The sixth week of the 2012 season is already completed, and before Saturday’s game no one could be reasonably sure as to how good the 133rd edition of the Wolverines could be.  How likely were prospects for a competitive run at a Big Ten title to materialize?  Would the Wolverines at 2-2 get out of the gate faster than 3-1 Purdue?  They not only owned a better record at 3-1, but almost beat the Irish in Notre Dame Stadium.  The Boilers also harbored visions of winning the Big Ten, and had the comfort of their home crowd at Ross-Ade.  This was a crucial opener for both teams and, without doubt, the Wolverines played their best game of the year, offensively, defensively, and on special teams. 


  • The shadow of Michigan’s missteps at Notre Dame still lingered.  Denard came off what he called his worst game ever, and no one could argue that.   For once, he was not the hero of the game, his 4 interceptions and red zone fumble put him in unfamiliar territory.  He owned up to his responsibilities and promised improvements.  Could the Wolverines limit their remarkable number of offensive turn overs ?  Actuality:  Denard was at his best, and lived up to his promises as his running paced the Wolverine victory in spectacular fashion.  His passing complemented his running with a  TD and 105-yards.  He ran twenty four times for 235-yards.  It was his 5th career 200-yard rushing game, and produced but a single turnover, a fumble recovered by the Boilers. He produced a number of long and spectacular runs, breaking Michigan and Big Ten yardage records.
  • Would the receivers produce and would the other than Denard’s ground game prosper?  Devin Gardner snagged 2 for 31-yards and a made a great catch for a 38-yard TD.  Jeremy Gallon had 3 catches and 37-yards with a long of 28-yards. Roy Roundtree came up with a couple.  Devin Funchess had one for 14-yards. The game plan set Denard’s legs in motion, used passing sparingly, and was an outstanding success, putting the Wolverines on path to an important win in alien territory.  While Fitz Toussaint had 17 carries for a paltry 19-yards, and a 1.1-yard average, he scored two TDs.  The lack of running back production is a  concern expressed by Coach Hoke.  Jeremy Gallon ran some end arounds in addition to receiving, and was very elusive.  Thomas Rawls’ TD came in mop up time, but he ran with authority.
  • The Notre Dame loss set some to wondering about Coach Borges’ management of the passing game.  At Notre Dame, in the first half Denard, threw 4 interceptions. Why were 2 more long passes called to be thrown by an obviously rattled QB, after the first two were intercepted?  Why wasn’t Denard rested for a series?  Would all this become forgettable water over the dam in the Big Ten opener? Actuality:  Its now water over the dam.  M’s sparse passing game was well managed and effective. Denard actually threw one away when trapped.
  • Could the offensive line provide better pass protection and better run blocking to provide the points necessary to win away from home, an area in which the offense has struggled? Against a hurry up spread offense?  Can they tackle in space?  Cause turn overs? Is our defense tougher than theirs? Actuality:  An emphatic yes to all the above, except the better run blocking for all but Denard. Purdue lost four turnovers- two interceptions and two fumbles. M fumbled once when Denard possibly held the read option too long on a play where he got intense pressure.  M won the TO battle.  The defense was workman like and effective.  They are progressing.
  • Was Kirk Herbstreit wrong picking Purdue to win? Actuality: It is most satisfying to say yes to this one, but it was hard to tell before the game as Purdue sports some decent football assets, like QB Caleb TerBush. Prior to Saturday he took over the position after Robert Marve was injured in the 20-17 loss to Notre Dame. The Boilers were alleged to be blessed with the best receivers M has faced this year, and they have a jumbo and talented defensive line.  Actuality: QB TerBush was rushed and sacked, and had a few catchable passes dropped by receivers. He had 105-yards on 16 throws, and one TD, with one interception returned down the sideline for a 63-yard TD by M’s Raymon Taylor. On this day his performance appeared fairly ordinary, but that is a credit to the Michigan defense, which played very well. Purdue did not throw down field much.  TerBush was relieved late in the game by Robert Marve, who returned from prior injury with some effectiveness, but also threw an interception to Thomas Gordon.  That one was returned 19-yards. Marve completed 5 of 8 for 43-yards, returning to action after recovery from a torn ACL.  He did provide a lift to the Boilers when he came in, but fortunately not enough to change results. Defensively, the Boilers LB’s are not as good as their down linemen.
  • Was home field advantage significant? Actuality: The Ross-Ade denizens are relatively close to the action in their 62,500 seat edifice, which is surfaced by prescription athletic turf.  Ross-Ade ambience is enhanced by the Golden Girl, and her companions in silver.  Actuality: Not a factor as the Wolverines went up early, the Purdue students were on break, and there was plenty of Maize and Blue to behold.  Only a crowd of approximately 50,000 attended on a great fall day.
  • Was the bye week helpful to the Wolverines?  Actuality: As M has won nine of its last ten outings after a bye week, it was business as usual.
  • Would special teams play be a factor contributing to victory or defeat? Actuality: Purdue kick-off returns were good enough to draw the attention of Coach Hoke in his on field after game remarks. The Boilers routinely had great return results.  They had many opportunities and too often started their offense at the M 35.   They ran 8 KOs back for 183-yards.  M’s Norfleet (3 returns for 76-yards with an average of 25.3) was no slouch either. Will Hagerup punted superbly. M’s Delonte Hollowell scooped up a Boiler muffed KO in the second quarter.  Brandon Gibbons hit FGs of 29, 42, and 27-yards, missing one of 44-yards that hit the cross bar.


