1984 Holiday Bowl Michigan BYU

For those of you who weren’t old enough to endure the no-holding-calls-ever-made-against-BYU-1984-Holiday-Bowl-disaster, this shutout avenged some of that bitter taste. So you’ll have to excuse me if I enjoy this 31-0 shutout just a little more than any other win this year.  Alright, enough of that – here are your BYU-1st-shutout-of-the-year-Champions:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – Could have gone several ways here, (OBJ Darboh, De’Veon Smith, heck, O-Line for that matter), but I’m going with the guy under center – Jake Rudock.  Sure, I loved seeing a Michigan QB RUN for two touchdowns, but it was WAAAY more than that.  He looked comfortable running the offense.  He threw the ball well downfield – in part to the kick-start provided by OBJ Darboh – and he had no turnovers against the Cougars.  Do you realize his turnovers have gone down each game this year?  Utah (3), Oregon State (2), UNLV (1) and now BYU (0).  Umm – I’ll take that ANY DAY!

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION – Last week I mentioned that Channing Stribling set the tone on D with his early INT.  This week, the D-LINE came out and made a statement against BYU.  Seemed like each series there was a different guy getting penetration and that is a good sign!  When BYU had only completed 2 passes in the first half, I thought I was watching an old Rose Bowl from the 1970’s!  Are you kidding me – 2 completions??  Holy Durkin’s Destroyers, Batman!!  And then for BYU to only finish with 105 yards and 8 first downs – wow!!  Tenacity, technique, depth and coaching – now there’s a potent combination.

SPECIAL TEAMS – I almost didn’t award one because there wasn’t anything scintillating out there on Special Teams – and that’s when it hit me.  Do you realize how smart and important it is that Jabrill Peppers fields, or at least makes the attempt to field, each punt?  Not only does it give him a chance to go all the way, it also improves field position for the offense.  There were years, sometimes it felt like decades, where it seemed like Michigan never had a returner who made a concerted effort to catch the ball before it took a twenty-yard roll and ended up being downed at the Wolverine 10-yard line.  Don’t think that detail is glossed over with this coaching staff.  Talent plays a role here for sure, but so does coaching. 

UNIFORM CHAMPION – Maybe it was because AC, Anthony Carter, was in the house, but I gotta give it up to Drake Harris, Freddy Canteen, and even Maurice Ways & Drake Johnson for hiking up those white socks all the way up the their knees.


Remember, we’re wearing football socks – not tennis socks.  Get ’em up!!

CITIZENSHIP CHAMPION – You may not realize how fortunate you are for having being born in this great country, but don’t ever take that for granted.  This week was another reminder of how special it is to be an American.  Amara Darboh is now a United States Citizen, and believe me, take it from a fellow naturalized U.S. Citizen, it IS a BIG DEAL!  

Amara Darboh -

It’s probably why Darboh went all Odell Beckham, Jr. like on that 1st quarter catch!  

Darboh catch

Decal for you, #82, and congratulations!


Decals dealt out in previous weeks:

  • Utah: Jake Butt, Jabrill Peppers, Blake O’Neill, (Uniform: White Road Uniforms), John Kryk
  • Oregon State:  De’Veon Smith, Chris Wormley, Delano Hill, The Coaching Staff
  • UNLV:  Ty Issac, Channing Stribling, Blake O’Neill
  • BYU: Jake Rudock, Defensive Line, Jabrill Peppers, (Uniform: Properly Hiked up White Socks), Amara Darboh


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OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – When I saw Ty Isaac take it to the house for 76 yards, he looked like the A-Train Version 2.0. Anthony Thomas more or less rumbled or trucked when he carried the rock back in the day. Isaac, while sharing the same number, appears to glide or “motor” effortlessly when he gets in the open field. I’m good with that! I’ll take 76-yard touchdown runs any day no matter how easy #32 makes it look.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION – Channing Stribling’s interception on UNLV’s first drive set the tone for the Michigan Defense. If the opponent wants to take the football to start the game, Durkin’s D has to let them know that they will not be able to move the ball and that’s what #8 did. The INT was emotionally charging for Michigan and emotionally deflating for UNLV. 

