Observations on the win over the Spartans, 31-13!

1-It was a great physical win by the Wolverines! We created two red zones for 10 points while MSU created three for 13 points. It ended up a three score game, but could have been much, much closer had we turned the ball over.

2-Henne led the offense with 11 of 17 for 140 yards and 3 TDs; one to Arrington and two to Manningham (41 and 30 yarders). Henne is now the "Spartan killer" with a 3-0 record. Breaston had 4 catches for 34 yards and Manningham had 3 for 75 yards. Michigan had 20 first downs and was 3 of 11 in 3rd and 4th down conversions; 351 yards of total offense in 59 plays. The time of possession advantage of 6 minutes we created in the first half, and maintained in the second half was huge. Our offense was only forced into 3 punts, and we protected Henne well; he only took one strong hit on the play reviewed on our first drive.

3-Hart had 122 yards on 22 carries; we beat MSU 211 to 60 in net rushing yards. Minor had a TD on a 40 yarder, and Grady had 12 carries for 51 yards. ESPN awarded Hart and Burgess as offensive and defensive players of the game.

4-Special Teams were outstanding! We downed the opening kickoff at the 9, and downed a punt at the 4; Rivas made two field goals, but we could only count one. Rivas is also kicking off today, and kicked 6 times for a 59.2 yard average. Breaston had a nice 20 yard punt return, and two kickoff returns for 38 yards. Spartans really self-destructed with 11 penalties for 87 yards while we had only 3 penalties for 25 yards (Bihl-hold, Stevie Brown-personal foul and Mitchell-false start). We completely dominated field position most of the game as a result of great special teams play, and a great running attack.

In the Spartans defense, Brandon Fields had 4 punts for a 54 yard average, two punts over 60 yards. David Herron had 9 tackles, Otis Wiley and Kaleb Thornhill ended up with 8 tackles each. Terry Love had a nice 22 yard punt return, and 4 catches for 57 yards. Matt Trannon had 4 catches for 61 yards before he left with an ankle injury; hopefully, it is not too serious so he may play basketball. Clifton Ryan also left the game with a calf problem, and didn't return; he made 3 tackles in the first half. Damien Williams had some nice kickoff returns, 4 tackles on defense with 2 pass deflections; one was in the end zone against Manningham.

5-Review/No Review-We dodged a bullet with our first red zone, the review negated a Spartan turnover on Henne's arm moving forward; then the lack of review upheld a TD that was caught out of bounds by Arrington. The first was a good call, but the second was not and we benefited. The dropped pass at the 3 by T.J. Williams in the first half was also a huge play in our behalf.

6-No Turnovers by Michigan were key. Grady did fumble, but he recovered. The two turnovers by MSU stopped drives. I still am perplexed about the time out with 7:21 left in the 3rd quarter by Michigan when MSU had a 4th and 6 at the 35. After the play, Stanton hit Love to the 14 to set up a red zone. It sure seemed like a dumb time out by English, if he called it.

7-Defense was solid! We held the Sparties to only 14 first downs, 312 yards in total offense in 61 plays. MSU was 9 of 18 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Caulcrick was held to 29 yards in 14 carries; however, he and Stanton scored the first two rushing TDs against our defense this year. Stanton was 20 of 35 for 252 yards with no TDs, two picks and two sacks; he also rushed 7 times for 24 yards. Stanton ends his career 0-3 against Michigan. Mundy and Burgess led the defense with 8 tackles each; Burgess and Harrison had sacks on Standon. Hall and Adams had picks, and Hall had two pass break ups.

8-Greg Mathews and Carl Tabb had catches today. Johnny Sears looked hurt after the onside kick, but looks o.k. Hart left hurt, but looks o.k. It was good to see Jamar Adams and Morgan Trent back in the starting lineup; however, Tyler Ecker didn't play and Ross Ryan didn't kickoff. It was good to see Senior walk-on Jeff Kastl get a couple plays at quarterback. Justin Boren got in his first game as did Doug Dutch and walk-on Tyrone Jordan. McAvoy got action at center rather than Moosman.

