Wolverines, Chris Perry own scrimmage line
EAST LANSING, MI NOVEMBER 2, 2003
Nothing comes easy for the Wolverines when they visit East Lansing. Despite a complete domination of basically every statistical category, the Spartans still had the ball at the end of the game and a chance to tie. Jeff Smoker’s final pass was picked off in the endzone, and the entire Michigan bench sprinted for toward the tunnel as if to say, “Get me the hell out of here!”.
With the win, the Wolverines move to the top of the Big Ten standings and will win the championship with wins over Northwestern and Ohio State.
Meanwhile, the Eleventh Annual Dooley Brothers tailgate took place in the shadow of the stadium starting, in darkness, at around 6 a.m. We moved a few spots down from our traditional location in the A lot to take advantage of more real estate. The extra space was needed as a large crowd showed up to enjoy the cold brews, brats, and especially the incredible jambalaya and gumbo compliments of chef James Soniga.
A few takes on the game:– Jeff Smoker played an outstanding game, although his numbers may not show it. He threw nice, on-target spirals to the MSU receivers all day long. Although Michigan didn’t get their hands on him very much during the game, the M rush limited his options. The Spartans receivers dropped way too many balls.
– There was quite a bit of rain, or at least drizzle, in the second half. All of the weather reports said it would be dry.
– Although it is not often discussed, Chris Perry has had a lot of trouble with fumbles this season. He’s been lucky that Michigan has recovered many of them. He carried the ball 51 times, in wet conditions, and held onto the ball. He and the O line played an incredible game.
– The Lansing State Journal, in their postgame scorecard gave the Spartan’s special teams unit a “C” rating. I’m shaking my head over that one. State kicked well, punted very well, and their coverage teams contained Breaston. On top of that, MSU almost broke two kickoff returns for TDs.
– The major criticism of coach John L. Smith was that his defense was not aggressive enough, and didn’t put enough blitzing pressure on Navarre. Smith argued that if his team constantly blitzed, the final score would have been 70-6.
– Overall, Michigan clearly executed a great game plan, with one breakdown in the secondary that led to a quick Spartan TD, and a questionable passing play late in the fourth quarter that led to the Spartan fumble return for another score. On the latter, in retrospect Lloyd Carr admitted he made a mistake and should have run the ball.
– The most telling statistics of the day: Michigan held the ball for 19 more minutes than MSU. State ran 57 total offensive plays, compared to 53 touches for Chris Perry (51 rush, 2 receptions).