Michigan football: Gary, Black are back, but let them take it easy for a couple weeks
Michigan just might be the hottest team in the country right now, and it got even stronger last weekend when defensive lineman Rashan Gary and wide receiver Tarik Black returned to the lineup.
But here’s an idea. For the next couple of weeks, seeing less of them — and not more — might be a good idea.
Why not? Because now we know this season is going to be all about the Nov. 24 game with Ohio State in Columbus. Michigan needs everyone happy and healthy for that game, and it can certainly beat Rutgers and Indiana the next two weeks without Gary and Black.
Gary, the No. 1 recruit in the country three years ago, missed three games with a shoulder injury. There was some concern over when he would come back, and how healthy he’d be when he did. But he looked good against Penn State and played a big role in the 42-7 blowout.
“I think it was really good for the morale of the team and Rashan, too,” said Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who called Gary a “special player” and said he played very well on Saturday.
Gary made his presence felt immediately. On Penn State’s first possession, Gary put pressure on quarterback Trace McSorley, freeing Chase Winovich to get the sack.
“Rashan definitely helps,” Winovich said with a smile.
Gary finished the game still feeling good, but there’s no sense in pushing this. Rutgers has lost eight games in a row and it’s been more than a calendar year since they’ve won a Big Ten game. Saturday’s game (3:30 p.m. ET: TV: Big Ten Network) is a homecoming for Gary, but still, there’s no need for him to be out there for very long. They need him big-time for Ohio State, and they don’t need him at all Saturday.
It’s a little different for Tarik Black, who broke his right foot a week before the start of the season. Since he hasn’t played at all, a little game action might be good for him. Like Gary, the Wolverines have done just fine at wide receiver without Black, but it was still nice to see him back on the field. Black made a huge play in the fourth quarter on a 41-yard touchdown catch, but it was called back with a penalty.
“Just to see him go out there and have fun and make that play, it was an amazing feeling,” Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson said. “He’s had the same injury twice, it’s hard to come back from it twice, and we all see the hard work he puts in to get back out there with us.”
Black played in only three games last year before getting hurt, but he was Michigan’s leading receiver when he suffered his first foot injury. He’s got a ton of talent, so adding him to the mix with Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins is huge.
But, for now, feel free to come back slowly. Like Gary, the Wolverines need him much more against Ohio State than they do the next two weeks. It would be good to be smart about it.