ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- No upset here.
The 2014 version of the Michigan Wolverines made quick work of Appalachian State Saturday, much like the 2007 team was supposed to do seven years prior.
52-14, the final.
No, this isn’t the same Appalachian State team that previously came to Ann Arbor for the season opener against them No. 5 team in the nation with a roster featuring Chad Henne, Mike Hart and Jake Long, but Brady Hoke and his bunch will certainly take it.
“Our football team was ready,” Hoke said afterward. “You could tell how they really prepared the whole week. I think it was important to get on the board. I think it was important for the defense to get on the field first.
“We had talked about our kickoff team going down and setting the tone and at the same time defensively setting a bit of a tone and I think they did that in the first series.”
Michigan established themselves right from the start, the defense coming up with a stop to hand things over to redshirt senior quarterback Devin Gardner and the offense.
The first series for first year offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier set the tone for the rest of the game offensively, capped off by a nine yard touchdown pass from Gardner to junior wide out Devin Funchess.
“Let me look at the stats,” Hoke said afterward. “That’ll tell me everything. He (Funchess) was a presence out there.”
Funchess caught all three of his touchdowns in the first half, finishing his afternoon with seven receptions for 95-yards.
Subject to a great deal of criticism a year ago, the rushing attack was under a microscope Saturday and after a few ineffective runs Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith found daylight.
Green finished the first half with eight carries for 85-yards while Smith carried it six times for 99-yards as the offensive line opened up some big holes.
“We want to run the ball and to have two 100-yard rushers is a good thing,” Hoke said. “We wanted that offensive line to play together. We talked about taking them out a series before the last touchdown but really they hadn’t played as much together.
“Kalis missed some of camp and getting him back in and the combination of him and Joey. Getting Mason as many snaps with a quality guard next to him I think was important and I thought Jack Miller did a really nice job with our offensive line.”
Green finished the day with 15 carries for 170-yards and a touchdown. Smith totaled eight carries for 115-yards and two scores.
Michigan had two running backs over 100-yards each for the first time since Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown did it back in 2007.
Defensively, Michigan neutralized the Appalachian State attack, limiting the Mountaineers ground attack and putting heavy pressure on quarterback Kameron Bryant.
Rotating second stringers in in waves, Michigan looked physical and aggressive especially along the defensive line as Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley both come up with sacks.
Even so, Michigan gave up 280-total yards including 153 on the ground.
“I thought we played hard,” Hoke said. “I was a little concerned in the second half when they had the opportunity they were running the ball on us through the middle of our defense. We’ve got to do a better job there but I thought the kids came out and played hard.
“Disappointing? No turnovers defensively and we only had one sack. They get the ball out of their hands pretty quick and that’s just part of what they do but should’ve been a little better. They had some opportunities, got to make them when they’re there.”
Appalachian State didn’t score until midway through the third quarter on a pretty touchdown catch by Simms McElfresh.
Peppers debuts, leaves game
The debut of Michigan freshman defensive back Jabrill Peppers didn’t go exactly as planned but the 100,000 in attendance were very aware of who No. 5 was.
Starting the game at nickel, Peppers also started the game returning punts as Coach Brady Hoke alluded to leading up to the Appalachian State game.
Peppers limped off the field during a defensive series in the first quarter but would return to the game after.
In the second half, Peppers was nowhere to be found. Brady Hoke offering a brief update after the game.
“He’ll be all right,” Hoke said. “To be honest with you, at halftime just decided not to bring him out for the second half.
“I mean, it’s nothing life injury or anything. He’ll be ready next week.”
Hoke also confirming it is an ankle injury for Peppers.
The freshman finished the game with two tackles and one punt return for six yards.
Special teams scores
Matt Wile’s first start as the full time field goal kicker came back with mixed reviews.
Wile clanged his first attempt off the upright from 48-yards out, though he had plenty of leg on it.
Wile would make up for that in the fourth quarter though, banging through a short 18-yard field goal.
In the second quarter, redshirt freshman Mike McCray got his hand on an Appalachian State punt attempt as fellow sophomore Ben Gedeon picked the blocked punt up, returning it 32-yards for a Michigan touchdown.
“Anytime you can generate points in your special teams, I think there’s some statistics out there you have a 70-percent or 75-percent more chance of winning the football game,” Hoke said. “And one of those is based on blocked punts.”