Miami of Ohio’s RedHawks swooped into Michigan Stadium Saturday afternoon in hopes of zooming away with a stunning upset of the one and one Wolverines, even though victories for the Miami football have been few and far between recently. They have not managed a winning effort in their last nineteen games.
Known far and wide as the “Cradle of Coaches”, Miami has developed some dandies. A short list includes, Earl Blaik, Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Weeb Eubank, Sid Gillman, Jon Harbaugh, and William Narduzzi.
Also, and most notable for Wolverine fans, our fabled Bo honed his coaching skills there, and was the Head Football Coach at Miami, when then Michigan AD Don Canham made the hire of a lifetime.
Noted as one of the best academic institutions in the State of Ohio, its proud academic tradition lingers and is something the largest Ohio University should admire and emulate, but Miami’s football heritage has recently been in stress, in decline, but not forgotten.
To turn around faltering Miami, they retained Chuck Martin as Head Football Coach. Starting this season, he brings more than adequate offensive coaching credentials. Martin spent the past two seasons at Notre Dame. His was the offense that deployed against Alabama in a National Championship game. In the first year of a rebuilding, things can get rough as all M fans know, and this season has started that way for Martin and his charges. Martin was at GVSU previously to ND.
Unfortunately for Miami’s immediate future he could not bring the components of the ND offense with him, but he was able to bring an outstanding QB with him in the person of Andrew Hendrix. Hendrix was NDs QB, but has matriculated at Miami for his 5th year of eligibility. He hit 12 of 26 for 165-yards, threw for a TD, had one interception, and was sacked once.
Michigan was in the nickel, most if not all, of the game, as Hendrix threw from the spread. He was 11th in the nation in passing prior to the game. Although he has wheels, an aerial assault is what the RedHawks do best. Hendrix had a tough afternoon, but he tied it up 10-10 in the second quarter.
The RedHawks have not profited in the win/loss column this season in spite of increased ability to score, but that still may come. Marshall bested them 42-27, and Eastern Kentucky bettered them by a TD, 17-10. The Red Hawks had 6 TOs in the loss. Three of them were interceptions. The Wolverines Jourdan Lewis, the owner of two pass interference calls last week, made a beautiful interception against the Hawks.
PREGAME CONCERNS, AND RESULTS:
Pass defense: Notre Dame had their way with the passing game last Saturday. Our new found “press” coverage” provided no interceptions and often provided a scene in which our better cover corners had their back to the ball chasing an open receiver. As stated above the Wolverines limited the RedHawk’s passing game to 165-yards. Jourdan Lewis got a nifty interception.
Jabrill Peppers did not play last week due to injury, and Raymon Taylor was injured in the first quarter against ND and did not play this week. Safety Jarrod Wilson did not play. Peppers was back this week and was in the rotation at corner. I spent a lot of time focusing on his play and it seemed to me that he surprisingly polished as a freshman in his pass defense. When necessary, he laid some wood.
Hoke’s comments regarding the cornerback rotation: “I think the guys we played, we rotated through Blake (Countess) and Jabrill (Peppers) and also Jourdan (Lewis). I think they played tighter coverage. We did a few things different with some of the blitz things as far as we played some zero coverage, which we don’t play a lot of, but thought we could play it — lining up at the sticks, those kinds of things. We’ll watch the tape, but I think they all did a nice job in there.”
Defensive line: From last week-Where is the pass rush and why are TOs not being created? Everyone with a pulse understood the problems Michigan might have getting its offensive line together, but it was thought here (not by Nussmeier) that the defensive line would carry the burden until the OL line was seasoned. Based on last Saturday’s game that seemed a forlorn and distant hope. This Saturday, even with a consideration of the step down in competition, they showed improvement by holding Miami to eight first downs and thirty-three yards rushing. Coach Hoke on the D and DL: “Defensively holding them to 2-of-12 from third down perspectives, getting your defense off the field, more opportunities for our offense. The rush for the second week, in looking at our defense, we played that very well, the front seven did, or if we were in nickel situations, the nickel, …. those were the positives of it. We only got the one pick as far as a turnover. We’ve got to do a better job there. I think we harassed the quarterback. I think Brennen Beyer on the one sack really made just a great play, in my opinion, because he finished the play, and how he finished it. We played pretty good rush defense so far. Now, I think the schedule continues to get tougher. We’ll see what kind of defense we are as we go through it. Thirty-three yards, yeah, you’re happy with that. How many attempts did they have? Twenty-four. They weren’t going to try and run it much. But I do think Chuck tried to run it enough to keep us a little more off balance.”
