Michigan Motivated To Stop The Run

Michigan players knew they had to stop the Gophers' vaunted running game, and the coaches kept pounding that into their heads all last week. It worked well enough for a Wolverines win.

The Wolverines know how to come from behind to pick up a big win. They also know how to break the hearts of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

For the second straight year, Michigan rallied in the fourth quarter to defeat Minnesota 27-24. The Wolverines' dominance in the series for the Little Brown Jug is complete. Michigan has defeated Minnesota 16 straight times in the series.

The win brought back memories of last year's 38-35 win at the Metrodome. In that game, the Wolverines trailed by three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and still managed to record the win. This time, Michigan trailed 24-20 late in the fourth quarter before QB Chad Henne took over.

He found tight end Tyler Ecker on a short pass over the middle, and Ecker ran it 31 yards up the sideline for the game-winning touchdown with just under two minutes to play.

Before the play, Ecker was fully confident that Michigan would find a way to win.

"We knew this was going to happen," said Ecker. "We had experience doing this last year, coming from behind, so we came prepared."

Michigan's defense had been shredded by Minnesota a year ago and the Wolverine coaches reminded the players of the fact that they gave up 424 rushing yards to the Gophers in 2003. This time, Michigan gave up 189 ground yards — and only 24 of them in the second half.

"The coaches put the Brown Jug and the 424 yards rushing in our face the whole week," defensive tackle Gabe Watson told the Detroit Free Press.

"We just tried to prepare to stop the run and shut it down. Minnesota is a great team and in the first half they had an 80-yard touchdown, but we had to keep our confidence and believe that we could win the game.

The 80-yard TD run by Minnesota's Laurence Maroney came late in the first quarter and gave life to the Gophers. However, the Gophers could not muster much pop in their running game after that.

As a result of the win, the Wolverines should have an excellent chance to defend the Big Ten title. They should be able to hammer Illinois this week and then comes a huge game — at Purdue the following week.

NOTES, QUOTES
GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Chad Henne — The freshman quarterback continues to play with poise and charisma when the game is on the line. He threw the game-winning TD pass to TE Kyle Ecker with 1:57 remaining and also completed 33-of-49 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns.

KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Braylon Edwards — He finished with 10 catches for 98 yards and recorded the 200th reception of his career. He also caught a touchdown pass for the sixth consecutive home game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "To be able to do this, on this stage, in this competition, with no experience — to be able to perform at the level he is performing at — I think it's incredible." — Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr on QB Chad Henne.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: The Wolverines know how to perform in the clutch and stand up to a challenge. After getting shredded by the Minnesota running game a year ago — 424 yards allowed — Michigan held the Gophers to 189 yards on the ground. While Laurence Maroney burned them with an 80-yard run in the first quarter, the Gophers managed just 109 rushing yards the rest of the game.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: After recording 19 takeaways in the first four games of the season, the Wolverines were blanked in that area for the second game in a row. Minnesota had two interceptions and one fumble recovery and that minus-three turnover ratio put the Wolverines in a position to lose to Minnesota for the first time since 1987. Wolverine QB Chad Henne did not let that happen, but the Wolverines need to protect the ball and start taking it away again.

ROSTER REPORT: Sophomore Rueben Riley replaced Leo Henige as the starter at left guard. Lloyd Carr said Henige, who injured his knee last at Indiana Oct. 2, will have surgery and miss the rest of the season.





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