9-Penn State stands in our way of a possible title game with the Buckeyes. We will have to overcome the revenge factor next week at night in Happy Valley with a tough, determined defense. It doesn't matter how high we climb in the polls this week if we lose next week.
Observations on the first half with the Spartans, 17-0!

1-Wow! What great execution in every phase of the game by the Wolverines! We create two red zones for 10 points while MSU has one red zone for zero.

2-Henne led the offense with 8 of 12 for 105 yards and 2 TDs; one to Arrington and one to Manningham. Breaston has 4 catches for 34 yards. Michigan had 12 first downs and was 3 of 6 in 3rd down conversions. The time of possession advantage of nearly 6 minutes was huge, and led to 9 more offensive plays by Michigan.

3-Hart has 92 yards on 18 carries; we lead MSU 98 to 31 in net rushing yards.

4-Special Teams has been outstanding! We downed the opening kickoff at the 9, and downed a punt at the 4; Rivas made two field goals, but we could only count one. Rivas is also kicking off today as Ryan must be injured. Spartans really self-destructed with 8 penalties for 62 yards. We completely dominated field position the entire half as a result of great special teams play. In the Spartans defense, Brandon Field has been awesome with two punts over 60 yards. Otis Wiley and Kaleb Thornhill lead their defense with 7 tackles each.

5-Review/No Review-We dodged a bullet with our first red zone, the review negated a Spartan turnover on Henne's arm moving forward; then the lack of review upheld a TD that was caught out of bounds by Arrington.

6-Turnovers are the key as neither team has any, but these could change momentum and/or the outcome.

7-Defense has again solid! We held the Sparties to only 6 first downs, 115 yards in total offense. Caulcrick was held to 18 yards in 5 carries. Stanton was 9 of 16 for 90 yards, and we did sack him once (Burgess). Mundy leads the defense with 5 tackles. Hall almost had a pick. Both Jamar Adams and Morgan Trent are back, and started.
Michigan State Preview-October 7, 2006

I've listened to a lot of fan and media hype, and am convinced that this will be a close game. Those of us who know how tough this rivalry is don't need to be reminded; however, young, immature fans or people who can't visualize the "big picture" are always going to fuel the rivalry with "blow out" talk. When I hear "blow out" talk, it demonstrates a sign of disrespect and fuels the rivalry; that condescending attitude is not displayed by most Michigan fans. This game will be close because Michigan State wants to win this game more than any other game on their schedule, they prepare for this game more than any other game on their schedule, they are talented and they have a lot to prove to the Michigan players, coaching staff and fans.

On offense, the MSU game plan is simple; they will try to control the football. This means no Michigan time of possession advantage, a more tired Michigan defense in the 4th quarter and no turnovers. If they are able to execute this phase of their game plan, the game will be a close, 4th quarter game. Can they do it? Well, Drew Stanton is a senior quarterback who has never defeated Michigan, and if protected, he can be very effective as a passer, runner and scrambler. Next to Ohio State's Troy Smith, he is the most dangerous quarterback in the Big Ten. Stanton leads an offense that is as potent as any in the country, and their red zone efficiency is 95% with 21 scores in 22 attempts, and 15 TDs; their only stop came on a fumble and they lead the Big Ten in red zone efficiency. This is the same team that was leading Notre Dame at halftime a few weeks ago, 31-14 and ahead in the 4th quarter by 37-21. Michigan must sack him, and get enough quarterback hits and hurries to make him less effective as the game progresses; if we can't do that, we'll be in trouble. I don't think Brian Hoyer would be as effective, and if Stanton is injured, he would play.

