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October 15, 2014 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-10-15

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, October15, 2014 - 7A

*MICHIGAN'S WIN OVER PENN STATE

By ALEJANDRO ZUNIGA Gardner has his flaws
ManagingSports Editor as a quarterback, but he's
undoubtedly the leader of this

The Michigan football team
ended a three-game losing streak
Saturday with an 18-13 win over
Penn State.
The result keeps the
Wolverines in contention to
make a bowl game, but they must
win three of their remaining
five games to earn a spot in the
postseason.
Here are five things we learned
Saturday.
1. Devin Gardner is a warrior.
We all knew this one already.
Anyone who watched the
quarterback lead Michigan to a
near-upset of Ohio State with a
broken toe last year knew better
than to question his toughness.
Saturday was just another
example. After suffering a left-
foot injury during a quarterback
sneak in the third quarter, the
fifth-year senior hobbled to the
sideline. Later, he would leave
the stadium in a boot.
But before then, he limped
back onto the field for the fourth
quarter and led a crucial six-play
drive that ended with a go-ahead
field goal by senior Matt Wile.
The Wolverines never trailed
again. And when Michigan was
on defense, Gardner was one
of the team's most animated
supporters from the bench.

football team.
2. Defense can carry this team.
Before the season, defensive
coordinator Greg Mattison
expected his unit to be elite.
Against the Nittany Lions,
the Wolverines finally showed
glimpses of that potential.
Facing an admittedly poor
offensive line, Michigan's
front four hurried Penn
State quarterback Christian
Hackenberg and sacked him six
times. They held the Nittany
Lions to 54 net yards on the
ground. And they even forced an
interception.
The referees may have been
mistaken in calling offsides on
Penn State's onside kick late in
the fourth quarter. But given
Michigan's blanking of the
Nittany Lions in the second half,
did anyone really expect them
to march down the field for a
touchdown?
In seven second-half drives,
Penn State managed just 60 net
yards. If the Wolverines can
manage similar performances
this season, Michigan may just
turn things around.
3. Matt Wile has shaken off his
early jitters.

Wile didn't exactly have a
good start to the year, making
only one of his first four field goal
attempts. And on Oct. 4 against
Rutgers, he had the potential
game-winning field goal blocked.
The Wolverines needed him
to be perfect Saturday, and he
was. Wile made field goals of
45, 42 and 37 yards - the last
coming with 11:24 left to break a
13-13 tie - earning him Big Ten
Co-Special Teams Player of the
Week.
The senior is now 8-for-12 this
year and has knocked through all
of his extra points.
Areliablekicker canwingames,
and Wile showed he can be that
with his performance Saturday.
4. Amara Darboh is a solid No.
2 receiver.
Junior Devin Funchess is not
only Michigan's best receiver
but one of the best in the nation.
But given their struggles on the
ground, the Wolverines need
another downfield threat.
Say hello to Amara Darboh.
The redshirt sophomore
snagged four catches for 66
yards, making crucial receptions
in key situations. Each of his
grabs resulted in a Michigan
first down.
During the Wolverines' first
drive, Darboh made a leaping,
twisting grab and held on as he
crashed to the ground, picking

up 13 yards on 3rd-and-3. Three
plays later, Gardner found
Funchess for Michigan's only
touchdown of the night.
Sophomore Jehu Chesson is
out with an undisclosed injury,
so more solid outings by Darboh
could be crucial to the offense's
success.
Bold Prediction: Slippery
Rock will roll, and the
Michigan State game will be
close.
All of a sudden, Michigan has
a bye week to build off some
momentum. All of a sudden,
Michigan State looks vulnerable,
having been tested by Purdue,
and will face a high-powered
Indiana team Saturday.
The Spartans are the better
team, and they have the
advantage of playing at home
for a second year in a row. The
Wolverines haven't won in East
Lansing, Columbus or South
Bend under Michigan coach
Brady Hoke.
But next week's game has
been circled on Michigan's
calendar since last year's debacle.
And while Michigan State may
have the upper hand, don't be
surprised if it's close in the
fourth quarter.
Don't expect a close game
Saturday at the Big House,
though. The Rock should beat
Mercyhurst handily.

PHOTOS BY PAUL SHERMAN AND TERESA MATHEW, DESIGN BY JAKE
WELLINS

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