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Doug Nussmeier's presence on sideline aiding offense

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The presence of Doug Nussmeier on the Michigan sidelines has been paying dividends... so far.

Leon Halip

The biggest change that the Michigan offense might not be its new scheme after all. It could be where its personnel are located on the field.

Something, by all accounts, the players and head coach are taking notice of.

When Doug Nussmeier was hired as Michigan's offensive coordinator, it wasn't clear whether he is going to call the shots from the field or up in the box like Al Borges did. When word came out that Nussmeier was planning to be on the field so he could be able to coach his players on the sideline, it was a big deal.

Big enough for it to be paying dividends going through the first week of the season.

"(Nussmeier) is with the whole offense and I think it's important," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said during his Monday press conference. "I've said this before, but it's important for Devin (Gardner) for their first year together. Now if they had been together maybe three or four years and if Nuss was comfortable going up there we would've done that.

"I think overall, their communication and the communication overall was positive."


The communication certainly seemed to be in synch on Saturday. As senior quarterback Devin Gardner led his team to a 52-14 thumping of Appalachian State on Saturday. One of the more efficient games of his career, Gardner only threw one incompletion.

"Personally, it was great having him on the sidelines," Gardner said. "I was just excited to finally get a chance to get tackled. I never thought I'd say that."

Junior wide receiver Devin Funchess, who also benefitted from Gardner's pinpoint accuracy throughout the game, also made a statement in the first half. By securing three touchdown grabs in the first half, he was the first receiver in Michigan history to do so in a season opener. Whether or not having Nussmeier on the field is a direct correlation remains to be unseen, but his ability to be able to coach his players face-to-face is appreciated.

"Having Coach Nuss on the sidelines with us was great," Funchess said. "He got to sit down and explain things on a whiteboard to us if we needed to fix it instead of him up in the pressbox talking to him on a headset. I like that approach he had on the sidelines."

With the season just starting a simple location change of an offensive coordinator is not something that will fix the woes of a season ago, though it certainly helps. Nussmeier and the Michigan offense have a major test Saturday when it travels to South Bend to face Notre Dame under the lights.

For now, Nussmeier will focus his attention on the field instead.

"One of the biggest things when you're down on the field is that you get a much better feel for the players and their state of mind," Nussmeier said. "You can look them right in the eyes and get a feel for where you think you're at from a mental standpoint. One of the things you do lose is that you don't get the visual effects you can see from upstairs. It is important."

The next important step is going out on Saturday to prove this impressive offensive showing is for real.

Notre Dame and Michigan will square off on Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m. on NBC.

To contact Joshua Henschke: JoshuaHenschke@gmail.com or @JoshuaHenschke on Twitter.