Yet, on the contrary I would expect that before the monsoon Saturday afternoon when Western Michigan opened the Brady Hoke era with a methodical drive in which the Broncos — without much resistance — marched down the field and scored the first touchdown of the game, most if not all the Michigan fans in the stands and watching on TV just shook their heads, cringed and thought, “Not again!”
But just as quickly as the rains this day came and went, and as the game progressed into the 2nd quarter, glimmers of light began to shine through in more places than from just the skies above.
In one of the weirdest games ever played in Michigan Stadium, a game delayed twice for lightning and finally called short due to the weather with 1:27 to go in the third quarter, a true Michigan defense emerged.
PLAY MAKERS ON DEFENSE
The Hokeamaniac.com staff decided before the game was played against Western that the spotlight of this individual article would be focused around the defensive line play of seniors Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen. And even though their individual stat-line does not fully validate the hard work and disruptive impact the duo had against Western, their play can not be discounted. For any true Michigan follower knows that every true Michigan defense succeeds with the work done up-front. This would be as true today as it was back in 1997 when Brady Hoke himself was coaching his defensive lineman to the national title under the guidance of Lloyd Carr.
But the true highlights of the defense on this day came from players that lined-up off the ball and who took advantage of the work the senior lineman did in the trenches. Those two players would be linebacker #58 Brandon Herron and safety #32 Jordan Kovacs.
Collectively the senior leaders were involved in every big play working with linebacker Kenny Demens and safety Thomas Gordon who as a group led the Wolverine defense with a combined 32 tackles and 2 sacks.
Brandon Herron accomplished a Michigan first by scoring two touchdowns on two Broncos’ turnovers; an interception and a fumble. The interception was caused by linebacker #90 Jake Ryan’s pressure up the middle on quarterback Alex Carder who’s pass attempt was short-armed and deflected into the air into the arms of Herron who then raced 94-yards down the field to score his first touchdown.
Later in the third, Herron again was the benefactor of another big play by a Michigan teammate as this time it was Jordan Kovacs who blitzed from Carder’s blindside and created the most memorable moment of the game in terms of impact by driving Carder hard into the turf subsequently removing the QB’s helmet in the process. The ball was fumbled and Herron scooped up the lose football and scampered 29 yards for his second score of the game.
At this point in the game any life yet left in the Western Michigan Broncos had subsided and all they could manage to do was hold out until the rains came once again and finally ended the night.
And more history was made then the just the victory earned by 19th head football coach of the University of Michigan Brady Hoke, as for the first time in 132 season of Michigan football…outdoors, a game was called short due to the weather. Michigan earned their 34-10 victory in less than three completed quarters of football.
Greg Mattison’s defense took a while to get going but once it did, there looked to be no stopping it. There was no doubt that if the game was extended and the 4th quarter was played and completed, the actions on the field would have been more of the same.
What a story line…the defense scored more points than they allowed. Yes, for two-thirds of one game at least under the leadership and direction of Coach Brady Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, the Michigan defense proved the offseason focus paid off well and deserves a big “hats-off” in acknowledgment.
Next week brings Notre Dame to Ann Arbor for one of the most anticipated games in the history of the Big House. The Irish should certainly prove to be a much more challenging test for the Wolverines. Although I like what I’m seeing so far.