Observations on dramatic win over Penn State, 27-25!

1-Wow, did we need that win! What a great comeback by our offense. Henne to Manningham on the last play of the game! I wasn't confident after Penn State reeled off 22 4th quarter points, and drives the field to take a 21-25 lead with 53 seconds to go in the game, but Breaston's return and an 8 play 53 yard drive gives us the W. Offense wins one!

2-We get 4 red zone opportunities, 2 in each half and cash in for 17 points while Penn State creates 4 red zones, 3 in the second half, for 18 points.

3-Henne was 21 of 36 for 212 yards, and two second half TD passes to Manningham. The legend of Mario Manningham has begun in Ann Arbor as he catches 4, 2 for TDs, for 49 yards. The captain, Jason Avant, came up with 8 grabs for 75 yards. Michael Hart ran for 108 yards on 23 carries plus 4 catches for 40 yards. Antonio Bass had 2 carries for 26 yards, and Kevin Grady added 25 yards on 5 carries. We had 21 first downs, 8 of 18 in 3rd down conversions plus 1 of 1 in 4th down. We had 375 net yards in total offense with 75 plays including 163 yards in net rushing and 212 net yards in passing after 3 sacks and one turnover on the fumble by Henne that went for a TD.

4-Our defense was solid until that last drive! David Harris and Grant Mason had 10 tackles each; Prescott Burgess, Jamar Adams and Lamarr Woodley had 8 each. Woodley had 4 tackles for loss including one sack. Leon Hall had an interception, Harris and Burgess forced fumbles. We had 4 pass break ups: Adams, Burgess, Graham and Trent.

5-Robinson was incredible! Robinson was 19 of 34 for 239 yards and ran 17 times for 67 yards and both their offensive TDs. Penn State had 20 first downs, 420 net offensive yards in 72 plays and was 5 of 14 on 3rd down plus 2 of 2 on 4th down conversions. Their time of possession advantage disintegrated in the 2nd half to only less than 2 minutes, but we ran more overall plays than they did thanks to the fumble and interception. We did force them into 4 punts. Hunt had 102 yards on 14 carries, and his 61 yarder set up a red zone opportunity on the 2; however, our defense held them to a field goal. Williams has 6 catches for 59 yards, Norwood has 4 for 53 and Golden had 3 grabs for 74 yards.

Paul Posluszny had 11 tackles, and Chris Harrell 10 to lead the Nittany Lions, and Alan Zemaitis stole the ball from Henne for the TD. Our offensive line did a great job in the second half limiting their defense to 3 sacks, and protecting Henne at the end of the game plus providing enough holes for Hart to scamper through.

6-Special Teams weren't perfect, but they really helped contribute to the win. Rivas kicked a huge 47 yard field goal when we needed it, and was 2 of 3. We got our critical two point conversion with Hart running straight ahead for 3 yards. Ryan was solid with 2 touchbacks in 5 kickoffs, and he purposely kicked some high so they couldn't be run back by Williams. Ryan also punted 5 times, and had one downed at the 5 yard line. Rivas hit one, but had the second one blocked. Breaston's 4 kickoff returns for 128 yards really helped our field position especially on the last drive; that was essential.

I'm sure Penn State will bemoan their special teams effort with not being able to contain Breaston, missing two field goals, fumbling the extra point even though Kelly ran it in for 2. Yes, it was inexcusable letting a kicker run in a broken play for 2.

7-Player personnel notes include Stenavich's injury, Max Martin still not playing at tailback since his Wisconsin fumble, Jeremy Van Alstyne's and Tim Jamison playing, but only Van Alstyne contributed with one assisted tackle. Leon Hall went from hero to goat with his pick and pass interference call, but he certainly wasn't loafing out there as he also contributed 7 tackles.

I was impressed overall with the safety play of Brandon Harrison and Jamar Adams with both our starters sidelined; they did a great job! Harrison only had one tackle, but excellent coverage overall.

Observations on the first half with Penn State, 3-0!
1—Defensive struggle as I predicted! Penn State is totally dominating time of possession, but is coming up short with field goal misses and miscues. Michigan’s high school offense has done nothing. Michigan has two red zones for 3 points while Penn State has one red zone for zero.

