“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
Behind enemy lines, pt.2
Living in the outskirts of South Bend, I had many opportunities to see Notre Dame games. During Notre Dame's Gerry Faust years one of our high school teachers that was an usher would sneak a couple of his students in if they showed up. A few of my friends did this, but I was never interested. I could care less about Notre Dame, and they weren't very good. This was the before the Lou Holtz era.
The first time I was able to see a game I really wanted to see a at ND stadium was the 1998 Michigan-Notre Dame game. I had tried to see the few Mich-ND games there before hand but was never able to get tickets at a "not insane price". For me, $400 was just too much.
Back to 1998, the year after the Wolverine's National Championship. One of my co-workers parents were season ticket holders from out of state. He was unable to go to the game and sold them to me at face value, which was all profit to him. Woot!!! Second ever cheapest ND-Mich game I ever attended.
Pre-season #5, Michigan comes to town with a new QB replacing the departed Brian Griese. A tall, skinny, not very mobile kid by the name of Tom Brady (Jr.). There was also alot of buzz about a freshman that was supposed to be the best ever at Michigan, Drew Henson. Another noteworthy player on Michigan's side was a blue chip wide reciever by the name of David Terrell.
Ranked #20, Notre Dame was coached by Bob "you may have heard I coached at Notre Dame" Davie. Their QB was also playing in his first start, Jarious Jackson.
The game started kind of slow. Both teams trading a field goal. With kicker Kraig Baker missing a 43 yard and 33 yard FG. attempt on Michigan's 2nd. and 3rd. possession, he was later replaced by Jay Feely. Feely added a field goal for a 6-3 lead before ND matched it with a score of 6-6 with a few minutes left in the half. A Tom Brady QB TD run made it 13-6 at the half. Michigan looked decent, but didn't play very well. It seemed they couldn't get out of their own way. Long drives would stall out, and the two missed field goals would have been nice to have.
After a comedy of errors and costly fumbles, Notre Dame snapped off 30 unanswered points in the second half. Michigan had one scoring opportunity, but a field goal was blocked. With the game out of hand 36-13, Drew Henson came in for the final points of the game. Henson drove the team 80 yards, completing 5 of 8, including a 17 yard scramble. His TD pass to Jerame Tuman came as I was standing up to make way for the swarm of ND and Michigan fans making their way out of the stadium to beat the "rush". One set of fans happy, another starting to second guess LLoyd Carr despite Tom Brady having pretty good numbers of a Qb's first game (23-36, 267yds, 0 int. 0td.)
Two things I took from this game were, "where did the awesome defense of last year go" and "Why to people leave with three minutes left in a game?". I never leave early, ever. I paid to see a game, good, bad, or ugly.
The following weekend, a kid by the name of Donovan McNabb made the wolverine defense look even worse. Michigan lost to Syracuse and was 0-2. Welcome to the scrambling QB era Mr. Carr. I don't think you would call both of those offenses a "spread" offense, because mostly it was an athletic QB buying time and hitting open recievers while the defense is in pursuit. This was a different animal than an option team, where the QB was not really a threat to pass. Once the defense figured, ok, this guy isn't going to run, we'll cover the recievers, whoops, there he goes.
All I knew was there were some serious issues with the defense, but I didn't know if it was personell, scheme, or coaching. I believe I had it backwards back then.