DAVID BRANDON RESIGNATION ANNOUNCED:
On Friday, October 31, 2014, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel held a press conference to announce that he had accepted the resignation that Athletic Director David Brandon had submitted earlier that morning.
A former Wolverine football player under Bo Schembechler, Jim Hackett, was named interim Athletic Director. For nineteen years the Grand Rapids resident was CEO of office furniture giant Steelcase. He has full authority to let the current coaching go, if necessary, and is searching for a new Athletic Director.
Saturday evening, after the game Coach Hoke politely confined his answers to an eager press to the football game just played and questions regarding the David Brand resignation would be entertained at the Monday morning presser.
Prior to the game one had to wonder if the players would be on an even keel because of another major distraction. They were on target. Saturday the effort was commendable on both sides of the ball. Hoke’s blinders must be working for them. Remarkably, they have not given up the fight.
Saturday evening the Wolverines hosted Homecoming. November forgot it wasn’t March, and came in like the proverbial lion. It was cold and windy. Even if the snow stayed away, November Football should be played at noon, but this one was tolerable in that it was dry. The Blast from the Past was there as usual on Homecoming.
A slight favorite over the Hoosiers, and with somewhat similar records, the Wolverines regained their former winning ways. It has not been an easy task with the constant hullabaloo that has surrounded the program this season, along with their somewhat surprising string of losses this season.
Utah, Minnesota, Rutgers, and Michigan State had seemingly buried M’s dreams of a bowl, and had certainly laid to rest their first participation in the Big Ten Title game. A win against Penn State had interrupted their current string of defeats, and Saturday’s victory lit a glimmer, just a glimmer of hope, that with two more or at best three, some sort of minor December Bowl might be achieved.
Even it is only “The Motor” Bowl in Detroit, the fifteen additional practices will benefit the team next year, so take one for the team and swallow your pride.
It had seemed there might be little left to fight for this season. But there was plenty, and the name of that game was the pride and tradition of the football Wolverines. The question was whether or not this somber group of guys could discover the inner strength to continue to battle and battle hard, and battle hard they did. Sounds corny, but that is about all they had left to contest for at this time. Wolverine pride!
PREGAME HOOSIER QB TROUBLES AND COMMENTS
Indiana had plenty to challenge the struggling Wolverines, but they had troubles at the QB position. Two experienced QBs transferred before the season. Nate Sudfield won the starting job, but injured his shoulder. Zander Diamont was now the starter, and he had but a single game under his belt. The Wolverines took his measure Saturday. As mentioned above he passed for 24-net yards. He had one nice run.
There are lots of statistics that favor the Wolverines as a good and rising defense, but some observations still boggle the mind, like big plays, a sometimes errant pass defense, and MSU’s Langford’s rushing in the Wolverines last game against the Spartans. Also the passive defense in the final minutes of the second quarter in some games this season remains a mystery. Saturday they foreclosed a late second quarter TD opportunity and Indiana helped by whacking the post with a FG attempt.
WOLVERINES CONTROL ERRORS
Very little outside of the red zone has favored the Wolverines struggling offense. Sometimes they can’t run, sometimes they can’t throw safely, and sometimes they can’t hang on to the ball. M receivers dropped 7 passes at MSU, and the QB position committed three errors. There they scored only one TD. There seemed to be minimal offensive innovation from the coaching staff. Some of that was put to bed Saturday with a decent all around offensive performance.
The Hoosiers aren’t as good as MSU defensively, but they are improved over prior years. If the errors hadn’t eased for the Wolverines, the unthinkable would have become reality. Devin did not fumble and threw only on interception. The defense prevented that gaff from turning around the game.
SOME SATURDAY PERFORMANCES
Devin Gardner threw 172 consecutive passes without an interception before Notre Dame picked him off in the third Quarter of this year’s game, but since then, it seems his confidence had evaporated, and he had become a consistent TO machine.
But for all of Devin’s Gardener’s past bobbles, he eclipsed Rick Leach for 5th place in total yardage. He had amassed 6,457-yards. He needed 198 more to catch Rick Leach, and he passed for 220 net yards Saturday. He threw an interception, had a couple of near misses, but he had time, and it improved his game. He threw some very nice passes. He was 22 of 29 with just one interception, and was sacked just once. He threw two spectacular touchdowns. It was a very solid performance.
Scrambling to the shadow of the Line of Scrimmage, he flipped a short pass to TE Keith Heitzman for a TD. Later in the game, he hit Amara Darboh on a precision laser at the goal line for a TD. Tightly covered Darboh made a great grab. Darboh had his best day as a Wolverine, collaring nine for 107-yards and a TD.
The defense held the Hoosiers to 24-yards passing, kept the nation’s leading rusher, Tevin Coleman inside, and thereby held the nation’s eighth rushing attack in check, yielding only 167-yards on the ground. Brian Mone recovered an early Hoosier fumble. Ryan Glasgow made a spectacular fumble recovery later in the game. Finally they were creating advantageous TOs.