SPECIAL TEAMS – Blake O’Neill did it again! Not one, but TWO punts downed inside the opponent’s own 20-yard line. When your defense is playing like Michigan’s was today, and your punter makes the opposition go more than 80 yards for a score, that is a great combination and a recipe for success. Baxter’s effect on special teams is already evident. What’s next – a blocked punt? I think so!!!

– – – –

Here’s Sap’s virtual helmet updated with the three additional stickers he’s awarded to date:

Dr. Sap Decals - 2015 UNLV Decals dealt out in previous weeks:


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1969 BO Decals Bo reveals his “bumper stickers” in 1969 (via the illustrious Dr. Sap Archives)

Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis returns with his decal-worthy champions for the games.  I’ve always said we’d do this until the helmet stickers return.  Will they return in 2015?    In the meantime:

  • Offensive Champion – I thought Jake Butt showed that he is ready to have a huge, breakout year. The play-action waggle play that Brian Griese brought to prominence back in the late 1990’s is going to be the bread and butter of this offense – provided Michigan can run the ball better than what they did last night – and no one is going to benefit more from this play than Butt. His touchdown grab was money and showed that he is ready to be the go-to-guy on offense.
  • Defensive Champion – What can I say about Jabrill Peppers? I have never seen a defender make blockers miss and use the swim-technique so well and so fluidly to get to the ball like #5 did last night. You can see that this guy has been coached well and has been blessed with some tremendous talent. The scary part? He is only going to get better!
  • Special Teams Champion – I liked how Blake O’Neill effectively used his Aussie punting style to flip field position and limit the Utes to just one return for only 14 yards. One punt was downed near the goalline and another went for 50 yards – I’ll take that every game.

Here’s Sap’s virtual helmet updated to honor Butt, Pep, and O’Neill:


  • Uniform Champion – I gotta say, it was so cool to see the all-white uniforms once again! Michigan wore them from 1973-1975 (Uniform Timeline) and they looked just as sweet as they did when guys like Dennis Franklin, Gordon Bell and Rick Leach wore them back in the day. I was expecting to see the maize hue of the helmets look more orangey than they did, but they looked good – must be the flakes or speckles in the paint that gave them a less orangey look than I expected.
  • Ufer Fan Champion – My good friend and author, John Kryk (Stagg vs. Yost) lives in Canada and that means he is at the mercy of Canadian Cable Television (and hockey coverage) when it comes to watching sports on Canuck TV. Yesterday afternoon, he discovered that Canadian Cable giant, Rogers Cable, was not going to be airing the Fox Sports 1 Channel. For Kryk and the rest of Canada – at least the entire province of Ontario – that meant no coverage of the Michigan-Utah game. Before he decided to make plans to watch the game in Buffalo, NY or Port Huron, MI, Kryk put in a call to a contact he had at Rogers Cable. Long story short – Rogers Cable made a programming change and aired the Michigan-Utah game last night. To quote Michigan grad James Earl Jones, “Impressive! Most impressive!”


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More from Utah:

30. November 2014 · Comments Off on Dr. Sap’s Decals | Leaving the Snake Pit and 2014 Behind · Categories: 2014 · Tags: , , , , , ,


Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis bids adieu to a painful 2014 with a final offering of decals to a handful of seniors.  

But before that, did you catch ESPN’s GameDay on Saturday?  It included a nice piece on the rivalry and the Michigan banner, including a short clip of the Buckeyes tearing down the coveted slice of canvas in ‘73 synchronized with Bob Ufer’s epic audio description of that dastardly deed.   Guess who put that together and shipped it off to ESPN?  That’s right..Dr. Sap himself!   Here’s a low res version of the full clip Sap provided to our friends in Bristol:

Those painful dekes:


DEVIN GARDNER? – We watched a gutty and gutting end to New 98’s career on Saturday. In between the first pass/interception of the game and the fumble that gave OSU the clinching score, Gardner played his heart out and did all he could to help UM win. Problem is, he also helped OSU win. Take away those free 14 points and we have an even ballgame.

I don’t want to remember Gardner for his interception and fumble. I want to remember him for his courage for keeping UM in the game. I want to remember him for his compassion when he went over and consoled J.T. Barrett when he broke his ankle. Instead, I am reminded of a Demetrius Brown-like talent that was so good he made you cheer, and at other times he was so confounding he made you sneer. So…Devin Gardner?


