Kick returners are solid, Devin Gardner update, Michigan football team injury news and more
Coaches elevated Jeremy Gallon to the first spot on the depth chart at kick returner, but Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez cautioned not to read too much into the move.
He said switch was made largely because Darryl Stonum, the incumbent, tweaked a hamstring before the Michigan State game that was slow to heal.
“He’s better with that now,” Rodriguez said at his weekly press conference on Monday, “but we’ve been pleased with Jeremy Gallon back there as well.”
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On the season, Stonum averages 20.5 yards per return on 17 tries with a long run of 30 yards. Gallon has returned 10 kickoffs for a 20.9 yards-per-return average. His season-long went for 27 yards.
Sore back limits quarterback Freshman quarterback Devin Gardner debuted against UConn in the season opener, saw limited action against UMass and completed seven of 10 passes against Bowling Green. He hasn’t been heard from since.
Rodriguez said Monday that Gardner has been limited by a sore back, and that the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Inkster native’s snaps with the first team have diminished because of the lingering soreness.
Gardner might be a candidate for a medical redshirt, but Rodriguez downplayed that possibility Monday. “I don’t know,” he said. “It kind of comes and goes with him.”
Rodriguez said he’d like to work Gardner back into the regular rotation to keep three quarterbacks ready at all times. Other than the injury, he’s pleased with the freshman’s progress
Injury report Rodriguez said all the Wolverines nursing injuries - David Molk (ankle), Mike Martin (ankle), Michael Shaw (knee) and Fitzgerald Toussaint (shoulder) - are healthy entering Saturday's game at Penn State (8 p.m,. ESPN).
Quotable Asked what he’ll be doing at 83, the age of Penn State coach Joe Paterno, Rodriguez said, “I hope I’m still on this side of the earth. I won’t be coaching.”
Look at middle linebacker Kenny Demens and Obi Ezeh are listed as co-starters on the team’s depth chart, but Rodriguez was upbeat about Demens’ performance as the starter against Iowa, in which he recorded eight tackles.
“Kenny Demens is a great athlete, and I think he’s doing great with the opportunities he’s gotten,” teammate Craig Roh said.
Demens leads the team with seven special-teams tackles this season.
Extra points The Wolverines, winners of two Big Ten road games over the past two-and-a-half seasons, open as three-point favorites against Penn State for Saturday’s game at Happy Valley.
Pete Bigelow covers Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.