This Week’s Obsession: Unicorn Games Comment Count

Seth January 18th, 2017 at 1:42 PM

Ron Bellamy Day. From WH. Part II is here.


Remember that one time an otherwise obscure/disappointing player was a superstar for a day?

Ace: image

Full game is on the youtubes.

BiSB: If we're talking image games: Spiiiiiiiike!

Smoothitron: I went through his game log not that long ago praying that wasn't his career high, and it's not, but it's close.


The pinnacle stretch of Spike's career was tragically unfun.

[Do NOT hit THE JUMP if you prefer to fondly remember erstwhile highly hyped Michigan scatbacks]

Seth: My first thought was Justin Fargas versus Northwestern/A Very Angry Poseidon


[UM Bentley Library]

But 3.9 YPC is pretty standard for a Carr running back. A week later opponents had figured out that Michigan always runs and outside pitch with Fargas, and the A-Train Era resumed.

So I’m calling dibs on Bellamy versus MSU.

David: You guys, Brandon Herron.



  • Tackles: 8, vs. Western Michigan (Sept. 3, 2011)
  • Solos: 3, twice (last vs. Connecticut, Sept. 4, 2010)
  • Asst: 7, vs. Western Michigan (Sept. 3, 2011)
  • TFLs: 0.5, twice (last vs. Penn State, Oct. 24, 2009)
  • Sacks: None
  • Int.: 1, vs. Western Michigan (Sept. 3, 2011)
  • FR: 1, twice (last vs. Western Michigan, Sept. 3, 2011)

He literally was not recorded for another tackle for the rest of the season yet assisted on seven and had his only solo tackle of the year. The big plays were the pick- and fumble-sixes. Michigan was also down 7-0 with the Broncos driving for a two-score lead when Herron picked a deflected pass and rumbled down the sideline to tie the game.  Later in the third quarter, after Alex Carder (who now plays for the Guangzhou Power of the China Arena Football League!!!!!) was Kovacs'd by a safety blitz, Herron picked up the remains and scampered 29 yards to give Michigan a 27-10 lead.

Ace: So for some reason there's all-22 film of the Brandon Herron game:

Brian: I remember that, and having to explain that the guy who scored two defensive touchdowns actually hadn't played very well. He was replaced the next week. That's a record that'll never be broken.

Ace: Incidentally, that was the first game I ever covered for mgo. That lightning probably saved dozens of fans from heat stroke, too. Thanks, Dave Brandon!

Brian: This is not relevant but I'm putting it here anyway.


Ace: It’s never not relevant, to be honest.

Seth: If I remember correctly the real WLB unicorn of 2011 was Brandin Hawthorne, who was a knife-ish weapon X in UTL1, then replaced by a true freshman Desmond Morgan a few games after. His UFR career:

Year Opponent Player + - T Notes
2011 Western Michigan Hawthorne - - - DNP
2011 Notre Dame Hawthorne 6.5 4 2.5 Alternated nice plays, coverage, with slow reads.
2011 Eastern Michigan Hawthorne 5 11 -6 Slow reads really got him.
2011 San Diego State Hawthorne 4.5 6.5 -2 Half of minuses came on final drive, fwiw, but he did bust a coverage there.
2011 Minnesota Hawthorne 3.5 2 1.5 Not giving his PT back.
2011 Northwestern Hawthorne 4.5 4 0.5 One big error on dive; good in coverage.
2011 Michigan State Hawthorne 2 4.5 -2.5 Unable to use his speed effectively, pulled.
2011 Purdue Hawthorne - - - Only garbage time.
2011 Iowa Hawthorne - 0.5 -0.5 Brief cameo.
2011 Illinois Hawthorne - - - DNP
2011 Nebraska Hawthorne - - - Garbage time.
2011 Ohio State Hawthorne - - - Garbage time.
2012 Alabama Hawthorne - - - DNP
2012 Air Force Hawthorne - - - DNP
2012 Massachusetts Hawthorne 1 2 -1 Nevermind the Hawthorne PT thing.
2012 Notre Dame Hawthorne - - - DNP
2012 Purdue Hawthorne - - - DNP
2012 Illinois Hawthorne - - - DNP
2012 Michigan State Hawthorne - - - DNP
2012 Nebraska Hawthorne - - - DNP
2012 Minnesota Hawthorne - - - DNP
2012 Northwestern Hawthorne - - - DNP
2012 Iowa Hawthorne - - - DNP

Brian: How about Alain Kashama?