Michigan kicked off and the defense forced a Purdue punt.  They also made the most of their 1st offensive opportunity, holding the ball for eight minutes and 48 seconds.  This 17-play drive extended 78-yards and resulted in a 1-yard Fitz Toussaint TD.19 offensive players participated, providing perhaps the lengthiest drive since 1976.

With 111-yards of offense, and 12 minutes, 11-seconds of ball control, the first quarter was an almost perfect M start.

The  combination of a Purdue penalty, DRob running, Gallon and Garner receptions, and the short yardage TD by Toussaint, put M ahead and they never looked back. They ended the  1st quarter up 7 to nothing. 

The Wolverines made up for any shortage in points in the second quarter, scoring 21 points.  Fitz Toussaint scored on a one yard run, after an 8-play 60-yard drive which included a Devin Funchess grab, and a 38-yard Denard run, making it 14 zip Wolverines. 

Then Raymon Taylor grabbed a Purdue throw and scampered 63-yards down the sideline for a TD, and it was 21 zip.  Taylor showed why he has latched onto a starting cornerback spot.  This was a fantastic start.  There was hope for a blowout. Purdue moved downfield easily, but the Wolverine defense held them to a 40-yard field goal to make it 21-3. 

Before Robinson’s fumble (at the M 36) gave Michigan’s momentum a cold shower, he tossed a great 23-yard TD to a leaping Devin Gardner crossing the end zone.  A beautiful catch! Think Braylon Edwards.  Gallon contributed a 28-yard reception during the drive.  28-3 has a nice ring to it.  But Robinson’s fumble provided the Boilers a short field opportunity, and they made the most of it on a 4-yard TD pass.  The half ended  28-10. 

That half was the result of a great offensive and defensive effort, a great half of football against a decent team. Robinson was simply magnificent, notwithstanding the fumble. 

The third quarter was a bit of a standoff with M getting 3 on a 29-yard FG which completed an 8 play, 61-yard drive for a 31-10 lead. Denard contributed  an exciting 46-yard jaunt. 

Early in the 4th, the Boilers answered with a 37-yard FG.  The defense stopped a drive which looked to go all the way, and Gibbons answered with two FGs of his own,  One FG which covered 42-yards (Robinson had a 59-yard run to the Purdue 16), and one FG from 27-yards out. Now it was 37-13.  The concern was that M did not complete these drives in the end zone. Hoke referenced this in his post game comments. 

Thomas Rawls capped the scoring late in the game, with an outstanding 7-yard run to complete a 4-play, 33-yard drive for the 44-13 final score.  The entire 33-yard drive belonged to Thomas Rawls. 


Denard is revising the Michigan and Big Ten record books. He now owns the Big Ten career quarterback rushing record with 3,905 career rushing yards. He has tied Mike Hart for career 200-yard rushing games. He is now in 5th place among M’s all time rushing leaders, passing Butch Woolfolk and Chris Perry. 


