The Michigan Wolverines football team traveled to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis St. Paul, to meet the Minnesota Gophers in their still new TCF Bank stadium on Saturday. The Wolverines were looking to improve their suddenly uncomfortably uncertain football prospects, and in so doing had to kill Gopher Coach Jerry Kill and Company’s dreams of improving their own bowl prospects with a signature win.

The Gophers must have yearned for the football respectability that a win over the University of Michigan would afford them. They were coming off their most solid win of the season, having destroyed Purdue 44-23 last Saturday. This improved their expectations and gave some probability, but not certainty, to obtaining the object of their quest. Sitting at 5 wins, and 3 Big Ten losses, they critically needed another win to go bowling.

Understandably, they wanted to lay their Gopher paws on our Little Brown Jug again. One of the most venerable and venerated “trophies” in the history of college football, it has dwelt most of its time in Ann Arbor, at home in the home of the Wolverines, and it is difficult to categorize any season that ends with its absence as a success.

Even though M leads the series 71-24-1, the Gophers have had their moments. Rickey Foggy laid a memorable loss on the number two ranked Wolverines in 1986, and for those of us in attendance, that was bitter. And there was that miserable playing surface at the Metro dome, where the fleet and shifty Tony Boles ran up the sideline for a nice gain, but twisted a knee, and lost his playing career, due it was said, to a miserable Metro dome rug. Among those 24 prior Wolverine losses there were some stunners.

The Wolverines set out, as they always do, to provide the Jug with a round trip ticket. But there were obstacles in the way, not the least of which were some aspects of the Wolverine’s team itself.


When Denard Robinson fell on his elbow in the second quarter of last Saturday’s Nebraska loss, it illustrated like nothing else could how dependent the Wolverines offensive productivity is on his many athletic skills. Some had suspected that M’s offense was a one act pony, and the Nebraska game seemed to prove the point. This injury changed the course of Michigan’s offense, just as it made Nebraska change its very conservative, contain Robinson at all costs, defense. They went to a hell for leather blitzing scheme which took its toll on Denard’s replacement, Freshman Russell Bellomy.

Russell suffered the growing pains of inexperience, the slings and arrows of some fans, and too little help from his friends as catchable passes were dropped, blitzers were coming free, and nearly everything else that besets QBs in ineffective debuts, beset Russell. It was as intense a baptism and learning situation as it was dismal. Russell was 3 of 16 for 38-yards and three interceptions.

  • Could Denard shake off his injured elbow, start and play at his usual high level of performance shaking off the injury? Actuality: No, the injury has persisted. Good luck trying to find out if Denard will be ready for next week until game time. 
  • If Denard was not available, would Devin Gardner or Russell Bellomy replace him? Prior to Nebraska, Coach Hoke said in a presser that Russell was the back up, and that he was taking most of the snaps. Now the scenario had changed a little and they were saying that Devin Gardner would get more snaps at QB, and that there was competition at the position. Actuality: Devin Gardner started and after a dismal first quarter, got going. The ice breaker was a third and seventeen pass play in which he rolled to his right, circled back left, and heaved a perfect pass to Drew Dileo waiting by himself in the end zone. Devin held the ball for nine seconds before the toss. That play set the Michigan offensive wheels in motion. Devin’s career day included 12 completions, 2 TDs, and one interception. He hit 67% of his passes, hitting 12 of 18, for 234-yards. He had a very athletic run down the sidelines. 
  • Could the Wolverines run the ball with no Denard? Actuality: Late in the game, on fourth and one, Fitz broke up the middle late in the game for a 41-yard score. Almost collared, he put an arm down, regained balance and sped to six. He had 70-yards on 13 carries. Thomas Rawls ran 16 times for 43-yards, and played early in the game. Devin Gardner had 44-yards on 10 carries. Jeremy Gallon rushed twice for 21-yards. The total of 182-yards and a 3.9-yard average rush is nothing to write home about considering the struggle of the competition’s defense against the rush, but its better than some recent results. Could M throw it? Actuality: The passing was not effective in the first quarter. The offensive line did not hold its own in that quarter. The passing game was great the rest of the game. As mentioned Devin had some good runs. On his TD run, he ran as tough as any back and stretched for six . It was a remarkable play that was the game’s turning point. The receiver’s cooperated with Devin. Dileo, Roundtree, and Gallon all making outstanding catches. Gallon was a little inconsistent, fumbling a punt return, and getting a silly block in the back penalty, but he redeemed all by snaring a 47-yarder with a beautiful catch. Relatively short, Gallon showed remarkable elevation making that catch, as he has others. Gallon had four with a score. Drew Dileo had 69-yards on four catches and a TD. Roy Roundtree caught two for 64-yards with a long of 47-yards. This was a spectacular grab he as he wrestled with the defender. The catch was upheld on review. Michigan “won” all its reviews.
  • Would the defense continue to improve? Get off the field and stop big plays? Actuality: The defense did well overall. They snuffed a critical fourth and ones and were great in the red zone, once backing short and goal back up to the twenty. They held Minnesota to 144-yds rushing and 147-yards passing, maintaining another 13 point effort. Jake Ryan had nine tackles, three of which were TFLs. Kenny Demens had 10-tackles with one of those being a TFL. The Gophers were limited to 49-yards offense in the second quarter. Outstanding. But with room for improvement per Coach Hoke.  Probably he was thinking of third and long conversions, and that first drive.
  • Would special teams again be special? Too often the Gophers had good field position on KO returns, and Will Hagerup was less spectacular punting than usual, hitting 3 for 88-yards. His 29.3 average was surprising. Gibbons missed an extra point but got a re-try on a Minnesota gift, keeping his made string intact.
  • Penalties? Michigan made some stupid penalties, but Minnesota hurt themselves, once getting charged for two penalties on the same play, and an ill- advised fake kick was effectively snuffed out be the Wolverines.


