Saturday, September 10, 2011 Updated: September 11, 3:13 AM ET
Receivers shake off bad first half
By Michael Rothstein WolverineNation
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Roy Roundtree leaped up in the back corner of the end zone, the pass from his quarterback, Denard Robinson, on its way and Notre Dame cornerback Gary Gray right there with him.
Robinson threw it high. He needed to give Roundtree a chance. He did -- and in the process capped off what had been a wild and wacky evening for both the quarterback and the guys he relies on to make him look good when he throws the ball.
Roy Roundtree's only catch against Notre Dame was the game-winner with 2 seconds remaining.
Fitting, too, that on a night when Michigan honored its most well-known receiver, Desmond Howard, it came down to a wide receiver making a game-winning play to beat Notre Dame.
In 1991, Howard had "The Catch," when Elvis Grbac pump-faked and hit a diving Howard in the end zone to beat Notre Dame. Twenty years later, Robinson found Roundtree with two seconds left for a 35-31 win.
Roundtree fought with Gray and got one foot down in the end zone before falling out of bounds. The officials reviewed the play, but there was no question to Roundtree. He was in. He made sure he got his foot down.
"When Denard came back into the huddle he was composed and just called the play," Roundtree said. "I felt like the defender was going inside so I got up on his toes, and Coach always said big-time players make big-time plays.
"That's what I did today."
The most telling receiver stat for Michigan on Saturday was this: The 16-yard touchdown reception was Roundtree's only catch of the game.
For every overthrow or dropped pass a Michigan receiver had, another managed to come up with a catch that could only be labeled as spectacular, whether it was fifth-year senior receiver Junior Hemingway adjusting to catch a 43-yard touchdown or Jeremy Gallon -- generously listed at 5-foot-8 -- making enough of a move on a Notre Dame defensive back that he caught a fade ball in the end zone.
Then there was Roundtree -- Michigan's single-game receiving record holder with 246 yards against Illinois on Nov. 6, 2010 -- making the early grab of the season for Michigan.
Hemingway led all Michigan receivers with three catches for 165 yards. He also dropped a pass in the first half. No other Michigan receiver had more than two catches.
This after a week in which no Wolverine had more than two catches. Part of that might be due to Michigan spreading the ball around -- seven Wolverines caught a pass Saturday -- but also due to Robinson's sometimes questionable decisions with the ball.
"We all have good days and bad days," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "Truthfully, there were probably three balls early in the game, the first half, and maybe one in the second, so maybe four total that I think would have moved the sticks for us and given us a little bit more momentum.
"There's no explanation other than we have to do a better job of concentrating, focus and catching the ball."
Nothing Michigan did Saturday night was perfect.
In the first half, Robinson struggled and the defense allowed Notre Dame to score at will. Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd had 112 yards at halftime. Michigan as a team had 90.
Then Robinson woke up. His receivers started catching the ball. And they believed.
"We had a talk in the locker room that we had to come out and play better," Gallon said. "We had to play for each other and didn't want to let the seniors down."
They didn't. Instead, mainly because of the play of the receivers and Robinson in the final two drives, everyone around Michigan left happy.
They left Michigan Stadium around midnight -- winners.
Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mikerothstein.