BiSB: vs. Florida?

Brian: Kashama was a hyped Canadian import who didn't know how to play football, and then he was everywhere in an Outback win against UF. He covered a fumble, he forced one, he had two TFLs, and then he went back into his ice palace.

Somehow I'd forgotten that Kashama had another year after that, and he had two sacks against OSU the next year in that Navarre-Perry win. But I was hype about him after that bowl game.

Ace: Anyone want to guess the career-best single-game scoring output between CJ Lee and David Merritt? Bonus points for who it came against.

Brian: I'm baffled.

Ace: 11 points, CJ Lee, in… the Blake Griffin Murders Everybody Game.

Brian: Makes sense. That was also the Anthony Wright unicorn game.

Ace: Two unicorn games in a loss makes sense given that matchup.

Brian: We should be careful talking about Wright. You know he's got vines of him dunking in eighth grade locked and loaded for just such an occasion. I wish I had the foresight to tape me nailing some quiz bowl questions.

Brian: I know he started for a full season but I still feel like Tate Forcier deserves a shout here for the 67-65 Illinois game.

Ace: 2009 Notre Dame makes it hard for him to have a unicorn game. Matt Millen would’ve awarded him the Heisman then and there had it been on hand.

Brian: Whatever man, it's my goal to get Tate Forcier in as many TWOs as possible. Next up: "most inadvisable statements to the media".

Ace: Speaking of QB performances that don’t quite qualify, I wanted to say Scott Dreisbach against Virginia, but apparently being seven years old at the time allowed me to forget about the two picks and pedestrian 7.2 YPA.

Brian: I'll accept that, actually, because it was a unicorn half. I distinctly remember a middle-aged Virginia fan turning around at halftime to tell us that Michigan was not coming back with that freshman under center. Nobody disagreed.

Ace: His full season as a starter mostly bore that out. And now, thanks to the Bentley database, I want to find the 72-yard rushing touchdown he had in the 1996 Illinois game.


Next-longest career run: 19 yards. Sorry, I realize I’ve lost the plot.

Brian: Excellent camerawork there to get the thousand yard stares from Illinois defenders who have just been defenestrated. I did thoroughly enjoy Keith Jackson saying “he’s got the speed” with increased conviction as he realized there were no more safeties.

Ace: Since there was an entire blog dedicated to his underachievements and I remember this game fondly: Ronald Bellamy had 124 yards and two TDs in the 2002 evisceration of MSU.

Seth: I already dibs’d.


Though I forgot he had an almost equally good game (8 catches, 1 TD) against Ohio State.

Brian: No dibs in TWO! Except Tate Forcier, who is mine.

Ace: Alright there, Neal McBeal.

Brian: Is that a rappist?


I expected more from you, Brian.

Brian: OH NO

Ace: smh

Brian: shame, immense shame. I feel like Whale Olbermann is talking directly to me.

BiSB: "You will forgive me if I chortle no longer" would be a great site banner tag.

Seth: Fine, then I'm switching mine to Tyrece “The RECE” Butler, 2002 Washington. This has some background: When he was recruited Tyrece’s mom sent the Daily an OMG Shirtless poster of him. Being impish commie Daily-ites, we of course put the poster on the inside of the editorial board room door. This door was always open unless we were in session so 99% of those who came through the Student Publications Building never saw it, but to us inside, The RECE was our mascot, spirit animal, and all-powerful pectoral deity.

On the field, other than a tantalizing 77-yard (non-TD) first career catch in 2001, Butler never cracked 45 yards or 4 catches again in his career. Except that one day:

Six catches for 85 yards, and fell on Braylon’s “fumble” on 4th and 2 on the last drive to help earn Brabbs his shot at redemption.

Ace: I know the Fargas game was mentioned and dismissed because of the low YPC but man, he was running in a monsoon.

Brian: And he was so perfectly useless in all other games

Ace: I remember they kept cutting to shots of literal waterfalls going down the stadium steps. Breaking his leg against Wisconsin didn’t help. Unfortunately remember that one pretty well, too.

