Monday, October 06, 2008

The Vault: 2000 Orange Bowl - First Quarter

Welcome back, my friends, to another edition of The Vault. Today we look at Tom Brady's greatest game in a Michigan uniform, the 2000 Orange Bowl. Michigan entered 9-2, having lost a lackluster game to MSU up in East Lansing and then letting a game against Illinois unravel the next week. A rocking 24-17 victory of Ohio State ended the regular season, and the #8 Wolverines prepared to meet #5 Alabama, SEC Champeens, in the Orange Bowl, amid Y2K hilarity. Without further ado, here we go.

Walter Cross handles the short opening kickoff and looks like he has a shot at a decent return, but he can't break through the wedge and Michigan starts with average field position.

On the first play, Michigan goes to the pass, which may have something to do with Alabama's #2-ranked rushing defense. It's a screen pass from Brady to Aaron Shea at fullback. Shea slips the first tackle, but is brought down after a five-yard gain. An ineffective Anthony Thomas run later, DiAllo Johnson can't reel in a Brady's pass 20 yards downfield and Michigan punts.

Alabama's return man, Freddie Milons, looks dangerous as he brings Hayden Epstein's punt back 17 yards, out to the 37.

'Bama's first possession, but the Tide QB goes all Brian Hoyer in overthrowing his man on a HORRENDOUSLY blown coverage. They pick up 5 on second, but Michigan knows a wide receiver screen when it sees one and Dhani Jones drops the third down man for no gain. The Million Dollar Band is already annoying.

Michigan's next possession begins at the 20 with a play-action pass to Shea as Brady sees 3 red shirts coming at him. The play loses a yard. A-Train picks up five tough yards to make it 3rd and 6. The bands are really high in this sound mix, it's not just 'Bama. David Terrell gets his first pass, a WR screen, but short of the first. Epstein boots a high one and the Crimson Tide will start near their own 40 again on the fair catch.

McClintock, the FB, plows ahead for a couple. SEC SPEEEEED false start. Alabama is using a QB rotation here, with Zow starting and Watts in on this series. Shaun Alexander gets the pitch and goes for 7, but a holding call takes them back to 2nd and 19. Four wideouts at the bottom of the screen? Screen pass! Despite the overloaded coverage team, Ron Bellamy limits it to 3 yards. Another short pass and the Tide have to punt.

A-Train goes nowhere, but Brady's 2nd down out to Marquise Walker nets about 8. 3rd + 1 = A-Train. The Tide clearly jumped into the neutral zone, but nary a flag, and 'Bama's 8 in the box stop him short. Alabama is so unconvinced by the fake punt that they don't have anyone back to field it, but it doesn't matter because Ian Gold takes the direct snap and gets some solid blockers in front of him. This is the first 1st down gained by either team. A-Train takes the safety valve pass and loses a yard. Thomas then tries to turn the corner, but Saleem Rasheed tracks him down for minimal gain. Brady from the gun hits Marcus Knight in the hands, but it's dropped. No matter, offsides on 'Bama. Aaron Shea takes another pass, but this time for a decent gain over the middle. However, there's laundry on the field. The rare 15-yard facemask is called on the offense, and boy this was obvious. Ziemann gave a good hard yank on the Crimson Tide lineman's facemask. You have to call that. Third and 26 and you can see the future Super Bowl MVP in Brady as he fires behind Terrell at his knees. Epstein's punt takes a lucky bounce and is downed at the Crimson Tide 31.

In an interview, present-day David Terrell tells us that Michigan's gameplan was the same as it has always been and always shall be as long as zebras roam the Earth: Establish the run. He would like us to know that, starting in the second quarter, that's what the O-line did.

Shaun Alexander takes it up the gut for 3. Alabama's LT is HUGE. Zow rolls out and ridiculously overthrows his man on a long bomb, but the guy was covered anyway. Milons, the WR, gets the handoff, breaks a tackle, and gets a first down for the Tide at the 45. The ABC crew cracks a Y2K joke when the play clock malfunctions. Topical! Alexander only gets two, but even that's coming back for another holding penalty. Handoff out of the gun to Alexander goes nowhere. Zow from the gun dumps it off to Alexander coming over the middle for nine. Zow is not playing great, overthrowing another receiver who was moderately well covered. Low snap and the punter shanks it dead right. The flag worries me, but it was for illegal formation, so Michigan will start with excellent field position after 'Bama gets MINUS ONE on the punt.

An A-Train run gives that yard right back and we hit the quarter break, 0-0.

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