September 28, 1998 - SportsMonday - The Michigan Daily - 78
"That's as bad a pass interference call as I've
ever seen. If that's pass interference, then we
can't play pass defense. If (Big Ten commis-
sioner) Jim Delany wants to call me on that, he
can call me all he wants."
- Michigan State coach Nick Saban
By the way-.
The Michigan defense has given up 111
points this season after four games.
Last season, the Wolverines surrendered 114
points - in 12 games.
strong after break
By Jim Rose
Daily Sports Editor
James Whitley said he was sick of
tpeople saying he was part of a "Tin-Man
defense" (no heart).
DeWayne Patmon said he was
annoyed with those who questioned the
toughness of Michigan's defenders (Lee
Rob Renes said he knew his defensive
line couldn't continue to give opposing
quarterbacks time to pick apart the
Against Michigan State, finally, the
idefense came together.
It was still in question, even after
Michigan beat Eastern Michigan last
week. The Eagles scored 20 points and
passed at will against the Wolverines.
"Every day when people are talking
about how bad you are, saying how you
gave up 400 yards or whatever - we
took that personal;" Patmon said. "I
think the defense is really starting to
come together now."
The Wolverines dug in on Saturday
Wand stopped the Spartans - the same
Spartans who ran up and down the field
against Notre Dame two weeks ago.
Michigan State managed just 268
yards of total offense, 121 of which
came via Sedrick Irvin's 21 carries on
the ground. Bill Burke completed just 7
of his 20 attempts in the second half.
Michigan coaches and players were
nearly unanimous in their assessment as
to why the defense was more successful
this past weekend.
"Our linemen were getting pressure
on the quarterback, which made it easier
for us against the receivers," Whitley
said. Michigan State was faced with "a
lot of third-and-long situations, and
when that happens, our defense starts to
Michigan's defensive front put more
pressure on Burke than they did on any
other quarterback to this point. The lefty
was sacked six times for 54 yards in
losses. Senior Nate Miller had a pair of
sacks by himself.
"Nate Miller is a fifth-year guy who
just came up with a big game today,"
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "He's a
hard worker, and that's the kind of thing
you like to see."
In addition to Miller, Sam Sword,
James Hall, freshman Larry Foote and
Josh Williams all got to Burke before he
could get rid of the ball.
With the linemen and linebackers
keeping Burke on his toes, the defensive
backs were finally able to have them-
selves a decent game. And although
Whitley was beaten early for a touch-
down, he broke up three passes in the
second half, and credited Michigan's
pass rush for helping his cause.
"The line was getting great pressure
and forcing (the Spartans) into third-
and-long" situations, Whitley said.
"That made it easier for us to cover their
One other possible factor in the
defense's re-emergence: the health fac-
tor. Sam Sword was at full strength (he
had 15 tackles) and Ian Gold played as
well - both linebackers had missed
time due to injury in recent weeks.
"We're probably the healthiest we've
been on defense since the start of the
season," defensive backs coach Vance
Bedford said. "We're starting to get guys
The one starter who still wasn't
healthy enough to play? Another starter,
senior linebacker Clint Copenhaver.
"I thought I was going to be back"
against Michigan State, he said. "I
couldn't run or anything in practice. I'll
be able to play next week."
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with Marcus Knight
for a 48-yd gain to
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DeWayne Patmon and James Whitley laid some big hits on Michigan State's wide receivers Saturday. The Michigan defense
tightened up In the second half of the game, holding the Spartans scoreless for the final 30 minutes.
Except 40-yard run,
Irvin held in check
By Jim Rose
Daily Sports Editor
The Miami Mouth didn't have much
to say after the game.
"They outplayed us;' Michigan State
running back Sedrick Irvin (the afore-
mentioned Mouth) said after his team
was beaten by the Wolverines. "You have
to give them credit."
What else could Irvin say?
He hadn't said much in the week lead-
ing up to the game, calling it "just anoth-
er game; and he alluded that he pre-
ferred to walk - er, run - rather than
- were in line with his 101.7 yards-per-
game average, but in reality, Irvin wasn't
a huge factor in Saturday's contest.
He set up Michigan State's first touch-
down with a 40-yard jaunt down the left
sideline on a semi-option pitch from
quarterback Bill Burke. That was less
than five minutes after the opening kick.
But in addition to that run, he managed
just 61 yards on his other 20 carries
Irvin was deflated after the game, but
he couldn't resist the opportunity to at
least say something.
"Ask them to tell you the truth," Irvin
said in reference to Michigan's defense.
"All 11 were looking for me. But that's
football. It's frustrating because you
want to make plays.
"But it feels good to know that I'm
All joking aside, Irvin is that impor-
tant, and the Wolverines know it. Their
defensive game plan revolved around
bottling up the fleet tailback. And after a
couple of adjustments, they did manage
to stop him.
"I thought the defense improved,"
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "I
thought we had good pressure. For the
most part, our defense didn't give up big
plays. That was my concern coming into
After closing to within a field goal
(20-17) before the end of the first half,
Michigan State seemed to swing the
momentum in its direction. But the
Spartans couldn't muster much of an
attack after the intermission. In fact, they
didn't score again.
Irvin's stats reflected the Spartans'
fate. In the second half, he picked up just
22 yards on seven carries.
"We know they were saying, 'Let's try
to stop number 33,"' Irvin said. "Their
defense played good, but it wasn't so
much what they did, but what we did. We
didn't make the plays and execute to our
potential, and we lost."
His coach, Nick Saban, agreed, to
some extent. He admitted that "the
Michigan defense played well." But he
also said the offense "didn't execute as
well as (it) can as a team."
Whatever the reason, the result was
what Michigan wanted - Irvin never
really got on track. Credit the game plan,
credit the previously absent push from
the defensive line, credit the linebackers.
Defensive back DeWayne Patmon
knows it doesn't really matter who gets
"Sedrick Irvin is a great running
back," Patmon said. "But our team came
together on defense, and we were able to
stop him as a unit."
Michigan State running back Sedrick Irvin managed to break free Just once against the Wolverines. The junior taliback broke
off a 40-yard run and finished with 107 yards in the game. He was held scoreless by the Michigan defense.
Kicker getting the 'Feel' of game
By Mark Snyder
Daily Sports Editor
As the final kickoff of the Eastern
Michigan game sailed through the
uprights last week, Jay Feely must
have wondered, 'Where does this
Freshman kicker Hayden Epstein
had just stolen --------------
Feely's kickoff Football
long 51 yarder) to improve the status
of Michigan's kicking game - at least
for a week.
All three kicks proved Feely worthy
of the job.
"Anytime you keep making kicks;"
Feely said, "you know you have to
make them in a big game where it
counts a lot. I'm very thankful that I
had the opportunity."
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SABAN's FURY: Usually a mild-man-
nered sort, Michigan State coach Nick
Saban unloaded after the game, taking
potshots at Michigan and their sup-
posed abuse of the rules.
"I think that college football is real-
ly screwed up," he said. Michigan
"has guys running in and out (of the
offensive huddle) and we can't match
up. When your players can't get lined
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Sept. 5 at Notre Dame (36-20,
Sept. 12 Syracuse (38-28, Syr.)