Sept. 13, 2008—remembered by many as a date to be forgotten by the University of Michigan Football team. In case you don't remember, that was when the University of Michigan football team visited South Bend, Indiana, last season to take on Notre Dame.
Michigan was coming off a 16-6 win over the University of Miami (OH), the Wolverines first victory under Coach Rich Rodriguez.
Notre Dame was coming off a 21-13 over dismal the San Diego State University Aztecs.
As the opening kickoff was set to take place, downpours were in the forecast, both teams took the field. Notre Dame set to kickoff to the Wolverines.
From the start, everything appeared to go downhill for the Maize and Blue.
Freshman Boubacar Cissoko muffed the opening kickoff (No. 1) and appeared to be running in circles looking for the pigskin. Brandon Minor eventually fumbles (No. 2) on the first drive, giving the Irish the football at the Michigan 11 yard line. ND scores (7-0 ND)
Kickoff by Notre Dame, fumbled again (No. 3), this time by Mike Shaw, another freshman; The Irish recover at the UM 14. Soon after, another ND touchdown.
To make things simple, you get where things are going. Michigan ended up turning the ball over six times. The Wolverines had six fumbles (lost four), and the QB Nick Sheridan and his 3-5 passing threw two picks.
The Irish ended up victorious 35-17. Michigan held the Irish to only a touchdown in the second half during the down pour. However, they were unable to produce any points for themselves.
This year is a new story. September 12, 2009, is when the Maize and Blue will play the Irish, this time, back in the Big House, where last time the two played; Michigan was victorious 38-0.
However, there will be no Chad Henne, no "Super" Mario Mannigham, no Jake Long, and no Mike Hart. There will be someone else though.
Michigan fans must be optimistic though after last year's performance in South Bend, and they should be. Michigan did end up with more total yardage than the Irish; they just did not end up on top in the end.
This time, Michigan fans must have hope. They have "The Force" on their side. “The Force" being true freshman quarterback Tate Forcier, who enrolled in January. Forcier looked fantastic in Michigan's 2009 Spring Game, even though it was against a second team defense.
As most fans witnessed on Saturday, September 5, the day Michigan fans have waited nine months for, Forcier lived up to the hype. He started the game for the Maize and Blue and led them down the field on a touchdown during his very first series at the helm for UM.
The drive concluded with a Forcier TD pass to WR JR Hemmingway. Forcier ended up finishing 13/20 for 179 passing yards and 3 TDs along with 11 rushing attempts for 37 yards. Forcier certainly was able to make numerous plays that either of the two QBs who were in control of the Michigan offense in 2008, could not have made.
For those of you who don’t know much about Tater, he provides something UM has not had in a long time: A dual threat quarterback.
Michigan has seen dual threat QBs and their teams take them down, game after game in the past (T Smith, Dennis Dixon, Juice Williams, PSU's Clark) Utah's Brian Johnson didn't necessarily run over the Wolverines, he just ended up passing for 305 yards.
Michigan also should have a healthy Brandon Minor who played most of last season with an injured wrist and missed the 2009 opening game versus Western Michigan.
As well as an aforementioned healthy Junior Hemmingway (WR) and solid incoming group of players, whether they are red shirt freshmen such as Brandon Herron, Terrence Robinson, Roy Roundtree, or trues such as Craig “Death” Roh and Denard “Shoelace” Robinson. I believe most of them will impact the game against the Irish in Ann Arbor, when September 12, 2009 rolls around.
The Wolverines also return a solid group of offensive linemen including Steve Schilling. After watching the Western Michigan live, and then re-watching it two times to help get a better look at the 2009 Michigan Wolverines, I noticed the line looked more experienced and knew what they were doing despite at least three holding penalties (Molk twice, Moosman once).
Now take a look to the defensive side of the ball where the Wolverines are much more experienced despite loosing defensive linemen Terrence Taylor, Will Johnson, and Tim Jamison.
Yes, the Wolverines are what some may call, “thin” on the defensive line. Some may argue that Michigan’s line is not as big as others and call them thin, others may be referring to the potential lack of depth.
What the Maize and Blue lack in size and depth, the certainly make up in skill, with the likes of potential All American Brandon Graham, DL Ryan Van Bergen, Mike Martin, Will Campbell, Renaldo Sageese, and freshman hybrid OLB DEs Craig “The Death backer” Roh, and Brandon Herron.
This group of players certainly showed their talent on Saturday getting consistent pressure on Western Michigan QB Tim Hiller, and forcing him to make some throws. Roh and Van Bergen combined for a sack, while Brandon Graham put multiple pops on Hiller.
The matchup in the trenches should be a good one come this Saturday as two potential All Americans square off in ND’s right tackle, Sam Young, and Michigan’s defensive end, Brandon Graham. That’s just one of a few matchups to keep on eye on come Saturday, 3:30pm.
During the opening weekend, Notre Dame defeated Nevada, , the team with arguably the Nation’s worst pass defense, 35-0, and now Irish fans celebrate with joy and happiness because Jimmy Claussen shredded them apart, with a majority of the yards to Wide out Michael Floyd. That’s not something to really brag about, although the Irish were able to shut out Nevada is, by far, the more impressive feat.
As we know, Michigan defeated Western for their first win in some time, 31-7 and the victory has many U of M fans excited for this Saturday. Turnovers were costly last year for the Wolverines; let’s hope this year is much different.