Defenseless Gophers mauled by Wolverines
By Larry Lage
AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Denard Robinson gave his feet a break and put his arm to work.
Robinson threw for two scores as part of an efficient passing game and ran for a touchdown on a season-low six carries Saturday to lead No. 19 Michigan in a 58-0 win over Minnesota.
The speedy quarterback with a shaky arm was 15 of 19 for 169 yards and didn't throw an interception for the first time since the opener.
"We was clicking," Robinson said.
The rest of the Wolverines (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) were, too, against the overmatched Golden Gophers (1-4, 0-1) in the Legends Division opener for both teams. The Wolverines kept the Little Brown Jug trophy that the teams have played for since 1909.
Michigan had its most lopsided win since beating Indiana by the same score in 2000.
"They are bigger, stronger and faster than we are right now," said Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, who was on the sideline just days after leaving the team seeking more treatment for seizures he's had the past three weeks. "It's just that simple."
Robinson is simply sensational as a runner, but had been lackluster as a passer this season.
Entering the game, he completed 49 percent of his passes and his six interceptions surpassed the total he had in September and October last year.
On Saturday, Robinson showed poise in the pocket and displayed touch on throws. He matched his season high with 11 completions -- in his first 11 attempts -- and avoided forcing passes into coverage for a change. He read a blitz on his second TD pass and connected on a crisp, 18-yard pass to Kevin Koger to make it 38-0 late in the third quarter.
The Wolverines were determined to let running backs take the load off of Robinson on the ground and Minnesota was accommodating.
Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for a career-high 108 yards, freshman Thomas Rawls had 73 yards rushing and Michael Shaw ran for 60.
Smith scored on a 3-yard run to start the scoring barrage, threw a 17-yard toss to Drew Dileo on a halfback pass and caught a 28-yard pass for a score to help Michigan take a 38-0 halftime lead. He become the first major college running back to score on the ground, through the air as a passer and a receiver since Clemson's C.J Spiller in 2009.
Nobody from Minnesota enjoyed the day at the Big House.
Freshman Max Shortell made his first start in place of MarQueis Gray, who missed the game with an injured toe on his left foot.
"We did everything we could to get MarQueis ready to play, but he just wasn't ready," Kill said. "You can't play on one leg."
Shortell was 11 of 22 for 104 yards, got sacked three times and hit after several more snaps, leading to Minnesota going 0 for 11 on third-down conversions.
"Our defense was on the field almost all of the first half," Shortell said. "So we couldn't run a lot of plays because we didn't have the ball."
Michigan 58, Gophers 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 0--0
Michigan 14 24 10 10--58
Mich--Smith 3 run (Gibbons kick), 11:25.
Mich--D.Robinson 9 run (Gibbons kick), 6:00.
Mich--Dileo 17 pass from Smith (Gibbons kick), 14:52.
Mich--Smith 28 pass from D.Robinson (Gibbons kick), 9:38.
Mich--Gibbons 25 FG, 5:07.
Mich--Koger 18 pass from D.Robinson (Gibbons kick), :45.
Mich--Toussaint 1 run (Gibbons kick), 8:18.
Mich--Gibbons 32 FG, 2:04.
Mich--Gibbons 38 FG, 9:17.
Mich--Avery 83 fumble return (Gibbons kick), 4:58.
First downs 8 32
Rushes-yards 25-73 48-363
Passing 104 217
Comp-Att-Int 11-22-0 18-25-0
Return Yards 0 0
Punts-Avg. 10-36.3 2-37.5
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 1-0
Penalties-Yards 9-74 3-24
Time of Possession 23:38 36:22
RUSHING--Minnesota: Cobb 8-54, Bennett 9-33, Kirkwood 3-3, Wright 1-(minus 1), Shortell 4-(minus 16). Michigan: Toussaint 11-108, Rawls 10-73, Shaw 8-60, D.Robinson 6-51, Gardner 6-39, Smith 5-27, Hopkins 1-6, Team 1-(minus 1).
PASSING--Minnesota: Shortell 11-22-0-104. Michigan: D.Robinson 15-19-0-169, Gardner 2-5-0-31, Smith 1-1-0-17.
RECEIVING--Minnesota: McKnight 3-31, Green 2-41, Crawford-Tufts 2-15, McGarry 2-9, Lair 1-5, Goodger 1-3. Michigan: Hemingway 5-56, Gallon 4-46, Koger 3-35, Dileo 2-23, Hopkins 1-28, Smith 1-28, Gardner 1-2, Toussaint 1-(minus 1).