It now appears the Wolverines will be able to compete well in the Big Ten, as long as they are reasonably healthy at key positions.  They have an influx of young talent that is beginning to step up. Note Funchess, Taylor, Norfleet and others. Desmond Morgan and Jake Ryan are improving every week as is Q. Washington.  

The Wolverines will return to the friendly confines of Michigan Stadium to host Illinois.  Forget the Illini record, they will provide excitement and competition. 

Go Blue!




Michigan Monday

The Wolverines score 63 points against UMass but can’t manage a Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honor. It’s good to know that the Big10 is incorporating strength of schedule into the award criteria.

Michigan Greats Borges, Lytle, Morrison Named to Hall of Honor– No, not that Borges.

Wolverines hammer the Minuteman 63-13. The game was decided in minutes.

Photos from the 63-13 thumping.

Post-Game Podcast (UMGoPodcast)

Awesome breakdown of the Brady Hoke leaping (and coming up short) of the M Club Banner (MVictors)

Great pre-game photos (MaizeandBlueNation)

Hoke or Harbaugh?

Press Release- Kramer Recognized as Michigan Football Legend, TE Moore to Wear #87

Like UMGoBlue on Facebook


The Wolverines covered the highest pre-game point spreads in their 133 year of football, forty-five and one half  points, with a fifty point victory. Yet the game did not have  a feeling of a rout early as it took a while to wear down and dominate the Minutemen.


The University of Massachusetts got another taste of big time college football Saturday, and the Wolverines got a chance to experience facing the third different offensive scheme thrown at them in three games.  First, the Alabama power game, then the singular hybrid triple option offense of the Air Force Falcons (which they ran to perfection), and now the Minuteman spread.

The Minutemen are now an FBS team, but came to M Stadium having suffered at the hands of Indiana’s Hoosiers last Saturday 45-6.  Some feel it will take another five years for them to be at an appropriate competitive level, but their spokesmen indicated they must achieve at a higher level much sooner, say in three years.  That they have a ways to go was a certainty proved Saturday.


In the two games completed prior to meeting the Wolverines (against Connecticut and Indiana), they gave up 82-points and scored 6.  First year Coach Charlie Molnar has his hands full, in their first season of competition in the MAC.

They will play their home games in Gillette Stadium which is 90 miles from their campus.  Averaging only 13,000 plus fans a game last year, the crowd of over 110,000 at Michigan Stadium must have been a shock to them, except for Michael Cox, the running back who, not garnering much playing, time re-located from Ann Arbor to play in Amherst.  He did well, having 18 carries for 85-yards. Amherst is the main University of the five that comprise the highly rated Massachusetts University system.  A 50,000 seat stadium is in the works at Amherst.


Massachusetts scored 13 points in the second quarter, their only TD coming on a 32-yard interception return of an errant Denard Robinson pass in the second quarter. Two field goals completed their total of 13 points.  They completed a good pass on a flea flicker.


Michigan’s defense yielded only 259-yards which is outstanding, but allowed 7 of 17 third down conversions. UMass ran 66 offensive plays and the Wolverines ran 68.  M had 27 1st downs, UMass 15.  But UMass converted 7 of 17 third downs and that is slightly worrisome.  Time of possession was close, 30.57 for the Wolverines, and 29.03 for UMass.  This is also slightly worrisome.


In the first quarter, Michigan put up 14 on a 26-yard pass to Devin (I make it look so easy) Funchess, and an 11-yard run by Fitz Toussaint. In the second quarter, M’s offense produced a 5-yard Vincent Smith TD, a Devin Gardner grab and run for a 42-yard score, and another beautiful Denard run for 36-yards. Shoelace tossed a shoe on on of his jaunts.

Taylor Lewan finished the scoring for the quarter by falling on a Denard fumble in the end zone for a TD.  In the third, Roy Roundtree collared an 18-yard pass from Denard for 6.  By then the score had jumped to 49-13 and it seemed a route was a certainty.  Vincent Smith upped the ante by adding 6 on 9-yard run.  In the 4th, Justice Hayes lugged the leather payload into the north end zone for six and his first collegiate TD, and the final score of 63-13 was achieved.


