QB’s Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson struggled throwing the ball Saturday, and made errors. Forcier took sacks, and looked awkward at times, and two pass interceptions were thrown by D. Robinson. Granted they made some good plays too, but a career day rushing by Carlos Brown significantly assisted in preventing an English lesson by a former UM DC, Ron English. Together with a late game defense that began to hold and which made a late game stand inside their own ten, the victory was shoe laced shut by two late game runs for scores by Denard Robinson. Fortunately, and as expected, the Eagles could not land in the victory column.
Coach English had his team playing hard and appearing well coached, their defensive and offensive play calling was sometimes outstanding, and for a while they stayed pretty even with the Wolverines as in the second quarter. In the end the Wolverines simply had too much firepower for them. A good example of that was when, in the second quarter, Carlos Brown broke free at the line of scrimmage on the Wolverine’s ten, and never looked back. Ninety-yards later he was celebrating in the Eastern end zone to the excited roar of a stunned crowd, have produced the third longest run from scrimmage in Michigan football history. That long run was totally unexpected and extremely timely. His thirteen carries for one hundred eighty-seven yards and two TDs constitute nothing if not a great performance. D. Robinson had three carries for sixty yards and two stunning TD’s on thirteen and thirty-six yard runs. Those runs were enough to make a fan forget his aerial miscues. Well, almost, anyway.
The offensive heroics were not limited to Robinson, or C. Brown. Michael Shaw was effective on the ground and had a TD with nine carries for fifty-three yards, and Martavious Odoms ran a reverse for a TD. And there were others. RB Vincent Smith got some action, as did Mike Cox. Late in the game he had an amazing twisting run of twenty-four yards in which he held himself up with his arm on the ground, pivoted, changed angle of direction, and continued the run.
The rushing statistics are outstanding. Three hundred-eighty yards and nine and seven tenths yards per rush is outstanding by any measure. This was with a revamped OL that was missing David Moosman and, later in the game, OC Molk. John Ferrara is relatively experienced by now and produced when inserted into the line up. So much productivity on the ground was unexpected, but it seems that they now have firmly established a ground game even without Brandon Minor for most of the game.
The receiving statistics are meager, and the passing game was disappointing. They had only seven completions for a four-yard average, and a total of sixty-eight yards by air. Odoms caught two for thirty-three and Kelvin Grady received two for fourteen.
One stunning statistic from the game is the time of possession for each of the teams. It appears Coach Rodriguez wanted to establish a running game in this contest, but they were not able to establish a ball possession routine as evidenced by the statistics below.
The Eagles possessed the ball for 40.02 minutes and lost. The Wolverines possessed the ball for 19.58 minutes and won. This indicates a couple of things. The Wolverines are a big play football team that scores quickly, not stringing long drives together, and the Eagles are a ball possession team able to chain drives together, but could not score, at least in the latter stages of the game. By scoring so quickly the Wolverine’s offense leaves its defense out to tire and the defense has had its own problems getting off the field. There is however nothing more exciting for fans than a big-play team. Beats three yards and a cloud of dust for most spectators. Except of course, if you lose one way, the fans will want the other. In any case that kind of possession differential is usually a serious problem
The scoring went like this:
1st Quarter: The Blue got on the board first, after Eastern received to start the game, stalled, and punted.
Jason Olesnavage’ s thirty-seven yard field goal after a 4-play, 32-yard drive made it M 3, EMU 0. Carlos Brown rushed for thirty yards in the drive to get a start on his good day.
Eastern retaliated with a 43-yarder and it was 3 up. This was after a substantial drive.
Carlos Brown rushed 9-yards for 6 to complete a nine play, sixty yard drive which consisted mainly of C. Brown and Minor runs. Olesnavage nailed the EP, and all others on the day. M 10- EMU 3. Everybody hoped the route was on. Turned ouot to be an unrealistic hope at that point.
2nd Quarter: Eastern drove for an 11 play, 79-yard TD on an 11-yard rush. Not too shabby, where is our defense, and its 10 up. Now we wonder if the defense can ever stop them. Fortunately the offense then provided a 6 play, 69-yard response with a Michael Shaw rush for 6. Shaw is a nice combination of moves and power. Going to be fun to see him develop. M 17-EMU 10. EMU is making a game of it, and still very much in it.