JAKE RYAN? – Much like Gardner, I want to remember Ryan for leaving it all on the field Saturday. The image of him flying around, throwing his body all over the place to make the tackle was offset by two other images: whiffing on Barrett as Ryan’s surgically repaired knee couldn’t make that extra move to tackle the OSU QB as he ran for a first half score, and failing to wrap up Ezekiel Elliott on the clinching 4th and 1 touchdown late in the game. So…Jake Ryan?


WILL HAGERUP? – I don’t know. Dude was suspended three times and came back for this?   He put one inside the 20-yard line and averaged over 40 yards on 4 punts. I can’t really give it to Norfleet for starting the game off like he did, so…Will Hagerup?


HELMET COLOR – After dealing with all the crap this season, I finally had enough of seeing the wrong shade of yellow on the M helmets!  It was painfully obvious to me that it was not right the correct color and it’s time we got it right! 

Maybe it was the culmination of everything that we had to deal with this year, including the all blue unis, but for some reason the color of the yellow on the Michigan helmets was painfully out of synch with the rest of the uniform.   The shade of yellow/maize didn’t match the pants. It didn’t match the yellow trim on the jersey.  Heck, it didn’t even match the yellow shoes worn by some of the Wolverines. Time for Riddell to get it right! If they can’t get it right, then they need someone to help get it right. Consider myself volunteered!


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[Ed. Bless you Sap for putting some heart into the final home decals of the year after…that.]


DEVIN GARDNER – To me, New 98 is the LaVell Blanchard of the Michigan Football Team. Great kid. Smart kid. Face of the program for the past few years. Much like Blanchard, Gardner has been caught in the middle of a coaching change during his career. Caught in the middle of a program trying to find its way. Caught in the middle of a university trying to figure out what kind of identity they want their football team to have. Much like we do when looking back on the career of Blanchard, I’m sure we will say much the same for Gardner: “Oh, the Gardner years! Tough kid. Never quit. Never gave up. Sad that his record wasn’t better.”

At the half, I saw no one on offense who stepped up to spark this unit. This offense rushed for almost 300 yards and only Gardner got into the endzone. You can see he’s feeling better, but he is obviously still a shell of himself, physically, and probably mentally. There’s an old Canadian hockey saying about a goalie that gets peppered with so many shots that draws a parallel to a QB in football who gets hit and sacked a lot: “That guy has seen more rubber than a dead cat on the 401 Highway.” I’m sure DG can somewhat relate. Great kid. Smart kid. Tough kid. Sad…


JAKE RYAN – During the first half, I was pleasantly surprised to see the old Michigan Football adage come to life – the expectation is for the position, not the player. Mario Ojemudia, #53, was making plays like #57 used to! The Maryland offense had been kept in check and kept out of the endzone. But in the second half, much like #57 was not on the field, I didn’t hear #53’s name called much.

What I DID see all game long was #47 flying all over the place trying to make something happen for the defense. Sure enough, Ryan caused a fumble, but as luck would have it, the Maryland ball carrier had the ball fumble right back to himself. I don’t have it in me for a Jake Ryan player analogy. Another talent come and gone without the proper career sendoff. Sad…


JOE KERRIDGE – I loved the fake punt call and was thrilled to see Kerridge rumble 52 yards to convert the 4th & 6 into a first down. But as soon as I saw that he didn’t quite make it into the endzone, this ominous feeling came over me that the Michigan offense would have to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown. Some people love to quote movie lines. I choose to quote lines from past Michigan Football games. After this play, I immediately thought of the 1986 Fiesta Bowl telecast where NBC color commentator Sam Rutigliano (former Cleveland Browns Head Coach) said, “If you block downfield you get touchdowns instead of first downs.” A better block downfield puts Kerridge in the endzone. Just sayin’…


SENOR DAY PATCH – I didn’t see any uniform callouts this week, but did come up with one idea of my own. Seeing that UM has a Spring Game Patch on the jerseys for their April inter-squad scrimmage/practice, I’m sure we’ll one day see a Senior Day Patch to commemorate the last home game for all the departing seniors. Why not?


