Standing up For Coach Rod
"We just wanted to come out here right behind the Coach Rod," said Darryl Stonum regarding the victory over Notre Dame. "That's all we want to do. A lot of people have been talking bad about Coach Rodriguez. We just wanted to come out here and have his back and prove that we could beat Notre Dame."
"DC" Steps Up
Speaking of Stonum, many observers believed there would be a gaping hole at the wideout position versus Notre Dame due to the absence of game-one hero, Junior Hemingway. Outside of Greg Mathews, the pool of players and the position was talented but unproven. No player fit that description better than oft-maligned Stonum. Fortunately for the Wolverines he proved to be up to the task, starting with his memorable 94-yard kickoff return.
"All the film we watched (last) week, they normally didn't kick it to the left side," Stonum recalled. "They kick to Martavious' (Odoms) on the right. But for some odd reason they kicked it to my side. The kick return guys did a great job of opening up the hole, I just hit it and I knew I had to make one guy miss. If the kicker tackles me then I didn't need to be out there (laughter). I just tried to make him miss and turn on the jets to the house."
While he wasn't he wasn't able to hit pay-dirt from his receiver position, his four-reception, 54-yard showing definitely answered the challenge issued to him by his coaches.
"When Junior went down that was a big loss for us," Stonum said. "The coaches told me that they believe in me and they expect me to have a good game. I started all last season, so they knew I had the capabilities in me, they just needed me to bring it out. That's all I wanted to do today was prove to the coaches, prove to all the fans that I could play."
Stonum also showed a great deal of toughness on the day. After sitting a few series with a leg injury, the Houston native made his way back onto the field for the final drive.
"I had a little injury, but the coaches asked me if I could go," remembered Stonum. "I just looked down and I was like put me back in. I'm not going to stop on my teammates when they needed me. There was two minutes left in the game and we were down by a field goal. I'm not going to be on the bench. So I just wanted to go out there and give it all I had."
The Notre Dame offense moved the ball seemingly at will in the first half to the tune of 302 yards of total offense (112 yards rushing, 190 yards passing, and three TDs). After halftime, however, Michigan's defense stiffened considerably, surrendering only 188 yards in the second half (including -6 yards rushing and 33 yards passing in the third quarter). The improvement was due to an adjustment by new Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.
"Greg (Robinson) did some good things there," Michigan linebackers coach Jay Hopson said afterward. "We went in and had a little cover-3, man free and it worked tremendous for us."
"I think we did a good job especially after the adjustments," added safety Troy Woolfolk. "They kind of killed us a little bit with the little hitches and stuff, but we have a great defensive coach and in the second half we came out there and kind of manned them up, which is what our corners can do and it kind of turned the game around."