ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Brady Hoke took advantage of the size and strength of Devin Funchess by playing the tight end as a wide receiver Saturday.
The experiment yielded excellent results, as the 6-foot-5, 228-pound sophomore caught seven receptions for a career-high 151 yards and a score in Michigan’s 42-13 win against Minnesota.
“We obviously planned it that way, getting him out on the perimeter a little bit is a mismatch in a lot of ways because he runs awfully well,” Hoke said after the game.
With a slate of tough Big Ten games on Michigan’s plate, it will not be the last time the big-bodied target lines up on the outside.
In five games this season, Funchess has 15 receptions for 296 yards and two touchdowns. In comparison, he caught 15 receptions for 234 yards and five scores during his entire freshman season. Those results alone give Michigan a reason to continue to exploit smaller cornerbacks and safeties.
Hoke revealed Friday night that Michigan would line Funchess out wide, but the tight end had no idea that’s what the team was going to do Saturday.
“I think the coaches just told me what to do, and I just did it,” Funchess said Saturday night. “(Lining up as a receiver) wasn’t in the game plan, they just told me to go out there, run, block, all that, and then you try to get the job done.
“I think it just helps the offense more because with me being such a big target on the outside, inside, it doesn’t matter who you put (against me), I’m just a big target, and it just helps the offense, lightens up on the running backs and helps the offense in total.”
Needless to say, on Saturday, Michigan had its most efficient game on offense of the season, and the team would be well served to create mismatches like the ones Funchess had in future games.
No. 18 Michigan (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) continues conference play and visits Penn State at 5 p.m. Saturday at Beaver Stadium in University Park. ESPN is tabbed with the broadcast.
Here’s highlights from Michigan’s win against Minnesota: