Ronald Bellamy is taking matters into his own hands.
The senior receiver, who had caught just one touchdown pass this season prior to Saturday’s game against Michigan State, voiced his frustration in a conversation Friday night with coach Lloyd Carr.
“Are you ever going to score a touchdown?” Carr asked.
“Yeah, throw me the ball,” Bellamy answered.
Carr must have passed the message on to quarterback John Navarre, who hit Bellamy five times for 124 yards and two touchdowns in Michigan’s 49-3 drubbing of Michigan State Saturday.
“There’s times when I think I’m open and I don’t get the ball, but today, John threw the ball to me and let me make plays,” Bellamy said.
Bellamy set up his second touchdown catch in the third quarter with yet another special request.
“I told the coaches that (the Michigan State cornerbacks) were sitting on our routes,” Bellamy said. “When we ran 10-yard routes, they were right there.”
Quarterbacks’ coach Scot Loeffler made the call – a “pump-and-go” route that left the Spartans’ defender at least 10 yards behind the streaking Bellamy.
Loeffler “called the play, and he called a great play at a perfect time,” Bellamy said.
Bellamy was so open that he wondered why the cornerback was even bothering to chase after him.
“In my peripheral vision, I saw the corner and he kept running, and I was like, ‘Where’s he going’? ”
Bellamy wasn’t even content with his two touchdown grabs, which brought his total to three on the season. He said he was “definitely” robbed by the officials on Michigan’s first drive in the second half, when he came down with a 35-yard would-be touchdown pass that was ruled incomplete. Bellamy would have been the first Michigan receiver to catch three touchdown passes in a game since David Terrell nabbed three at Northwestern in 2000.
“I’m still mad,” joked Bellamy. “I mean, three touchdowns. Hey, come on.”
The New Orleans native – Michigan’s only senior receiver – was legitimately mad after last week’s demoralizing loss to Iowa. Bellamy, who caught just one pass for 10 yards against the Hawkeyes, ripped into his receiving corps, himself included, for dropping too many passes and helping the offense collectively “screw the defense.”
“We lost as a team, but the receivers didn’t show up today,” Bellamy said after the loss. “Me being a senior, I take full responsibility.”
Bellamy’s leadership skills extend to his relationship with Braylon Edwards, the talented sophomore receiver. Edwards became Navarre’s go-to guy in the first seven games of the season, but in the past two games, he has dropped several crucial passes. Saturday, Edwards had his lowest yardage total of the season with just four catches for 31 yards while Bellamy stole the show.
Bellamy said that he just tells Edwards to not dwell on the drops, because he’s just “one big play away” from making everyone forget his last mistake. But Bellamy also isn’t waiting around for Edwards to find his hands.
“I’m playing very confidently,” Bellamy said. “I want the ball in every situation. That’s being a senior and wanting to lead the receivers.”
Bellamy has been waiting a long time for that chance. Recruited by most Southeastern Conference schools as well as Miami (Fla.), Bellamy came into Michigan with great expectations. But in his first three years, he played in the shadows of stars like Marcus Knight, David Terrell and Marquise Walker.
“I think (it has been tough), because he came in with a lot of hype, but he battled some injuries over the years and played behind some guys,” said fellow senior Charles Drake, who was in Bellamy’s recruiting class. “I think he’s really waited for his turn.”
His turn in the Michigan receiving “cycle” was supposed to begin in the season opener. But Edwards’ quick emergence and Bellamy’s own nagging injuries kept the veteran grounded for the first four games of the season, as he caught just four balls for 41 yards. In the past five games, he’s caught 23 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns.
“Just going against him in practice, I know what kind of threat he is,” Drake said. “Some other people out here may not know, but now they’re starting to learn.”