Michigan thumps Delaware State, sets record for most total offense
Michigan could have gone without Graham on Saturday, and for that matter just about every other starter. Leading rushers Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown did not play a snap, and starting quarterback Tate Forcier lasted all of one series, but Michigan still manhandled the FCS bottom-feeding Hornets in record-setting fashion, 63-6. The Wolverines, using mostly second- and third-stringers, scored on their first six offensive possessions and amassed a school-record 727 yards of offense to win a “buy” game against maybe the worst team to visit Michigan Stadium in the modern era of college football. Delaware State earned $550,000 for its appearance, and it chose to forfeit a previously scheduled game against conference rival North Carolina A&T to collect the payday. “Our guys are pretty intelligent,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “They know this is a game they probably should win. I’ve said many times, I-A teams should beat I-AA teams, and that doesn’t always happen. You still have to play and know that they’re going to be fired up to play you.” Denard Robinson saw his most extensive action of the season at quarterback, replacing Forcier on the second series and playing most of the first half. Rodriguez said he planned to use Forcier, who suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to Iowa, for “a few series” Saturday, but changed his mind once Michigan got up 21-0 midway through the first quarter. Robinson accounted for three touchdowns, including the first two of his career passing, and freshman running back Vincent Smith ran for a personal-best 166 yards. Mike Cox also set a career high with 11 carries for 82 yards, and five Wolverines scored their first career touchdowns: Cox, Smith, Kelvin Grady, Martell Webb and Graham, who recovered a blocked punt for a score midway through the first quarter. “It felt good,” Graham said. “I ain’t scored since my junior year in high school.” Michigan (5-2) led 49-3 at halftime, averaged more than a first down (10.1 yards) every time it ran an offensive play and scored its most points since a 63-13 win over Minnesota in 1992. Delaware State (1-5) had just 57 yards of offense in the first half against Michigan’s first-team defense, and averaged 1 yard per play in the first quarter. The Hornets’ first non-penalty first down came with 1:23 left in the opening half. “Except for moments in the third quarter, they dominated us,” Delaware State coach Al Lavan said. “I was not shocked, but I was surprised at how much the domination was.” Robinson finished 3-of-4 passing for 85 yards and ran for another 54 yards on six carries. Forcier completed his only two pass attempts for 39 yards before leaving, and Nick Sheridan, David Cone and Jack Kennedy also played quarterback for Michigan. Rodriguez said it was important to get a look at second- and third-stringers to see who might be able to contribute in the final month of the season. Michigan should be healthy when it returns to Big Ten play next week against Penn State. Brown missed his second straight game with post-concussion symptoms and Minor has been nursing a sore ankle all year, but both practiced this week and Minor was available to play. Center David Molk also could play next week after missing his fourth straight game Saturday with a broken foot. “Because we’ve had so many close games, at least four that have gone down to the wire, we have not been able to get our twos on either side a lot of quality reps or a lot of games reps,” Rodriguez said. “Today they played more than our starters, and that is critical. We have to develop more depth with five more games to go.” Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.