Indiana football offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan, clad in cream and crimson, patrolled the sideline for the second week in a row after spending the first seven weeks of the season in the press box. Indiana’s offense was coming off of its best performance against Maryland just a week ago, scoring 35 points.
He knew this stadium and its fans all too well. He started four games across his four-year career as a quarterback at Michigan in the late 2000’s. The 108,890 fans in Michigan Stadium, who once cheered for Sheridan, were now bearing down on him.
On primetime television Saturday night, he had to look on as the maize and blue he’d proudly donned just 12 years ago swarmed and beat up on his freshman quarterback in a 29-7 loss in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Three out of the six total offensive drives in the first half ended with incompletions from freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley. The two that didn’t were a touchdown run from junior running back Chris Childers and a McCulley fumble that led to a Michigan touchdown.
That touchdown, Indiana’s only score of the night, was immediately met with a 62-yard rush from Michigan senior running back Hassan Haskins and a rollout touchdown pass from junior quarterback Cade McNamara to senior tight end Luke Schoonmaker.
Once again, Sheridan and McCulley were facing a 10-point deficit. Indiana only attempted 11 more passes on the night, completing just three. After every incompletion, McCulley would make his way back to Indiana’s bench where he’d meet Sheridan offering guidance.
“There were times he looked like a true freshman put in a tough situation really quickly,” head coach Tom Allen said in a postgame press conference. “There’s also times where he makes a play.”
After two throwaways to open the second half, Sheridan ran to his quarterback to say what he could before McCulley jogged back onto the field. McCulley scrambled away from Michigan pressure on a third-consecutive play and made his way back to the bench.
In total, McCulley was hit nine times and sacked twice.
“He takes tough hits, and always seems to fall forward and pop right back up,” Allen said.
The freshman, who carried the ball 14 times for 37 yards, took hit after hit from Michigan defenders without sliding. Watching on the sideline, Sheridan’s hands went to his head on a third-down hit during the third quarter.
Immediately following the third-down hit, Allen could be seen angrily conversing with Sheridan on the sideline. Allen said he wanted to find out about a third-down snap to McCulley which wasn’t supposed to happen.
“I just wanted to know why that happened,” Allen said. “That was a key third down.”
At the end of the game, two former Michigan quarterbacks-turned-coaches left the stadium they called home. One, the Wolverines’ own Jim Harbaugh, coached quarterbacks who threw for a combined 223 yards, two touchdowns and a single interception.
The other watched his only remaining scholarship quarterback suffer his second loss in just as many starts.