Field Pass with Richard Retyi

Sept. 25, 2010

By Richard Retyi

Frieda Falcon Promises to Be Good
Bowling Green mascot Frieda Falcon assured me there would not be any trouble in the Big House this Saturday. Last week in Columbus, an incident of mascot-on-mascot violence occurred the likes of which the nation won't soon forget. I wanted to be sure our Wolverines were safe (we don't have a mascot, so everyone is fair game).

Frieda swears she loves everyone. The anthropomorphized peregrine falcon doesn't technically say anything, but with the use of gestures and with the help of a few BGSU cheerleaders, we're able to put the ugly events involving Brutus Buckeye and Rufus Bobcat behind us.

I believe her. She's in Ann Arbor alone (leaving life partner Freddie Falcon behind in Bowling Green -- no comment on whether or not they're "working anything out"), dressed in an orange No. 74 jersey and orange high tops (laced) shaking pom poms and her brown tail feathers.

She's all about love, gesturing to her eye, drawing a heart with her hands and then opening her wings wide. I love everyone, she mimes. "Do you like Eastern Michigan?" I ask. She nods. "Akron?" She nods again. "Toledo?" She pauses, shakes her head and points a finger into her beak. I'm not sure if that means she's not fond of the Rockets or if she thinks I could use some regurgitated field mice and dragonflies. I do look a little peaked.

Bryan Wright Still Loves Michigan
Bowling Green kicker Bryan Wright still loves Michigan. At least the fans. The former Wolverine kicker was extra generous in his return trip to the Big House, booting the ball over the net and into the stands on his first two point-after attempts. Wright's generosity was somewhat tarnished when, after each ball was swallowed by a sea of fans, those same hands passed the ball higher and higher until each ball was tossed up and out of Michigan Stadium. Nothing personal, Bryan.

Linebacker Fall Facial Hair
The Michigan linebacker corps has cultivated some impressive facial hair in the first official football game of fall (autumn began on Sept. 23). Jonas Mouton stuffed a Kimbo Slice starter beard under his helmet, Mark Moundros sported a scraggly beard and a shaved head and J.B. Fitzgerald and Obi Ezeh rocked thick chin warmers. Your move, Tom Selleck.

Heard on the Sideline
"I thought you played baseball. Slide!" -- unidentified sideline Wolverine giving advice to Denard Robinson on what to do at the end of his long runs.

Taylor Lewan's First Start
Freshman Taylor Lewan earned his first start of the year at left tackle, getting an early chance to show his stuff. Michigan opened the game on offense and Lewan had nine plays on the field to get his feet wet. After Denard Robinson ran it in from two yards out for the opening score, Lewan trotted off the field with the rest of his teammates. Did he get mobbed by teammates or sought out by influential alums? Nope. No big deal. A fist bump just like the rest of his lineman mates. No shoulder pad pops or attaboys. It's different for O-linemen.

Tate Forcier's Pressure Warm-ups
When Tate Forcier warmed up on the Michigan sideline before his 2010 debut, he did so under pressure conditions. Forcier threw passes to U-M receiver Je'Ron Stokes behind the Michigan bench hemmed in by teammates on one side and bystanders on the other. Forcier threw tight spirals in limited space, whizzing bullets near the backs of teammates' heads and in front of the noses of clarinet players from the Bowling Green Marching Band. Forcier didn't hit anything but Stokes' hands, then went on to finish the game 12-for-12 passing.

Meat Slapping Against Meat - Michigan's Goal-Line Defense
Was it Dickens, Tom Clancy or me who said goal line plays are like meat slapping against meat. Probably Clancy. Brutal, loud and kind of gross. In the second quarter, Bowling Green had first and goal on the Michigan one-yard line. Michigan substituted its goal line defense, the field tilting slightly to the north as a convoy of giant Maize and Blue defenders rumbled onto the field.

Will Campbell, Mike Martin, Greg Banks, Adam Patterson, Obi Ezeh and Kenny Demens stacked the box -- 1,693 pounds of meat plus 100 pounds (give or take) of metal and plastic. Across from the defenders crouched a mass of men orange and white offensive linemen -- the defense unable to give ground and the offense so close to points.

Legs twitch on the defensive line with hands planted firmly on the turf. At the snap of the ball, the blue shirts burst forward, both lines trying to out-leverage the other. The sound is unique. Not so much the crashing of pads and helmets but more like the slapping of two gigantic elephants. Thwap.

On dive plays, the blue and white jerseys get tangled together, while a mighty mite with the ball tries to pick a narrow lane to rush through. On pass plays, the quarterback has to look over a giant pile of humanity and try to ignore the noise in front of him. There's nothing quite like a goal-line defense.

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