
est of the 7-6
ncluded close
ly Akron and
as served as a
mark for the
in the season.
ill be known
.mpetitive this
in one week.

game.
The Mountaineers passed

4. The offensive line is still
in a state of flux:
After the debacle of the 2013

traditional bench
Wolverines early
Much more wil
about just how co
Michigan team is

3. The cornerbacks will

Nussmeier finds success on sideline

FOOTBALL
Gardner: Funchess
could be 'M' legend

0

Coaches impressed
by Gardner, frosh
starters
By ALEXA DETTELBACH
Daily Sports Editor
It doesn't take much to make
Michigan quarterback Devin
Gardner happy.
Against NOTEB
Appalachian 00K
State, it was
first-year offensive coordinator
Doug Nussmeier's presence on
the sideline that put a smile on
Gardner's face and was one of
the first things the fifth-year
senior mentioned after the
game.
"With Doug being on the
sideline I think it helps with
situations because (he was)
able to talk to (Gardner)
between series and make some
adjustments," said Michigan
coach Brady Hoke Saturday.
Hoke later added Monday:
"With the whole offense, I
think it's important. I've said it
before, for Devin, (and) it being
their first year together. I think
overall, their communication
and the communication with
everybody else was positive."
Nussmeier was animated
on the sidelines - to the point
where Hoke had to pull him back
and make sure he didn't wander
onto the middle of the field.
His active style contrasts with
former offensive coordinator
Al Borges, who conducted the
offense from the booth. And
everyone is adjusting - and
benefitting - from the change.
"Having coach Nuss on the
sideline was great too, because
he got to really sit down and
explain on the white board to
us and fix it, instead of being
up in the press box and talking
to us through the headset,"
said junior wide receiver Devin
Funchess.
Funchess, in particular,
benefited from Nussmeier on
the field as he exploded for
three touchdowns and 95 yards
in three quarters of play.
'NOT TOO BIG': Both

4

ByALEJANDRO ZUJIGA
ManagingSports Editor
Junior Devin Funchess is
Michigan football's newest No.
1, a uniform number given to an
exclusive group of Wolverines
wide receivers.
On Saturday against
Appalachian State, Funchess
lived up to his new designation,
hauling in three touchdown
passes and seven receptions
total for 95 yards.
In the process, he became the
first Michigan receiver in the
program's 135-year history ever
to catch three scores in a season
opener.
And Monday, senior
quarterback Devin Gardner
offered his opinion on Funchess'
talent and potential.
"He can probably be the
best receiver to ever play
here," Gardner said at his press
conference.
One reoorter replied,

"That's a pretty big statement,"
to which the quarterback
asserted, "Yeah, it is."
Michigan has fielded a slew of
talented receivers, from Braylon
Edwards - the last to wear No.
1 - to Heisman Trophy winner
Desmond Howard, to single-
season receiving yards leader
Jeremy Gallon.
Following Gallon's
graduation, Funchess has
become Gardner's top target.
Saturday's performance was his
first three-TD game.
Funchess' combination of
his 6-foot-5 frame, soft hands,
speed and power make him a
force to be reckoned with, one
that Appalachian State coach
Scott Satterfield said would
create matchup issues for every
team in the nation.
And if Gardner's prediction is
correct, Funchess will become
another household name
joining the list of greats who
have worn No.1.

4

PAUL SHERMAN/Daily
Quarterback Devin Gardner completed 13-of-14 passes, receiving sideline guidance from coordinator Doug Nussmeier.

4

defensive coordinator Greg
Mattison and Nussmeier
pointed to their respective
starting freshmen as poised
in their first college football
games.
Mason Cole, the first true
freshman to start at left tackle
in program history, struggled
on a couple plays, most notably
giving up a sack in the second
quarter. But save for a few plays,
Cole looked like a seasoned
veteran and generated praise
from his coaches.
"I thought Mason did a
nice job," Nussmeier said.
"Nothing's too big for him. He's
a young player and we knew
going into the game there would
be some things that happened,
and obviously the one sack that
occurred, but its not about the
sack, it's about how you react
to it
"I thought he did an
outstanding job, very focused
very level-headed, (he) played a
great football game."
Meanwhile, prized freshman
cornerback Jabrill Peppers

played in several defensive
series as the nickel corner
and also appeared as a punt
returner. An ankle injury kept
him in the locker room in the
second half, but he did enough
to impress Mattison.
"It wasn't too big for
(Peppers)," Mattison said. "I
was very impressed with that
part of it. If you watched him
early and pregame and how
he acts, and all that, he was
just like I thought he'd be. The
couple of tackles he made that's
what I thought I would see ...
He's going to bring it."
Peppers ended the game with
two tackles and had one punt
return for six yards.
ABSENTEES: Everyone can
breathe easy, Peppers should be
able to play Saturday. Following
the game, Hoke said Peppers
will be ready, but retracted a bit
Monday after he sat out practice
Sunday.
"He's been in here allmorning
getting treatment (and) he's
working hard to get better,"

Hoke said. "I don't think he'll
be a question mark, I think he'll
be ready to play."
Sophomore safety Delano
Hill, who broke his jaw in camp,
is also set to go for Saturday,
according to Hoke. He'll join
a young crop of safeties that
includes junior Jarrod Wilson
andthreesophomoresinJeremy
Clark, Dymonte Thomas and AJ
Pearson.
Meanwhile, offensive
lineman Graham Glasgow is
returning from his one-game
suspension for operating a
vehicle while visually impaired.
Hoke didn't give much
insight into his plans for
introducing Glasgow back into
the line rotation repeating, "we
have a plan."
Glasgow is also glaringly
absent from the depth chart,
but a week of work in practice
could shuffle things around.
For more football news
Check MichlgdsDaily com
throughout the afternoon

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