Coach Hoke was very serious in his post- game interview.  One reporter said something to the effect that you don’t sound like a Coach that has just won a game by fifty points.  Hoke indicated that he was concerned about the improvement of the defensive and offensive lines that it all starts there.

In a subsequent interview here is what Coach Hoke said regarding the margin of victory being good for team morale and the lines: “First and foremost, it’s great to win a football game. At the same time, we’ve got a lot of things that we did well, but we need to do a lot better job at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.”  Also he stated in his presser he wants the defense to cause more turnovers to give the offense more opportunities. On the improvement on the offensive line: “There must have been some improvement. It’s hard to tell during the course of the game to be honest, but we stayed on blocks a little better. I thought Fitz (Toussaint) got a little better with his rhythm. Then, when Thomas (Rawls) came in, I thought he made some physical runs for us. That’s the sticking point right now. It might be boring for some people, but we need to play better on both sides of the ball.”


What a day he had, producing another 4 TD game. Three TDs passing, and one on the ground.  291-yards passing plus 106-yards running as only he can.

As I mentioned above, this rout did have an unusual feel. Probably because there were unnecessary penalties, plus Denard missed a wide open Gardner, overthrew Dileo, threw an interception, and fumbled on the goal line to slightly mar another outstanding performance.  It has to be said when he makes mistakes he usually more than makes up for it, and he certainly did Saturday, but it is becoming apparent that in the first half of games he sometimes errs.  When Denard makes a mistake he is forthright in admitting it.  In his post-game press conference interview he mentioned them ruefully.  The other than Denard running game waited until the second half to get going.

With 5,630 career passing yards, Denard has surpassed both Tom Brady and Jim Harbaugh.  He is also in second place in career offensive yardage trailing only Chad Henne.


Fitz Toussaint ran 15 times for 87-yards.  Thomas Rawls lugged 6 times for 42-yards, with a spectacular sideline whack which again proved he likes to run over people. Vincent Smith was only 3 for 20-yards but scored twice. Justice Hayes got a TD, and Dennis Norfleet had one run for 14-yards.


Nine different Wolverine receivers collared a few aerials, with Jeremy Gallon leading the pack. His 66-yard reception and scamper was spectacular.  Devin Gardner grabbed a 42-yarder for a TD.  The nine were Dileo, Gallon, Gardner, Funchess (TD), Roundtree(TD), Smith, Toussaint, Kwiatkowski, and Jerald Robinson.


Dennis Norfleet is going to be something special.  He runs with abandon.  Saw his only punt return of 11-yards from up close and he is impressive.  He packaged that with two kick-off returns for 44-yards and you have to know that it is only a matter of time before he takes on to the house.  This year’s rule changes have hurts the KO return scenario as now they usually have to be returned form the end zone. Dennis will overcome that.  Will Hagerup is punting the lights out.  He had two Saturday for an average of 46-yards, and a long of 60.  Matt Will hit one KO out of bounds, but is doing a good job on the season, causing 3 touch backs Saturday on his 9 attempts.  Seth Broekhuizen hit one KO 65-yards.


The Michigan Football Legend designation is awarded to deserving players as retired numbers are awarded to them.  Their locker will reflect the honor as well as a patch on their jerseys.

Graduating in 1956, Kramer was a rare athlete, competing in track, basketball and football at the highest level.  He earned any athletic honor Michigan can give him, and was a true, life-long “Michigan” man. Tight End Brandon Moore now wears Kramer’s Number 87, which was retired in 1956.

An All-American in football in 1955 and again in 1956, first team all Big Ten 1954-56, played offense and defense, and saw time at running back,quarterback, kicker and receiver, Kramer had it all.  For two years he led the Wolverines in scoring in basketball as well as football.

So far Desmond Howard, Benny Oosterbaan, and Ron Kramer have been honored.  Since I was in school when Benny Oosterbaan was Football Head Coach, I will post a little something about him.


The Irish taught the Michigan State Spartans a lesson Saturday night 20-3.  They will be nationally ranked when the Wolverines enter their Stadium.  It appears that they have shored up their defense from the recent past, and they will be ready to perform an Alabama on Denard Robinson.