The Wolverines received and it looked like a replay of last week’s troubles at Nebraska would materialize again as the offensive line and Devin struggled, tossing an early interception, but the defense proved solid and the quarter ended zip to zip. A short punt put the Gophers at the M 43 and they took full advantage of the good field position, driving 43-yards on a 6 play drive ending with a 6-yard TD pass. M-0, Minn.- 7.

The Wolverines put together a sweet 91-yard, 12-play drive featuring the 45-yard end zone reception by Drew Dileo that marked the emergence of Devin Gardner and the resurgence of the Wolverines offense. Dileo knows how to get open and he catches the ball reliably all the time, and spectacularly some of the time. The TD drought was over. M-7, Minn.-7.

The Wolverines showed they meant business by producing a 13-play, 90-yard drive. Roundtree, Funchess, and J. Robinson, caught passes and Gardner contributed a nice run. Thomas Rawls finished the drive with a two-yard TD run and it was 14-7 and halftime.

In the third quarter, Minnesota drove to the M 14, but turned the ball over on downs, and during a 7 play 86-yard drive, Gardner hit Jeremy Gallon for a 47-yard completion. M-21, Minn.-7.

In the 4th quarter Minnesota got 3 back on a 26-yard FG. The defense held them to a FG, after they had got to the M 3-yard line. A good example of the defense’s effectiveness when and opponent is in its red zone. M-21, Minn-10.

Soon Devin Gardner was at it again conducting an 8-play 70-yard scoring drive with Roy Roundtree gathering in a 47-yard reception at the Minnesota three. What a reception that was. Roy caught the ball as well as the arm of the defender, and replay verified that the call of a catch on the field was valid. M-28, Minn-10.

Minnesota produced another long drive of 13-plays and 69-yards, which ended at fourth and goal at the M 2. It was another great defensive stand. M-28, Minn-13.

Fitz Toussaint then ripped off the 41-yard TD jaunt described above and it was over. FINAL: M-35, Minn.-13.

In Coach Jerry Kill’s second season, the Gophers have been a much improved team over the one that the Wolverines destroyed in Ann Arbor last year 58-0. With five wins and three losses, they are hunting for a bowl berth in spite of playing musical chairs at QB and on the offensive line. That said, most teams have not had to pass much against them as rushing yardage has been readily available. The Wolverines rushing game again still struggled somewhat, but with Gardner’s contributions, it was enough for a very needed win.

Congratulations to Devin Gardner who had a spectacular first start, and bring on a good Northwestern team.  And thanks to you for perusing these pages.