Then Carlos Brown raised the spirits of over 107,000 Wolverine fans with his 90-yard TD sprint. Fans had always hoped to see Carlos do that, and finally it was there. It was a long time coming, but worth the wait. M 24-EMU 10. Now that’s better, but not for long as those pesky Eagles scored again. This time on a drive after D. Rob turned it over by his first interception. EMU drove 36-yards in 6 plays, the TD being a five-yard rush. M 24-EMU 17. Thus the first half ended, with a certain feeling of uneasiness. Eastern played entirely too well. and the Wolverines, while they had their moments, looked uncertain at best, especially defensively and through the air.
3rd Quarter: The good thing was that the Blue got the ball to start the second half, but both sides ended up exchanging a couple of punts. The Wolverines defense must have made some effective halftime adjustments. They were much tougher in the second half.
Then with a little over seven minutes left in the half, Brown, Forcier and Shaw produced a 7 play, 60-yard drive with M. Odoms scampering for 6, from 13-yards out.
M 31, EMU 17. I think this was his first rushing TD.
After a Craig Roh interception, Shoelace knotted 6, on the strength of a 13-yard rush. If you blinked you missed it. M 38- EMU 17, and everything is serene again.
In the 4th Quarter, Denard did it again, this time for 36-yards with an even more impressive run. He is one of the fastest, quickest and most elusive backs I have ever seen. He really sees the field. FINAL: M 45-EMU 17.
The offensive firepower that the Wolverines can display is breathtaking, and will only improve. Someone new seems to step up every game, and some of them, like Denard seem to be an explosive constant. This offense is as much fun to watch as any I can remember.
I am puzzled a little by the punt return game. Why does Greg Mathews let so many of them bounce, doesn’t catch more. He is sure handed and maybe that is all that counts but this would seem to be an area that could contribute to the offense. I know that RR said that the only important thing is not to drop the punt, but I can’t believe someone that is as aggressive as he is wouldn’t want to squeeze some yardage out of the punt return game. Just wondering.
Also one has to wonder about at least one call of the day. Boubacar Cissoko was obviously manhandled by our old friend Johnny Sears, and they called interference on Cissoko. I do not agree with that call, or the arm bar (extended) explanation, but it did not impact the outcome.
There were three reviews and we lost a couple. One was on a perfect Shoelace pass to Odoms. Odoms made a sideline catch in which he did bobble the ball, but the tapes seemed to me to show it was in possession as he went out of bounds. Close call. It would have been a confidence building completion for DRob.
Three wins and no losses at this point in the year is all anyone can ask of this very versatile team. Mike Martin and Tate Forcier were shaken up, but shook it off, and returned to the game. Not so Offensive Center David Molk, who has developed into a force. They probably will soon know more about his status. Brandon Minor has that nagging foot problem again.
Offensive non-starters that played: Dorrestein, Mealer, Khoury, Omameh, Webb, Moore, Kelvin Grady, Roundtree, Hemmingway, Savoy, McColgan, Minor, Shaw, B. Smith, and Mike Cox.
Defensive non-starters that played: Heininger, Patterson, Sagesse, Campbell, Banks, Herron, Fitzgerald, Demens, Simmons, T. Jones, Kovacs and Floyd.
Obviously good to get all those players some live action.
The Wolverines seem to be ready to start the Big Ten season, having matched the number of wins they had all year last year, having discovered and educated a couple of QBs, and being undefeated to this point.
Bring on the Big Ten and the Indiana Hoosiers. It’ll be the last of a four game home stand that has been highly entertaining and so far highly successful. The Hoosiers will do their best to change that.
It is going to be real fun to watch the rest of this season unfold, even though hurdles, traps and pitfalls await in the Big Ten season. However it goes, this team is entertaining, plays hard and is well coached. At least so far.
Note: Injury update for Center David Molk as of September 21, 2009: A foot injury will keep him out of action for four to six weeks per Coach Rodriguez. Of course the question is who will replace him? David Moosman who soon should return from injury, or Rocko Khoury? In any case it is a hit, as Molk was really coming along and will be missed.
M Football 2009: M 45-EMU 17-Carlos Brown Day (Sunday, September 20, 2009) Andy's take on the return of Ron English, Johnny Sears and the Eastern Michigan Eagles to M Stadium for another battle for Washtenaw County football supremacy, and more.