It is hard to predict whether or not the Wolverines will be up to the task next Saturday night.  Can the Wolverines play tough enough, play poised enough, play smart enough, to nail the Irish, by putting a defeat on a team that has managed a three to nothing start.  All season long we have been saying that the litmus test will be the Notre Dame game, and so it will, but it is not an all or nothing game.  All the Big Ten schedule will still be before them.  But this game might be indicative  of how competitive the Wolverines can be later in the season.  Much pride is at stake.

Go Blue!




Army, Navy, and Air Force present first class spectacle, competitive spirit, even if undersized by today’s football standards.  M is now 17-11-1 against the group, but today’s melee with the Falcons was too close for comfort.

Game Photo Gallery

There was no question that today’s football versions of the service academies are sometimes undersized, and the Falcon linemen presented Saturday were mostly no exception.  They have size limitations for Academy entrance.  The Falcon’s defensive line averaged six feet one and two hundred-twenty pounds.. Their hurry up offense kept them within three late in the last half, and it finally took some M defensive pressure to maintain the lead and secure the victory.  By that time starting Mike Linebacker Kenny Demens was gathering splinters, and some of the younger players were in the game at crunch time. Freshman Joe Bolden had a great game at the Mike LB, and James Ross III and Mario Ojemudia contributed.  Ondre Pipkins was in there.

Frank Clark was out of the doghouse and made a defensive difference as he is a playmaker, but at this time the defense overall looks like a middle of the pack B!G defense.

Pre-game the big question probably didn’t revolve around the Falcons at all, but around the Wolverines themselves.  Would the ill-fated trip to Arlington linger in the Wolverine’s psyche?  Would they show up flat or fighting?  Or would they produce a two loss start to the season by losing the Alabama game twice? I thought before the game that there was no way this set of coaches would let that happen, nor Captains Kovacs and Robinson.

But the defense struggled most of the game.   Coach Hoke on the defensive stops on the last two series: … “I think our guys responded well. We didn’t get the first down and then the defense had to go right back onto the field. On the series before that, our guys went out and made a couple stops that they had to make. At the end, I think our front took over a little bit and got them a little uncomfortable because they had to throw the football. That’s what you want to try to do on all of those third-down opportunities.” 

Except for Denard the run game was non-existent. The run game supplied by a re-instated Fitzgerald Toussaint did not produce.  Fitz earned 8-yards on 7 carries.  The OL is as much to blame as Fitz.  The same could not be said for the Falcons who racked up 71 carries for 290-yards on the ground.

 Coach Hoke on the M running game: “We talked after the game as a team. Did we play our best football? No. Do we have to play much better football if we want to win the Big Ten championship? Yes. We’ve got to get better each week. Part of that is up front, on both sides of the ball. I think we’re a work in progress defensively. We have a lot of guys in and out. And offensively, because we have some older guys that don’t have a lot of experience, we have to keep working through that and get better.” 

Some of yesteryear’s versions of the service academies routinely produced the finest football players in America, producing names that still echo in the hallowed halls of football fame and tradition.  Like Mr. Inside and Outside of Army in the forties, Glen Davis and Doc Blanchard.  Like Navy QB Roger Staubach, who once graced Michigan Stadium and gave the Wolverines fits.  I don’t remember the entire game but I remember his stellar presence and performance. 

While the USAF was not represented separately by name in most of the forties it was part of that history then being the Army Air Force.  The Wolverines didn’t own the only tradition represented on that field Saturday.  But tradition by itself does not produce wins.  It takes good coaching, football smarts and discipline, and very high motivation to compete. 

The Air Force Academy has all of that and more, even if they do not pick off the nations prime football talents every year.  What other institution has Freedom or Service emblazoned on jerseys where names are usually located? 

Back in the fifties, I looked forward to the horde of cadets, or midshipmen, that marched into the stadium as a group, cheering enmasse, wearing the same uniforms as their brethren, and presenting as united a fan front as exists.  I watched Michigan’s great Ron Kramer meet their challenge.  I remember him cutting down two Army players at the same time on one offensive play.  It all didn’t go the Wolverines way, as they lost 7-26 in 1954, but redeemed in 1955 26-2, and hammered Army in 1956 48-7. 

