Monday, October 19, 2009 - Andy Andersen
Everybody expected that the Wolverines would trounce the Delaware State Hornets thinking that they did not have the firepower that Appalachian State had when they visited Michigan Stadium three years ago. The prognosticators of Hornet doom were right. The Wolverines stymied their stingers on both sides of the ball. DSU had neither the talent nor the hard edge that is necessary to compete successfully with a Big Ten team, although they appeared to give it the old college try.
Personally, I was not hyped by this game from its first scheduling. Delaware State is in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference and is in the FCS division (formerly I-AA). If they did not reside near the bottom of their league standings they could have represented a trap game. Fifty bucks is a lot to pay to sit in chilly weather and watch a non-competitive football game. Competition is the nexus of the game of football, and while wary, I thought that this game would not provide it. And it didn’t. Granted I was in the press box, not in the stands, and therefore had free entry, but I still own a pair of seats in Section 17. So I am an investor with an interest in an appropriate return on my investment, just like everyone else who bought a ticket.
But this game did provide something invaluable that I hadn’t given sufficient thought to. Coach Rodriguez mentioned it near the top of his post game presser, and by so doing he put things in better perspective.
He mentioned it gave the opportunity to rest the wounded (Tate Forcier, Carlos Brown, and Brandon Minor most notably), and even more importantly, it let many who never see the field in Michigan Stadium have at least a moment in the sun to play before 106,304 in that spectacular setting.
RR went as deep as the Scout team. Still Michigan kept scoring and I thought to myself that someone is going to accuse him of running up the score. And sure enough some one called WTKA and said just that. In the presser RR gave a little insight into that question. He said DSU had too many in the box but that M restrained itself from throwing downfield on numerous occasions, and continued to run anyway. When Michigan passed the receivers were often wide open. In other words, it could have been worse.
Did RR run up the score? No way! Everybody and his brother that has not been red shirted played. Michigan is a very young football team that benefits from every snap its understudies handle, react to, or read, and every throw, catch or tackle they get to make.
It is much closer to the truth to say that score was the fault of a game, but extremely out talented group of football players from Dover, Delaware.
In the presser, players lauded other players who work hard but don’t get many Saturday snaps. Playing gives them a good sense of team and accomplishment, and rewards for all
the nasty knocks and bruises encountered all season out of the public eye, even if such a game may leave some fans a little under whelmed.
When RR mentioned the enthusiasm of many of the players who have had limited opportunity to show their wares before the huge home crowds, the true import of the game struck home.
And he said that some in the tunnel after the game were already thinking of Penn State. It is going to be easy for them to segue from this one, which was for fun, to the next one, which will impact their legacy, their season. To say that PSU is a must win is an understatement. And to say that they will provide a competition is also an understatement.
Rodriguez thanked he fan base for putting all those lively bodies in the seats on a very chilly fall afternoon. I thought that was a sincere appreciation. As you would expect there were only a few Hornet fans. I would have liked to interview a few of them to get their take on the Big House experience, but given the outcome, it might not have been printable.
The following lists some of the players that played Saturday: Rushing: Vincent Smith who hauled 17 for 169 yards with 1 TD and a long of 37. The Scout team’s Mike Cox ran for 90-yards on 11 carries, and ran for 2 TDs. Kevin Grady toted 8 times for 73-yards and a TD. Denard Robinson rushed 6 times for 54-yards and a TD. Nick Sheridan and Jack Kennedy also had carries. M had 54 rushes for 461 net yards and 6 TDs. Wow. By contrast DSU had 65 net yards.
At halftime Michigan had 281-yards rushing and 162-yards passing. M had 28 points in the first quarter and 21 in the second for a total of 49 at the half. There must be a new record in there somewhere.
Passing: Nick Sheridan was 7 of 9 for 88-yards, DRob was 3 of 4 for 85-yards and two TDs. David Cone was 3 of 3 for 54-yards and starter Tate Forcier, who engineered the first drive of the game, and then retired, was 2 of 2 for 39-yards. M was 15 of 18 for 266 yards and 2 TDs.
Receiving: Kelvin Grady caught 2 for 48, and 1 TD with a long of 38. Martel Webb caught one for a 28-yard TD. L. Savoy, Je’Ron Stokes , Tay Odoms, Darryl Stonum, Greg Mathews, Brandon Moore, T.Robinson, Michael Cox and Rickey Reyes, all had receptions. M had 15 receptions for 266-yards and two TDs.
Returns: Tay Odoms, T. Robinson, Brandon Smith, Darryl Stonum, Roy Roundtree, and Brandon Graham, who returned a blocked punt 2-yards into the end zone with a little help from his friends. M had 6 punt returns for 84-yards and 2 kick off returns for 47-yards.
In the presser the Grady brothers were at the mike together. It may be the first time since the Elliott brothers (Bump and Pete) in the forties that siblings have scored a TD in the same game. I am not sure that is true, as I have not yet researched it. I put this disclaimer on the statement because I don’t want the Free Press to investigate me. But wait, maybe a little notoriety would do this column some good.
Five players caught their first TDs in a Michigan uniform: Kelvin Grady, Brandon Graham, (who in the presser said that this was his first since High School and he was most obviously pleased), Vincent Smith, Michael Cox (2), and Martel Webb.
There were no Wolverine punts in the game, so we did not see Zoltan Mesko and Jason Olesnavage kicked no field goals, just extra points, but even in this lopsided victory there is room for improvement. There were nine penalties for 93-yards (a couple of personal fouls, a face- mask infraction which pulled the kids helmet off etc.). This is unnecessary and could spell doom against the likes of the Nittany Lions. There was plenty of opportunity to watch kick returns and the return defense wasn’t always pretty. DSU had 8 for 162-yards.
They scored like this:
1st Quarter: Michael Shaw made a tough run for six. Olesnavage made all his point after attempts. M 7, DSU 0. Vincent Smith then scored on a 6-yard run. M 14, DSU 0. Brandon Smith blocked a punt and rolled the ball, which Brandon Graham picked up and ran into paydirt. Coming at 7:07 of the first quarter, this served notice that the rout was on, and the floodgates never closed. M 21, DSU 0. Shoelace than hit Kelvin Grady with a 39-yard pass to make it M 28, DSU 0 to complete the quarter.
Second Quarter: DRob ran 4-yards for a TD. M 35, DSU 0. Martell Webb caught a 28-yard pass for another TD. M 42, DSU 0. Kevin Grady bulled 7-yards for a score. M 49, DSU 0. Late in the quarter, the Hornets finally responded with a 26-yard field goal. M 49, DSU 3. Has a Michigan team ever before ended a half with 49-points?
Third Quarter: The Hornets struck again with another field goal, this time for 24-yards. M 49, DSU 6. Michigan did not score in this quarter, as by now they were substituting pretty far down on the depth chart, but they saved two TDs for the fourth quarter.
Fourth Quarter: Michael Cox ran for two TDs, one of 57-yards and one of 3- yards to finish the scoring for the game. Final M 63, DSU 6.
The game ended with a whopping 442-yards in the first half, and set a single game record of 727-yards.
This one was a necessary win, and would have been a disaster to RR and the team if they had lost it. It did provide some boring moments as well as providing a glimpse of some young players in action. I guess I can live with that.
It is now history and obviously did not count in the Big Ten race.
The next one does and is far more serious
business. Bring on JoPa and his Nittany Lions! I doubt this one will
have its boring moments. Its likely to be another barn burner.