Brandon Graham plays well; David Molk injures knee
For all of Michigan's struggles Saturday, one player stood out - defensive end Brandon Graham.
Graham was seemingly the only player able to penetrate Penn State's offensive line, routinely ending up in the Nittany Lions' backfield. He finished with seven tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a half-sack in Michigan’s 35-10 loss.
He also blocked a punt, although it ended up going for nothing as Michigan turned the ball over on the next possession.
"Just tried to make a play," Graham said. "Just tried to spark, some more energy from deep. I guess just turnovers just killed us today."
Molk returns, but just for a bitCenter David Molk’s return from a broken foot was short-lived Saturday. Molk, who missed the last four games, started and lasted four plays before limping off the field with a right knee injury. He returned briefly at the start of the second half, but was too hobbled to continue. David Moosman moved from guard to center in Molk’s absence - Moosman started at center with Molk out - and Mark Huyge came off the bench to play right guard. Perry Dorrestein started over Huyge at right tackle. “David Moosman’s a good player, too, but it seemed like we had a little rhythm” going when Molk got hurt, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I think a little bit of the rhythm may have been disrupted there.” Michigan marched 70 yards in 11 plays on its opening drive to take a 7-0 lead, then didn’t score another touchdown. Moosman also had an errant snap out of the back end zone in the second quarter for a safety. “That was a miscommunication,” Rodriguez said. “Quarterback didn’t say go and Moose thought he did.” Molk, who Rodriguez said may have a sprained knee, said his injury isn’t bad. “I’ll be back,” he said. Next week against Illinois? “I don’t know,” he said. “We’ll see.”
Hemingway injured Junior Hemingway also left Saturday's game with a knee injury when Penn State's A.J. Wallace knocked Donovan Warren into Hemingway on punt coverage. Hemingway had a slight limp as he left the stadium.
"I'll be out there playing next week for sure," he said.
It wasn't just turnovers Michigan squandered scoring opportunities with more than just its four turnovers Saturday. Trailing 19-7 late in the first half, the Wolverines had second-and-goal at the Penn State 2 when Tate Forcier fumbled a handoff to Brandon Minor. Forcier recovered the ball for a 4-yard loss, but with the clock running and Michigan out of timeouts he had to spike the ball on the next snap. Instead of two shots at the end zone, Michigan settled for Jason Olesnavage’s 33-yard field goal on fourth down and didn’t score again. “It was just a low snap,” Forcier said. “The ball was wet. It really just slipped out of my hand.” Michigan used two timeouts on Penn State's previous possession to stop the clock, and spent a third early in the first half when it had 12 men on the field on a Penn State field-goal attempt.
"That's a mistake that shouldn't happen," Rodriguez said. "We'd like to have that timeout back. We may have used that timeout to keep them from running the clock down. I don't know if we'd still have it at the end, but that was disappointing because we burned an unnecessary timeout."
On the plays, Williams went off the field, Cissoko went to cornerback and Troy Woolfolk shuttled back to safety.
"He's been working real hard, tuned in," Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said. "He's been doing what he's got to do as far as everything. He's healthy, I think, so we felt it was time for him to get his chance to get back out there."
When pressed, Robinson said Michigan "needed" Cissoko on the field.
While he played, Cissoko didn't record a single tackle. And as has been his custom post-game, he declined to talk to the media. It seems, though, like he is fully back part of the team.
"Yeah," Rodriguez said. "Unless he screws up again."
Just another game to JoePa. When Penn State coach Joe Paterno was asked Saturday what it was like to win at Michigan Stadium for the first time since 1996, he dismissed the notion that it should matter.
Paterno told his team not to focus on the past, but to instead execute the game plan the Nittany Lions brought to Ann Arbor.
"I thought we were going to play against a good (Michigan) football team that's getting better all the time, and I thought we would be in a tough game," Paterno said. "I don't pay any attention to whether we've won here 10 years ago or 20 years ago or what.
"I look at our football team against we're going to play whether it be in Columbus or whether it's here or in Evanston (Ill.), and I think the kids feel the same way."
Maybe they do, but having beat Michigan in two consecutive seasons, Paterno's players like the feeling of turning the tide against the Wolverines.
"It's always a good feeling to come in and beat Michigan, especially when it's at their place," Penn State running back Evan Royster said. "But I think it's more of an accomplishment for our coaches, who have been here since we've been getting beat for how many ever years."
Extra points Michigan's opening score - a Brandon Minor 1-yard run in the first quarter -represented the first first-half touchdown Penn State has allowed this season. Penn State was the last team in the nation to surrender a first-half touchdown. Michigan's loss dropped the Wolverines to 10-5 against the Nittany Lions. Michigan has won nine of the last 11 meetings, but Penn State has won two straight games against the Wolverines. With his 70 receiving yards, Michigan's Greg Matthews became the 25th receiver in school history to surpass the 1,000-yard career mark. Matthews, who tallied 70 receiving yards Saturday, has 1,013 yards for his career.
- Michael Rothstein and Jeff Arnold contributed to this article.