BiSB: Speaking of epic monsoon performances, Sam McGuffie had 178 yards from scrimmage against Notre Dame in 2008

Brian: I still remember looking up some yards per target data, sorting by catch rate, and seeing McGuffie with 40/40 catches as a Rice slot receiver

BiSB: It's a shame he was so murderable.

Ugh. McGuffie's second-best yards-from-scrimmage performance was... Toledo.

Ace: This may be why he’s now on the national bobsled team.

Brian: In retrospect he should not have worn the paper-mache helmets. Seemed like a good idea at the time?


Ace: I’m not sure I recall anyone else getting ragdolled so frequently.

BiSB: We'll always have the mixtape.

Ace: Noel Devine II.




Number 7

January 18th, 2017 at 1:59 PM ^

For Hawthorne, his unicorn moment could almost be boiled down to a single series in UTL I.

Right after Michigan opened the 4th quarter with a TD to cut ND's lead from 17 pts to 10, Hawthorne made all three stops (one assisted) in a 3-and-out, which game Michigan tha ball back with momentum enough for a third TD that cut the lead to 3 with 10 minutes still left.


January 18th, 2017 at 2:09 PM ^

You can't have Scott Driesbach without Tyrone Butterfield.  IT was Butterfield that dropped the third down pass around the ten yard line that would have ended the game.  There were no timeouts left and a catch would have allowed the clock to run out.  This allowd Driesbach to find Mercury Hayes for the game winner on the last play.  This was the biggest play of Butterfield's career - a dropped pass.

Rufus X

January 18th, 2017 at 2:13 PM ^

He had 22 carries for 164 yards and 2 TDs (one receiving).  In my memory that was his only big day, but turns out he had several other 100 yard games over the next couple of years, and that was sharing the backfield with Wheatley and Ricky Powers.  Dude was shaped like a bowling ball - great nickname "housecat".  


January 18th, 2017 at 2:24 PM ^

I know this is from "the season that we shall not speak of," but I mean damn. He looked... competent. Even, good?

The fact that I don't really need to say that this was in 2008 against Minnesota for everyone to remember should be Unicorn-worthy enough. 


matty blue

January 18th, 2017 at 2:18 PM ^

in the darkest days of the rich rodriguez regime, we came in at 2-7, minnesota was at 7-2.  up to that point, sheridan was 29 of 54 for 262 yards, 1 td and 5 interceptions, plus 16 carries for 56 yards.  "sheridammit," if i'm not mistaken.   few players were ever less suited to run the rodriguez offense.

he proceeded to go 18 for 30 for 203 yards with a pick, and we won - on the road - 29-6.  unbelievable.  sheridan didn't exactly flash across the sky, but it was as close to "competence" as he ever came.

by the way, looking at that box score?  that roster?  pure shite.  what a terrible football team that was.

Evil Empire

January 18th, 2017 at 2:16 PM ^

I had started to walk out of the stadium after Nienberg's late miss.  When we got the ball back and Navarre started tacopantsing, I was tempted to leave again. 

Our seats were close to the section exit.  My brother stopped so I stopped. 

I still can't believe we won that game.  Maybe more celebratory cursing than any UM game except the basketball win at MSU in 2011.


January 18th, 2017 at 2:35 PM ^

Some thoughts:

  • Dreisbach looked really good on that run.  Fast, good ball security, some moves, etc.  He got lost in the shuffle thanks to an injury and Griese's career, but he got a cup of coffee in the NFL and played for a few years in the AFL.  He's now the coach at a powerhouse program in Texas.  (link)
  • How about Tyrone Butterfied's "intentional" dropped pass in the 1995 Virginia game that set up the classic finish?  That was the highlight of his career and he's probably the least reknown player to ever get the #1 jersey.
  • Painful to see that Donnal line after his performance last night.
  • You ripped on Fargas a little because of his unicorn performance.  It always killed me that his career at Michigan scuffled (injury, move to DB, transfer) and then he became a stud at USC and then in the NFL for a while.  
  • I thought I remembered a Robbie Reid game where he scored a ton (25pts against Wisconsin), but looking at his stats he actually had a lot of double-digit scoring games in his brief career.  
  • This doesn't count as a TWO, but deserves mention.  In Jon Vaughn's first two games in 1990 (ND & UCLA) he rushed for 491 yards and 3 TDs.  Wrap your head around that for a minute.  He went on to have a solid full season and declared for the NFL after that.
  • Matt Vogrich - against Northern Michigan in the first game of his career he went 5-for-5 from 3 for 15 points.  He only broke double digits two more times in his entire career, never coming close to 15 again.
  • Jarod Ward had a long and semi-productive career (even though he's known as a bust being the #1 overall recruit during an underperforming era for Fisher).  But his best game came as a senior against Indiana when he went for 24-10 and showed you what could have been.


