Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press Published 10: 53 am ET Oct. 27, 2019Updated 10: 53 am ET Oct. 27, 2019
Michigan’s Hassan Haskins, Shea Patterson and Josh Metellus discuss the 45 – 14 blowout win over Notre Dame, Oct. 26, 2019. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press
It was the block seen ’round the world.
And a suitable exclamation point to a win that was keyed by Michiganfootball‘s
Facing a second-and-6 at Notre Dame’s 26 with a 38 – 7 lead in the fourth quarter, the Wolverines’ second-team offense ran a run-pass option. Quarterback Dylan McCaffrey found receiver Mike Sainristil, who spun out of a tackle and raced to the end zone.
A highlight play in itself. But what went viral, instead, was a block away from the play.
Backup offensive lineman Stephen Spanellis grabbed Notre Dame defensive back Houston Griffith Jr., drove him past the first-down marker, past the sideline and out of bounds, and then pancaked Griffith into the ground.
The definition of playing until the whistle blows ***pic.twitter.com/qZV7OBQKLe
– ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) (October) , 2019
Garbage time MVP, low-key ***https://t.co/qJhLv9LmXE
– Stephen Spanellis (@Big_Spanellis 78) (October) , 2019
It was an apt summation ofMichigan’s 45 – 14 throttling of No. 7 Notre Dame.
“Offensive line was tremendous,” said Jim Harbaugh.
From the start of the game, the Wolverines controlled the line of scrimmage, setting the tone for a win in which they outrushed the Irish, 303 – 47.
With a downpour limiting the passing game, UM looked to its run game to provide an early spark. The Wolverines piled up 167 first-half rushing yards, running the ball 34 times while passing it just four times en route to a 17 – 0 lead.
UM used all sorts of run plays, all with similar success. It ran inside. Outside. It tricked Notre Dame’s front seven with traps. Hassan Haskins and Zach Charbonnet each had big games; Haskins had 20 carries for 149 yards, while Charbonnet had 15 for 74 and two TDs. Later, Tru Wilson and Christian Turner combined for 10 carries andyards with one touchdown.
“Offensively, made some creases and had some really crisp blocks, “Harbaugh said. “The backs were squeezing through them and breaking tackles. Hit a trap play early, that was big. Hit another couple inside runs, hit a couple outside runs. Josh did a nice job with the running game, inside then outside. It was really well-done. “
Harbaugh said the mix in the run game worked early on, forcing Notre Dame’s defense to adjust. There was some brief success – the Irish forced three consecutive three-and-outs to start the third quarter – before Michigan went back to inside runs and trap plays.
Faced with a crucial drive after Notre Dame cut the lead to 10, the Wolverines sprung Haskins loose for a 49 – yard gain up the middle and eventually scored a touchdown. They would score 21 more unanswered points.
“It felt good to impose our will,” said right guard Michael Onwenu.
According to Onwenu and center Cesar Ruiz, Saturday’s success on the ground was “bound to happen” and “coming sooner or later.” The Wolverines felt good about the way they’ve blocked recently; just last week,Ruiz said the offensive line played its best game of the season.
Against Notre Dame, they found success with a varied yet refined run game. seemed ****, that’s because it was.
“We’re bringing back some stuff that worked last year,” Onwenu said. “Watching previous games and it’s important to bring that back and do what worked instead of trying everything else. ”
After the game, Ruiz said the offensive line was able to build on last week’s performance. He was proud of how the unit’s work paid off against Notre Dame. He also said that the unit does not plan on settling. The plan is to “keep improving, every single week,” and that starts Sunday and Monday with film sessions.
Spanellis’ fourth-quarter block will surely be highlighted. As will many others.
“We said in the locker room we knew what kind of game it was going to be,” Ruiz said. “We knew we were gonna be ground-and-pounding a lot today. It’s the game we’ve been waiting for. We love running the ball. And just, we knew today was gonna be the day we were gonna be able to showcase it. ”