Clips from Toledo’s win over Michigan on Saturday will be played on televisions for years to come. But Rocket freshman free safety Tyrrell Herbert got an early peek at seeing his team’s highlights during his 100-yard interception return in the first quarter.
“I was running, and I looked in the Jumbotron and I saw (Threet),” Herbert said. “I said, ‘Man, please don’t let me get caught. Please don’t let me get caught.’ ”
Herbert’s interception return, the longest ever against Michigan, was one of the two records for Wolverine opponents Toledo set during the game. Receiver Nick Moore’s 20 receptions were the most anyone has ever had against Michigan.
With six runs in the first quarter, the Wolverines marched from the Toledo 33-yard line to the Rocket five-yard line. On the seventh play, redshirt freshman Steven Threet threw his first pass of the drive.
Threet faked a handoff to freshman running back Sam McGuffie and rolled to his right — a play Herbert said the Rockets practiced defending. Herbert was assigned to cover freshman tight end Kevin Koger. Koger didn’t sell the run fake, so Herbert immediately got into coverage.
“He was a big guy, so I hid behind him,” Herbert said. “And the quarterback didn’t see me, and he threw it and I cut in front of him and went the other way with it.”
Toledo quarterback Aaron Opelt had no trouble finding Moore before he caught a pass.
He usually lined up in the slot and was covered by a linebacker or a safety. His 20 catches produced 162 yards.
“I never thought I would have that many catches ever — not even in little league, high school, anything,” Moore said.
The previous records were set before Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez graduated from West Virginia, before Tom Brokaw became the lead anchor for “NBC Nightly News” and before McDonald’s introduced the Chicken McNugget. Illinois’s Bruce Sullivan had a 99-yard return in 1966, and Northwestern’s John Harvey had 17 catches in 1982.
Rocket launch: Toledo football coach Tom Amstutz couldn’t sleep Tuesday night.
“I woke up at 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock, 5 o’clock and 6 o’clock in the morning — nervous,” Amstutz said.
He wasn’t nervous because the Rockets would be facing the Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on Saturday. He was concerned because his team had struggled that day in practice.
“You know — throwing, catching, blocking, the snaps,” Amstutz said. “Literally, literally, all those things.”
He had plenty of reason to be concerned. Prior to the Rockets’ 13-10 upset of Michigan, they were 1-4 and had dropped three straight games — all to non-BCS-conference teams. The first loss in the streak came to Fresno State, and the last two were to Ball State and Florida International by a combined 50 points.
Toledo entered the game tied for the fewest wins in the Mid-American Conference. The only statistical category it was in the top-50 nationally entering the game was fewest sacks allowed (.8 per game).
When Appalachian State upset Michigan last year, the Mountaineers were back-to-back defending national champions, riding the longest win streak in Division I (14 games) and returned most of their starters. They saw their win over the Wolverines as another high point for the top I-AA program.
But the Rockets saw their upset as a turning point for a struggling team.
“Besides the win today, the biggest win was I think the players learned how, when things aren’t going so great, you’ve got to stay together, battle,” Amstutz said.
Replacing the injured: The Wolverines were without three usual starters due to injuries:
Sophomore cornerback Donovan Warren (quad): Freshman cornerback Boubacar Cissoko replaced Warren and played well. Defensive coordinator Scott Shafer pointed him out as a bright spot. He had one of Michigan’s two pass breakups. Fifth-year senior Morgan Trent had the other.
“It felt great,” Cissoko said. “I came in, did what I had to do to help my team win, but obviously it didn’t happen. But I felt great out there.”
Warren’s injury allowed fifth-year senior Doug Dutch to see his first action at cornerback since the season-opener against Utah.
Junior defensive end Brandon Graham (leg infection): Redshirt freshman Ryan Van Bergen took junior Brandon Graham’s spot on the defensive line. Van Bergen didn’t show the pass rushing ability he had in backup duty in previous games. He had three tackles, none for a loss.
Slot receiver Martavious Odoms (shoulder): Sophomore Toney Clemons replaced Odoms as the primary slot receiver. He had four catches for 30 yards, but had two drops that led to interceptions.
In-game injuries: Threet bruised his elbow late in the second quarter and didn’t throw well in second-half warm-ups.
Redshirt sophomore Nick Sheridan, who started Michigan’s season opener against Utah, replaced Threet for the second half.
Quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said Threet “probably” would have played in the second half had he been healthy, but the Wolverines might have looked to Sheridan anyway for a spark.
Threet finished 7-of-11 for 55 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed twice for 15 yards. Sheridan was 8-of-16 for 65 yards and had two interceptions. He had four runs for 21 yards.
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he didn’t expect Threet’s injury to linger.
Two other offensive skill players were hurt in the game, too. Junior running back Brandon Minor bruised his ribs on his 27-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter and was taken to the hospital.
On Michigan’s final drive, freshman running back Sam McGuffie struggled off the field after his 29-yard catch. He said later that he was just hit in the stomach really hard and thought he was going to throw up, but the injury wasn’t serious.
Notes: Saturday was the first time Michigan and Toledo played, and the Rockets are now the 15th team to hold the advantage in an all-time series against the Wolverines.
Michigan started the same offensive line in straight games for the first time this season. Redshirt freshman Perry Dorrestein, redshirt junior Mark Ortmann, redshirt freshman David Molk, redshirt junior David Moosman and redshirt sophomore Stephen Schilling started from left to right. Rodriguez said on Wednesday that he was tinkering with position changes among those five.
Redshirt junior Zoltan Mesko pinned four of his five punts inside the 20-yard line. He averaged 49.6 yards per punt with a long of 63, and now ranks eighth nationally in yards per punt.
The Wolverines entered the game tied for last in the nation in fumbles lost (11). Michigan didn’t fumble for the first time this season Saturday and now rank 117th of 119 teams.