Game Day Observations: Michigan
Michigan won the White Out game 28-16 in front of #107kStrong on Penn State’s Senior Day. There were as many reasons for frustration as there were causes for optimism, but the experience off the gridiron was great. Here are some observations from Saturday afternoon.
The team really missed Carl Nassib. Nassib went out for the first drive on defense, but in retrospect it was ceremonial. He came out for the first series on defense and wasn’t effective, and then was nowhere to be found for the rest of the game. It resulted in the first game this season Nassib hasn’t recorded a sack, and the team only gained a total of two sacks.
“I could tell Friday at the walkthrough he wasn’t feeling great,” James Franklin said after the game, “but he wouldn’t tell us that. And then on Saturday, you could tell during warm ups that he wasn’t feeling great. Once we saw that he wasn’t going to be able to go and help us and help himself… we made the change and pulled him out.”
The noon White Out crowd was fuller and more of a success than I thought it would be. It was probably the worst White Out in the tradition’s history color-wise, but it was definitely better than I anticipated given the circumstances. The weather definitely helped — I actually started to sweat a bit in my winter coat — and students stayed for the most part. For the first time this season, the announced attendance (a sold-out 107,418) seemed accurate.
Since when does Michigan wear helmet stickers? I was surprised to learn this, but apparently Jim Harbaugh brought them back this year. I knew they used to wear them back in the Desmond Howard days, but must have overlooked them being brought back this season. I’m personally the type of person that thinks helmet stickers are kind of childish, but hey, if it makes Harbaugh happy then whatever.
Michigan’s fans were awesome. I know a lot of Penn State people have had bad experiences with Michigan fans, but I’ve seen a total five Penn State games against the Wolverines in person in both Happy Valley and Ann Arbor, and I have not once been given a hard time by anyone wearing Maize and Blue. They were also really loud in the stadium. The small group of fans — you could tell who they were, they ruined the White Out with that ugly yellow — joined together and made chants I could hear clearly from the south end zone. My favorite? The “Beat Ohio” chant they screamed the entire fourth quarter.
Jim Harbaugh is an angry man. He is known for losing his temper on the sidelines, and luckily the fans were treated to a patented Harbaugh Freak Out over what he perceived to be a missed pass interference call. The photos our photographers took are good, but this Vine is the greatest.
Michigan media agree: Christian Hackenberg is in an unfortunate situation. Our guys covering the game in the press box were behind a row of Michigan media members who don’t watch Penn State in person more than once a year. No one claimed that the coaching staff’s usage of him was “negligent homicide” (as Maryland media did), but they said over and over throughout the game that they felt bad for him, directly referencing play-calling.
Senior Day honored an outstanding class, and it’s great that students showed up early. It’s not easy to get students to show up before they have to for any noon game, but a decent amount were present for the pregame Senior Day festivities. The last Paterno recruits were honored (Matt Zanellato even wore “409” on his wrists) alongside other legends in the making, like Nassib and Zettel.