*If this post were about Ezeh that would be the best post title ever. It’s not, but at least I’m writing this on Sunday morning.
I wasn’t in the press box this week and that was a good thing. I would have had to chew off my tongue on that last drive to avoid cheering for Tate and the crew. A few random notes and thoughts on Tate and Rich Rod’s big day:
- This was one ranks up there somewhere with best games in the Big House of recent history maybe all-time. I heard many folks saying it was the best they’d ever seen and I can’t blame them if you consider the body of work: from the coin flip to Clausen’s desperation toss. The Braylon Edwards/Michigan State comeback comes to mind but remember that much of that game involved the Wolverines getting hammered. The Manningham/Penn State finish was wonderful of course against a top ranked opponent. The 1991 Desmond catch game against the Irish (my god, 18 years ago? We called Desmond “Magic”back then) seems comparable as I file through recent history. Toss in all of the off-the-field intrigue and you’ve got yourself a special Saturday to remember.
- I love the prevalence of the ‘To Hell with Notre Dame’ brand, from drops on WTKA 1050AM to the giant signs and t-shirts found before the game:
- While this was probably the best “Maize-out” I can remember, I love the complete disregard of the Maize-out in the pricey seats (section 23 – butt naked 50 yard line). Seriously, if fans in this section were advised that Saturday’s game were a “Wear-Whatever-You-Want Out”, would it have looked much different?:
- I’m guessing a few eyes were on Zoltan Mesko as the team charged beneath the Go Blue banner before the game. After biting the M turf last week, Mesko dialed it down a notch and thankfully landed safely (although he still got up a bit!):
- There was much talk last week about the sound in the stadium and I couldn’t get a feel for it being in the press box. I’m sorry to say but I just didn’t get a sense the place was any louder than normal. I’m not saying the crowd wasn’t hyped up or going crazy—I guess I’m saying it just didn’t seem noticeably louder. And regarding the RAWK music getting piped in, the crowd and team seem to respond when the right song is played and I even caught myself bobbing my head when Lose Yourself came on at one point.
- Memo to U-M Media relations: not-qualified recruit Adrian Witty, a teammate of ‘Lace Robinson at Deerfield Beach HS, is still listed in the Game Notes. He ain’t joining the team in 2009, perhaps never:
- Another thing on crowd noise, it’s clearly an important thing to the team all the way up to Rodriguez. I caught Rodriguez a couple times flapping his arms to get the crowd going.
- Awesome to see Jim Conley, Barry Dehlin and the rest of the 1964 Big Ten and Rose Bowl championship team recognized during the game. Bump Elliott’s crew was special crew that shut-down Woody in Columbus (10-0) to get to Pasadena. These guys were completely snubbed by HBO’s documentary ‘The Rivalry.’ Let’s not make the same mistake!
- I always get a kick out of people that leave the game early, save for older folks that want to bust out of there and avoid the stampede. With 5:13 left in the game the Irish got the go-ahead TD and 2pt conversion and a good number of folks in my section took off. Michigan had 3 time-outs and runs a no huddle offense. Seriously, there might as well have been 500 minutes on the clock.
- Did anyone give the guy on the left the Italian salute on the way in?
- Notre Dame’s beautifully executed screen pass at 2:22 in the first quarter that initially resulted in a touchdown was taken back after the replay ruled that ND’s back stepped out of bounds. Two thoughts on this: First, shame on the replay officials for forcing Rodriguez to use a time-out to get the call reviewed (maybe they would have looked at it just before the extra point but it didn’t seem like it). Second and more importantly, from what I saw this was a wild use of the home field advantage as the scoreboard replayed the run several times causing the crowd to go nuts (although it wasn’t crystal clear whether he stepped out from my vantage point). Rodriguez reacted to this and called the time-out. Had they not showed the replay over-and-over again during those few seconds would Rodriguez have called the time-out forcing the replay? Don’t know but remember Michigan eventually held the Irish and forced the field goal.
- On Stonum’s kick-off return, I can’t recall a runback that was a more of a forgone conclusion before he even reached midfield. Stonum cut at the Michigan 40-ish yard line and it was over. Gone. I actually turned around to watch the crowd reaction when he was still at about the Notre Dame 40 and heading in.
- Even at 14-3, I remember thinking Michigan was getting outplayed. Maybe it’s the white jerseys but Notre Dame’s o-line vis-a-vis the Wolverine front looked like men-against-boys. They didn’t seem to have much trouble pushing us around. Play this game 10 times on a neutral field I give the Irish 7 of them, even considering that Tate possesses some kind of Tom Brady-like ability to completely ignore the magnitude of the situation and just make plays. Per Rodriguez:
“That’s why we signed him,” Rodriguez said. “Some guys when everything is going crazy around them you can see them change their personality. Tate is just the opposite.”
- Last season you got, understandably, many folks longing for a little Lloyd Carr stability out of the team and in turn some criticism on Rodriguez. Most of it deserved. I promise not to do a “Carr would/wouldn’t have done that”-type analysis after each game but there’s no way Carr goes for it on fourth and long when the clock was ticking away in the first half. Rodriguez did, Tate got the first down and it resulted in three points that even Gollum would consider precious.
- I was very impressed with Clausen although I wanted to give him a smack on the head after the Statue of Liberty conversion. The play was well executed but I didn’t need to see Clausen doing that little “butt dance” on the ground after Allen ran it in.
- Speaking of celebrations, I haven’t heard anyone mention the personal foul that was called on Allen for giving the ol’ “Shhhhhh” to the student section after the conversion. Looking at the replay it looks like that was a terrible decision by the ref to throw that flag. Is that all he did, the “shhh?”. Personal foul? At best, that deserves a, “Take it easy, son,” from the referee. That shortened the field for the blue and was definitely a factor. [Ed. A couple folks in the comments are claiming it was a lot more than a 'Shhhhh' out of Allen's mouth, see below.]
- Nick Sheridan didn’t make it on the field. Given his new bulk, maybe Rodriguez can get him some reps at corner to help out Boubacar? :)
- I know many fans are unhappy with Weis for some of the play calling. They were tearing off chunks of yards at-will against the defense. Why he unleashed that bomb on second down is beyond me. Sure, if they convert he’s a genius but um, duhhh.. If he wanted to surprise the defense with a pass, toss one of those short passes on Boubs’ side (he was playing 8 yards off the line!) or a safe toss to that ridiculous tight end Rudolph. A clear advantage in Xs and Os to Rodriguez.
- Sweet, Brandon Graham getting mugged via U-M Photo services:
Related: Tate Like a Champion Today