Michigan wide receiver Jeremy Gallon (21), here cutting away from Indiana linebacker Forisse Hardin (4), set a single-game receiving record with 369 yards on 14 receptions in Saturday's victory over Indiana. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)
Ann Arbor — Michigan has nearly two weeks to prepare for rival Michigan State in what will be an important Legends Division game in East Lansing.
And Michigan coach Brady Hoke, based on his team’s performance Saturday in a 63-47 victory over Indiana that returned the Wolverines to the Associated Press poll (No. 24), has a good idea what he wants his team to look like by then.
The Wolverines are 6-1, 2-1 in the Big Ten and off Saturday before a tough five-game stretch that begins Nov. 2 at Michigan State, which is ranked first nationally in total defense.
“I’d like to see the same offense show up, but maybe a different defense,” Hoke said after the Indiana game. “We’ve got work do to, there’s no question about it. We’ve got to clean some things up.”
Michigan gained a gaudy school-record 751 yards of offense and had seven rushing touchdowns against one of the Big Ten’s worst defenses. Quarterback Devin Gardner set a single-game school record for total offense with 584 yards. He was 21-of-29 passing for 503 yards and two touchdowns. Gardner accounted for five touchdowns.
Receiver Jeremy Gallon, meanwhile, set a single-game receiving record with 369 yards on 14 receptions. He had both of Michigan’s receiving touchdowns. Tailback Fitz Toussaint had four rushing touchdowns, including a 27-yarder for the Wolverines’ final score. That touchdown culminated an 83-yard, six-play drive. Toussaint had 32 carries for 151 yards.
So what could be so distressing about that?
Lots of records, lots of points, and there’s certainly no reason for the Wolverines to not feel pretty good about their offensive performance. After all, they decimated a defense they should have decimated.
But Hoke, who still thinks of himself as a defensive line coach, could not find much enticing about the Michigan defense, which needed two interceptions from Thomas Gordon in the final eight minutes to secure the victory.
Indiana, which entered the game as the Big Ten’s most prolific passing offense, had 572 yards, including 410 passing. Three of the Hoosiers’ touchdowns came on pass plays of 59, 33 and 67 yards.
As expected, watching the Hoosiers gain that amount of passing yards was frustrating.
“Sick feeling,” Hoke said. “We’ve got to play better. You don’t win championships without playing defense, and we didn’t play very good defense.
“We knew we needed a couple stops at the end defensively. We were fortunate enough. But offensively, obviously, we were pretty much in sync. Devin found the guys who were open. Ran the ball better. We’ll look at the film and see why we ran the ball better. That was a big part of it. We needed to complement each other. The stops at the end helped complement the offense. The offense kept moving and bailing us out defensively.”
That hasn’t been the norm this season. The defense has made important stops throughout the season to preserve victories, but with an offense that has sputtered mainly because of turnovers and an inability to run the ball, it has had to come through on more than one occasion.
But giving up the big play — the Wolverines yielded six plays of 20-yards or more, including a 20-yard run by Tevin Coleman and five pass plays — is something that must be cleaned up as Michigan readies for the final five-game stretch.
“Our defense has played way more consistently than our offense has, and it was nice to have their back on this one,” said senior left tackle Taylor Lewan.