Michigan sideline reporter Doug Karsch watched up close as the Wolverines kept their home season unblemished against Purdue. He made a number of observations, from the success of the U-M run game to an overheard comment by Denard Robinson regarding the longest of his completions on the day.
On whether or not he is Rocket Man, and actually flew into the stadium prior to the game: "Well, since you've blown my cover
that was pretty cool. That was pretty fun.
"I was told it was coming, and that I should be looking at the southeast tower. I saw some people milling up there, but I couldn't see him.
"They've really done some cool stuff with Michigan Sports Television, like when the parachutists came in and you could see their perspective on the big screens. They had Rocket Man wired up, so you could see him on the big boards. That was pretty cool."
On Michigan's running attack with Fitzgerald Toussaint: "He seemed to get up in the hole pretty quick. I've watched games with former Michigan running backs, and that was one of the things - they get to the hole quick, and Toussaint definitely did.
"They seemed to do a nice job blocking up front. Brady Hoke had talked all week about being more physical at the point of attack, and that appeared to be the case. Purdue has some strength on that defensive line, so that was a good sign. The challenges are going to get bigger in the weeks to come, but if they develop a rhythm in the running game
"You know they liked it with a fullback and Denard [Robinson] under center. That's the offense they hope to run, long-term. That had to please them to no end, to be able to see that produce some yards on the ground. It looked and felt like old-school Michigan offense."
On the sideline reaction to Mike Martin forcing a safety: "They were pretty fired up. One of the most overplayed cards in sports is, 'They showed no emotion.' When teams show emotion, it's the product of things going well, and lack of emotion is when you're getting your butts kicked. They were pretty fired up on that safety.
"That was a big turning point in that game. To watch Coach [Jerry] Montgomery and Coach [Curt] Mallory celebrate that one, that was something they wanted - to make an impact, with their offense being backed down there. That was a big play in that game, and really got the sideline jumping.
"Again, it's talking about strength at the line of scrimmage. It was Mike Martin overpowering a blocker and obliterating the quarterback. You couldn't have had a play that exemplified more what they want than that one."
On the sideline reaction to the plays on which Michigan couldn't punch it in, from near the goal line: "I didn't notice a lot of yelling and screaming. I noticed conversations that seemed to be asking questions, trying to get some feedback from the players on what they saw."
On Taylor Lewan battling through injury to play: "I think he's going to be fine. That's just my impression. When he first got hurt, he came off the field, and I just heard him use the word 'twisted.' He was really favoring that left leg.
"They had him over on that table. The offensive line sat down, and the left tackle position was open. They didn't put anyone else in there. In the meantime, [U-M head trainer] Paul Schmidt started working out Ricky Barnum. They wanted Barnum to get down into a three-point stance and fire off, see if he could handle it.
"Schmitty was working with him, and then Lewan just got up and said, 'I'm okay.' He walked over and sat down on the bench. His first snap after that, he was 10 to 15 yards down the field with [David] Molk, blocking somebody, and didn't seem to be bothered at all. Based upon what I've seen out of him after the game, I think he'll be fine."
On Jordan Kovacs' absence from the lineup: "The first drive he's out of there, they gave up a 48-yard bubble screen for a touchdown. They hadn't given up a 40-yard play all season.
"I'm not criticizing [Troy] Woolfolk, by any stretch of the imagination, but it tells you that when guys are where they're supposed to be, it doesn't happen. Woolfolk, two years ago, was playing corner. He started the year at safety, and the season started to slide when they switched him to corner.
"Then in the Ohio State game, they put him back at safety, and it was the best defensive team in weeks. I think he could be a good safety, but Kovacs is such a critical part of that defense.
"I don't get the sense his season is done. I think I would have heard that. Just reading the tealeaves, I think he'll be back. I just don't know if it's going to be this week. He wasn't walking around the sideline moping or anything. He wasn't on crutches, and there wasn't a woe-is-me sense."
On a Robinson comment regarding one of his throws: "I was walking past the bench after Denard had completed that long pass to [Jeremy] Gallon, down inside the 5-yard line. I heard Denard referencing that the defensive back was over Gallon's left shoulder, and that's why he threw it where he did.
"As much as people think Denard throws just jump balls, I think sometimes there might be a method to the madness. He threw it where he did based on the coverage, which allowed Gallon to go get it. It was interesting to me that it's not always just a jump-ball situation."
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