Go Blue!

M Football 2011-Wolverines Shine-Gophers Pine- Michigan 58-Minnesota 0

By Andy Andersen

First, the Gophers lost their Coach, Jerry Kill, to illness.  Fortunately he was back on the sidelines Saturday, hale and hearty to all appearances.

Then they lost their talented starting QB, the adept Marqueis Gray, to an injured toe, and he could not play Saturday.  They had to utilize Freshman Max Shortell at that critical position.  He endured a very tough afternoon learning about B1G (Big Ten) football, but he showed some skill.  He was 11 of 22 for 104 yards with a long throw of 33.

After that, they had to face an energized and physical group of Wolverines who wanted to get off to a good start on their Big Ten schedule in the new Legends Division.  They did so offensively and defensively.

Continue reading “M Football 2011-Wolverines Shine-Gophers Pine- Michigan 58-Minnesota 0”

2007 Michigan Football- UM 34 Minnesota 10 Game Grades


Game 9 Scoreboard





 “Obviously, Mario Manningham is one of the better receivers in the nation. We got tested, and he won.”


Dominique Barber, Minnesota Strong Safety


“Our defense was outstanding today. The good news is that we got going offensively in the second quarter. I think our offensive line has been good all season long.


Lloyd Carr, Michigan Head Coach 


Phil’s Game Grades


Offense   A-
Defense A
Special Teams   A-
Coaching A
Overall    A   


The Wolverines beat the Gophers with QB Chad Henne and RB Mike Hart on the sidelines.


Offense-  The offense didn’t get rolling until the second half but had enough firepower to handle the hapless Gophers.  Backup RBs Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor both rush for over a hundred yards and WR Mario Manningham had a career day. 


Defense-  The defense looked great stuffing the spread offense of the Gophers.


Special Teams-  Nothing bad report- a nice change.


Coaching-   Lloyd rolled the dice that the Wolverines could beat the Gophers with QB Chad Henne and RB Mike Hart resting for next week.  He was right and their backups got valuable meaningful game experience.


Comments-   The only question about the upcoming game versus MSU is how long it will take Chad Henne and Mike Hart to shake off the rust.  If they can get rolling early the Wolverines will put a beating on the Spartans…

M Football 2007- The Bad, the Good and the Jug

Michigan’s Football Wolverines suffered the humiliation of falling behind to the University of Minnesota?s lowly Gophers 3 to zip in the first quarter, of trailing 10 to zip in the second quarter, of barely scraping out a 13-10 lead at the half, of starting with less than glacial speed and almost putting the announced crowd of about 109,000 to sleep with first down runs to the left, only to later stun the crowd with a series of sparkling plays in the second half for a 34 to 10 victory.

Those pesky Minnesota rodents battled in earnest in their desperate attempt to right a wronged season.  They did not quit even if they were finally out manned and overwhelmed, but their many freshmen played tough at least for a while.

Any win is a win and is good, especially in conference, even though in this one, in the first half, it was simply a stinker on the part of the Wolverine offense and, to a lesser degree,  the Wolverine defense.  Thirteen points in a half against statistically the worst defense in BCS (formerly D-1) ball is not particularly laudable.  In fairness to Michigan’s defense it should be noted that the Gophers have demonstrated a proven ability to move the football this year.

Minnesota has fallen on exceptionally hard football times and the Wolverines should be able to demolish a team owning their statistics at the bottom of BCS play, even without the services of Chad Henne and Mike Hart.  While eventually the Wolverines prevailed in somewhat expected style, they were not able to put the game away early, and again seemed to somewhat play down to the level of their competition.

In the absence of Chad Henne, Ryan Mallett drew the start at QB. And like the rest of the Wolverines he saved his best for last, after bobbled snaps, a fumble that led to Gopher points, after passes were batted down, after some poor throws were made and offensive false starts happened.

Ryan seems to be in the midst of some growing pains, but fortunately the situation is perfect for him to learn and put mistakes behind him with the least damage to his team.  His arm appears to be as good as advertised, perhaps better.   His 40-yard, late in the game, TD pass to Mario Manningham in the south endzone was perfect, allowing Mario to catch it in stride.  That,  and others like his strikes to Adrain Arrington, are all proof that the talent and a better than average football future is his to reap.