MIKE KHOMUTIN200 straight Michigan football games, home and away, dating by to 1998(?).  Oh, the highs and the mediums and the lows and the lows.  Well done.


Bless you Sap for serving up decals after that rough game.  Here you go:


DE’VEON SMITH – Now you know why coaches like Bo and Bill Parcells loved to have a strong running game. When you can close out a game, or at least milk the clock, it puts pressure on the opposing team to either use all their timeouts late in the game or drive the length of the field to win. Smith has given the Michigan offense the strength and stability it desperately needs – especially when U-M’s QB is basically playing on one leg.


FRANK CLARK – Finally a solid, break-out, statement game from Clark. Dude was the classic guy who came to play right from the opening snap to the final play of the game. I haven’t seen such a strong and steady big play performance from a Michigan defender since some guy wore #2 in 1997.


KICK TEAM – I don’t want to sound like an old coach, but don’t EVER take another extra point for granted. If Matt Wile doesn’t convert his PAT, the score would have been 9-9 instead of 10-9, and all Northwestern would have needed was a PAT of their own to win.


I know, I know, Wile had one kick blocked, but aside from that, the entire Kick Team played lights out against the Wildcats. From Will Hagerup’s Aussie Drop style punts being downed at the Northwestern one-yard line, to Jehu Chesson recovering a Wildcat muff, the execution of the Michigan Kick Team flipped field position in this contest the entire night. And when playing against an offense that was as scintillating as Northwestern’s was (NOT!), it tilts the field even more in your favor.


YELLOW SHOES – If I can accept the blue stockings (instead of the traditional maize shoes white socks), y’all can give me the yellow cleats that Blake Countess strutted out on Ryan Field on Saturday night. Talk about sick!?!? I LOVED that look with the white jersey, maize pants and white socks!!


If Michigan ever goes back to the Canary Yellow unis, you gotta complete the ensemble with those wicked yellow Countess cleats!



JAKE RYAN –  The position move to middle linebacker was a tough transition for Jake but man, he’s looked solid the past few games and he was an badass out there Saturday.  On the NW sideline Fitz must have seen shades of his old playing days watching #47 out there.  He had one series (that ended with his interception) that is a mini-highlight package all in of itself.  FWIW he didn’t wear his Legends Bennie Oosterbaan patch on the #47 jersey for some reason—I half wondered if he removed it and sewed it on Fitz’s ass during pregame.

02. November 2014 · Comments Off on Dr. Sap’s Decals | Morning in Ann Arbor Edition · Categories: 2014 · Tags: , , , , , ,


Sap is refreshed, recharged and kindly offers you his post-Hoosier decals.  I tossed in the Editor’s edition for good measure:



AMARA DARBOH – This was the breakout game we’ve all been waiting for from Darboh for the past 2 years. Much like the Detroit Lions needed another wide receiver to complement Megatron, the Michigan passing game needed another option downfield other than Devin Funchess. Especially now, when Devin Gardner’s foot injury is forcing him to do his best Dan Fouts-stay-in-the-pocket-no-matter-what impression, Darboh gives the offense another place to go with the ball other than wherever Funchess is.


Hopefully Darboh can use this game to jump start his career and the U-M passing game.


RYAN GLASGOW – It was obvious that the Michigan defense came to play this game and made sure there was going to be no repeat of last year’s basketball-like score against IU. That all starts up front, and while there were several guys who played lights out by keeping the Hoosiers under 200 yards of total offense, I singled out Glasgow because of his strip and fumble recovery – all in the same play. These guys in the trenches don’t often get the glory, but you had to like what Glasgow did.


MATT WILE – A missed field goal can be momentum-killing and team deflating – just ask Indiana how they felt when their kicker doinked one off the upright early in the game. You gotta make your kicks when you get the chance and not give your opponent the energy and momentum to get back in the game. That’s why Matt Wile’s field goals, why they may seem mundane and unspectacular, were important against IU.


Coaches (and Blue-hairs) will tell you that you have to execute in all three phases of the game. Wile did his part against Indiana on Saturday.


