Saturday night was a complete 180 for the Michigan Wolverines from what Michigan fans have known since Lloyd Carr retired. Before the game, quarterback Devin Gardner was bestowed the honor of wearing Tom Harmon’s retired No. 98 jersey. Not for one night. For the remainder of his career. It was indicative of a night that emphasized the identity shift Al Borges’ Michigan offense has undergone since they last played Notre Dame.
When Harmon became the first Heisman Trophy winner in Michigan history, the forward pass was still in its nascent years. The zone-read offense left behind by Rich Rodriguez required quarterbacks to move the chains with their feet. During that time Denard Robinson put up the type of passing numbers you expected to see 50 years ago from collegiate passers.
Borges' offense was as odd to see as as Eminem in ESPN's broadcasting booth.
At 6-4, 210, even though he probably feels like he's 6-8 after handily whooping up on Notre Dame's vaunted defense, he's built to take the punishment running the football that Denard Robinson couldn't withstand at 5-11. Instead, the nation saw a dropback passer who avoided contact and rushed for space to th instead of yardage. Don't be fooled by his 82 rushing yards, Gardner has the wheels to take what the defense gave him.
Gardner was a prize recruit of Rich Rodriguez, but Saturday night was a flash forward for the Michigan offense as the slimmest No. 98 in college football put the vertical passing game on display for the first time since Ryan Mallett was slinging rockets for the maize and blue. It was a complete 180 for the Michigan offense. Following last season’s 13-6 offensive stalemate against Notre Dame, Gardner’s 294 yards and four touchdowns in front of 115, 000 at the Big House, Brady Hoke can safely say that this is his team now.
Gardner made plays with his feet. Michigan was victorious because of his arm. More importantly, he won over the Michigan faithful.
The U Has Been Reawakened
Miami’s big win over No. 9 Florida was a statement win for their program. Not every quarterback gets to become a legend. Despite, a career-high in passing yardage, it was also Jeff Driskel’s rock bottom. Driskel committed three turnovers including the final one deep in Miami territory with the Hurricanes leading 14-9.
Completely unaware of the pass rush, Driskel was sacked from behind and fumbled to give Miami’s offense possession from Florida’s 4-yard line with 5:28 remaining.
We’ll never know how productive Driskel would have been in the zone-read scheme he expected to play when he committed to play for Urban Meyer. Driskel had the potential to be a potent playmaker, but his decision-making is catastrophic. This pretty much encapsulates his self-destructive day throwing the football.
STAY IN YOUR LANE
If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, does it sound like Lane Kiffin’s job circling the drain? On Saturday night, Kiffin established his legacy as the Jeff Driskel of college coaches. The gap between Driskel and Tebow is as capacious as the one between Lane Kiffin and Pete Carroll. USC’s offense mustered only a touchdown in their 10-7 loss to Washington State. USC went from a program led by an extroverted defensive mind who made USC Hollywood’s team to a paranoid offensive sage. USC’s now out of sight and out of mind. Pretty soon Kiffin will be out of a job.
SPEAKING OF HOT SEATS…
Mack Brown has to answer for more than just his embarrassing apathy towards recruiting the most highly-touted freshman since Tim Tebow. He’s got to find a solution to his defective defense. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill scorched the Longhorns porous defense for 259 yards — rushing. His total accounted for less than half of their team’s 550 yards. It was a school record for both the Longhorns defense and the BYU offense. BYU outrushed Oregon by two bills. Take a look out your window, you may see BYU pass by as they run unimpeded for another first down on Texas’ defense.