The Michigan Wolverines kept it interesting for a while during their season finale against Ohio State, but eventually fell apart and dropped to the Buckeyes 42-28. Unfortunately, the Wolverines finish the regular season one game short of clinching a bowl berth, so fans and faithful will be waiting until the spring game to see the maize and blue back on the field. Michigan surprised some viewers Saturday with its performance, and TBHR would like to recognize a few individuals with a game ball.
Game Ball: Devin Gardner – Quarterback
Devin Gardner played like the 2012 version of Devin Gardner, who took over the starting quarterback job after Denard Robinson suffered an arm injury. He completed 22 of 32 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns. He also pulled in a reception for 18 yards midway through the third quarter, which set up a touchdown run.
Gardner struggled all season long and finished the season completing 174 of 283 passes for 1,896 yards, 10 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He also rushed 98 times for 258 yards and five touchdowns.
Gardner finished his career as a Wolverine completing 475 of 787 passes (60%) for 6,336 yards, bettering Robinson for fourth place on Michigan’s all-time career-passing yardage list. With two touchdown passes against Ohio State, Gardner finished with 44 career passing touchdowns, surpassing Steve Smith (42) for sixth place on Michigan’s all-time passing TD list. Gardner also finished fourth all-time for completions and fifth for passing games with 150 or more yards.
No. 98 will be remembered by many Michigan fans for his ability to leave everything out on the field. However, Devin Gardner’s most memorable moment as a Wolverine came in the national spotlight Saturday as he embraced injured Ohio State star J.T. Barrett as he was carted off the field in the fourth quarter.
Game Ball: Jake Ryan – Linebacker
Jake Ryan also played in his last game as a Michigan Wolverine, finishing the contest with eight tackles, including one tackle for a loss.
Ryan was sidelined much of last season while he was recovering from tearing his ACL, but a great season this year catapulted him pretty high on some of Michigan’s all-time lists. Ryan will finish his career with 267 total tackles, including 166 solo tackles. These numbers place him at 16th and 17th, respectively. With a tackle for a loss versus Ohio State, Ryan moved into sole possession of sixth place of Michigan’s all-time career list with 45.5.
Jake Ryan will be missed as both a leader and a playmaker for the Wolverines; it will be very hard to replace him for the 2015 season.
Game Ball: Drake Johnson – Running Back
Sophomore running back Drake Johnson impressed again, rushing 15 times for 74 yards and two touchdowns vs. Ohio State. He left the game with an apparent knee injury after his second touchdown, and the Michigan rushing attack never recovered. Saturday was Johnson’s second multi-touchdown performance of his career.
Drake Johnson is a name that will be mentioned a lot this offseason after having two great game performances after former starter Derrick Green suffered a season ending injury. Michigan will be deep at the tailback position next season, and Johnson will certainly be a part of the mix.
Derek Devine is a contributing blogger for TBHR. Follow him on Twitter here!