DraftBrowns.com Staff Writer: Justin Higdon
Michigan opened the season at home against an overmatched Central Michigan team, and despite a couple of early stumbles the Wolverines cruised to a victory. In fact, Michigan starters took a breather for about the last quarter-and-a-half of the game. Here’s a look at some of the draft-eligible players who took the field that afternoon.
#34 RB Zurlon Tipton
- Gets stuffed on his first carry
- On a stretch play runs through the first tackle and picks up a few yards – strong finish to the carry but takes a shot
- Steps out of a tackle in the backfield and reverses field – gets the corner and almost gets into the end zone – another powerful finish to the carry delivering a blow
- Patient carry in the red zone but is stopped just shy of the goal line
Overview: This figured to be an excellent chance for the senior running back to showcase his skills against a strong team, but Tipton was mysteriously absent from the game plan after the early going. Soon it became apparent that he was injured, and wouldn’t be returning. After the game, the extent of Tipton’s injury became known, and it appears that the ankle fracture he suffered last Saturday will keep him out for the rest of the season. Tipton has already taken a redshirt, so he will need to petition the NCAA for an extra year or enter the NFL Draft after and abbreviated senior season.
#12 QB Devin Gardner
- Poor throw from deep in Michigan territory – WR Drew Dileo rounded his out route and cornerback Jarret Chapman jumps the route for an interception
- On a designed run showing some open field elusiveness to avoid the first tackle
- Poor throw behind the receiver on a slant – goes incomplete
- Looks rattled momentarily under pressure but resets and rolls right – keeps his eyes downfield and finds Dileo back across the middle for a big catch and run of 36 yards
- Gardner with great protection but nobody open so he takes off and runs for a 22-yard TD – smooth runner
- Hits wide receiver Jeremy Gallon for a short gain off of play action
- Hits Gallon on a rollout for a TD off the play action – play fake is rather unconvincing – TD is negated by penalty
- Better play fake, but Gallon falls down in the front corner and it’s incomplete – pretty nice throw with good velocity and placement
- Gardner with plenty of time steps up and overthrows the deep ball intended for Gallon – picked off
- Shows elusiveness in the pocket to avoid a sack – not sure he’ll get away with reversing his field like that in the NFL – risky play
- Sprints out right and directs traffic to run for a 1st down on a 4th down play
- Gardner threads one in from 16 yards to Gallon for a TD – ball is just behind the receiver
- Hits Gallon in the red zone again – high throw
- Flushed, but runs in for a short TD
- Excellent play fake – hits receiver Joe Reynolds with a deep ball – great placement and tough catch
Overview: This was a nice tune up for Gardner. After a shaky start, he was able to regain his composure and put together some nice throws. He didn’t face a great deal of pressure, but when he did he generally handled it well and made plays with his arm and legs. The bullet to Gallon on the 16-yard TD pass showed Gardner’s arm strength and the deep ball to Reynolds was beautifully placed. Gardner still needs work on selling his play action fakes, but he was a little better on this day. It was not a perfect performance by any means, but all told the redshirt junior quarterback had a solid day.
#77 OT Taylor Lewan
- Seals off the edge on an early run off tackle by running back Fitzgerald Toussaint
- Seals the outside off to allow a 5-yard pickup by Toussaint
- Doing a good job locking up his man in pass pro and giving Gardner plenty of time
- Consistently walling the edge on runs to his side and springing some solid gains
- Drives his man several yards down field on a run away for his side
- Does a really good job turning his man where he wants him to go
Overview: Lewan wasn’t really tested by the Chippewas, and easily handled his assignments all day. He generally steered his opponents wherever he wanted to take them, making life easier for his teammates in the backfield. Like most of the Michigan starters, Lewan rested for the latter portion of the game.
#28 RB Fitzgerald Toussaint
- Carries off tackle for a solid pickup
- Cut down in the backfield for a tackle for loss
- Nice cutback to pick up a few extra yards
- Shows patience and then cuts back all the way across the field for a big gain
- Next play he steps out of a tackle for loss and picks up a couple yards
- Tries to dance a little and gets stopped for a tackle for loss
- Running tough, not going down on first contact
- Tough short-yardage TD run
Overview: Toussaint had an average game, with only one big run. He didn’t look as quick as he had in the past – particularly during his sophomore season two years ago. Though Toussaint did show some power and determination before heading to the bench with the rest of the starters, it would not be surprising to see him begin to cede carries to highly-touted freshman Derrick Green.
#21 WR Jeremy Gallon
- Great adjustment to a ball thrown behind him on a TD pass – leaped to make the catch but the play was negated by a penalty
- Again a nice adjustment to get a ball thrown just behind him – this time the play stands for a 16-yard TD
- Leaping catch in the red zone on a high throw
Overview: Gallon showed some excellent body control on the two end zone catches, twisting to make catches on throws behind him. He did slip and fall on a pass to the front corner of the end zone, but he recovered later to make a couple of nice receptions. Gardner definitely looked for Gallon when the Wolverines got into the red zone, so it appears the senior receiver will continue to get opportunities to make big plays.
#4 LB Cameron Gordon
- Comes on a blitz up the middle for a sack
- Doesn’t buy the fake, gets pressure and gets up to bat a pass behind the line of scrimmage
- Comes on the blitz from the right side and gets a sack
Overview: The unheralded senior linebacker had one of his best games as a collegian. He was particularly effective on passing downs where he applied pressure on a couple of blitzes. Not much was expected from Gordon coming into this season, so it will be interesting to see if he can build off of this performance.
- Central Michigan junior defensive back Jarret Chapman had a strong showing early in the game. He intercepted Gardner deep in Michigan territory, and later snuffed out Toussaint for loss of a few yards.
- In addition to making a tough catch on a pretty deep ball from Gardner, senior wide receiver Joe Reynolds scooped up a blocked punt and ran it in for the first touchdown of his college career.
- Michigan junior cornerback Raymon Taylor jumped an out route for an interception and returned it 54 yards