Published Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 11:50 pm
FOOTBALL
Pint-size Michigan receiver Jeremy Gallon turning in huge plays
Nebraska at Michigan
When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
TV: ABC
Radio: 1110 AM KFAB

LINCOLN — Michigan's top receiver has been one of the smallest guys on every team he can remember playing for, but that's never why he's stood out.

When he's playing, Jeremy Gallon doesn't ever think about his height or weight — because they don't limit him.

He's at the top of opponents' scouting reports now because he can dart through defenses on a screen pass or absorb a hit after hauling in an over-the-middle ball or shield a cornerback while reaching back for a pass thrown high and behind him.

Forget that he's listed at 5-foot-8, weighing 184 pounds. Gallon doesn't play like it.

“I don't really think size matters,” he said. “It's about how bad you want to compete.”

And Gallon's not the type of guy who'll let up.

His 369 receiving yards during a shootout against Indiana three weeks ago were the second-most in FBS history. He caught a career-high 14 passes in that game, including three during a four-play span to end the third quarter. (he already had 290 yards before that sequence.)

Gallon took a screen play for 70 yards. He used double moves to get behind the defense on two other long throws.

“I really can't even explain it,” he said of his record-breaking performance. “I was just going out and playing, leaving it all out on the field.”

It helped that 235-pound Devin Funchess, a former tight end who's played more on the outside recently, was getting lots of attention that day. Gallon said the two talented pass-catchers talk on the sideline quite often about which one's getting double-teamed — and which isn't.

“If they're doubling him, then I've got to make a play,” Gallon said.

That's the idea, according to the Michigan coaches.

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Offensive coordinator Al Borges said Funchess needs to “provide the type of threat we need to balance out our passing game.”

Michigan is tied for 13th-best nationally with 19 passing plays of 30 yards or more this season — Gallon and Funchess were at the receiving end on 14 of those. During Big Ten play, the duo has combined for 77 percent of the team's receptions and 82 percent of its yards.

“It means a lot, with him and his ability to go out there and get the ball,” Gallon said of Funchess.

Their ability to produce is critical for an offense that ranks 10th in the Big Ten in rushing offense (154.9 yards per game) and second-to-last in yards per carry (3.65).

Those ground game struggles presumably led to the crafting of a game plan that Michigan State exploited last week. Borges said he wanted to throw more than normal in the early downs to open lanes for his running backs. Thirteen of the Wolverines' 23 first-down play calls were passes.

They lost 29-6.

But Gallon said the team has bounced back. Individually, he has plenty of motivation to play well against Nebraska Saturday.

The Huskers held Gallon to two catches last year — and the final one didn't come until Michigan's last possession, after the NU win was well in hand.

Gallon said he remembers Husker seniors Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste well, complimenting them for their physicality. He said they played like leaders of that defense.

Evans, at 5-foot-9, would seem to be the appropriate matchup for Gallon — as opposed to the 6-foot-2 Jean-Baptiste. Like usual, though, Gallon is ready for the challenge, no matter the measurables.

“To me, it doesn't matter who they line up against me,” Gallon said. “I always want to compete.”

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>> Video: The Big Ten Preview Show, Nov. 6:



>> Video: The Big Red Today Show, Nov. 5:

Contact the writer: Jon Nyatawa

jon.nyatawa@owh.com    |   402-473-9585    |  

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football and baseball, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008.

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