Saturday, October 12, 2013

No. 18 Michigan-Penn State: Halftime Numbers, Ruminations, Predictions

Some numbers and observations at the half:
  • Michigan started the game with a pair of third and longs; the first ended with a punt, the second with an interception that gave Hackenberg and Co. a short field. It was a nice play by the PSU corner, Jordan Lucas, but Gardner has to take some of the blame for another one of those types of picks on the outside. 
  • Toussaint's first two runs (for a combined -7 yards) to the left side looked like he was actually being snowed under by a blue and white avalanche. His third rush went for a nice gain of 12, but that was pretty much the last solid thing Toussaint did in the half. 
  • Devin Funchess as wide receiver is pretty fun. PSU safety Adrian Amos somehow let Funchess glide right by him. Gardner waited, allowed to step up after Toussaint ushered his man behind Michigan's quarterback. After tossing a brutal INT, Gardner tossed a perfect pass to an admittedly wide open Funchess for a 59-yard score. 
  • None other than Jake Ryan made the stop on PSU's ill-fated 4th down attempt in its own side of the field. Unfortunately, Michigan was not able to capitalize on the error in Bill O'Brien's judgment. 
  • After forcing PSU to punt, Gardner ran Michigan down to the PSU 25. Gardner fumbled (and recovered) on 3rd & 1, and Kyle Kalis jumped on the next play as Michigan tried to go for it on 4th down. 
  • Spreading PSU out and just letting Gardner go was Michigan's best play in the first quarter. Enough with the first down stretch plays, for they are not working. 
  • Gardner's second interception, this time to Anthony Zettel, led to another PSU touchdown on a short field, as Jesse James beat Jarrod Wilson up the seam for a 20-yard score on the drive's first play. 
  • Jehu Chesson had a key drop on 3rd and 8 in the second quarter. 
  • In the pass rush department, Frank Clark tallied what was basically a coverage sack; nonetheless, he made the play. On a second and 8 in the 2nd quarter, Mario Ojemuedia showed some nice burst to close on Hackenberg on the edge, pressuring him before he ultimately threw incomplete. 
  • PSU's Allen Robinson was a non-factor, but tight end Jesse James beat Michigan up in the seams and wide receiver Brandon Felder reeled in two touchdowns as well, the second one on a seemingly completely lost Courtney Avery. 
  • PSU's C.J. Olaniyan had a huge series late in the half, with a key tipped passed destined for Devin Funchess and a strip sack of Gardner a couple of plays later. 
  • Gardner stats: 6/12. 88 yards (59 came on the Funchess touchdown), two interceptions, one fumble, 47 yards rushing. 
  • Toussaint: 11 carries, 6 yards (long of 12). Take away the long gain and Fitz averaged -0.6 yards per carry. 

All in all, it was an utterly brutal half for Devin Gardner. Michigan is providing zero holes for Fitzgerald Toussaint, but, then again, perhaps the Wolverines shouldn't be running on first down. 

Get it out of your mind: Shane Morris is not getting in this game unless Michigan is losing by a lot, 2008-style. 

On the bright side, the Michigan run defense has looked good, so there's that. Penn State managed just 2.2 yards per carry, but short fields and Hackenberg's connection with Felder and James were enough to send PSU into the half up 21-10. 

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