Brennen’s run down of the RedHawk QB was remarkable. He chased the QB down from behind, grabbed a shoulder pad/jersey with one hand from behind the runner’s back, and immediately secured the tackle with both big arms. Jake Ryan and Joe Bolden also had notable games per Coach Hoke. Frank Clark ran down a RedHawk ball carrier from behind, too.
Running Backs: Both smashers, Derrick Green and DeVeon are improved, and they showed it Saturday. Derrick Green was the work horse, having his best day as a Wolverine. Green carried the Wolverines offense. He scored twice, on nice runs and produced 137 yards. Both he and Smith ran hard. Dennis Norfleet looked good against ND, and again this Saturday. Dennis is looking better all the time. He has speed and determination. He ran a nice end around early when the game was still in question. Justice Hayes did well and there was a nice grab by Freddy Canteen.
Receivers: Devin Funchess was still out. Amara Darboh, and Jake Butt carried the load. Amara collared 6 for 88-yards and a TD. His long was 26-yards. Jake Butt is back. In the after interview he said that he believes he is very near or at 100%. It is amazing he has returned so quickly from a serious injury. He has great strength of will. Jake caught 3 for 59-yards and a TD with a long of 29-yards. He got great separation from the defense on his TD reception.
Offensive line: Already discussed ad nauseam, but some improvement noted. Pass protection is still often iffy. While improving compared to last year in the run game, and earlier this year, they are still inconsistent. More improvement is needed each week, and they showed some this week. There were some holes and a more effective running game.
QB and the Offense: Devin Gardner had a decent but not spectacular day throwing two TDs, and hitting 13 of 20 for 184 yards and 2TD. But a second quarter interception was concerning and led to a field goal to make it 10-3. Then a KO return attempt was muffed by Wyatt Shallman. Hoke on what happened:…Justice (Hayes) was communicating mine, mine, mine, and Wyatt didn’t hear him. The one thing I think we can do a better job at is making sure he understands, we do it every Thursday, that he can fair catch that ball. But I think the way we had lined up, we knew how we were lining up, we had Justice up enough, we were hoping he would be able to field him without a fair catch. He (Shallman)just didn’t hear him.”
Gardner had already hit Darboh for a 17-yard TD pass, and later he hit Jake Butt on the game clincher, making it 31-10, and out of reach. He still does not look to be in full command of the pocket and one reporter asked Hoke if he was nervous. Coach Hoke’s reply: ” Maybe you thought he was nervous. I didn’t. I didn’t think he was. .. it will be interesting (to see it) again, you only see it once, to me it was a little high, but it was on target. I don’t know if Jehu (Chesson) got a chance to try to go get it either.
At the end of the 1st half, the coaches got the crowd into it by not going for a 4th and 1 from the Miami 47 with 1:00 on the clock. After a Miami time out, M was flagged for delay of game. Then it happened again. The delay of game after the second time out was probably intentional. The punt still went into the end zone. The crowd sent Brady a message of disapproval by booing. They thought M could get the yard and another score.
At halftime, Michigan hosted military appreciation day. It was an impressive half time performance. The band played the Star Spangled Banner, which officially became the United States National Anthem in 1931. Two large US flags were displayed on field. Service persons of all the Armed Forces were honored. Veterans Ken Weinert and Robert Fletcher were honored. An eagle named “Challenger” soared into the stadium, and found its handler. This was a unique sight, and the appreciation day was nicely done. There was a flyover of four civilian L-39 jets.
The game itself game had a bit of a strange feel to it. The score indicated a blow out, but it never felt that way. You kept waiting for the other mistake shoe to drop, but it didn’t.
Anyway, another win is in the books, and now it’s the prolific scoring Utes. This will be a test in Michigan Stadium that will measure the Wolverines.
See you there. We need to keep filling those seats.