Gardner-to-Funchess leads Michigan in rout of Appalachian State
Aug 30, 2014 at 3:33p ET
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- At the race track, 98-to-1 means a horse more suited to pulling a carriage than winning races.
At Michigan Stadium, 98-to-1 is probably the best bet in the building.
Devin Gardner, wearing Tom Harmon's Legends jersey, and Devin Funchess, now sporting the No. 1 made famous by Anthony Carter and Braylon Edwards, teamed up for three first-half touchdowns as Michigan exorcised some ghosts with a 52-14 rout of Appalachian State.
Funchess, wearing his third number as a Wolverine and playing his second position, became the first Michigan wide receiver to catch three touchdown passes in a season opener. The scary thing for the teams that still have to play the Wolverines is that the two Devins didn't even have to work hard to do it.
"The game plan was to get the ball to Devin because we knew they didn't have anyone who could match up with him," Gardner said. "He runs a 4.3 40, he's 6-foot-5 and he weighs 240 pounds. I know I certainly wouldn't want to try to cover him."
Funchess started his career as a tight end wearing No. 19 and then was granted Ron Kramer's No. 87 Legends jersey before his sophomore season. He was entitled to keep that number for the rest of his career, but after a lot of thought and a consultation with Kramer's family, he decided to switch to the iconic number for wide receivers at the Big House.
"Devin came to me and said that he wanted to change to No. 1 because he thought a tight end should be wearing 87, and since he's going to be a wide receiver this year, he wanted to switch," coach Brady Hoke said. "Ron Kramer might be the best player who has ever played here, or at least the best athlete, so I wanted to make sure his family was OK with it. Devin talked to his son, and they gave him the go-ahead."
That still wasn't good enough for Hoke, who quizzed Funchess on the history of No. 1 at Michigan. The junior, though, was already prepared.
"When I first thought about this, I started watching films of all the guys who wore that number," he said. "I started with Anthony Carter because he's the one who made it famous and then I watched Tyrone Butterfield, David Terrell and Braylon. So when Coach asked, I was ready."
The decision wasn't announced until shortly before the team took the field for warmups, and Funchess didn't take long to show that he deserved the jersey. He caught touchdown passes on Michigan's first two drives of the game, and added his third score late in the second quarter. He led the Wolverines with 95 yards receiving, despite spending most of the second half on the sidelines as Michigan pulled away.
Sophomore running backs De'Veon Smith and Derrick Green were enjoying the second half just as much as Funchess. After a string of seasons where Michigan's patented running game has struggled badly, Smith and Green showed a sliver of light. The duo combined for 285 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries, a tidy average of 12.4 yards per carry for a backfield that struggled to get positive yards in some games last season.
"There was a lot of laughing and giggling on the sidelines because we know that the offensive line is so much better this season, and we're going to have those holes," said Smith, whose 61-yard run was a yard shorter than Green's best of the day. "We were giving each other a hard time because we both busted those big runs, but we didn't get either one of them into the end zone. We can't let guys run us down like that."
As for beating the Mountaineers, seven years after the biggest upset in Michigan history ... the Wolverines weren't really all that worried about it.
"We watched some film of the game in 2007, but not a lot," linebacker Desmond Morgan said. "But those were two different teams, so we weren't going to learn anything. We're thinking more about 2014 and Team 135."