notebook: Michigan's defense continues to win the turnover battle and more notes from Saturday's win over Notre Dame
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
After the third quarter of the Michigan football team's 35-31 comeback victory against Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish had out-gained Michigan 373-141 in total yardage and owned a 24-7 lead.
Michigan's offense was sputtering, and Notre Dame playmakers Michael Floyd and Cierre Wood seemingly couldn't be stopped.
But Michigan stayed in the game with a pair of interceptions -- one on the goal line by J.T. Floyd, the other by Jordan Kovacs -- and two fumble recoveries.
Coach Brady Hoke called Jordan Kovacs' interception "huge" as it came after Michigan allowed Notre Dame to score on its two of its first three drives.
Michigan scored on its ensuing drive to get its first points of the game.
"That was a tremendous play, and it was a tremendous play because it started on the line scrimmage and started with the call defensively," Hoke said.
"I think we did a good job of disguising the defense," Kovacs said. "I think the quarterback felt we were blitzing, and he didn't see us dropped into coverage. It was a big play for us. ... It was a turning point in the game, but there were several turning points in this game."
Floyd's goal-line interception and the two fumble recoveries -- on the Michigan 9-yard line in the fourth quarter and 29-yard line in the third -- came on what appeared to be certain scoring drives for Notre Dame. And for the second week in a row, Michigan's defense made up for giving up huge gains with even bigger plays.
Conversely the turnover woes were a continuation of a headache that started last week for Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, whose team turned the ball over five times in a 23-20 loss to South Florida in its season opener. The Irish are minus seven in turnover ration through two games.
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Being on the winning side of the turnover battle is something Hoke has emphasized in his short tenure, and a complete about-face from the Rich Rodriguez-era, when Michigan was minus-32 over three years, the worst in the country in that span.
"We were plus two today, and had a chance probably to be plus four," Hoke said. Michigan is plus-five on the season for turnovers. "For us, how we see it, (the defense) they hung in there, hung in there."
With 338 passing and 108 rushing yards, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson accounted for 98.6 percent of Michigan's offense. The performance more resembled Robinson's against Notre Dame last year -- when he played a part in 502 of Michigan's 532 yards -- than his game against Western in Week 1 when he accounted for 50 percent of the team's yardage.
"Everybody was just playing as a team, just doing what we're doing to win for Michigan," Robinson said. "Coach said we have a whole bunch of football left and keep playing until the end, and that's what we did."
Notre Dame senior wide receiver Michael Floyd became the school's all-time leader in receiving yards during the team's opening drive of the first quarter. Floyd entered the game with 2,693 yards in his career, 14 short of former teammate, Golden Tate. Floyd caught a 21-yard pass yards on the Irish's third offensive play of the game to break the record.
Floyd had 100 yards receiving before the end of the first half, giving him 15 career games of 100 yards or more, tying Tate's school record. He finished with 13 catches for 159 yards.
Floyd also entered the game as the school record holder for touchdown receptions (30) and receptions (183).
It was also a record-setting day for at Michigan Stadium with an announced crowd of 114,804. The previous record of 113,090 was set at last season’s opener versus Connecticut.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said on Friday that oft-injured senior cornerback Troy Woolfolk had hurt his hand at Thursday’s practice. Though Hoke did not disclose which hand, it was obvious before game-time when Woolfolk took the field with a cast on his right arm.
Woolfolk did not start and first entered the game on the first series of the second quarter. Michigan forced a Notre Dame punt on a three-and-out on the series, the defense's first stop of the game. Woolfolk played the majority of the defensive snaps the rest of the game and recorded three tackles.
Woolfolk came out of Saturday's game after taking a cleat to the nose, but returned shortly thereafter.
Also of note, Michael Shaw started at running back in place of Fitz Toussaint, who was described on Friday by Hoke as "a little beat up." Junior linebacker Cam Gordon did not dress for the second straight week because of a back injury.
Working out the kinks
The Michigan athletic department appears to be working out some kinks with its new high-definition scoreboards. While features such as team statistics were featured on the left-hand column of the scoreboard at the beginning of the game, for much of the first quarter the function wasn't working.
The problem appeared to have been solved in the second quarter.
It never happened
The NCAA will not recognize statistics accumulated by the Michigan and Western Michigan football teams in their season-opener last week, Michigan announced Saturday evening.
"The NCAA informed both Western Michigan and Michigan earlier this week that based on the NCAA Football Rules Book, it will keep the records of both teams, score of the game and attendance, but will not recognize the statistics from last Saturday's opening game due to the game not completing the third quarter," a statement said.
The schools terminated their game last week with 1:27 remaining in the third quarter and Michigan leading 34-10 due to sustained lightning in the area. They mutually agreed to hold the score and name the Wolverines the winner.
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said all stats and results would stand. However, the NCAA said it will throw them out because the third quarter was not completed.
As part of the ruling, the NCAA gave Michigan and Western Michigan the option to maintain statistics accrued in the game. They each took it, as did the Big Ten and Mid-American Conference.
“Therefore, there will be a one-game discrepancy in statistical information between the NCAA and both schools/conferences moving forward,” the statement read.