Just like premium cheese, he needs to be aged, but the level he attains will not just be dependent on his abundant physical skills but on maturation and the growth of football wisdom.  I wonder if the cooler temperatures Saturday bothered him.  In Texas, this kind of temperature would be a ?Blue Norther?.

Ryan was 11/20 for 233 yards. He got better as the game went on, and he will get better as his career goes on.   Next year is sure to be both challenging and interest for him and us.

In the absence of Mike Hart, Carlos Brown started but soon fumbled an opportunity away. Brandon Minor replaced him at TB after the fumble.  Minor had 21 carries for 157 yards and a TD.  Fortunately, Carlos got another chance and redeemed his day with an 85-yard TD sprint from scrimmage into the south endzone, and finished with a solid 132 yards for a total of two TDs ont he day. 

That long TD run was a masterpiece, a spectacular run that showcased Brown?s outstanding speed, and it was his second of the day.  He ran away from everyone.   He had done the same thing in a spring practice, so in that sense it was not surprise.

Mario Manningham has to be considered the player of the game.  He snared 5 passes for a career high 162 yards, and had key catches in scoring drives, and a spectacular TD catch.

How It Unfolded:

The Wolverines all but ceded the first quarter to the Gophers.  Carlos Brown fumbled and they got a 29-yard FG.  M looked flatter than yesterday?s beer on a platter.  This yawner of a quarter ended W-0, G-3.

Things picked up some in the second as Ryan Mallett donated the football to the Gophers and they decided to carry it across M?s goal line.  W-0, G-10.  Unthinkable.  Unbelievable. Actual.  More Appalachian State?

The Wolerines ran left on many first downs, but threw Junior Hemmingway into the fray as a running back, taking a direct snap, with Mallett spread far left, for a harmless trick play that netted three yards.  Finally they shook off some lethargy, and moved for a 42-yard Lopata FG after a 10-play, 54-yard drive. W-3, G-10.

Then they did it again, this time on a 26-yard Lopata FG enabled by a Mario Manningham reception for 39 yards in a 7 play, 53-yard drive.  W-6, G-10.

Mario struck again with a neat 24-yard TD catch, and with a Gopher pass interference call, Brandon Minor ended the drive by scoring on a two-yard run.  It was W-13, G-10, and a poor half of Michigan football was complete.  Offensively, it was a performance as grey and misty as the day.  Henne and Hart missing should not be the crutch used to support that first half.  The defense, while not perfect, played better than the offense.

Fortunately, Zoltan Mesko continued his great punting.  Unfortunately, we could never collar the ball before it bounced into the endzone.  What happened to the punting team trying to catch it near the goal line?  It appeared we had the opportunity with people down there a couple of times, but they could not locate the ball.

Carlos Brown had a nice 27-yard return to start the second half, but they stalled and punted.

Well into the third quarter the Mallett to Manningham connection struck again on a 48-yarder to set up a Carlos Brown TD run of 5-yards.  Great throw and catch.  M-20, G-10 after a 5-play 75-yard drive.

The Blue struck again early in the fourth, on a picture perfect pass and catch resulting in a 6 play, 68-yard drive, which ended with Mario?s remarkable 40-yard TD reception.  Perfect throw, perfect catch, and Mario grabbed it on a dead run.  W-27, G-10.

Carlos Brown than made as good a long TD run as I have ever seen, hauling it 85-yards to pay dirt.  Final W-34, G-10.

For a long time this game was not as lop sided as the final score and statistics indicated.  Michigan? own lack of contain, fumbles and missed tackles, and some mind numbing play calling, helped the Gophers hang around far too long.

Michigan ended up with 307-yards rushing on 40 carries and 254-yard passing on 21 attempts, so eventually they dominated statistically and on the scoreboard.  Ryan Mallett made some mistakes, but engineered some nice drive too.

The Gophers did manage to run the ball for 132-yards on the Wolverines.  Next week the Spartans will want to triple that.  In view of the Gopher?s past performances this year that is a lot, but overall this was a great win, and the Jug gets to remain with its rightful owners for another year.

