Thursday, October 16, 2008

Michigan vs. Penn State, 1999: First Half

The year: 1999. Joe Paterno, a young and spry 73, leads his Nittany Lions (9-1) against a 7-2 Michigan team that had dealt with back-to-back losses against MSU and Illinois by escaping from Indiana with a 34-31 victory and then thrashing Northwestern 37-3.

Musberger makes a reference to "putting Minnesota behind them", as the Nittany Lions had lost to the Gophers the week before, 24-23. CB Jeremy Miller takes a knee. In an interview, QB Kevin Thompson talks in despairing tones of the loss ruining PSU's national championship dreams. Uh, Kevin? Don't look now, but...

Eric McCoo carries it nowhere as safety Tommy Hendricks comes up to stop him. McCoo tries the same thing again, but James Hall takes him down after a couple yards. Musberger calls Todd Howard "the corner to watch". Diplomatic, that Brent. FUUUMMMBLLLEEE! The exchange is dropped, Rob Renes drives his man straight back more than two yards, allowing Ian Gold to pounce on the ball.

Michigan ball at the 22. Brady drops back, looking for David "B.A.D." Terrell down the sideline, but his man is in good position and the ball falls harmlessly out of bounds. Brady pitches to Anthony Thomas heading up the right side for four yards. Aaron Shea is the tailback on an obvious passing down, and Brady wings one wide of Terrell, who shows up his QB by giving the universal "What was that?" signal. PSU deploys that stupid lion roar. Hayden Epstein boots it through to put Michigan up 3-0.

12:42 remaining in the first. Another deep kick, but Watson brings this one out to the 25. Dhani Jones and Ian Gold blitz straight up the middle. Both are cut, but Thompson doesn't move and Ian Gold reaches up and grabs his leg to drag him down. 2nd and 15. Renes jumps across to give those five yards back. Chafie Fields is getting a huge cushion from Todd Howard, who compounds the error by backing off further when Fields turns to the sideline on his flag route. Easy throw and catch. First and ten from the 45. McCoo gets the carry and goes for good yardage until he's hit by Cato June. June puts his helmet on the ball and it pops out. It looks like the Lions have it back initially, but it's Michigan coming up with the ball. It looks like NT Eric Wilson came up with it.

A Train gets the call, running inside of the right tackle. Brady gets mauled by LB Brandon Short coming free on a blitz. On 3rd and 15 from about the M 40, Terrell takes off on a skinny post and Brady delivers a perfect strike to the hash, only to have Terrell absolutely smoked by James Boyd. Miraculously, he holds onto the football. Amazing catch. After the play, Brady goes off to the sidelines and Musberger suspects he's injured as Henson comes to the line. First and ten on the PSU 43. He throws a long handoff to DiAllo Johnson who steps and throws it right back to him. It's a prototype for the Navarre Water Buffalo Stampede of '03 and Henson takes off down the sideline with a wall of blockers. He rumbles down to the 21. Wooooo! DiAllo Johnson: Also a high school QB.

Thomas gets the handoff on a counter and Steve Hutchinson blows up a guy in the second level. Thomas delivers the hit down at the 3 for an 18-yard gain. TE Bill Seymour moves early to back things up 5 yards. Thomas gets the ball again and drives down to the 5. Thomas again, getting the pitch. He probably could have cut it up behind Jeff Backus, who was owning his man, but instead heads outside where he's tackled by a couple Penn State players at the 2. Same play, run to the other side. Thomas cuts it up and heads into the endzone untouched. Touchdown! Epstein hits the extra point to make it 10-0. Fun fact: This is the last time the full MMB traveled to Penn State.

We now move ahead in the action. 11:14 left in the 2nd quarter, Michigan still leads 10-0 and has the ball on its own 25. Brady finds Shawn Thompson on that TE flare route for an easy 15 after he disengages from his man. A Train tries to bounce it outside, but loses three. On 2nd and 13, Brady looks downfield and delivers a perfect ball right on the hands of David Terrell, but B.A.D. flat-out drops it. Maybe he was afraid of getting destroyed again, but he had the CB beat. On 3rd and 13, Brady can't find anyone and is under pressure. He moves up in the pocket to avoid the sack, but has no chance to pick up a first down with his feet.

Epstein punts it away and Bruce Branch takes it near the sideline, immediately cutting back across the field, and he's gone. A couple bad angles and that's all Branch needs to take it to the house. Apparently Michigan had already taken two halo violation penalties and Danielson thinks that affected our tepid punt coverage.

And so ends all action from the first half, according to ESPN Classic. Penn State was held to a meager 6 yards of rushing in the first half on 7 attempts and neither QB completed a pass for more than 20 yards.

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