Michigan football: The good, the bad, the ugly

Ruby Wallau/Daily
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By Alexa Dettelbach, Daily Sports Editor
and Max Cohen, Daily Sports Editor
Published September 1, 2014

Each week, the Daily football beat will pick out the good, the bad and the ugly from Saturday’s game. This week, Michigan routed Appalachian State, 52-14, a redemption game from 2007’s upset loss.

The Good: After an offseason full of questions about Michigan’s offensive line, the unit responded in the season opener, creating holes that allowed Wolverines’ rushers to gain 350 yards on the ground. The much-maligned unit allowed just one sack of fifth-year senior quarterback Devin Gardner, who completed 13 of 14 pass attempts for 173 yards and three touchdowns.

Junior wide receiver Devin Funchess was unstoppable in the first half, catching seven passes for 95 yards and three touchdowns. Appalachian State had little answer for Funchess’ size and it showed. Wherever Gardner threw the ball, Funchess caught it, defenders be damned.

Defensively, Michigan shut down the Mountaineers, allowing just 127 passing yards. Appalachian State failed to string together enough offensive possessions to give it a fighting chance.

Even the Wolverine special teams got involved in the scoring when redshirt freshman linebacker Mike McCray blocked a punt which sophomore linebacker Ben Gedeon returned for a touchdown.

The Bad: Michigan coach Brady Hoke was disappointed by the lack of playmaking by his defense. The Wolverines recorded only one sack and forced zero turnovers. Though the lack of big plays on defense was inconsequential because of the margin of Michigan’s victory, the Wolverines will need more out of their defense in future games.

Another cause for concern was the ankle injury freshman cornerback Jabrill Peppers suffered in the first half. Peppers made two tackles in his Michigan debut and returned one punt for six yards, but didn’t come out of the locker room for the second half.

Peppers showed a hint of his elusiveness on the punt return, but Wolverine fans wouldn’t get to see any more of the prized prospect. Hoke said the removal from the game was strictly precautionary and he fully expects Peppers to play against Notre Dame.

The Ugly: After a strong afternoon behind center for Gardner, Shane Morris took the reins for the last series in the third quarter. But it was ugly for the sophomore.

On his second pass of the 2014 season, Morris dropped back after a play-action and threw down the right sideline for sophomore wide receiver Amara Darboh. But Morris had locked down on the receiver, and the Mountaineers’ Dante Blackmon keyed in and grabbed the interception on the three-yard line.

Morris took the field for just one more series, a seven-minute drive that stalled on the one-yard line and resulted in an 18-yard field goal. The second-string quarterback has garnered offseason praise from his coaches, but he looked less than promising against Appalachian State’s backups.

Morris finished the game 3-for-5 with 37 yards and the pick.