2—Henne is 8 of 15 for 77 yards; he has been sacked twice, and does not look good. He is making poor decisions like missing a wide open Breaston at the 6 in the last red zone just before halftime. Avant has 3 catches for 38 yardsHart has 29 yards in 7 carries plus 3 catches for 35 yards while Antonio Bass has 2 carries for 26 yards. We have 7 first downs, 2 of 7 in 3rd down conversions, 49 net yards rushing and 126 net yards of total offense in 28 plays.

3—Our defense has been solid! David Harris has 7 tackles including a forced fumble. Grant Mason has 6, Jamar Adams has 5 and Lamarr Woodley plus Prescott Burgess have 4 each. We have forced the Lions into two punts to go along with their two field goal misses.

4—Penn States dangerous offense has 10 first downs, 191 net offensive yards in 36 plays and is 2 of 7 on 3rd down plus 1 of 1 on 4th down conversions. They fumbled twice and lost one, but it resulted in no points. They have a time of possession advantage of 6 and a half minutes that led to 8 more offensive plays, but it didn’t hurt us because of two missed field goals. Robinson is 10 of 14 for 100 yards and ran 8 times for 37 yards. Hunt has 38 yards on 9 carries. Williams has 3 catches for 37 yards and Norwood has 3 for 35. Dan O’Connor leads the Nittany Lions with 7 tackles.

5—Special Teams haven’t been too special for either team. Ryan has done a nice job on kickoffs with a touchback, and has punted 3 times for a 57 yard average with his last punt downed at the 5 yard line. Rivas hit one, but had the second one blocked. Breaston ran into Harrison for the second game in a row. Penn State missed two field goals keeping us ahead.

6—Looks like a low scoring defensive struggle. Time of possession and success in the red zone will be keys along with turnovers. Go Blue!

Penn State Preview:

Undefeated and 10th ranked Penn State invades Ann Arbor in an effort to solidify their perch atop the Big Ten standings. They are led by Senior quarterback Mike Robinson who scrambles and offers a multifaceted look to the Nittany Lion offense. Former Michigan recruit, Tony Hunt, leads a solid running game that is averaging over 205 yards per game and ran for 364 yards against Minnesota. Junior Hunt is also dangerous as a receiver. Their offensive line in anchored by former Michigan recruits, Seniors Charles Rush and Tyler Reed. Freshman and top recruit, Derrick Williams, is a new threat to run or receive passes for big plays; he is also their kickoff returner. Robinson's other favorite targets are Deon Butler, Freshman and top Michigan recruit, Justin King, and Austin Scott. Senior Tight end Isaac Smolko is used similarly to Michigan's, mostly to block.

The Nittany Lions have a solid defense anchored by Junior linebacker Paul Posluszny and sack specialist Tamba Hali that leads the Big Ten with 20 sacks, and is first in pass defense efficiency led by Senior Calvin Lowry who also returns punts and senior safety Chris Harrell plus cornerback Alan Zemaitis. Another former Michigan recruit, Tim Shaw, is their second leading tackler at linebacker. Sophomore linebacker, Dan Connor, has also been playing well with 12 tackles against the Buckeyes. These three linebackers promise to blitz and contain a one dimensional Michigan offense that will see the Big Ten's best pass rushers. This defense held Ohio State to zero points in the second half, and 91 rushing yards in 40 attempts while forcing 5 sacks, 3 fumbles and 2 turnovers.

Freshman kicker, Kevin Kelly, has proven to be a dependable kicker, and the Penn State special teams have been adequate while they have shown discipline in earning few penalties. Joe Paterno's troops will be ready to provide Michigan another home loss, and move their record to 3-4 on the season as Michigan fights with Illinois to avoid the Big Ten basement. After we lose to Penn State, we'll play Iowa, Northwestern and Indiana for a chance to participate in the Motor City Bowl and I don't like our chances. Michigan loses two in a row at home!

Joe Paterno's 40th season is a Golden one as Big Ten Champ!

Michigan 10 Penn State 13