Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Outside Robinson, Wolverines struggling to rush ball

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Denard Robinson didn’t disqualify Fitzgerald Toussaint’s performance, despite the fact that Toussaint ran for only 19 yards on 17 carries.

“He got two touchdowns!” Michigan’s quarterback said when asked about Toussaint’s performance. “If that’s not a good day, then I don’t know what is. But he played well and the offense played well. They kind of keyed on him a little more because last year, he had a breakout game.”

A year ago, Toussaint finished with 170 yards and two touchdowns against the Boilermakers.

But Saturday, Toussaint’s final stats were a microcosm of his team’s output on the run in a 44-13 win at Purdue.

Outside of Robinson’s 235 yards on 24 carries, the Wolverines finished with 69 yards on 30 carries — 23 yards more than Purdue’s rushing totals.

And outside of Robinson’s prolific performance — he set the Big Ten career rushing record of 3,905 yards for quarterbacks against the Boilermakers — the Wolverines have struggled to create momentum on the run.

Because there always seems to be room for improvement, Michigan coach Brady Hoke took exception to the performance of his team’s ground game.

“Am I happy with it?” Hoke asked, rhetorically. “No. I still think we’re playing with tackle runs. At the end, when [Thomas] Rawls came in and we got a little bit of conventional offense under center and those things, I think we ran the ball pretty downhill. But I still think we’re not getting vertical enough.”

ROTATING QBS: Purdue started Caleb TurBush at quarterback, but in an attempt to kick-start its offense, inserted Robert Marve in the third quarter.

Marve, who has sat out Purdue’s last three games after suffering ACL injury Sept. 8 in a loss at Notre Dame, seemed to spark the Boilermakers.

With his team trailing 31-10 with less than three minutes left in the third, Marve steered the Boilermakers to Michigan’s 19-yard line in 13 plays, including a nifty hook-and-ladder on second-and-13 from Purdue’s 20.

The Boilermakers, however, had to settle for Paul Griggs’ second field goal.

Marve finished with three carries for one yard and was 5 of 8 passing for 43 yards before he was replaced by Rob Henry in the fourth quarter.

TerBush finished 16 of 25 for 105 yards and a touchdown and was intercepted once. Henry finished 2 for 2 for nine yards.

FASHION PLATE? Clay graduate Jordan Kovacs had one tackle and needs three more for 300 career tackles with the Wolverines. However, Kovacs sported a brace on his right knee Saturday afternoon, and while he acknowledged after the game that he wore the brace, he wouldn’t elaborate on its purpose or any sort of injury.

“It’s a new style,” Kovacs said, grinning.

Kovacs sat out last year’s game against Purdue because of a knee injury.

Kenny Demens, Jake Ryan, and Desmond Morgan each had six tackles to lead the Wolverines defense.

Ryan also added a sack, smothering TerBush on the first play of Purdue’s second drive of the game.

FOR KICKS: Michigan’s Will Hagerup didn’t boot his first punt until the second half, and his only kick went for 57 yards. Backup Matt Wile punted once for 27 yards.

BYE-BYE TO THE BYE: With the win at Purdue, Michigan is now 9-1 in its last 10 games after the bye week. The Wolverines host Illinois at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

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