September 24, 2012

Karsch: From the sidelines

Michigan sideline reporter Doug Karsch saw what everyone saw on the field at Notre Dame on Saturday. Plus, he saw a little more.

Here's Karsch…

On Denard Robinson: "Denard never looked like he was ever going to give up. I've seen people misinterpret his attitude on the sidelines as him being happy with the way he played. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"I saw that kid keep his head up and set the tone for the team, keep the offense confident that he could get the job done, all throughout the second half. I was impressed with his leadership.

"After the game, I've never seen a player put it all on his shoulders more than Denard. I've talked to him in the locker room after games where he's thrown for huge yardage and has 500 yards of total offense and did everything for them, and I start to praise him in a post-game interview about how he carried the team, and he'll say, 'No, I didn't carry the team. The offensive line got holes for me, the receivers ran great routes, and they made great catches.'

"That game ended, and he put it all on his shoulders. I've never seen Denard take all the credit, but he takes every bullet. Some people that think he was joking around on the sidelines, or looked like he was happy with what was going on, couldn't misinterpret this kid more.

"Let me tell you how classy he is. At the pre-game coin flip, he walks out to the center of the field, and everybody knows Manti Te'o's story - how he lost his girlfriend and his grandma. Denard reaches over and gives him a hug, and says, 'I just want to tell you, I'm praying for you.' Te'o said, 'Thanks, I really appreciate that.'

"Nobody told Denard to do that. Nobody made Denard do that.

"I'm sure he's well aware that he needs to throw the ball in the stands when the play is not there. But I saw nothing on the sidelines that showed anything other than leadership. Rest assured, most eyes on that team watch Denard."

On his observations during the turnovers: "I didn't see a whole lot that maybe the cameras didn't provide. I saw him get up and clap his hands, put his head down after he fumbled. I saw after the interception on the pass to Devin Gardner that he went and talked to Devin a little bit, but I don't know what that was about."

On defensive coordinator Greg Mattison at the half: "Mattison is not the kind of guy that spends a whole lot of time at halftime praising his defense, but you could tell he was relatively pleased with their first-half effort. He really, really wanted that stop at the end of the first half, when they got the pass interference call on third down.

"You could just tell. They take three shots from inside the 10, and Michigan holds them, but they have the penalty on what looked from my perspective to be what would have been an incomplete pass anyway. That really disappointed him. Going in 6-0 as opposed to 10-0 at the half is completely different.

"I will tell you this - watching Greg Mattison, Jerry Montgomery and Brady Hoke talk to their defensive line during that game, it looked to me like those guys loved the way their group up front was playing.

"They were hugging guys, they were high-fiving guys. It was difficult to get a read on that defense, based on their opponents in the first four games, and I wonder if, deep down, the coaches knew that and just were really pleased with the way they battled in the trenches in that game."

On the play up front: "I was really impressed with the offensive and defensive lines. I talk about my line of sight, and the holes were there. The white jerseys were there. They were really battling better than they have, in my opinion, all year, all game, up front on the line of scrimmage.

"I think it's really interesting what this team might be moving forward. Although 2-2 is not the record everybody wanted, that football team is better this week than I thought it was last week.

"If Denard Robinson uses this as a learning experience, I think Michigan is going to be right in there until the end in the Big Ten."

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