The Brady Bunch
Led by cool-headed senior Tom Brady, Michigan held off Notre Dame
Someday, Drew Henson, a sophomore quarterback at Michigan and a can't-miss farmhand in the New York Yankees' organization, may win Super Bowl and World Series rings in the same season. Someday, Henson will shine at crunch time. But last Saturday the Wolverines needed more than potential as they trailed Notre Dame 22-19 with 4:08 to play. That's why fifth-year senior quarterback Tom Brady was on the field for the 58-yard touchdown drive that gave Michigan a 26-22 win. "When you're in a tough, tough game," Wolverines quarterbacks coach Stan Parrish said later, "you have a tendency to line up with the older guys."
After Brady had directed the offense in the first quarter and Henson had taken his turn in the second, Michigan trailed 14-9. Then Brady, who started every game last season but found his starting spot at risk after preseason drills this year, went out and played the second half as if he had been there before, which, of course, he had. When he stepped into the huddle to start Michigan's game-winning drive from its 42, he told his teammates, "What an opportunity." Four plays later, on second-and-seven at the Notre Dame 25, he watched Irish free safety Deke Cooper rotate to his left and fired a 20-yard strike to split end David Terrell, who had run into the area Cooper had vacated, for a first-and-goal. "Griese-type stuff," Parrish said, referring to Brian Griese, who quarterbacked Michigan to the 1997 co-national championship. "On the fifth step of the drop, Tom has to turn [the ball] loose. He has to make the decision."
Through it all, Brady remained cool enough to banter with the officials. Two plays after the pass to Terrell, the officials ruled that Wolverines tailback Anthony Thomas hadn't scored a touchdown because his knee had touched the ground at the Notre Dame one. After watching the replay on one of the Michigan Stadium screens, Brady said to referee David Witvoet, "Take a look. I think you missed one."
According to Brady, Witvoet replied, "I'm going to have to agree with you."
"Don't worry," Brady said. "We'll take care of it on the next one." Sure enough, Thomas scored with 1:38 to play, and Michigan held on to win.
For all of Michigan coach Lloyd Carr's complaints in recent weeks that Notre Dame would benefit from having opened its season a week before the Wolverines, Michigan committed fewer turnovers (zero to the Fighting Irish's three) and received fewer penalties (four to 10). Thomas, a junior who had been plagued by injuries in 1997 and '98 and never rushed more than 21 times in a game, had 32 carries for 138 yards and scored twice.
Brady wore a wristband containing a list of plays on his left arm. Handwritten on the band in black block letters were DECISIVE and I.H.O. "That means, Is he open?" Brady says. "You want to be decisive. You want to make good throws. If you're tentative, you're not successful. I've learned that the hard way."
Henson continues to learn it. He led Michigan to one field goal in three second-quarter possessions, but he also fumbled a snap. "When a guy is older, he's connected," Parrish said. "I thought Drew might be a little fragile emotionally." Two years ago, when Carr named Griese the starter, Brady thought about transferring. He hung in at Michigan. Last month, during the battle for the starting job, Henson often displayed talent that made grown men gush. He didn't win the job. 'Tom wouldn't go away," Parrish said on Saturday. "There's a lot to be said for not going away."
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