ANN ARBOR — Despite the announcement of a pregame suspension, Michigan’s defense didn’t seem to have any deficiencies throughout the course of Saturday’s 59-9 win against Central Michigan.
Granted, UM’s offense had the ball for 68 plays and nearly 35 minutes — and granted, the Wolverines faced a Mid-American Conference opponent — but Michigan’s young defense seemingly held its own.
UM’s defense sacked Chippewas quarterback Alex Niznak four times, and linebacker Desmond Morgan and cornerback Channing Stribling combined to lead the Wolverines with 12 tackles.
Still, the defense didn’t leave the field completely satisfied.
“It’s the first day, and you look at it and everyone made mistakes,” said defensive back Raymon Taylor, who had four tackles. “We didn’t have a great game. I know their team didn’t have a great game. It’s the first week, and I don’t think a team in the nation thought they were going to play a perfect game.”
Michigan announced the suspension of Thomas Gordon, a fifth-year senior, less than two and a half hours prior to its season opener against the Chippewas. Redshirt junior Josh Furman started in Gordon’s absence.
Gordon was expected not only to start for the Wolverines but to help in the maturation of Michigan’s young secondary, which opened the season after the graduation of Jordan Kovacs at safety and J.T. Floyd at cornerback.
In addition to Gordon, free safety Courtney Avery missed Saturday’s game after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last weekend, leaving only two starters with significant game experience — Taylor and cornerback Blake Countess. Even then, Countess missed almost all of last season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL.
YOUNG ONES: Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith combined for 55 yards in one third-quarter drive for Michigan, capped off by Green’s first collegiate touchdown. Green and Smith were two of a handful of freshmen or redshirt freshmen who got game experience in the rout, including freshman quarterback Shane Morris and redshirt freshman running back Drake Johnson, who left the game with what Michigan radio announcers said was a sprained left knee.
Johnson had two carries for nine yards, and Morris relieved Gardner late in the third quarter and finished 4 for 6 passing for 59 yards and was intercepted once.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said that of the 68 players who traveled to the team hotel Friday night, 36 were either freshmen or second-year players.
“They’ve got one game under their belt, and that helps their confidence each game they play,” Taylor said. “That’s a good thing that we got a lot of guys in, to know how the game feels and what’s going on. It’s different than practice.”
NFL CUTS: NFL teams trimmed their rosters to 53 players Saturday, and Jordan Kovacs learned what his next career move will be.
In a text message to the Blade, the Clay High and UM graduate said he expects to be signed to the Miami Dolphins' practice squad after he clears waivers.
"Very good situation, and they think I'll be on the active roster soon," Kovacs wrote.
Kovacs, a safety, signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in April. He was a captain at Michigan who began with the Wolverines as a walk-on and was one of five players from Michigan’s senior class from 2012 in preseason training camp.
Kenny Demens made the 53-man roster for Arizona, according to ArizonaCardinals.com, but could be cut if the Cardinals claim someone off waivers. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the Bengals cut receiver Roy Roundtree, while NFL.com reported that San Francisco cut offensive lineman Patrick Omameh, New Orleans cut offensive lineman Elliott Mealer, and Carolina cut defensive end Craig Roh.