Jake Ryan led the defense with eleven tackles, two forced two fumbles, and 2.5 TFLs, as the Wolverines won their 19th straight against the Hoosiers. Indiana last won in M Stadium in 1967.
COLEMAN IS THE HOOSIER THREAT
Running Back Tevin Coleman carries their offense. He has gained a hundred yards for ten straight games, posting a 100-yard game against the Spartans and Wolverines. He was college football’s leading rusher so far this season. Only 5’7’ tall, he is also dynamite on special teams and is a threat to break one whenever he touches the football. He was thoroughly squelched in the first half against the Wolverines. He had nine carries for 42-yards. For the game, he managed 108-yards on 27 carries with a long of 17 on the late Hoosier TD drive, and no TDs. Credit the defense with preventing big plays. This athlete can make them out of the backfield and as a return man. Nice defensive result.
Last year the Gardner to Gallon connection was spectacular as the Wolverines had won a shootout, 63 to 47. This year’s game was in stark contest to last year’s offensive riot.
RB DRAKE JOHNSON FINALLY GETS HIS CHANCE AND SHINES:
Ann Arbor native Drake Johnson had a very good game Saturday. No longer hobbled by injury, in the second half he had the best game of his career, slamming and finessing his way to two TDs. He showed good burst, tenacity, vision, and toughness. In my opinion, perhaps his was the best performance of an M running back this year.
Coach Hoke on Johnson: “ I think if you know anything about Drake he’s always been very motivated and a hard worker. I would say that…because he’s getting more chances with repetitions in practice, that’s helped quite a bit. He made some very good cuts, he accelerated through cuts. That’s some natural ability that he has.”
“He’s more of a slasher than the others. The one thing he does have is a very good burst when you look at the gears. He’s got the ability to take it the distance also. “We’re very happy with his performance, very impressed with it. I know we’ll look at the tape and make those judgments, but we’re pretty excited about what he did today.”
Drake Johnson on Johnson: On his perforance … “I think just in general, I have been trying to take whatever they give me. If the defense gives me five yards, I will take five yards. If the defense gives me 30 yards, I will take 30 yards. Huge thanks to the O-line. … I was fortunate to go into the game.”
The team was fortunate that he did, too.
In 2009, the Wolverines won 36-33 with a great last moments TD pass to Martavious Odoms. On our way to the later press conference, Phil Callihan and I were walking across near the north end zone net just before the end of the game. Callihan yelled, “He is open” and indeed he was. Nice throw and nice catch, and oh so timely, as it secured another Wolverine victory.
But the Grand Daddy of all spectacular winning TD catches and runs against the Hoosiers came in 1979 with the famous John Wangler pass to Anthony Carter. Trailing, this TD catch and run resulted in an unbelievable 27-21 Wolverine victory.
M got their final possession of the ball at their own 22, with 51 seconds left. They moved it to the Hoosier 45. With six ticks left, Carter caught it at the twenty, put a hand on the ground to maintain balance, and began to windmill those skinny legs. No one could catch him. It was unbelievable, and our famed Bob Ufer was nearly apoplectic as Carter scored.
BRIEF GAME RECAP
M won the toss, deferred, and kicked. Indiana punted. M controlled the ball with a 12-yard rush by De’Veon Smith, and a 34-yard reception by Amara Darboh, plus some short passes, enabled a 35-yard Wile FG to put M ahead 3 zip.
M’s Jake Ryan punched out the ball from Hoosier Coleman, and M’s Brian Mone recovered it at the Indiana 27-yard line. Finally the defense had produced a TO favoring the Wolverines. Gardner scrambled, ran just short of the LOS and flipped the ball to the alert TE Keith Heitzman for a 6-yard TD. The call of TD stood. M led 10 to zip going into the second quarter.
Michigan rumbled 79-yards on 9 plays in the second quarter. Drake Johnson wheeled for 18-yards in the possession, and Gardner hit a 12-yard TD pass to Amara Darboh. A laser shot. The Wolverines upped their lead to 17 to zip to end the half. The Hoosiers threatened late in the second quarter, courtesy of a Gardner pass intercepted at the Indiana 49 and returned to the M 12-yard line. The defense held and their 25-yard field goal attempt bounced off the upright.
In the third, the Wolverines received, stalled, and Indiana hit a 38-yard FG. The Wolverines led 17 to 3. At a little over the four minute mark of the third, Indiana fumbled again courtesy of Jake Ryan, which Ryan Glasgow possessed at the Hoosier 20. Drake Johnson ran it in from the 10 on a very impressive run. M led 24 to 3 to end the third quarter.
A long M drive to start the quarter stalled. Matt Wile hit a 33-yard FG, and it was 27-3. M’s defense relaxed and Zander ran for 35-yards to power a drive to an Indiana TD. M led 27-10.
And out of bound KO, and an Indiana penalty advanced the Wolverines to the Indian 48. Drake Johnson took care of the rest with a 16-yard jaunt and a 32-yard TD run for a final of 34-10.
This was a much need win for the Wolverines, and now they need another at Northwestern. They need to show they can win away from home.
Lets stay tuned in and continue to Go Blue!