Michigan ‘back to basics' In Win Over Gophers

Michigan went into Saturday's Big Ten opener against Minnesota with a clear understanding of what they wanted to do on both sides of the ball. Several Wolverines chime in on the rushing attack, their focus during the bye week, the insertion of Chris Bryant at left guard, Brady Hoke gives a brief injury update, and interesting statistics following the 42-13 win.

ANN ARBOR—Michigan didn’t do anything fancy or innovative in their 42-13 win over Minnesota Saturday. Junior quarterback Devin Gardner didn’t even attempt a pass until midway through the second quarter.

But that was all part of the plan and approach the Wolverines took to things not only through the first half of play against the Golden Gophers, but also, throughout the bye week.

“We went back to the basics,” Gardner said following Michigan’s win. “All the fundamentals and me personally, getting my feet under me and keeping my eyes tied to my feet.

“I feel like as a team we responded really well with going back to techniques and basics that you sometimes let waver.”

No, the Wolverines didn’t light the world on fire with their rushing attack Saturday -- senior Fitz Toussaint carried the ball 17-times for 78-yards while true freshman Derrick Green toted the rock 10-times for just 26-yards and a score.

With the running game, it was more about how it looked as opposed to the statistics in the box score -- and from Brady Hoke’s perspective, there was a different feel to it.

“We wanted to run the ball and we wanted to send that message,” Hoke said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of it. We didn’t have as much yardage, probably, as we’d like to have but I really believe the front was there consistently throughout the game, that, we were going to run the football.”

The insertion of redshirt sophomore Chris Bryant at left guard and the move of Graham Glasgow at center may have had something to do with it.

Toussaint believes there were more holes this week than at any point all season.

“Definitely,” Toussaint said. “Those guys executed very well. I give all the credit to those guys.”

Gardner admitted he believed Glasgow’s most natural position is center anyway, adjusting to his new starting spot well.

As for Bryant’s debut, Hoke, as always, will look closely at the film Sunday morning but saw positive signs from the sideline.

“I imagine that he swung and missed some and I imagine that he probably road graded some guys,” Hoke said. “Somewhere in between.”

Injury update

Sophomore defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins and redshirt freshman right guard Kyle Kalis each were attended to on the field in the fourth quarter Saturday.

Pipkins appeared to suffer an injury to his left knee and was carted off the field while Kalis jogged off the field and ultimately returned to punch in Michigan’s final offensive touchdown.

After the game, Hoke didn’t have an update on either.

“Both of them, we’ll know more tomorrow,” Hoke said. “That’s about all I know right now.”

By the numbers

Gardner finished the game 13-of-17 passing for 235-yards including a touchdown to Devin Funchess.

Funchess emerged as a key threat for Gardner, flanked out at wide receiver catching 7 balls for 151-yards.

The most important statistic for Gardner and the Wolverines Saturday? Zero turnovers.

Michigan had just two penalties for a grand total of 10-yards.

The Wolverine defense spent a considerable amount of time on the field against Minnesota including over 11-minutes in the first quarter and over nine minutes in the fourth, but did their job, holding the Golden Gophers to just one touchdown and just two field goals in the second half.