The Michigan midfielder proved to be ‘key to the game’ in victory over Rutgers

The Michigan midfielder proved to be ‘key to the game’ in victory over Rutgers

Piscataway, NJ – Stop if you’ve heard this before.

After a slow start that was rocking, even carrying a deficit headed to the locker room in half, Michigan pulled out all of its second-half stopping points to evade with a 52-17 win at Rutgers on Saturday.

And that was exactly the story of the transformation. The fifth-seeded Wolverines outperformed the home team 38-0 in the second half, calming the crowd and limiting Rutgers to 57 yards of total attack. The Vermilion Knights were held in front of only one person.

Players and coaches say the spark came from linebacker Michael Barrett and his memorable day.

“What a game he’s been in,” coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters, Saturday night. “Just massive play. He was in the right place at the right time.”

Just two games after Michigan’s opening second-half relegation campaign, Rutgers’ Gavin Wimsat jumped one of his passes and Barrett intercepted it, his first pick of his career. The turnover rate not only gave the Wolverines’ defense something to hang its hat on, but it helped set up the attack inside the red zone.

Then, Blake Corum hit him twice later, giving Corn and Blue a two-degree lead.

more: Heard outside the UM locker room: refocusing, adjusting, and sweaty buffs

“Game-changers, right? That gets us going,” said Corum, who scored his sixth straight game at 100 yards, as the break approached. It gets the team going. We need such games, and we need players like that. It came through.”

Fortunately for Michigan 9-0, Barrett did not finish. On the next play, after the Wolverines started and returned the ball to the Rutgers, Barrett returned to the field ready for more. Wimsat, who finished 14 of 29 for 166 yards and touchdowns, but threw three interceptions, made another. A custom pass for the Rutgers wide Aron Cruickshank slipped out of his hands in the air, straight to Barrett—who put it back 31 yards for a touchdown.

“I was thinking, man, thank God,” Barrett said. “I left one last week and it was due. As soon as he tilted his hand, my eyes got bigger and I said, ‘There’s no way.’ I just have to make sure I catch him. That’s all I can think of.”

Barrett appeared at the post-game press conference with reporters wearing gold Cartier diamond-encrusted goggles known as “amateurs,” the team-inspired prop given to Michigan defense members who force a change.

And since Barrett had two, he got extra time with the amateurs.

“They’ve had a sweat since the first time,” Barrett joked. “It was nice to get them back on again, but then I had to come back[again]. I didn’t have much time to celebrate – and I was trying to catch my breath.”

It was a long performance for Barrett, the former high school quarterback who Michigan switched to the defensive side five years ago. The 6-foot, 233-pounder was chosen as the next “snake” in the heavy man’s pressure defense under Don Brown, but his departure forced Barrett into a new, more traditional defensive role.

The change cut out Barrett’s playing time last year, but it has since become an integral part of the new scheme. He had a rash of injuries (another quarterback, Calel Mullings, was not available to play on Saturday) and playing time was wide for Barrett, whose starting line also included four tackles.

“His journey here has been interesting and I was just waiting for the breakout match from him,” said defense end Mike Morris. “He was getting ready for it, and he finally came in with the Pick-6. I just thank God he had a moment, man. He’s one of my big brothers, my best friend, and I’m so happy for him.”

Read more about football in Michigan:

Takeaway, notes from Michigan’s win over Rutgers

Michigan Missed Four Beginners, DB Jimon Green in Rutgers Uniform

Behind the scenes, UM’s equipment crew keeps the football team hum

Jim Harbaugh got an epiphany after the tunnel attack. How will Michigan respond?

For Michigan RB Blake Corum, patience pays off

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