Sunday, September 18, 2016

Three plays, one Grant Perry

                         Photo Credit: The Blueprint Michigan

In the game of football where every play counts, Michigan wide receiver Grant Perry fits the mold to a tee.

The statistics in No. 4 Michigan’s 45-28 win over Colorado on Saturday highlight first-class performances from tight end Jake Butt (seven catches for 87 yards) and running back De’Veon Smith (11 rushes for 87 yards and a touchdown).

Enter Perry’s stat line— one catch for 54 yards. 

However, one must look even deeper to a game-changing play 6:33 in the first quarter. Down 14-0 and the Wolverines offense on ice skates, a specialty formation from Colorado’s punt unit backfired as Perry pounced on a block from Michael Jocz, scooped the pigskin up and went six yards for a touchdown.

“There was no panic,” Perry said. “It was three minutes into the game and still had three-plus quarters left. We took [Colorado] four rounds and got the win.”

With Michigan Stadium back to life with echoing roars from 110,042 fans, Perry’s score served as a harbinger of things to come.

With 33 seconds left in the first half, Perry delivered a key block to spring Amara Darboh free for a 45-yard touchdown reception, which gave Michigan its first lead of the game at 24-21.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh emphasized a team effort with blocks on the outside, but highlighted Perry’s unselfish play.

“Grant Perry threw a tremendous block [on the play] and in general, our guys improved on our perimeter blocking,” Harbaugh said.

At the four-minute mark of the third quarter and Michigan clinging to a 31-28 lead on Colorado, Perry delivered by turning what could have been a small gain to a 54-yard reception from Speight, which provided an extra jolt to the offense. 

Perry's long play provided the setup for Ty Isaac's one-yard touchdown run with 3:06 left.

Making short plays into big gains does not come overnight for any football player and Perry puts in the time at practice for games like Colorado.

“We always emphasize catching [the football] and turning it into extra gains,” Perry said. “The [Colorado] game was more about short passes and making plays out of it.”

Perry’s three plays played a pivotal role in Michigan staying undefeated as Big Ten conference play looms on Sept. 24 against East division foe Penn State.

In the Harbaugh era, expect the unexpected with role players making an impact in different facets of the game.

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