Grade the Wolverines: Rate Michigan's performance against Illinois
Michigan seemed to be marching up and down the field at will until late in the first half, when three straight drives into the red zone petered out (turnover on downs, interception, missed field goal). Things were clunky after that, but Fitz Toussaint finished with 192 yards and a touchdown, Denard Robinson ran for two scores before leaving the game with an injury and Devin Gardner threw a touchdown pass to Martavious Odoms.
Illinois didn’t pick up a first down until three minutes into the second quarter, didn’t reach Michigan territory until the final minutes of the third quarter and averaged just 1.1 yards on 33 rushing attempts. Ryan Van Bergen had four of Michigan’s eight tackles-for-loss and Mike Martin was strong up front, making nine tackles. J.T. Floyd played well against Illinois’ A.J. Jenkins, including an interception he returned for 43 yards.
Brendan Gibbons split a pair of field goal attempts and was 4-for-4 on PAT kicks. Will Hagerup punted four times for a 34.3-yard average, Matt Wile had touchbacks on five of his six kickoffs and Jeremy Gallon averaged 15.5 yards on four punt returns, including a long of 32 yards. Illinois had a total of 22 return yards on three attempts (1 kickoff, 2 punts).
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison must get a nod here. With many of the same players on both sides of the ball last year, Illinois racked up 561 yards of offense and 65 points against the Wolverines. This year, the Illini were limited to 214 yards - most of those coming after the game was in hand. Offensively, there was more questionable goal-line play calling, which has become a trend over the past four games.
The Wolverines are 8-2 and their defense is statistically among the best in the nation. Not many prognosticators were making those predictions in the pre-season.