Michigan Football: Key Players for the Wolverines vs. Purdue

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistOctober 4, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22: Davonte' Neal #19 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish encourages the crowd before a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Michigan 13-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Despite having one of the most prestigious collegiate histories in the entire nation, Michigan’s 2012 season hasn’t gotten off to the start that those from within the university’s fraternity will have wanted it to.

In short, Saturday’s game against the Purdue Boilermakers is the definition of a must-win game for Michigan, and Brady Hoke, in their search for Big Ten dominance.

Purdue may have been considered an off-radar side heading into this season, but have quickly established themselves as nothing to be trifled with—narrowly losing to Notre Dame on their way to a 3-1 record.

With that in mind, there are those in the Michigan roster that must stand up and be accounted for on Saturday lest the visitors walk away from West Lafayette empty-handed.

Fitzgerald Toussaint

After serving a suspension for drink driving early on in the season, Fitzgerald Toussaint has taken no time in getting back to grips with playing amongst the Wolverines roster.

The running back missed only the first week of play but came back in a big way in Week 2, becoming Michigan’s leading rusher.

The Boilermakers have had a stern rush defence so far this season but have succeeded mostly against weaker sides. However, a talent such as Toussaint should find luck against Michigan’s Big Ten combatants.

Devin Gardner

Having scored a touchdown in three of four games so far this season, Devin Gardner is in amongst a rare group of players developing a sort of consistency others fail to achieve.

The 21-year-old has only moved to wide-receiver this season, but is thriving in his new stomping ground and could have an even easier time finding yardage against Purdue.

Gardner failed to score in his last fixture against Notre Dame, and while three catches for 40 yards isn’t magnificent by any means, he could bounce back in a major way this weekend.

Elliott Mealer

A fifth-year senior, only now is Elliott Mealer receiving the kind of attention that he would have appreciated earlier in his collegiate career.

The 308 pounds, 6’5” bruiser was training in preseason to earn a start at left guard, but winded up showcasing enough talent to become his team’s leading center.

As long as Michigan’s attack can fulfil its potential, they’ll get points on the board. They will need Mealer, whose started the last four games at center, to perform to his optimum to do this though.

Denard Robinson

How could Denard Robinson be looked upon as anything other than a key player heading into this fixture?

The Wolverines’ quarterback has thrown more interceptions than he has TDs this season and would appear to relinquishing any hopes he may have had at claiming this year’s Heisman trophy.

Robinson’s side are currently 2-2 but could easily pick up a win in West Lafayette if their QB is in good enough form to lead them there.

Not to pin too much responsibility on the 22-year-old senior, but it’s time to prove whether he can genuinely contend with the best talents in the country or if it was all billed up to nothing.


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