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Michigan Football: Grading All 22 Starters from the Nebraska Game

Joel GreerCorrespondent IMarch 27, 2015

Michigan Football: Grading All 22 Starters from the Nebraska Game

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    For the second time this season, Michigan lost a football game it could have won. 

    Against Notre Dame, Denard Robinson threw four interceptions and lost a fumble in a disappointing 13-6 loss. 

    Saturday night, Michigan lost a Big Ten game to Nebraska 23-9, but the final score was hardly indicative of how the game played out.

    Robinson was driving the Wolverines toward the go-ahead touchdown when he reinjured his throwing elbow late in the second quarter. Backup quarterback Russell Bellomy was totally ineffective, but surprisingly, Michigan was able to remain in the game until the fourth quarter when Nebraska scored the clinching touchdown.

    Both teams are now tied atop the Legends Division at 3-1, with Northwestern (3-2) and Iowa (2-2) still in the hunt.

    Michigan (5-3, 3-1) plays at Minnesota Saturday, while Nebraska (6-2, 3-1) travels to Michigan State.

    Here's how Michigan graded out in the loss at Lincoln. 

Quarterback

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    Starter

    Denard Robinson played less than a half before reinjuring a nerve in his throwing elbow. It wasn't smooth sailing for Robinson before the injury, but he appeared to be driving Michigan for a go-ahead touchdown just before halftime.

    To that point, Robinson had rushed for 46 yards on 10 carries while completing six of 11 passes for 55 yards. Robinson also hit Roy Roundtree on a gorgeous 50-yard bomb that was ruled complete by the officials on the field, but was overturned in the booth. 

    Grade: Incomplete

     

    Relief

    Russell Bellomy was thrown onto the big stage for the first time in his brief career. He had a tough time picking up the variety of Nebraska blitzes, and his stats showed it. In just over two quarters of work, Bellomy completed three of 16 passes with three interceptions and two sacks. 

    Grade: Incomplete

Running Backs

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    Starters

    Running Back 

    Fitzgerald Toussaint has struggled all season, and Saturday was no different against the stingy Nebraska defense. With 38 yards in 15 carries, one is beginning to wonder if his outstanding 2011 season was a fluke. 

    Grade: C-

     

    Fullback

    Michigan's fullbacks get off the bench when the I-formation is employed. And that's very rare indeed. Joe Kerridge actually made the stat sheet when he caught a 12-yard pass from Russell Bellomy. Preseason starting fullback Stephen Hopkins has missed most of the season with a hamstring injury, but was able to get in a few reps against Nebraska.

    Grade: Incomplete

Receivers

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    Starters

    Wide Receiver:  Devin Gardner was just one of a group of Michigan receivers who were inconsistent all night. Gardner, who caught just one pass for 15 yards, probably would have helped his fellow receivers if he played quarterback instead of Bellomy.

    Grade: C- 


    Wide Receiver: Jeremy Gallon caught two passes for nine yards, ran three times for 17 yards and mishandled a punt. Not much production from one of Michigan's most versatile players.

    Grade: C

     

    Wide Receiver:  Roy Roundtree was on the receiving end of Michigan's longest play of the night, a 32-yard catch in the second quarter. He was almost on the long end of a 50-yard reception, but the official's call was overturned by a review.

    Grade: C+


    Tight End: Mike Kwiatkowski is counted on more for his blocking ability than for his hands. The pass catching tight end is freshman Devin Funchess, who unfortunately wasn't able to make a catch against Nebraska.

    Grade: C  

Offensive Line

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    Starters

    Left Tackle: Taylor Lewan, Grade: B-

    Left Guard: Ricky Barnum, Grade: C+

    Center: Elliott Mealer, Grade: C

    Right Guard: Patrick Omameh, Grade: C+

    Right Tackle: Michael Schofield, Grade: C-

    With three seniors and two juniors, many thought the 2012 offensive line would be improved.

    But the coaching staff moved Mealer to center and Schofield to right tackle. Barnum, who missed most of last season, wound up at left guard.

    Pass protection has been adequate with Robinson under center, but wavered when Bellomy was inserted at quarterback Saturday night. In fairness, Nebraska brought the kitchen sink, daring Bellomy to throw over the top.

    Run blocking has been a disappointment however. Robinson can run effectively without any holes, but Toussaint can't seem to get untracked. 

Defensive Line

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    Starters

    WDE: Brennen Beyer has been locked in a battle for playing time with Frank Clark and Mario Ojemudia. Clark missed Saturday's game due to an undisclosed injury, and Beyer has missed time as well. Even Jake Ryan has spent time playing the weakside end position. Beyer, who may have finally solidified the starting slot, finished the night with four tackles.

    Grade: B-

     

    DT: Jibreel Black started in place of  Will Campbell, but allowed himself to be suckered into a personal foul penalty. Hoke has been trying to add strength to Black, and the junior has built himself up to 279 pounds. Campbell responded by making four tackles.

    Grade: Black, D; Campbell, C

     

    NT: Quinton Washington has held onto the nose tackle spot despite pressure from 5-star recruit Ondre Pipkins. Washington had a pair of tackles and a forced fumble, but needs to do better at pressuring the quarterback. 

    Grade: C+


    SDE: Craig Roh is finally becoming comfortable at the strongside end position. Roh, who moved over from the weakside end, had five tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss. His pressure on the quarterback is much improved, 

    Grade: B+

     


Linebackers

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    Starters

    WILL: Desmond Morgan is now settled in where he left off at the close of 2011. A head injury sidelined the sophomore linebacker for the UMass game, but Morgan has been solid ever since. His nine tackles against Nebraska gave him 53 for the season and 116 for his brief career. 

    Grade: A-

     

    MIKE: Kenny Demens had a brief scare early in the season when freshman Joe Bolden encroached on his playing time. The competition must have affected Demens in a positive way since he's been playing the best football of his career. 

    Demens had a team-leading 10 tackles against the Cornhuskers, giving him 48 for the season.

    Grade: A-

     

    SAM: Jake Ryan has been the defensive unit's crowd favorite ever since he intercepted a pass in the 2010 spring game. Normally, he earns their support, but his play Saturday didn't exactly fire up YouTube.  

    Grade: B-

Secondary

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    Starters

    CB: Ramon Taylor, Grade: B+

    CB: J.T. Floyd: Grade: C+ 

    FS: Thomas Gordon, Grade: B

    SS:  Jordan Kovacs, Grade: C+

    Other than a couple of drives, the secondary was better than average. Michigan played a lot of zone, and on occasion, the Wolverines looked a step slow. That might have been caused by the officials, who were flag-happy when it came to contact. J.T. Floyd was given very little slack on at least one occasion.  

    Thomas Gordon made a few nice plays in run support, but like Jordan Kovacs, was caught napping in coverage. Raymon Taylor seems to get better every week, while Courtney Avery played very little at nickel. 

Making an Impression

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    Brendan Gibbons: For the second consecutive week, Brendan Gibbons kicked a trio of field goals. Against Nebraska, he split the uprights from 52 yards out, a career-best.

    Gibbons, a redshirt junior, has connected on 13 of 15 for the season. His only misses have come from 43 and 44 yards. 

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