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November 30, 2013

Notebook: Beckmann, Falk, Madej honored

During a stoppage in play in the second half of Michigan's 42-41 loss to Ohio State Saturday, the jumbotron at The Big House began playing several of long-time radio announcer Frank Beckmann's most famous calls, including the triple-overtime win over Michigan State in 2004 and the last-second win over Penn State in 2005.

After the short presentation, the cameras panned to Beckmann in the press box, and the Michigan Stadium crowd went wild, honoring the man who took over for legendary announcer Bob Ufer in 1981.

Smoking a stogie in celebration, Beckmann waved to his crowd and threw his block M hat out of the window into the crowd. Beckmann will retire at the end of the season, and it was his last game in Ann Arbor.

At halftime, Beckmann was honored with a framed No. 1 jersey with his name on the back in a ceremony in the press box.

"You have no idea how many banquets, outings and appearance he makes," athletic director Dave Brandon said in a speech. "He helps our program so much and supports Michigan football. We are so very grateful for his talent and energy and his professional. We thank Frank Beckmann for all his wonderful years with us."

Bruce Madej, the longest-serving sports information director in the history of Michigan athletics, was also given a custom Michigan jersey during the ceremony. Madej will retire after this season, too.

Madej, who has worked for the athletic department for 34 years, was one of the most innovative media representatives in college sports, introducing computer-updated stats to Michigan in the mid-1980s, launching MGoBlue.com in 1994 and creating individual sports Twitter accounts in 2009.

"He has supported so many of our programs throughout the years," Brandon said. "He has been a great, great member of our staff for so many years."

Director of equipment operations Jon Falk was not in the press box for the celebration, working down on the field.

But Falk, who will retire this season after 40 years as the Wolverines' equipment manager, received a standing ovation from the Michigan Stadium crowd following a presentation on the jumbotron.

"The beauty of Jon Falk is the connection he made with the players," Michigan radio announcer Jim Brandstatter said during the game's broadcast. "Every guy that walked through the building was affected by him."

During Falk's career, he provided equipment for more than 1,200 plays and saw 36 bowl appearances, 17 Big Ten titles and 14 Rose Bowls. He was responsible for everything from mouthpieces to socks to taking care of the Little Brown Jug, which the Wolverines retained in his final year with the team by beating Minnesota 42-13 in Ann Arbor Oct. 5.

The Wolverines named him an honorary captain against the Buckeyes, his final game at The Big House.

"He's pretty special," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "With 40 years of service to one place, you won't see that very often any more. He truly loves these kids and he loves Michigan."

Note: Michigan offense kicks in gear

November has not been a very glamorous month for the Michigan offense.

After setting a single-game program record by plastering the Indiana defense for 751 total yards in a 63-47 win Oct. 19, the Wolverine offense stumbled through the first four games of November.

In three losses this month, the Wolverines posted a combined 501 yards of total offense: 168 yards in a 29-6 loss at Michigan State, 175 yards in a 17-13 loss vs. Nebraska and a season-low 158 yards in a 24-21 loss at Iowa.

But Michigan got back on track in Saturday's 42-41 loss to Ohio State, racking up an incredible 603 yards of offense, the second-most a Buckeye defense has ever surrendered (Illinois had 659 yards against Ohio State in 1980).

"All week during practice the team brought intensity that we have never seen before," fifth-year senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon said. "We focused on everything, every task we had. We focused all week, and we limited our mental mistakes. Just came out ready to play. Even in the walkthrough this morning, we were ready to play, just focused on playing our game. That's what we were focused on doing."

Including Michigan's 27-19 triple-overtime win over Northwestern, the Wolverines had put up just 866 yards of offense and 67 points in the first four games of November, averaging a measly 216.5 yards and 16.8 points per game.

In those four games, Michigan mustered just 3.3 yards per play. Before Saturday's results, Florida International ranked last nationally on the season, averaging 3.6 yards per play.

Against the Buckeyes, the Michigan offense was firing on all cylinders, averaging 7.4 yards per play.

Redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner torched the Buckeye secondary, completing 32-of-45 attempts for 451 yards and four touchdowns.