YELLOW LACES – I appreciate the little things that make the Michigan uniform iconic. We’ve all seen the blue socks before and the Pink colored accessories that appear each November. Me? I was geeked when I saw a few of the guys wearing yellow laces on their cleats:


If you are going to deviate from the traditional black shoes with white laces by adding blue and yellow highlights to the Michigan footwear, you might as well coordinate to the max and make sure the laces don’t clash!



JOHN U. BACON – It was great to see Bacs back upstairs in the press box this week and I’ll leave it at that.


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Dr. Sap's Decals Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis once again provides his game decals in this, ahem, challenging(?) season.

Until the day comes that Michigan gets its collective act together and assigns helmet decals again, Sap will bring you his game Champions who will be decorated, albeit virtually, with his helmet stickers.  

I’ll typically toss in the Fan Award and the Editor’s Choice:


DEVIN GARDNER – I thought New 98 did his best to win this game for his team. He is a leader because he has been through the most of anybody on this team. How many coaches/coordinators has he been through? To be sat down for the conference opener last week in this his 5th year had to have been a tremendous disappointment.

But true to his character, he let that slide right off his back and focused on the game at hand.  DG made some sweet throws (Butt’s grab in the first half comes to mind) and his 4th quarter TD run set Michigan up for the game winning field goal. Too bad it was blocked. Wonder if New 98 can kick like Old 98?? 

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION JOE BOLDEN – For the second straight week, Bolden was the best player on defense. Playing what looked like every play in a track meet-like game against a RichRod derivative spread offense is a tall order for anyone and I didn’t see him tire or fatigue one bit.

I feel for defenses that play against these spread offenses. These schemes can make a no one like Rutgers QB Gary Nova look like the second coming of Timmy Chang while making the defensive players look silly. Bolden didn’t look silly out there.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION DENNIS NORFLEET – I can honestly say I’ve never seen someone play both sides of the Special Teams as good as Norfleet.   Sure, his speed has something to do with that, but he continues to bring the energy on both the Kick Team and the Return Team. Just waiting for the game where he finally takes it to the house!
UNIFORM CHAMPION TEAM 135 Sleeve – Maybe it was me, and maybe it was the cold weather, but it seemed like everyone was wearing the TEAM 135 sleeve against Rutgers.

Maybe it was the week that Michigan just went through, but to me, the sleeve seemed to be a show of team unity and solidarity. Hope so – looks like it might be a long year…


* sorry


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28. September 2014 · 2 comments · Categories: 2014 · Tags:

IMG_4144 Barbarians!

Dr. Sap's DecalsSteve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis is back this season with his weekly postgame helmet stickers.  Sap would do a backflip if coach Hoke decided to reinstate this tradition that Bo brought to the team in 1969. 

Until that day comes, Sap will bring you his game Champions who will be decorated, albeit virtually, with his helmet stickers.   I’ll typically toss in the Fan Award and the Editor’s Choice:


NONE – I was going to award De’Veon Smith with a decal as he ran hard in the first half. He scored a TD. He ran with passion. Smith ran with an attitude that seemed to be just what this offense needed. But then where was he in the second half? Not slamming him for lack of playing time, but…NO DECAL FOR YOU!

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION NONE – Joe Bolden made some big stops in this game. Yes, he had 10 tackles and 1 sack and yes, the defense kept up their end of the bargain for as long as they could, but…NO DECAL FOR YOU!
SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION NONE – Dennis Norfleet had a decal all but sewn up. He was solid in his returns. He made all the catches – some under duress – and heck, he even downed a punt at the Minnesota 1-yard line, but then he went and fumbled a 4th quarter punt that pinned Michigan deep inside their own 10-yard line late in the game, so…NO DECAL FOR YOU!
UNIFORM CHAMPION White adidas Arm Sleeve – Thought it looked cool. The white sleeve was a nice contrast to the traditional maize and blue unis, and I thought the white sleeve looked better than the black one. My take? Wear the white sleeves at home and the black sleeves on the road.
Photo Sep 27, 3 17 16 PM
EDITOR’S CHOICE BUMP ELLIOTT:  No question: the WWII vet, Mad Magician, National Champion, Big Ten MVP, Rose Bowl winning coach and esteemed Iowa athletic director..89 year old Bump Elliott:



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