January 18th, 2017 at 2:50 PM ^

Fargas actually had an OK season at USC after he transferred -

161 carries, 715 yards, 4.4 YPC, 7 TD.


He also played 7 seasons in the NFL, with 3,369 yards.

There are only 2 Michigan players to rush for more yards in the NFL - Tyrone Wheatley(+~1,000 yards) and Anthony Thomas (+~200 yards).


He also ran a faster 100M in Highschool than Jabrill Peppers (10.37 vs. 10.52).



January 18th, 2017 at 2:57 PM ^

But Devin Gardner's and Jeremy Gallon's performances in the Indiana game were a thing of beauty (much less the defenses). 584 total yards of offense for DG and 369 yards receiving for JG. Also, 4 TDs for Touissant. What a fun game.

DG had his OSU game moment later on, and afterwards had the tragedy that is the 2014 season. JG went undrafted and both play together in the X-League.

Billy Ray Valentine

January 18th, 2017 at 3:09 PM ^

Image result for russell bellomy michigan

I'm not trying to be mean-spirited with this post.   


To be fair to Russell Bellomy, being thrusted into a Denard-oriented offense during a night road game in Lincoln isn't exactly a recipe for success.


I thought of Bellomy when Steven Montez came into the CU game against us this year and went 0-7, not to mention getting creamed by a blitzing #5.  Montez played well the following weeks in relief of Liufau, passing for 333, 293 and 197 yards with a completion% around 67%.


A small part of me wishes Bellomy got a chance at redemption.  Maybe instead of calling it a "reverse-unicorn," it should be called a "sacrificial lamb" performance.


January 18th, 2017 at 3:38 PM ^

It was in garbage time but the only answer for me is Walter cross against Syracuse in 1998. Cross ended the game with 104 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 10 carries. Career numbers - 125 carries for 489 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Cross is boss!


January 18th, 2017 at 3:53 PM ^

In my memory (which is pretty thorough for that time period, except for some lapses in 2005) Jason Ryznar played hockey for Michigan for four years and had three notable games.

One of them was his debut, the Cold War game at Spartan Stadium, in which he somehow netted two goals in the tie.

The other two, my pick for his "unicorn" games, were back-to-back games in the 2003 NCAA tournament.

At Yost, against Colorado College, Ryznar (back then he shared a reasonably effective line with Milan Gajic and David Moss) was a revelation. Chatting with friends after the first intermission, I remarked how astonished I was by his play.

And it was real. Colorado College was the high-flying team in the nation that year, featuring Hobey winner and 80+ scorer Peter Sejna, his linemate Noah Clarke, and a handful of other offensive savants. They were terrifyingly good. Michigan's strategy was to hit hard and to grind them down on the boards.

And Ryznar was the key. He absolutely dominated the boards all game long. He manhandled opposing defenders and controlled the puck everywhere. He was a crucial factor in MIchigan's second goal, imperiously scored the game-winner unassisted in the third.

It was astonishing.

He was basically the same guy in the FF against Minnesota, too, and only Paul Martin's desperation glove deflected what would have been the game-winner off of Ryznar's stick in the third.

Unfortunately, Ryznar was hurt too frequently to really put things together. But, for two games, he was the best player on the ice.


January 18th, 2017 at 4:00 PM ^

The Detroit Tigers have had some unicorn performances over the years.

Chad Durbin no-hit the White Sox for 8 innings in a pimp-tastic showing.

Duane Belowe has my love forever after he relieved Porcello in the 2nd inning of an 8-0 game, and held the Rangers scoreless over the next 6 frames.


January 18th, 2017 at 4:28 PM ^

was also Bobby Williams' last game as coach of the Sparty's since he admitted he did not know if he could turn fortunes around in an interview.

He's having more success in Tuscaloosa anyway.