Michigan's last year of football has been up and down. Mostly down. But the Wolverines came out and won big against Appalachian State thanks to an early serving of the two Devins and then a nice showing from the sophomore running back tandem of Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith.
Devin Gardner might miss having Jeremy Gallon as a safety blanket, but it didn't show as he and Devin Funchess picked up right where Gardner-Gallon left off last year. In the first quarter Gardner was six of six passing with four of those throws going to Funchess for a total of 72 yards and two touchdowns. The two would add another touchdown in the second quarter to put Michigan up 21-0.
From there, the Wolverines took to the ground and worked hard to establish the new inside zone rushing offense. To that end, Green and Smith rebounded from a bit of a slow start and both broke big runs. Green finished the game with 15 carries for 170 yards and one touchdown while Smith added 8 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Both backs had runs of 60+ yards. Against a pretty good App State front seven the offensive line flashed a bit of promise, although there is still plenty of work to do.
Defensively, Michigan stoned the Mountaineers through the first half before giving up a couple scores that were purely academic late. However, Michigan did not force a turnover in the game. Freshman Jabrill Peppers left the game early with an undisclosed injury that is most likely a tweaked ankle from a block he took early.
Even the special teams unit got in on the action with a tipped punt that was returned for a touchdown by Ben Gedeon.
While App State isn't a strong team, the signs of progress on offense were there today, and the defense certainly looked more aggressive. Overall it was a good way for Michigan to kick off the season, and if Michigan can keep improving its rushing offense, this team could be very dangerous.
Next week's game against Notre Dame will give Michigan its first chance to make a statement this year.