The Spartans also have a strong running game. Even though Javon Ringer won't play, Jehuu Caulcrick and A.J. Jimmerson are capable of big days with a rushing offense ranked 9th in the country. Matt Trannon, Jerramy Scott, Kerry Reed and Kellen Davis are all capable receivers; that is why MSU is averaging 433 yards per game of total offense. Scott can throw, run and catch a la Steve Breaston; he is a definite threat. Matt Trannon is nursing a hamstring injury, but he is also an athlete who can throw, run and catch; most people know he is a starter on their basketball team. Although they did have an "off week" against Illinois and a poor second half against Notre Dame, they are averaging 35 points per game. The team with the best running attack has won 34 of the last 36 meetings. Michigan State respects our defense, but also believes they can move the ball on it controlling time of possession in this game.

On defense, the MSU game plan will be to stop Michigan's run, put the "heat" on Henne, and make the Wolverines win the game by throwing the football. Can they stop our run? Well, their rushing defense led by Clifton Ryan averages only 107 yards per game; that is a solid defense led by a solid linebacking core, David Heron, Kaleb Thornhill and Sirdarean Adams. Former Wolverine, Greg Cooper, and Otis Wiley will be daring Michigan to throw so they can create turnovers. Their pass defense is not strong, but if they get a strong push against our offensive line and can create sacks, hurries and/or hits on Henne, they could create turnovers. Ryan and Wiley lead their defense in sacks, tackles for loss and tackles. I don't think Michigan State respects our offense, and believes they can stop our run, from a personnel standpoint, with their line and linebackers. Therefore, they will keep their safeties deep to protect against Manningham, Breaston and Arrington. The Spartans are 11th in the Big Ten in sacks and red zone defense so we must not let them gain confidence by stopping us in the red zone and/or allowing sacks.

On special teams, MSU has one of the best net punting games in the country; they are ranked 15th with an outstanding punter in Brandon Fields. Brett Swenson has kicked 7 of 8 field goals, and has been perfect in 21 trys for extra points. The only one he missed was over 50 yards. The Spartans will have their hands full trying to stop Breaston, but special teams is an area that can change the complexion of a game due to turnovers and field position. I believe the Spartans will attempt to block our punts, and think they can do it. We'll just have to see who shows the most desire and executes.

The Paul Bunyan trophy has been earned by Michigan 32 times in 53 tries with 2 ties, and the Wolverines lead the series 65 wins to 28 with 5 ties. One can truly throw out the records, rankings and statistics when these two rivals play. Michigan has won four in a row, five of the last six and eleven of the last sixteen. In 2001, we were ranked 6th as we are how with MSU unranked, and the Spartans came away as 24-26 winners. The last time Michigan State won at the Big House was in 1990 when Desmond Howard was interfered with in the end zone, 27-28; however, like the 2004 game in the Big House, they outplayed us most of the way. When they beat us in the Big House in 1984 and 1978, they held us to 7 and 15 points. Yes, defense tells the tale in this series. Prior to 1978, their last back to back wins at Michigan stadium came when they had Bubba Smith & company in 1965 and 1967. When the Spartans have beat us, great player performances like Tico and T.J. Duckett, Jeff Smoker, Plaxico Buress, Bill Burke, Eddie Smith, Kirk Gibson, etc. I think if the Spartans are to win, it would take a superlative effort by Drew Stanton, Matt Trannon and Clifton Ryan to win on Saturday. John L. Smith is in a "must win" situation, and nobody believes he'll be asked to return if he loses this game; thus, his record against the Wolverines would be 0-4.

Michigan's game plan is also simple: run the ball, gain time of possession advantage, stop the Spartan run, hit, hurry and sack Stanton. Hopefully, we'll also win the turnover battle in this hard hitting game. If they knock out Henne, we'll be in deep trouble. The most dangerous Spartan is one backed into a corner, and not given any chance to win. The Spartans have every motivation to cause us serious trouble. It looks like another nailbiter in the Big House.

Wolverines 24 Spartans 19