Michigan takeaways: Memorable block and leap, plus shades of Bush

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Five takeaways from The Detroit News' Angelique Chengelis after Michigan's 45-14 win over Notre Dame on Saturday.

Cult hero

Somewhere, backup offensive lineman Stephen Spanellis is still manhandling a Notre Dame defensive player downfield and then out of bounds in what is now know as his “Time for him to go home, coach” moment from "The Blind Side" movie. Spanellis didn’t let up on the block in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand, and he has been enjoying his social media spotlight in the aftermath of the play.

Even Michigan Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson praised the seemingly unending block on Twitter saying, “Beyond proud. That play that they just showed with 72 driving the ND player out of bounds is (what) we are looking for.” Spanellis gave that a retweet with some humorous commentary: “Garbage time MVP, low-key.” The reality is, that moment represented the offensive line play as a whole the entire game – unrelenting and exerting its collective will, a quality the group said it found a week earlier at Penn State.

Devin Bush redux

OK, so maybe redshirt freshman Cam McGrone hasn’t made you forget about Devin Bush, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last season now playing for the Steelers. But McGrone has had a breakout season since moving into the starting role after the Wisconsin game when Josh Ross was injured. McGrone has similar speed and definitely similar bravado to Bush. He had 12 tackles in the win over Notre Dame and seemed to be everywhere a play needed to be made.

McGrone said the defense added to its swagger before the start of the game when Notre Dame won the toss. “The defense saw it as disrespect that they took the ball first and thinking they could make something happen,” he said. “From the start, we had show them we’re out here to play and that they can’t get anything on us.”

Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone celebrates after assisting on a sack in the second quarter.

Leave Superman behind

Linebacker-turned-running back Hassan Haskins rushed for 149 yards on 20 carries, including a long of 49 yards and averaged 7.4 yards a carry. But he had that cool running back moment, leaping tall buildings in a single bound, when he jumped over a Notre Dame player to gain a few more yards. He showed off his athleticism but did land a bit awkwardly on the wet field, so probably not his best decision. Still, his teammates loved it.

“I saw him playing basketball before, so he has some bounce,” said center Cesar Ruiz, who said he saw the play from the corner of his eye while blocking. “If we had a dunk contest, he’d win.”

Haskins led the run game for Michigan with 149 yards but didn’t score. Zach Charbonnet had two touchdowns and Tru Wilson another.

Feeling confident

Safety Josh Metellus, even after the debacle at Wisconsin, seemed at ease and said he knew what the defense was still capable of doing this season. There was the loss at Penn State, but the defense had a strong second-half – minus the big play from K.J. Hamler. And then the defense gave Notre Dame all sorts of fits and angst.

“If we execute at the right time, and everybody is locked in, doing their job, we can shut anybody out in the country,” Metellus said. “We start slow, once we pick it up, it’s hard to stop us. Once we started fast in that first quarter and we didn’t give up any first-quarter points, I knew the defense was going to be able to hold on the rest of the game.”

But he also hit on a key point – this defense can’t start slow and can’t let up. “We were keeping a calm head, not getting too hyped,” he said. “Not trying to be Superman and everybody trying to make the play. Everybody was doing their job, and that’s when I feel we were executing at our best.”

Arrivederci, Notre Dame

The programs will meet again, but not until 2033-34, when they will resume with a two-game series. That’s one of the reasons why Michigan’s 45-14 victory Saturday night was memorable. “It’s a feeling I know I’ll remember forever, and I’m sure everybody in that locker room will,” quarterback Shea Patterson said. “I was just so happy to be a part of that.”

But for the Wolverines, the victory represented so much more. Their remaining goal is to win their final games, and that includes rivalry games against Michigan State and Ohio State – while not overlooking Maryland and especially Indiana on the road. But the Wolverines needed a “signature” win and they got one Saturday.