Now the Wolverines have to slice into the toughest meat of their Big Ten season.  Each of the three remaining games means everything to their hopes, and each will be difficult.  Michigan State lost to Iowa Saturday, but don?t let that settle you into a comfort zone.  The Michigan game is always their season and a win would help D?Antonio to settle into a comfort zone never enjoyed by Williams and Smith.  Spartan Stadium will be wild with excitement.  They have been focused on the Wolverines for a long time.

With Henne and Hart back the Wolverines have the talent to win.  The question will simply be how much do the Wolverines want it?  It will likely be a brawl, a physical battle. 

It will be televised on the inconvenience that is known as the Big Ten Network so my greedy cable company will not carry it.  Should I go to a bar here in the Lansing area and put up with all that crap they spew?  Better to get a tape from a friend and watch right after, so hopefully I can get something posted.

Correction:  Late word is that ABC has exercised its option and picked up UM/MSU so the game WILL be available for those of us with non-participating cable providers.

Enjoy the game, thanks for reading this far and ?

Go Blue!

M Football- JUGgernaut

The Michigan Football Wolverines rescued the Little Brown Jug from the inhospitable Gophers that had held it hostage for a year, and avenged last year?s disturbing loss to the Gophers, with their 28-14 whipping of the  the University of Minnesota?s determined football team at the Metrodome in Minneapolis/St. Paul Saturday Night.

In my opinion, it was one of the finest Chad Henne performances that I have been privileged to observe.  He was extremely poised, showed some mobility and escapability. And was on target for most, if not all of his passes.   He tossed twenty-four passes, and completed seventeenfor two hundred eighty-two yards and three TDs. He hit his receivers downfield in stride.  With a few exceptions, his offensive line usually gave him time. He threw no interceptions, and Michigan did not lose a fumble due to the athletic ability of Steve Breaston who gathered up a Kevin Grady miscue and advanced it.  Chad?s three TD passes were in the first half.  Two were tossed to fast developing WR Adrian Arrington, and one to Super Mario.

Adrian caught three passes for fifty-nine yards, for a 19.7 average and two TDs.  Mario caught a couple of great 1st down passes in the second half, but dropped one catch able pass.  Still he again had a great game by snagging five passes for one hundred thirty-one yards for an eye-popping 26.2-yard average per catch and 1 TD.  The offense was without the services of Tyler Ecker for most of the game due to a sore ankle, and understudy Carson Butler is evidently in Carr?s doghouse.  Mike Massey got some valuable experience and made a few catches, and Brian Thompson saw action.

The offense generally held up its side of the bargain in this game, using a blend of running and play action, and down the field passes to gather a substantial first half lead.  Mike Hart made some outstanding runs, and late in the game sprinted fifty-four yards into Gopher territory to help seal the win.  Hart is a Houdini in traffic, seeming to be tackled and going down two or three yards past the point of contact, slipping out of the pile.  He is also attached to the football in the wildest melee.

Steve Breaston had some nice catches, snaring five for forty-eight yards.

As for his punt return work, it is a little perplexing that this far into the season the opposing team?s gunners are allowed to close on Steve in the manner they have.   He had a two and one half yard return average on punts.   For a man of his demonstrated abilities, it seems to me Michigan is not setting up the situation to afford him success although every team works very hard to prevent that success.

Also on special teams, Garrett Rivas missed a relatively easy second half field goal that could have helped seal the victory.  Zoltan Mesko the punted well and on one occasion bounced a punt at the one that Steve Brown was waiting for and leaning into the endzone, caught.  While it was ruled a touch back it was an extraordinary effort by Brown.

The kick offs were unexceptional, mostly short, and one was out of bounds. I wonder if special teams coaching by committee works that well. Special teams are about the only area of coaching concern to be considered regarding this game.  Well, maybe the flagging intensity of the defense in the last eight minutes of the game is a bit of a concern, too.  For a short while, it seemed almost a reversion to last year?s defensive form, but the defense was outstanding for most of the game.  When the camera shows Coach English it is apparent that he never loses his intensity.

While the defense was very effective at times, and held the Gophers for many series, they did give up a pair of TD passes. It was a game a little out of this year?s pattern where the defense carries the offense.  Saturday they seemed about equal with the offense perhaps a bit better.  The offense managed to possess the ball for a good part of the game.

