The Michigan Wolverines displayed fortitude, aptitude and effort on both sides of the ball Saturday for 59 minutes while humbling Purdue’s Boilermakers 48 to 21. The Boilers were left steaming and clanging ineffectively before a Homecoming crowd of 110,888.
Even the run right or left on first down play calling that had seemed to contribute to Michigan recently being among the statistical bottom feeders in Big Ten scoring offense, and some other offensive categories, was abandoned at times, with much success.
With temperatures in the low 50’s and blue skies mixed with fleecy clouds, it was a perfect autumn afternoon in Ann Arbor to tailgate, listen to the Blast from the Past (Michigan’s musical has beens from prior bands), and the current Marching Band. I never grow tired of Temptation and the Hawaiian War Chant.
It was a great day to enjoy a victory over a team recently ranked 23rd in the nation and a definite stumbling block on the Maize and Blue road to a Big Ten title. Purdue’s fine Marching Band was not on scene, nor was the much admired and missed “Golden Girl”.
Prior to this game, most Michigan fans wondered how we would fare against Coach Tiller’s usually productive “spread” offense. Not to worry. Coach Tiller’s lack of success against the Wolverines in Michigan Stadium was to continue.
Michigan fans witnessed the finest Chad Henne performance of the season, He was a sterling 21 of 28 for 264-yards, 2 TDS and no interceptions.
Both the offense and defense played well for a 31-7 Wolverine lead at the half.
Credit the Boilers that they did not give up and produced not one but two successful on side kicks, and scored TDs on a couple of drives with little time left in the game. Both the resulting scores came late against Michigan’s reserves. Since those onside kicks and drives came against reserves, and in the last minute, they really are not indicative of the game as a whole. This was a good, old fashioned, country butt whuppin.
Perhaps, the successful onsides happened because Michigan had failed to put in a “hands” team, with Carr explaining that his “hands” team was cold since they had not been in the game for fifteen minutes, so he did not put them in. I suppose to avoid risk of injury. He also said it would give people something to complain about. I agree with that. They should and will complain about those two errors and resulting scores.
Otherwise the special teams acquitted themselves well enough, allowing no really big run backs, except one early one which approached really big. With KC Lopata hitting a couple of FGs and Mesko hitting some towering punts and Wright kicking kick offs to the short returners instead of to the proficient Purdue deep returners (after getting burned a little bit first), they seemed more proficient than usual. At least one FG was nearly touched, but it went over the cross bar with room to spare. Lopata’s FG kicks looked strong. Brandon Minor had a 35-yard KO return to set up an early field goal.
While it was still Hart on first down for little gain on some occasions, they did toss it downfield to Manningham who had an outstanding game after returning from the “dog house”. He snagged 8 catches for an outstanding 147 yards. This ties his career best number of catches.
Mike Hart had 102 yards on 21 totes, and a couple of TDs. Another outstanding day, a record seven 100-yard games, but again leaving the game nicked, limping off not to return. Carlos Brown replaced the also nicked Brandon Minor who had replaced Hart at TB and had the best day of his career. In contrast to Hart, Brandon Minor came off the field on the cart. Carlos Brown demonstrated his speed on an outstanding 29-yard scamper for a TD, scored another TD, and totaled 66-yards on 13 carries. Minor and Milano also rushed, but not as successfully as Brown.
Both Hart and Henne are over 1,000 yards for the season.
Henne hit a variety of receivers besides Mario, with Adrian Arrington having 6 receptions for 55-yards. Mathews, McLaurin, Moundros, Butler, Hart and Clemons all snared one or more aerials.
Michigan’s first possession of the game started with a Henne roll out and nice pass to Carson Butler for a first down and 13-yards on the first play of the game. While our offensive coaches were not exactly riverboat gamblers Saturday, this seemed a better offensive scheme, and the results show it. It was an efficient plan, and more importantly, a convincing winner.
As unlikely as it seems, special teams breathed first life into Michigan’s effort early. Stevie Brown, on special teams, grabbed a loose Purdue punt that had glanced off the back of a Boilermaker, and ran it into the endzone, but it was considered down and called back. Michigan had great field position with the ball at the Purdue 31, and subsequently Chad hit Mario with a perfect 24-yard strike for the first TD of the game. KC Lopata converted all EPs on the day. M 7, PU 0.
The vaunted left side of Michigan’s offensive line let a blitzer through and Henne was blindsided and separated from the football. The result of the recovery was a short Purdue drive for their only meaningful TD of the day. M 7, PU 7. So much for our early advantage as worry began to replace elation.
M stalled, but Lopata hit a strong 34-yard FG. M 10, PU 7. Maybe this field goal unit is beginning to jell.
Purdue fumbled on their 26, and M capitalized on an outstanding 10-yard run by Mike Hart in which he was on a pile, maneuvered off, and without touching down, twisted and propelled himself into the into the endzone. This was in the south endzone, so I got a good look at it and it was an amazing effort. Ruled a TD on the field, the review confirmed. M 17, PU 7. Vintage Hart. Again and amazing effort.
In the early second quarter, the Wolverines and Boilers exchanged punts. An end around by Mario, a couple of catches by Greg Mathews, and nice Hart run, a penalty, and another Hart run for 8-yards, and the Blue looked at a 24-7 lead with 5 or 6 minutes left in the half, and the Wolverines were rolling. This was confirmed when Brandon Harrison grabbed a Purdue pass, and sprinted to the Boiler 21. The crowd was alive with anticipation, and they were certainly not disappointed by a perfect Chad Henne toss to Mario of 21-yards for a TD. Great throw and catch. M 31-PU 7.
Offensively and defensively it was a great half of Michigan football. This was the kind of performance that restores confidence and enthusiasm.
The third quarter was unremarkable except for the injury to Brandon Minor and a late 35-yard Lopata FG. M 34-PU 7.
The fourth contained some offensive fireworks with Carlos Brown scampering 29-yards into the north endzone. M 41-PU 7. Jamar Adams made an interception and Brown ran another TD in. M 48-PU 7.
Purdue then got their two last minute consolation TDs mentioned above for a final score of M 48-PU 21.
Michigan had a total of 459 yards to Purdue’s 292, passing for 279 and running for 189.
All in all an outstanding performance all around except for the last minute.
All the defensive wounded that were thought before the game to able to play did, except John Thompson, including Will Johnson, Chris Graham, and Brandon Graham. Brandon’s return surely helped Shawn Crable’s effectiveness, and Shawn had a good game, as did Terrence Taylor and the fast improving Obi Ezeh. LB Chris Graham led the defense with 6 tackles. Adams and Harrison both had interceptions.
The OL wounded did not return and Schilling and Ortman manned the right side of the OL and appeared to do a credible job.
What more could we ask for? We are still in the Big Ten race, but with successive challenges looming. At Illinois is a nasty place to play. A night game, this one will be broadcast by network television. The Illini will be energized by their recent difficulties at Iowa.
Hopefully we will not get Zooked, but will continue to improve. It ought to be a great game.