While many Notre Dame fans see reason for concern after a 28-6 season-opening win over Temple, Michigan fans are mighty confident with the Wolverine's 59-9 trouncing of Central Michigan on Saturday. Michigan used six rushing touchdowns and had a solid 463-210 advantage in total yardage in the victory.
Michigan ran for 242 yards against a Chippewa defense that ranked 93rd against the run (192.8 yards/game) in 2012. Central Michigan also ranked 89th in total defense (433.9 yards) and 94th in scoring defense (32.3) last season.
Probably the top known commodity for the Wolverines heading into their opener is dual threat quarterback Devin Gardner. The senior passed for 1,219 yards with 11 touchdowns in five games while also rushing for 101 yards and seven touchdowns last year after taking over for Denard Robinson down the stretch last season.
Gardner was 10-of-15 for 162 yards and a touchdown on Saturday while adding 52 yards and two more scores on the ground. He was not without mistakes though. Gardner threw a pair of interceptions, while his backup, Shane Morris, added a third pick on the day for the Michigan offense. Gardner's longest pass was a 45-yard completion to Joe Reynolds for the receiver's only catch of the day.
"Sometimes I'm crossing my fingers when I see him out there being athletic," Michigan head coach Brady Hoke said afterward of Gardner. "He had a couple of decisions that I think, one for sure, was one that he should have probably made a better decision on."
Fitz Toussaint was Michigan's starting running back, but like Notre Dame, the Wolverines used a stable of backs to run the ball in their opener. Gardner, who suffered a broken leg late last season, ran for 57 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries (4.1 average). True freshman Derrick Green added 58 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries (5.3), De'Veon Smith, another true freshman, carried seven times for just 13 yards and junior Thomas Rawls had three carries for 12 yards and a touchdown.
The Wolverines lined-up with a revamped offensive line for the season-opener after replacing three starters from last year's team. Left tackle and All-American candidate Taylor Lewan made his 29th consecutive start, while right tackle Michael Schofield, a starter for the last two years, was back as well. Center Jack Miller, left guard Graham Glasgow and right guard Kyle Kalis were each starting after playing as reserves last season. Michigan was able to play seven reserve linemen in the lopsided victory.
Seniors Jeremy Gallon, Jeremy Jackson and Drew Dileo each started at wide receiver. They had 47, 17 and 43 respective receiving yards, while sophomore tight end Devin Funchess had a pair of grabs for 47 yards. Seven receivers and five tight ends played in all.
A total of 15 defensive linemen saw action for Michigan against Central Michigan. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison started Frank Clark and Keith Heitzman at the defensive ends, while Jibreel Black and Quinton Washington were the interior line starters. Washington made 10 starts last season, which is three more than the other three linemen combined.
The linebacking corps consisted of Desmond Morgan in the middle, Cam Gordon on the strong side and James Ross on the weak side. Morgan and Gordon each had 81 tackles a year ago, while Ross had 31. The unit is without its best player, 2012 leading tackler Jake Ryan, who hopes to be back sometime in October after tearing an ACL in the offseason.
Raymon Taylor and Blake Countess started at the two cornerback spots, while Josh Furman and Jarrod Wilson were the two safeties. Countess went into last season regarded as one of the best corners in the B1G, but tore an ACL in Michigan's season-opening loss to Alabama and missed the rest of the season. Taylor made the start, because senior captain Courtney Avery was out after a recent knee surgery. Avery is expected to be out this week as well.
Michigan punter Kenny Allen was called into action just once against Central Michigan netted 51 yards on his only attempt. Brendan Gibbons, who hit 16-of-18 field goals and all 45 PATs last year, connected on his only field goal try - a 30-yarder. Matt Wile averaged 64.6 yards on 10 kickoffs with five touchbacks.
The 59 points scored in the opener is the most for the Wolverines since a 63-13 win over UMass- a week before Notre Dame's 13-6 victory.
The Wolverines have won 15 consecutive home games heading into Saturday night's game against Notre Dame at Michigan Stadium. Their last home loss was to Wisconsin on Nov. 20, 2010.