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Published: Sunday, 10/18/2009

Historic day for Michigan

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Freshman Vincent Smith slices through the Delaware State defense in the second half. He ran for 166 yards. Freshman Vincent Smith slices through the Delaware State defense in the second half. He ran for 166 yards.
CARLOS OSORIO / AP Enlarge

ANN ARBOR - It was a stress-free afternoon for many of University of Michigan's key players, which, of course, meant less-heralded people were working tirelessly.

These are people with names even more obscure to fans than reserve players like David Cone or Tim North. They are the university's sports information department, the group responsible for researching neat statistics and historical feats.

An encyclopedia could be published with the multitude of relevant tidbits that came out of yesterday's 63-6 bludgeoning of Football Championship Subdivision member Delaware State.

Arguably the greatest accomplishment was the 721 yards the Wolverines produced on offense, the most any UM team has generated. Ever. With its starting quarterback clocking out early, and its punter never even clocking in, UM constructed the most dominant offensive performance in the history of one of the nation's most accomplished programs.

Eighty-four players saw action as UM (5-2) won for the first time since it last played at home three weeks ago. Delaware State pocketed $550,000 for the game, which almost seems like a trivial figure considering their troubles.

"We were trying to have a perfect game today," defensive end Brandon Graham said.

And the Wolverines were perfect, at least in the first half when they compiled 442 yards of offense and held leads of 28-0 after the first quarter and 49-3 at halftime. It's the most yards a UM offense has ever gained in a first half, and it shares the top mark for any half. Had any fans made the ill-advised decision to do push-ups for every UM point scored, they would have eventually been strong enough to block DSU's defensive line.

Only two first half drives did not end with a touchdown - one when Denard Robinson fumbled and another when the second quarter clock expired - and another score was added on a blocked punt. The 727 amassed yards breaks the mark of 715 set against Mississippi in the 1991 Gator Bowl.

"That's a great accomplishment right there," Robinson said. "Being at the University of Michigan - that's amazing."

Starting quarterback Tate Forcier, whose status for the game was uncertain because of a concussion, played the first drive before taking the rest of the day off. Coach Rich Rodriguez said Forcier is fine and could have played the entire game if needed. The absences of injured running backs Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown had no negative effects as a slew of stand-ins accounted for 461 yards on 54 attempts - an average of 8.5 yards. In the first extended action of his career, true freshman Vincent Smith carried the ball 17 times for 166 yards and a score. Others producing in the run game were scout-team member Michael Cox (82 yards, two TDs), tailback-turned-fullback Kevin Grady (73 yards, one TD), starter Michael Shaw (73 yards, one TD), and Robinson (54 yards, one TD).

In all, five players - Graham, Smith, Cox, Martell Webb, and Kelvin Grady - scored their first career touchdown. It is believed that Kelvin and Kevin Grady are the first Wolverine brother combination to score touchdowns in the same game since Pete and Bump Elliott did it in the mid-1940s.

"I've been dying to get into the end zone to see how it feels," said Kelvin Grady, who was the beneficiary on one of Robinson's two touchdown passes. "It's definitely a blessing."

UM attempted just 18 passes - a function of the insurmountable lead - and only six came from the arms of Forcier and Robinson.

Without injured starting quarterback Anthony Glaud, DSU (1-4) was completely inept and did not make a first down until its sixth drive, which only came after UM committed a facemask penalty. A truly remarkable fact was that the Hornets surrendered 63 points without committing a turnover - a glaring indicator of the talent disparity between the teams. The visitor's only real miscue came midway through the first quarter when Brandon Smith blocked a punt and batted the ball to Graham, who did the rest to increase UM's lead to 21-0

"He said he saw someone in a blue jersey, so he just threw it," Graham said.

It was Graham's first touchdown since his junior year of high school. Add that accomplishment to the encyclopedia.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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