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Michigan practicing ‘sound’ plan for Penn State

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — MICHIGAN’S OFFENSIVE PLAYERS WILL HAVE TO TALK LIKE THIS TO HEAR EACH OTHER INSIDE A LOUD BEAVER STADIUM ON SATURDAY.

Shouting might not actually be the correct option for the matchup against Penn State, though, which is why players are working on how to communicate with a silent cadence.

The players said they struggled with the noise at Indiana last weekend — with an announced crowd of 49,557 — and it showed, with 13 penalties, including five false starts.

Capacity at Beaver Stadium is 106,572. Plus, the game is a “white out,” which always has generated a more frenzied atmosphere.

“Penn State is special,” Michigan offensive tackle Erik Magnuson said. “It’s known for being loud. White-out game, the students love that, the fans love it, so they’re going to be ready to go. All loud stadiums are the same. You can’t hear.”

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Last year, a Penn Live reporter conducted an experiment with an iPhone noise meter. It recorded 111 decibels at the white-out game against Ohio State (the 2013 white-out game against Michigan was at 103).

In relative terms, rock music blaring from 4-6 feet away registers 120 decibels, while the Ohio State-Penn State game was akin to being next to a power saw while wearing no ear protection. The Michigan-Penn State game was like being next to a lawn mower.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told reporters after last year’s game the crowd effect was a “different kind of demon we face” and said he pulled off his ear phones a few times to hear how loud it was and added, “It can’t get louder.”

So, Michigan is practicing with blaring music — and using the silent treatment.

“There will be speakers throughout the field,” Magnuson said. “It will be really loud and you won’t be able to hear anything, and then if we’re not doing that, we’ll try to eliminate talking.

“We struggled a little bit last week (at Indiana). The atmosphere was a little bit more than we were expecting ... so it got to us at times. We had to adjust throughout the game of going to a silent cadence. We’re preparing for this game because we know this place is loud.”

Quarterback Jake Rudock blamed himself for a few of the false starts at Indiana.

“We should have gone silent, and I didn’t,” said Rudock, who did make the decision to move to a silent cadence, which cleaned up the false starts late.

Michigan tight end coach Jay Harbaugh said the primary focus on preparing the offense for a loud stadium is in third-down practice periods.

“Periods when you’re anticipating dealing with more noise than others,” he said.

He also suggested dealing with a loud stadium is slightly overrated.

“It’s loud there certainly, but guys aren’t as bugged out by noise anymore,” he said. “I think just because they’re so used to going through entire days with headphones on. That’s what it’s like, it’s like having headphones on. So someone talks to you and you just don’t hear them, and you kind of figure out what they want and what they’re trying to get your attention about just by reading their lips or their gestures.”

Michigan at Penn State

Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Beaver Stadium, State College, Pennsylvania

TV / radio: ABC / WWJ 950, WTKA 1050

Line: Michigan by 3.5

Records: No. 14 Michigan 8-2 (5-1 Big Ten), Penn State 7-3 (4-2)

Series: Michigan leads 11-7