First off, I'd like to thank everyone who offered their advice last week - my wife and I had a memorable time in Ann Arbor and really enjoyed ourselves. Also, for anyone who hasn't been to Angelo's, it is terrific! We got there around 8:30 and waited 30 minutes for a table. The line was even longer when we left around 9:30. Fantastic food, though. Definitely worth the wait.
Anyway, just thought I'd share some of my thoughts/observations from my first gameday experience in Ann Arbor:
- The per-game drumline performance was as good as advertised. They put on a great show - probably my favorite part of the day, aside from the game itself.
- The stadium didn't feel huge from the inside. I was kind of surprised by that. I didn't really notice the hugeness until I noticed a pretty significant sound delay (specifically the band on the field when they were facing away from my section).
- The scoreboards look awesome! But I got the sense that they are still kind of figuring them out - the pre-game announcements and what was displayed on the boards were off for the first minute or so. You could tell they had to rush some of the screens to catch up to what was being announced.
- Since this was my first game in the Big House I don't have anything to compare to, but the crowd seemed really loud on most third downs/big plays. I can see why Hope would say that noise affected his team (still seems like a lame excuse, nonetheless).
- I'm not trying to add anything to previous threads about this, but I was kind of surprised to see how long it took the student section to fill up. It seemed mostly full by kickoff and it was fun to see how involved they were in the game. I particularly thought it was funny when they started booing the old folks when they wouldn't keep the wave going. By that time, the game was definitely in hand. One other note about the student section: I was surprised by how many left when it started raining in the 4th quarter. Granted, there were only about 5 minutes left and the game was well in hand, but I guess I expected old people to leave when the rain started, not the students. Again, not trying to bash anybody, just my observation. FWIW, Lloyd Brady was there early and stayed until the end. He's a superfan! And my wife thought it was hilarious whenever I pointed him out on the video board.
- I sat in section 23 (awesome seats, by the way!) and there were two really annoying old guys behind me. They kept saying things like "You gotta run the ball north and south. You can't win with these trick plays (of which, one man considered the throw-back screen a trick play because it "took so long to develop.")! Denard can't throw the ball to save his life! Look at the size of that Purdue offensive line; now THAT's an offensive line. Look at the size of their running backs. They can actually run through tackles." They were the kind of people who would be completely satisfied with a 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust type of offense, and they were driving me nuts!
- Devin is definitely NOT an upgrade over Denard at this point. Not even close. His interception was terrible. I couldn't tell if he overthrew Hemingway (who was WIDE open) or if he was looking for Roundtree (who was double-covered) but it was a terrible throw. Not to mention his crazy scrambles all over the place. Denard also made a couple bad throws (one was intercepted, the other one should have been intercepted), but he seemed more comfortable in the offense. I think Devin definitely has a bright future, but I just don't think it's his time just yet.
- The jetpack was sweet!
- Kovacs really seems to have stepped up as a vocal leader on the defense. I noticed a handful of times when he was out with the defensive group during timeouts encouraging them and trying to pump them up. Hopefully his injury isn't too serious.
- I thought the band sounded really good with the mics. I know that's been discussed here before, but I didn't notice any kind of sound delay.
- I didn't think the amount of piped-in music was bad. Some of the song choices were, though. And some of the songs were really crackly at times. Not sure if that was due to the quality of the song file or just the sound crew still trying to fine-tune the speakers, but there were a few times when the music coming out just wasn't crisp or clear.
Overall though, both my wife and I had a great time. Definitely a memorable experience. She wants to come back again, so that can't be a bad thing!