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Football: Allen has career day in loss to UM

Bill Brink | Monday, September 14, 2009

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Last year Armando Allen rushed for 45 yards a game, 4.4 yards per carry and three touchdowns. This year, he’s got 105 yards per game, 5.9 per carry and two scores already.

Allen’s been utilized more this season since James Aldridge became a fullback and Robert Hughes was suspended for the first half of the Nevada game. In the 38-34 loss to Michigan at the Big House Saturday, he made the most of it.

Allen rushed for 139 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown and caught two passes for 24 yards. He also took a Statue of Liberty handoff from Jimmy Clausen for a two-point conversion and would have caught a 41-yard touchdown pass but it was called back because the referees ruled upon further review that he stepped out of bounds.

Asked if it was his best game yet, he said, “Yeah, I can say that. I’ll take that for what it is.”

Allen averaged 6.6 yards per carry Saturday and had three runs through massive holes in the middle. He looked one tackle away from breaking all three.

“Once I get tackled I’m always thinking, ‘What am I going to do to break it even more?'” he said. “That’s my train of thought.”

Like every running back, Allen credited his offensive line for creating those massive holes.

“The guys up front really did a good job,” he said. “Michigan was really trying to stop the pass and I think we knew that coming into this game that we had to step up to the cause. I think we did a really good job with that.”

Guard Eric Olsen said the offensive line made no secret of the fact that they emphasized run blocking in the offseason.

“We always want to be able to run the ball effectively,” he said. “Obviously [Allen] did a great job. It just comes down to us blocking for him.”

Allen said the Boise State-esque Statue of Liberty call was a standard play in that situation.

“That’s one of our two-point plays, I think when it was called it was no surprise to anybody,” he said.

Allen nearly bobbled the handoff, but took it in untouched. After scoring in the corner of the end zone next to the Michigan student section, he held one finger in front of his facemask to silence them

The referee didn’t like that and called an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, pushing the Irish back 15 yards on the kickoff.

“It is what it is,” he said.

When the Irish got the ball back, up by three after Michigan punted, Allen rushed once before hobbling off the field. He said the injury was to his thigh rather than his ankle and had been bothering him all week.

“I know that if I could go I would have,” he said.

It didn’t matter to the line, who blocked for Hughes in that last drive as well, Olsen said.

Allen was pleased with his play but said the outcome of the game trumped his individual achievements.

“To me it doesn’t matter what I’ve done if we don’t win,” he said. “I take it as it is and move forward.

“We’ve been in this situation before. We got to keep fighting.”