Looking to start the 2014 season on the right foot, the Michigan Wolverines opened up their season by hosting the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Former tight end turned wide receiver Devin Funchess debuted a new uniform number, number 1 in honor of former great Michigan wide receivers like Anthony Carter, David Terrell, and Braylon Edwards. Funchess went right to work on Michigan’s first drive.
After the defense forced a 3-and-out, new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier‘s offense started their day off with a screen pass by Devin Gardner to Funchess. After finding Jehu Chesson for 19 yards on 3rd and 10, Gardner lobbed to Funchess in the end zone for the touchdown to complete the 9-play 63-yard drive and go up 7-0.
After another defensive stop, Gardner led Michigan back on the offensive. Gardner started off with another pass to Funchess and after a few good runs by sophomore De’Veon Smith, Gardner escaped pressure and threw a beautiful ball to Funchess and then the new number 1 stiff armed the App State corner and walked in to the end zone for another touchdown. Matt Wile kicked the extra point through and Michigan had a 14-0 lead thanks to their two Devin’s, Gardner and Funchess.
In the process, Gardner passed Tom Brady for 8th in Michigan history for touchdowns and yards. Michigan led 14-0 after one quarter of play.
Michigan was a little sluggish in the 2nd quarter, Gardner missed a wide open Funchess on 3rd down and then Wile followed with a 48-yard missed field goal. However, late in the 2nd quarter, the Wolverines got back in to a groove. Sophomore back Derrick Green went 59 yards on the first play of the drive and then three plays later, Gardner once again found Funchess in the end zone. Funchess caught it while he was double-covered and just reached over the Mountaineer defenders, got his one foot down before falling out of the end zone, and it was signaled a touchdown.
On the following drive, Smith accounted for all 73 yards of the Michigan drive. He gashed the App State defense for 61 yards and then followed with a 12-yard touchdown run to give Michigan a 28-0 lead. Then on defense, Mike McCray II blocked the App State punt, it was scooped up by Ben Gedeon, and Gedeon returned it 29 yards for a touchdown. Michigan led 35-0 at the half and would cruise the rest of the way.
Green and Smith would both have big gains and both would score touchdowns in the 2nd half. Smith and Green became the first pair of Michigan backs to rush for 100+ yards in the same game since Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor in 2007 against Minnesota.
Michigan went in on to win 52-14 with Gardner 13/14 for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns with all 3 scores to Funchess. Funchess had 7 receptions for 95 yards and the 3 scores. Green had 15 carries and 170 yards and a score and Smith had 8 carries for 115 yards and 2 scores.
The Michigan offense looked much improved and the difference could be felt with Nussmeier at the helm rather than Al Borges. The running game roared to life with 350 rushing yards, a year after they averaged close to 125 per game last season. Time will tell if this team has improved. A big game next week.
Up next on the docket: a road game at Notre Dame.