Gardner now holds the top two single-game passing performances in Michigan program history. He threw for a program-record 503 yards against the Hoosiers this season. Before 2013, the Michigan record was owned by John Navarre, who finished with 389 yards against Iowa in 2003.

Gardner also turned in the 20th four-touchdown performance by a Michigan quarterback. He also accomplished the feat this year against Notre Dame. No Wolverine has ever thrown for more than four scores in a game.

Gardner now has 2,960 passing yards on the season, which ranks second in single-season program history (John Navarre, 3,331 yards in 2003).

"We felt like we could take advantage of the outside, their corners vs. our receivers," Gardner said. "That opened up the run game, and we moved the ball. That's what we saw, and we just went out there and executed."

After two negative-yardage rushing performances and 130 combined yards on the ground in the last four outings, the Michigan offense tallied 152 rushing yards against the Buckeyes, the most since finishing with 248 against the Hoosiers this year.

"We did a lot better in the pass game and the run game," fifth-year senior left tackle Taylor Lewan said. "None of us probably had our best game. I didn't have my best game. But we played our hearts out, every single one of us. That's what this team is going to do from here on out."

Note: The Game gets choppy

After Michigan scored a touchdown early in the second quarter to take a 21-14 lead, Ohio State freshman running back Dontre Wilson took the ensuing kickoff and was swarmed by Wolverines at the 16-yard line.

As he was getting off the turf, Wilson began shoving Michigan players, which started a scuffle that required coaches to run on the field to break up.

"It's a rivalry game," redshirt junior strongside outside linebacker Jake Ryan said. "That stuff's going to happen. There are going to be punches thrown. It's not necessary, but we don't like each other. That stuff's going to happen."

Several referees threw flags during the progress. Wilson was given a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for throwing a punch.

Somewhere in the skirmish, Ohio State fifth-year senior offensive lineman Marcus Hall also drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and was ejected from the game, after which he stormed off the field and flipped off the Michigan Stadium crowd with both hands.

Michigan sophomore linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone also received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for tearing an Ohio State player's helmet off and throwing it down the field.

"It happens once in a while," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said.

Junior defensive end Frank Clark was later called for a deadball personal foul. After the Michigan defense stalled an Ohio State drive on third down, Clark lingered near the Buckeye sideline and appeared to say something that drew the flag and gave Ohio State a new set of downs.

"It was a pretty chippy game," fifth-year senior outside linebacker Cam Gordon said. "Of course we didn't want to lose one of our guys with nonsense like that, but it was one of those games where there is a lot of emotion in it. Things happen, and you have to learn how to react and respond to them."

Note: Gallon nearing record

Fifth-year senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon had another huge outing in Saturday's 42-41 loss to Ohio State, grabbing nine passes for 175 yards and a touchdown.

Since redshirt junior Devin Gardner took over as starting quarterback with five games remaining last season, Gallon has posted seven 100-yard games, including four in 12 games this year (see chart).

Gallon's Best Single-Game Performances
Opponent, Year
Indiana, 2013
Notre Dame, 2013
Ohio State, 2013
South Carolina, 2012
Iowa, 2012
Northwestern, 2013
Alabama, 2012
Penn State, 2013
Northwestern, 2012
Purdue, 2011
*Big Ten single-game record

Gallon, who tied former All-American Braylon Edwards' program record by catching at least one pass in his 38th straight game, is now within striking distance of Edwards' single-season receiving yards record. Edwards posted 1,330 receiving yards in 2004 on his way to winning the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best receiver.

Gallon now has 80 catches for 1,284 yards (16.1 yards per catch) and nine touchdowns on the season, and set a career-high Saturday with an 84-yard catch and run on a screen pass in the first quarter.

Gallon ranks second in single-season program history for receiving yards. With one game remaining in his Michigan career (a bowl game to be determined), Gallon needs just 47 yards to set the record for himself.

Gallon's 80 catches this year rank fifth in single-season program history. Edwards holds the record with 97 in 2004. With six catches in the bowl game, Gallon would tie Marquise Walker's 2001 season for second in single-season program history.

"I just want to play football and worry about my next game," Gallon said when asked about the record. "I just want to do what I can to come out with a win and help my team and the rest of the guys. Whatever happens, happens."

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