Michigan fans help offense cope without a play clock in first quarter
Michigan Stadium is not an intimidating venue for road teams, despite being the largest stadium in college football.
Jeff Sainlar | AnnArbor.com
That meant the team going toward that end zone was at a significant disadvantage. And, in the first quarter, that team was Michigan.
That's where the student section and the rest of the fans stepped in for the Wolverines. It yelled out the play clock — much like a shot clock in basketball — to help quarterback Denard Robinson get off the plays.
"That was the biggest thing. ... I really appreciate the fans helping us out, because we really needed it. Shout out to the fans, and I hope they're ready next week," Robinson said, alluding to the upcoming showdown with rival Ohio State.
Added senior offensive lineman Mark Huyge: "You could hear it. 'Five, four, three, two, one ..." I'm like, 'Snap the ball, snap the ball!"
Offensive coordinator Al Borges, who calls plays from the press box, still had communication to the field because of a backup power system, but was forced to get out the plays quicker than normal to account for the confusion on the field.
The system wasn't perfect. Michigan picked up one delay of game penalty in the first quarter, for which coach Brady Hoke took the blame.
"That's on me," he said. "I should have called timeout. For me to not do that, that's bad coaching."
The flag didn't hurt Michigan, though, as Robinson was able to find sophomore receiver Jeremy Gallon for a 6-yard touchdown pass two plays later. In all, the Wolverines scored 10 first-quarter points without the benefit of a play clock on the scoreboard.
When the game moved into the second quarter, Nebraska faced the south end zone, but did not have the aid of the student section counting down. It scored three points in the quarter.
Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez said the powerless play clock did not effect him, nor his offense.
Power to the clock was restored at halftime, and this was not an issue in the Wolverines' big second half, which powered their rout of the Cornhuskers.