ANN ARBOR—His stat line following Michigan’s 41-30 win over Notre Dame reads: 2 catches for 17 yards.
Michigan tight end Jake Butt didn’t exactly light the world on fire in front of 115,109 fans in attendance at the big house Saturday night, but the 6-foot-6, 237-pound freshman is quickly and effectively making an impact for the Wolverines, allowing offensive coordinator Al Borges the ability to roll in multiple two, even three tight end sets.
“I told Jake Butt (he’s) probably our nicest surprise,” Borges said. “Because after spring football -- he came in kind of light so we were assuming that it would probably take a year, maybe redshirt him.
“But he came back bigger and stronger. Jake’s always had really good football awareness, even from the day that he got here so he’s made a contribution much faster than I think we anticipated after spring football.”
Butt’s primary responsibility against the Irish was as a blocker on the edge. Quarterback Devin Gardner did target Butt twice in the end zone, both times nearly coming up with his first career touchdown catch before seeing the ball hit the turf.
“He just threw it a little short,” Borges said of Butt’s near touchdown on a corner fade. “But he had him singled up. He just threw it a little short and Jake’s got to attack it more.”
Toussaint with trust
Senior running back Fitz Toussaint got his preseason wish against Notre Dame, being the featured back, carrying the ball 22-times despite only racking up a total of 71-yards.
Toussaint was able to break free for a 22-yard gain, his longest of the game, and was solid in pass protection giving Gardner time to look downfield.
“He was explosive on some runs,” Borges said. “He didn’t get started sometimes cause of the run-throughs I mentioned earlier but he had one cut on an isolation play that was unbelievable. He juked an unblocked safety in the hole and quick as a cat.
“Later in the game, he bounced outside on a stretch play with an unblocked safety and had a nice gain there. He played pretty solid, pretty good. Nothing that necessarily brought people out of their seats yet but he’s getting close.”
Borges on WR spot
Jeremy Gallon registered a career night against Notre Dame, reeling in eight balls for 184-yards and three touchdowns. Perhaps most impressive is the way Gallon and quarterback Devin Gardner were connecting, showing a great deal of trust and chemistry in the passing game.
“Jeremy just had a lights out game,” Borges said. “He’s a good player and he knows how to run routes, how to get loose, and he’s obviously a good run after catch guy. And him and Devin have worked together a lot, not just here but in the off-season.
“He threw a couple nice back shoulder throws that were right on the money and routes were well run. But, he did what he’s capable of doing. I’ve been saying it from the beginning, he’s not tall, but he’s taller than he is.”
The rest of Michigan’s wide receivers combined to catch just seven passes against the Irish, not necessarily an area of concern for Borges, but something the Wolverines will look to improve upon in the coming weeks.
“Our overall receiving core, we still need to get more guys involved I think,” Borges said. “We got some other guys involved but it could still take another step that way.
“Jehu Chesson hasn’t caught a ball yet but we’re going to work on getting him a little more involved. Jeremy Jackson has been solid and steady. So, we’re doing ok, but that can always get better.”
Offensive line looking to improve
Never one to say that any position battle is completely over with, Borges was asked whether or not he’s ready to write down his starting five on the offensive line in pen after Saturday’s performance against Notre Dame.
“No, never is,” Borges said. “I won’t say that. I think it’s starting to solidify itself a little more but we’re always – the good thing about this game, in that regard and in so many regards, is that we got tested.
“We didn’t play fabulous now but we didn’t play terrible either. So, it was a good next step.”
In time, Borges believes the offensive line, specifically the interior, will “sure itself up.”
The two constants and seniors on the offensive line, left tackle Taylor Lewan and right tackle Michael Schofield, continue to show consistency through two games in 2013.
“I thought that our tackles were very solid,” Borges said. “Particularly Taylor. Taylor was really good in the game, really good, I mean he was -- nobody went by him.
“And Mike was darn near as good. Mike played very good. Mike gets overshadowed a bit because Taylor is such a good player but Mike Schofield is, you know, we’re good at that position.”
To watch video of Borges from Tuesday, press play below.