Penn State Football: Michigan Ready For Rowdy Crowd And A Game Of Firsts
It has been over 10 years since the Michigan head coach Brady Hoke has stepped foot inside of Beaver Stadium as a coach. An assistant at Michigan from 1995 until 2002, Hoke has seen his fair share of Penn State before, but not with Bill O'Brien at the helm, and only once in what was then the newly expanded Beaver Stadium.
With Hoke's sabbatical away from Beaver Stadium on his mind, fifth-year senior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, shot his head coach a text to make sure Hoke knew what the team will be confronting this coming Saturday: One of the loudest crowds in college football.
"I know he knew that;" Lewan says. "I think it's just different because we haven't played Penn State at Penn State since my redshirt freshman year and aside from me, Cam (Gordon), and maybe like one other guy; no one's really had significant snaps there.
"The noise isn't really that distracting, you have to be on your p's and q's -- you have to know what your calls are going to be. Sometimes we will be standing face-to-face, and I won't be able to hear myself think or hear you talk. So it's a great atmosphere. I am sure it will be a white-out night game. Penn State's awesome; it's a fun place to play.
"We have got a lot of young guys, especially on the interior all these guys are first year starters. This will be (Michael) Schofield's first time playing at Penn State, although he's been through a lot of loud environments, so these guys have to understand that we are still playing football, the width, the length it's all the same. So if we do what we are supposed to do, we should be successful. It is just getting that preparation in and getting better every single week because if you don't get better each week you aren't going to win a Big Ten championship."
For an undefeated Michigan team, Saturday's game is still full of firsts. Here are a few to consider:
- The first road Big Ten game of the year for the Wolverines.
- The first game against Penn State under Hoke.
- The first real road game of the season (aside from UConn).
- The first real road test for quarterback Devin Gardner.
- The first game between the two programs since 2010.
So while the Wolverines might be the slight 2.5 point favorite in Vegas this weekend, Michigan will have plenty of things to experience for the first time. Including Penn State freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
"(Hackenberg) kept a lot of his class together that were committed. That tells you about his leadership," Hoke says of Penn State's 18-year-old gunslinger. "They are Penn State; they are a physical football team. It got a little crazy last weekend in Indiana -- there were a lot of points and a lot of yards by both teams -- but I think they are a very good football team."