Junior running back Vincent Smith says the Michigan football team calls the formation ‘Two,’ for the two quarterbacks involved. The Wolverines can call it whatever they want — opposing defensive coordinators will likely just call it scary.

The formation consists of sophomore quarterback Devin Gardner lined up under center with junior quarterback Denard Robinson lined up a few yards back, off center. Two running backs fill in the rest of the backfield to make a diamond.

The 12th-ranked Wolverines used the formation sparingly throughout the game, but to great effect. Once, Robinson took a handoff and ran the option. Another time, Robinson cut to the right, while redshirt sophomore Fitz Toussaint took a pitch to the left. Perhaps the most interesting play came when Gardner handed off to Robinson, who threw the ball back to Gardner behind the line of scrimmage. Gardner looked to throw down field but couldn’t find anybody open, so he scrambled.

“I wouldn’t know what to do with that,” said fifth-year senior defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen. “It looked like the Mad Magicians (Michigan’s 1947 national championship team), it was ridiculous. I hadn’t seen any of those plays either.

“I know they were repping them with the scout team but they never showed them to us as ones. We were excited when they showed us the formation, we just didn’t know what was coming.”

Obviously, the coaches did. Michigan coach Brady Hoke said use of the package depends on the flow of the game, and even though the formation was unveiled on the second play Saturday, there already “was good flow.” Maybe that flow started in the hotel before the game. Senior tight end Kevin Koger said the coaching staff told the offense what the first three plays of the game were going to be.

Unveiling the package gives teams time to prepare for the counter plays, double passes and option runs that Michigan (1-0 Big Ten, 5-0 overall) showed against Minnesota. But defenses can’t prepare for what they haven’t seen.

“We haven’t done anything with that yet,” Robinson said. “It’s going to be kind of fun when we do.”

YOU (ROAD) TRIPPIN’: When the Michigan football team plays Northwestern in Evanston on Saturday, Hoke won’t exactly be on the road again. Nearly halfway through his first year as head coach, Hoke hasn’t taken the Wolverines on the road yet. And even though the team stays at the Campus Inn in Ann Arbor the night before home games, this will be a little different.

For a team that has answered many questions in the opening five games, Michigan hasn’t yet answered one big question — whether it can perform on a road trip.

“I don’t know if it’s different or not,” Hoke said. “We’ll find out just the demeanor that we travel with. … They’re out of the security of the Campus Inn. There’s a lot of familiarity there with a lot of the guys, especially with the guys who have played a lot of football here. There’s a lot of distractions out there you may not have when you’re here.”

Saturday will ease the Wolverines into a road atmosphere before playing Michigan State in Spartan Stadium the following week. With a large Michigan alumni base in Chicago, many of the fans at Ryan Field will be sporting maize and blue anyway.

But whenever the Wolverines face a hostile crowd that produces a lot of noise, there won’t be much adjustment needed on offense.

“We’ve never really had a problem in that part of it,” Hoke said. “It hasn’t been previously, and (offensive coordinator) Al (Borges), he doesn’t do a lot with it. We’ve got silent counts and everything else that we already use so it’s not as big as an issue.”

STEPHEN TO THE PLATE: After redshirt senior fullback John McColgan was held out against the Minnesota due to injury, sophomore running back Stephen Hopkins became sophomore fullback Stephen Hopkins.

Hopkins had played fullback sparingly in the first four games, but saw his first extended time in the spot on Saturday.

“I thought he did a pretty good job,” Hoke said. “I think when you get in the split backs a little bit, having that ability with a guy that can run and he’s not afraid to block, that’s always been a part of what Al likes to do.”

With his main job opening up holes for the running backs, Hopkins had just one carry for six yards. Still, that’s one more than McColgan has had in his whole career, and Hopkins also had a 28-yard reception.

Hoke said McColgan should be ready to play against the Wildcats.

INJURY NOTES: In addition to McColgan, the biggest name left off the dress list was redshirt junior left guard Ricky Barnum, whose leg was rolled up on during the San Diego State game. On Monday, his status for Northwestern was still uncertain.

“It will kind of be a daily deal,” Hoke said.

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Cam Gordon, who hasn’t played this season due to a back injury, dressed on Saturday but didn’t play. Hoke was concerned with his conditioning in previous weeks, but redshirt freshman Jake Ryan has taken over Gordon’s starting spot and has played well.

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