- Paul Sherman/Daily
By Alexa Dettelbach, Daily Sports Editor
Published September 1, 2014
It doesn’t take much to make Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner happy.
Against Appalachian State, it was first-year offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier’s presence on the sideline that put a smile on Gardner’s face and was one of the first things the fifth-year senior mentioned after the game.
“With Doug being on the sideline I think it helps with situations because (he was) able to talk to (Gardner) between series and make some adjustments,” said Michigan coach Brady Hoke Saturday.
Hoke later added Monday: “With the whole offense, I think it’s important. I’ve said it before, for Devin, (and) it being their first year together. I think overall, their communication and the communication with everybody else was positive.”
Nussmeier was animated on the sidelines — to the point where Hoke had to pull him back and make sure he didn’t wander onto the middle of the field. His active style contrasts with former offensive coordinator Al Borges, who conducted the offense from the booth. And everyone is adjusting — and benefitting — from the change.
“Having coach Nuss on the sideline was great too, because he got to really sit down and explain on the white board to us and fix it, instead of being up in the press box and talking to us through the headset,” said junior wide receiver Devin Funchess.
Funchess, in particular, benefited from Nussmeier on the field as he exploded for three touchdowns and 95 yards in three quarters of play.
‘NOT TOO BIG’: Both defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and Nussmeier pointed to their respective starting freshmen as poised in their first college football games.
Mason Cole, the first true freshman to start at left tackle in program history, struggled on a couple plays, most notably giving up a sack in the second quarter. But save for a few plays, Cole looked like a seasoned veteran and generated praise from his coaches.
“I thought Mason did a nice job,” Nussmeier said. “Nothing’s too big for him. He’s a young player and we knew going into the game there would be some things that happened, and obviously the one sack that occurred, but its not about the sack, it’s about how you react to it
“I thought he did an outstanding job, very focused very level-headed, (he) played a great football game.”
Meanwhile, prized freshman cornerback Jabrill Peppers played in several defensive series as the nickel corner and also appeared as a punt returner. An ankle injury kept him in the locker room in the second half, but he did enough to impress Mattison.
“It wasn’t too big for (Peppers),” Mattison said. “I was very impressed with that part of it. If you watched him early and pregame and how he acts, and all that, he was just like I thought he’d be. The couple of tackles he made that’s what I thought I would see … He’s going to bring it.”
Peppers ended the game with two tackles and had one punt return for six yards.
ABSENTEES: Everyone can breathe easy, Peppers should be able to play Saturday. Following the game, Hoke said Peppers will be ready, but retracted a bit Monday after he sat out practice Sunday.
“He’s been in here all morning getting treatment (and) he’s working hard to get better,” Hoke said. “I don’t think he’ll be a question mark, I think he’ll be ready to play.”
Sophomore safety Delano Hill, who broke his jaw in camp, is also set to go for Saturday, according to Hoke. He’ll join a young crop of safeties that includes junior Jarrod Wilson and three sophomores in Jeremy Clark, Dymonte Thomas and AJ Pearson.
Meanwhile, offensive lineman Graham Glasgow is returning from his one-game suspension for operating a vehicle while visually impaired. Hoke didn’t give much insight into his plans for introducing Glasgow back into the line rotation repeating, “we have a plan.”
Glasgow is also glaringly absent from the depth chart, but a week of work in practice could shuffle things around.