Grading The Performance: Notre Dame

The Good

Devin Gardner to Jeremy Gallon- Michigan fans have seen dynamic QB-WR duos in the past. Grbac to Howard, Brady to Terrell, and Henne to Edwards/Manningham come immediately to mind. While duos of the past have often produced stunning numbers, few have displayed the kind of relationship that the nation was treated to on Saturday night. Gardner and Gallon acted in unison for most of the night and seemed to be connected almost telepathically. The back shoulder fades that Notre Dame found so difficult to defend takes an enormous amount of practice and trust between QB and WR and Michigan’s 2013 duo made it look easy. Devin and Jeremy put on a beautiful display of teamwork and execution on Saturday that is likely the envy of many in both college and the NFL.

The Bad

Nonexistent pass rush- Getting pressure on the QB with a 4 man rush has been the major point of emphasis for the Michigan defense since the end of last season. Despite multiple opportunities for Michigan defenders to go one on one, the Wolverines failed to consistently beat blocks and pressure the QB. Notre Dame used a variety of maximum protections to keep Tommy Rees upright. Michigan struggled to beat blocks and get pressure with a 4 man rush even on the occasions when Notre Dame did not leave backs and TEs in to block however.

The Ugly

4th Quarter Interception- There were a number of instances that could have gone in this space. Notre Dame’s horrific secondary, Eminem’s bizarre halftime interview, Louis Nix’s nonexistent vertical jump. In the end, Devin Gardner’s interception in the endzone was too ugly to ignore. In reality the entire drive could have been include but Devin’s decision to throw the ball while being tackled in the endzone takes the cake. While ultimately not costing Michigan the game, the play marred was was otherwise a flawless performance for Mr. Gardner.

Grades

QB: A-

A single offensive series keeps the grade from reaching A+ level. Devin was the maestro for a Michigan offense that seemed unstoppable.

RB: B

Two of the biggest plays, a run and a reception, occurred on a single drive in the 4th quarter when it mattered most. With limited running room, Fitz Toussaint was able to eek out a number of big plays purely on effort.

WR/TE: A+

The difference in the game was the Michigan passing game, highlight by the playmakers outside. Gallon, Jake Butt, Dileo, Jeremy Jackson, and Devin Funchess all contributed big plays to a stellar day through the air.

O-line: C+

Notre Dame’s defensive line and constant blitzing did a number on the Michigan offensive line. The holes were few and far between and Devin was running for his life on too many occasions. Jack Miller put forth a Heraclea effort inside against Louis Nix, though the interior had issues overall identifying and picking up blitzers.

D-line: C

The lack of pass rush was alarming for the 2nd game in a row, registering zero sacks and only 2 TFL. Michigan is badly in need of high impact, game changing defensive linemen.

LBers: B-

Michigan’s LBers did an adequate job of filling run lanes and making tackles but there were issues with drops into coverage and proper pursuit. James Ross put in a Dr. Jerkel-Mr. Hyde performance, looking like an All-American one series then following it up by looking like a true freshman the next. Both Brennen Beyer and Cam Gordon did a great job making plays from the SAM position.

Secondary: B

Thanks to the defensive gameplan, the primary job of the secondary on Saturday was coming up and making tackles. The Wolverines did a masterful job of limiting the yards after catch for the Irish and also managed to produce two huge turnovers. Blake Countess is well on his way to becoming a bonafied playmaker.

Special teams: D

A dropped punt, a shanked kick, and poor kick coverage all played into a special teams unit that struggled to contribute in a positive way for the team.

A: Unit played as close to flawless as possible. Unit played well enough to win the game on their own.

B: Unit had a major positive impact on the game but also had several assignment/execution miscues.

C: Unit did not negatively or positively affect the game. Unit made key positive plays along with several errors.

D: Unit made multiple critical errors that could potentially cost the team a win. Unit blew assignments and had poor execution across the board.

F: Play of the unit was bad enough that it could directly cost the team a victory.

Note: Plus and minuses denote degrees of the grade.

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The Greatest Michigan/SEC Games – ‘00 vs. Alabama

Tom Brady’s final game with Michigan was the 2000 Orange Bowl vs. Alabama. The Wolverines erased two 14 pt. deficits to win in OT 35-34 when the Crimson Tide kicker missed an extra point. Brady threw 4 TD’s with 369 yards. Shaun Alexander piled up 161 yards with three scores vs. the Wolverines. David Terrell caught three TD’s with 150 yards receiving.

First Half:

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lPBGDzuVk4[/tube]

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The Greatest Michigan/SEC Games – ‘01 vs. Auburn

In the 2001 Citrus Bowl, Anthony Thomas ran for 180 yards with two scores and became (at the time) Michigan’s leading all-time rusher. Drew Henson threw two TD’s, one of them to David Terrell who had 136 receiving yards. With seven minutes left, Grant Bowman forced an Auburn fumble at the Michigan 30 to help secure the win.

Part One:

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPoWszRSA2o[/tube]

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5th Greatest Season Opener – ‘99 vs. Notre Dame

Michigan entered the match-up in 1999 ranked 7th in the country while Notre Dame was 16th. Tom Brady, Anthony Thomas, Marquise Walker & David Terrell powered the Wolverine offense. Drew Henson also came in periodically to spell Brady. With four minutes remaining, Notre Dame went for it and 4th & 1, hit a wide-open receiver to pull ahead 22-19. The rest is history:

Link To WolverineHistorian’s Full Game Video w/Highlights

Michigan would finish the season 10-2 (losses to Michigan State & Illinois) defeating Alabama 35-34.

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What Happened to the Football Recruiting Class of 1998?

The Michigan Wolverines Recruiting Class of 1998:

PositionNameHigh School
QBDrew HensonBrighton (MI)
RBJustin FargasNotre Dame (CA)
RBJulius CurryBishop Gallagher (MI)
RBWalter CrossOxon Hill (MD)
FBEvan ColemanAlief-Elsik (TX)
WRDavid TerrellHuguenot (VA)
WRMarquise WalkerHenninger (NY)
TEDeitan DubucVieux Montreal (CAN)
OLJoe DenayJohn Glenn (MI)
DLShawn LazarusNorthwest (OH)
DLDave PetruzielloLake Catholic (OH)
LBLarry FooteDetroit Pershing (MI)
LBVictor HobsonSt. Josephs Prep (NJ)
LBDan RumishekTrail (IL)
LBBennie JoppruMinnetonka (MN)
LBDave ArmstrongCentral Bucks West (PA)
DBCato JuneAnacostia (DC)
DBTodd HowardBolingbrook (IL)
PKHayden EpsteinTorrey Pines (CA)
   

Made It To The NFL:

Drew Henson – Came to Michigan from Brighton High School as a Parade All-American at Quarterback & Punter while also hitting 70 home runs (Then Prep-Record). Split one season starting with Tom Brady and another on his own. Decided to join the New York Yankees before eventually returning to football where he played with the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions.

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