I remember a smoker at the Michigan Union where one cadet was crowing as much as they ever did by saying, “Michigan sure does NOT know how to play football”.  On that day that premise seemed absolute fact, but they should have sent that gentlemanly cadet to MSU to enhance his jeering credentials. 

The pre-game festivities were absolutely first class.  The Cadets launched a magnificent bird of prey that flew above the field and returned to its master.  That was a beautiful and unusual sight.  Then three of the great Maize and Blue medical choppers passed overhead while in formation.  A B-2 bomber made one of the best passes above the stadium I have ever seen.  Directly overhead, and going slow, that fly over was very impressive.  A Congressional Medal of Honor winner flipped the coin before the game. Jake Ryan, who made some mistakes in the game, but overall contributed a lot was honored as he will wear Legends number 47, which remembers 9-letter winner and former Head Football Coach Benny Oosterbaan.

 With all that and a beautiful, partly sunny afternoon in the sparkling old/new stadium reminded why I, and so many others, are willing to shell out 70 or more bucks for a seat.  It was great to return there for another season.  

Great also certainly describes the performance of Denard Robinson Saturday afternoon.  Denard on the ground:  218-yards, and 2 TD’s. Denard in the air: 14 of 25 for 208-yds and two TDs. He amassed a total of 426-yards of offense and 4 TDs.  He produced an early 1st half 70-yard TD jaunt.  And produced another early in the second half, but this TD jaunt was for 58-yards. Denard’s passing game results were more mixed than his ground game results. 

He threw a slightly high pass to Vincent Smith that went through Smith’s hands, and was intercepted.  It seemed to me the pass should have been caught.  He still misses some open receivers, throws over, below, or behind some receivers, but overall the results are spectacular.  He is the most exciting player in college football. 

Among Robinson’s accomplishments per the official Michigan website:

• Fourth career 200-yard rushing game. He is in second place among Michigan’s all-time rushing leaders in the category, passing Ron Johnson (1966-68). He also is in third place with eight career 150-yard games; which ties with Jamie Morris (1984-87).

• first FBS player since 1996 to record three career games with 200-yards passing and rushing. Texas’ Vince Young is the only other FBS player to with more than one such effort.

•upped his career rushing yards to 3,474 and moved to seventh place among Michigan’s all-time leaders in the category, passing Rob Lytle (3,317, 1973-76).  With 15 career 100-yard games, Robinson tied Lytle for sixth place among U-M’s all-time leaders.

• With his 3,474 career rushing yards, Robinson moved to eighth place among the all-time NCAA leaders in rushing yards by a quarterback. He needs 123-yards to reach the seventh spot.

• Robinson became the first Wolverine since Tyrone Wheatley (1991-94) to record two rushing touchdowns of 50- yards or more in a game.

For three quarters the Wolverine offense outdid the defense.  The defense could not stop third and long conversions, and time and again got their corner turned (on one long drive 4 times in a row).  AFA produced ball possession  (which is their scheme) and drives again and again.

Regardless of the caginess of the scheme, that is scary as to the future results to be produced by this defense.  The offense let the defense need to regain its moxie to win the game in the 4th quarter as the defense stepped up to stop the Falcons in the two 4th down situations noted above by Coach Hoke.  The offense couldn’t get a critical 1st down or more than three points in the quarter in a game that was uncomfortably close, and hard fought.  Fortunately Air Force missed a couple of makeable FGs.

It was what some fans called an Oh, Oh! game.  It is scary as neither the offensive or defensive lines are settled, and as yet are not comparable to last years in productivity. Position switches and the necessity to use inexperienced players at so many positions takes time to overcome.  They have just two weeks before a stern South Bend test.

It is doubtful that the coaches were surprised by the Wolverine difficulties on the offensive and defensive lines.  It was a good game from which to learn.   And it was a win.

There were bright spots. Freshman Tight End Devin Funchess collared 4 passes for 106-yards, making it look easy.  All were over 20-yards and included 1 TD. Devin Gardner is fast improving. He put his mitts on 5 for 63-yards and 1 TD.  Dennis Norfleet was again remarkable at returning Kos with 77-yards on 3 attempts.  Will Hagerup punted well again.

Massachusetts is up next and will provide more learning and experience even if there will not be a B-2 in sight.

Bring on the Minutemen. 

Go Blue!