Later in the game Minnesota?s QB Cupito fired quickly, and hit receivers seemingly at will to the narrow the gap from 28-7 to 28-14.  The alarm claxons began to sound for most fans.  When the Gophers successfully crafted an onside kick recovery it began to seem that despite all of Michigan?s efforts and fine plays, and positive time of possession, a TD, another onside kick and TD could bring misery. But Minnesota drew a critical penalty, and dropped some passes and another score did not materialize for them, as they failed in four shots inside the Wolverine ten.

CB Charles Stewart had a rough outing, drawing a critical interference penalty, missing a tackle, and getting burned a couple of times for both Gopher TDs.  I think that in run support he is better than Morgan Trent, and therefore played a lot.  He also gained a lot of experience in this game, not all of it positive, and perhaps learned some lessons.  He is talented and will improve with seasoning and he had a dose of that Saturday night.

Michigan received the opening KO and gave the ball to Mike Hart.  Mike ran for a couple of first downs in his first two carries, Steve Breaston caught a seventeen?yard pass and the Wolverines were moving.  Adrain Arrington caught his first TD pass as a Wolverine, on a beautiful pass and catch for sixteen yards and six.  Both sides converted all their EP?s on the day.  Wolverines 7, Gophers  0.  And that was it for the first quarter.

Adrian decided that one TD was nice, but two would be better so he caught an even more impressive one of thirty-seven yards early in the second quarter.  These two drives are among Michigan?s most impressive drives of the season, the first consisting of ten plays for eighty yards and the second a seven play seventy-seven yard drive. W 14, G 0.

The Gophers did not crawl back into their holes, but displayed an annoying tendency to fight back by producing a twelve-play seventy-five yard drive of their own which resulted in a TD after a review overturned the call on the field due to ?indisputable evidence?.  Nice Gopher pass and outstanding catch.  W 14, G 7.

Mario Manningham again contributed by making a 41-yard TD reception to complete an eight- play eighty-two yard drive, which was every bit as effective and welcome as the first two.   Manningham makes it look so easy.  W 21, G 7 as the first half ended.

The winning margin was already on the board at the half, and the fact that the Wolverines were able to sustain three long drives is reassuring for the future and confirms that the offense is developing. 

The halftime adjustments of the Gophers increased their defensive effectiveness in the third quarter.  Both teams were scoreless.

Kevin Grady finally bulled in on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter to put the game out of the clawing Gopher?s reach after a five play forty-yard drive.  W 28, G 7.

The Gophers spent the remainder of the game trying to catch up, managed a final TD, and certainly did not quit the struggle at any time, sustaining a five play, eighty-four yard drive.  Another nice pass and catch against a slightly more passive Wolverine defense, and it was W 28, G 14 as time expired.

This is a satisfying victory for Wolverine fans as the Gophers attempt to plant their flag on our field after their surprising win in the Big House last year was disrespectful.  The jug is back where it belongs, where it is supposed to be.  Michigan?s defense is solid and the offense seems to be maturing in the right way.  They have five wins and no losses.  A lot is right in the Wolverine?s football world.

But waiting in the wings, to spoil our fun, and with more humility than is their usual characteristic, are the Michigan State Spartans of John L. Smith.  This next game is one born of desperation for the Spartans.  Their backs are to the wall.  Smith will conjure up at least one trick play to fool the Wolverines.

Notre Dame stole a victory and the Fighting Illini flat out humiliated them at the Spartans own homecoming Saturday.  Coach Smith as a Coach appears to have huge emotional ups and downs.  He will have his charges fired up.  The Michigan game is their season every year. but that is especially true this year as  Coach Smith can see some Bobby Williams writing on the wall.

The health of MSU?s Drew Stanton who left Saturday?s game late perhaps with injured ribs, not to return with the game in the balance, will be a subject of speculation all week, but you can bet that he will be there raring to go, raring to perform well in his last shot at the Wolverines..

Michigan must be ready for the Spartan?s best shot. It may be necessary for Mr. Woodley to renew his acquaintance with Mr. Stanton.  Football is a game of emotion so on a given Saturday any team?…  Sorry Spartans, not this time.  Go Blue!

Andy Andersen