Wolverines' All let's his play do the talking on winning touchdown
University Park, Pa. — Opposing players talking trash to each other and trying to play mind games, that’s not unheard of and certainly nothing new.
Michigan tight end Erick All, still not fully healed from a high ankle sprain suffered late in the game at Michigan State two weeks ago, heard some of that talk from Penn State during the game Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
All scored on a 47-yard pass from Cade McNamara to lift Michigan, 21-17, at Penn State on Saturday. Michigan is 9-1, 6-1 Big Ten with two regular-season games remaining.
“One of the plays, No. 13 (Ellis Brooks), he told me, ‘We’ve been scouting you. We know your ankle is messed up. You ain’t going nowhere,’ like trying to get in my head,” All said after the game.
But that didn’t have the desired effect.
“The talking and stuff, that never gets in my head,” All said. “That type of stuff amps me up and adds a little adrenaline.”
All, targeted five times by McNamara, had four catches for 58 yards. He had been in uniform last week against Indiana but did not see the field while he continued to nurse the injury. Against MSU, All had a career day with 98 yards on 10 catches.
“I thought I popped it out of place. I thought I was done,” All said of the injury at MSU.
He has been in the training room early each morning for treatment.
“After Thursday last week, that was my first time trying to do stuff on it, and it felt pretty good,” he said. “I knew if I keep progressing, I knew I was going to be able to play this week.”
The ankle was probably at about 80% healed, All said, and it was sore when he woke up Saturday morning.
“Just wanted to get out there pregame, see how it felt, worked through it, and it felt good,” he said. “Adrenaline took care of the rest.”
Because of the Nittany Lions man look, Michigan saw an opening. McNamara credited offensive coordinator Josh Gattis for making the “perfect” call.
“We anticipated it, we got it, and Erick made us right,” McNamara said.
Before the play, All said he scanned the field and saw it was going to be open on the right side.
“When I turned, I didn’t think it was going to be that open,” All said. “Like there was nobody there.”
All said he was not pain-free during the touchdown.
“When I caught it and cut up, my ankle kinda tweaked,” he said. “I was pretty worried about being fast enough to get there. It was wide open and feel like anybody coulda made the play, it just happened to be me.”
McNamara said All playing through the discomfort was another example about how this team has pushed to stay alive in the Big Ten East Division race.
“That goes to show the type of dudes on this team,” McNamara said. “I know there are other dudes that are beat up, not just Erick, but other guys. It just shows how much these dudes care about each other. It upsets them when they’re not able to be out there with their brothers. Erick made a huge play for us. I’m sure he wasn’t thinking about that ankle, he was thinking about the team.”
Aidan Hutchinson had three sacks against Penn State and David Ojabo added two and now both have 10 sacks this season and they close in on Michigan’s single-season record of 12.
The Wolverines had seven sacks, including one from Michael Barrett, and Julius Welschof and Junior Colson each were credited with a half-sack. Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford was sacked three times on the opening drive of the game. Clifford had been sacked 11 times in the previous three games.
“This is one of those games we know they hold the ball, and the opportunities will be there, you just have to take advantage of them, and I think we did,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson, who hit a career-high with the three sacks, said they wanted to get in Clifford's head.
“He knew we were coming,” Hutchinson said. “He knew there was gonna be pressuring all day, and it happened from the start. I’m really impressed with our guys and what we did.”
Michigan had 12 tackles for loss, the first double-digit performance since the 2019 season (13 against Iowa, 12 at Illinois).
Ojabo, who now has at least a share of a sack in five straight games, set a single-season record when he forced a fumble — he now has five this season. Hutchinson and Vincent Gray also forced fumbles.
The final box score said the temperature was 40 degrees at the start of the game, but it was more like 30 with the wind chill. The wind was a constant factor and listed at 15 mph.
“Conditions were definitely different,” McNamara said. “I was expecting some more rain, and we didn’t get it, which was great. It was about the warmest snow I’ve seen. We’re an all-weather team. That goes to show to the physicality of both lines that we have that no matter the conditions we can dominate a game.”
Hutchinson said the defensive players were delighted by the weather.
“We knew this team was gonna rely on the passing to win the game,” he said. ”I saw it was supposed to rain, so I got a little happy. A little windy, a little nasty, makes it a little harder to throw. I definitely got a little excited.”
Clifford was 23-of-43 for 205 yards, had one touchdown with the seven sacks. McNamara was 19-of-29 for three touchdowns and was sacked twice.