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October 07, 1999 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-07

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10A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 7, 1999

The Daily Grind
Mch i an
parents:
loudest in
the stands
he materialized out of a sea
of maize and blue outside the
lockerroom at Michigan
Stadium. She was upon me before I
'had time to think.
"What paper do you write for?"
she inquired breathlessly.
I answered.
"I want you to print this," she
continued. "My baby scored his
first touchdown today, and I was so
happy!"
Wait a second. I'm supposed to
be the one chasing people. around
for quotes. The
unsolicited out-
burst took me Andy
by surprise, and Latack
I studied this
new source I
had just discov-
ered.
She was
wearing a navy
blue jersey with
an 'M' embroi- COUNTER
dered on the CK
front. Her hands
flew about like
uncaged birds as she described the
bone-crushing action - in the
stands.
"I think I blacked somebody's eye
sitting behind me when he scored,"
Debbie Askew said. "I just jumped
up so auick."
As she ran off, I watched the No.
35 stitched on her back and con-
cealed my smile about as well as
she concealed her pride. Less than
an hour before, her son B.J. - a
freshman running back at Michigan
wearing the same number - had
scored the first touchdown of his
career against Purdue. And Debbie
Askew was letting everybody know
,about it.
When B.J. rumbled across the
goalline in the fourth-quarter, Ms.
,Askew cheered, as did hundreds of
other players' family members -
the most die-hard contingent of fans
in Michigan Stadium.
I looked at some of the other par-
ents standing by the tunnel. The
names were familiar. Hendricks.
Cross. Brooks. Plenty of others.
Whether it was a jersey, a button or
a billboard, every parent in atten-
dance made their allegiance clear.
Linebacker Dhani Jones' father,
clad in his son's Citrus Bowl jersey
gom last year, waited outside the
tunnel. Not just for his son, but for
ery player on the team.
"Each time a player left the tunnel,
samuel Jones wrapped his massive
itms around him in a huge bear
tug, offering congratulations
hether the player had seen the
Ied or not. I think hie even got to a
ewtrainers by mistake.
Even when multiple players exit-
at once, the elder Jones caught
4 to each one of them, wrapping
em up up like Dhani had been
ping to Purdue players all day.
Froughout it all, Samuel Jones'
:anile never left his face.

College sports have become big
business, with Nike, ABC and
f oster clubs writing the majority
fthe paychecks. So it's refreshing
see such unbridled, genuine emo-
Jon.
Sure, these parents are huge
I Michigan fans. But they don't care
ibout Sagarin rankings or first-
}]ace votes. They care about their
Sagarin rankings or first-
; lace votes. They care about their
-sons.
When Michigan started 0-2 last
2season, the parents were probably
the only ones on the planet who
weren't booing. They have been
watching their kids for 20 years,
:cheering from the start. The fact
that junior is now on national tele-
vision doesn't change a thing.
Remember Little League parents?
,Living and dying with every base
hit and every strikeout?
Well, for most parents, that activ-
ity comes to a halt about the time
they realize their kids don't have
Division I athletic talent.
For some, that comes earlier than
others. I like to think I saved my
parents a lot of agony by displaying
my lack of athletic talent early in
life.
But for the parents of the
Michigan football team, the Little
League mentality lasts into their
children's adult lives. They continue
to cheer, much like they did all

Michigan defense
emerges, makes a
name for itself

By Rick Freeman
Daily Sports Editor
Bill Burke is a marked man.
"I'm looking forward to punishing
the quarterback," said Michigan senior
linebacker Ian Gold. "This is truly the
hardest hitting game I play every year
... what more could you ask for out of
a big game."
Michigan's defenders - who have
punished more than just quarterbacks
this season - see their biggest threat
in Michigan State's beefy offensive
line and balanced offensive attack.
"It will definitely be a challenge,
from the standpoint that we can't just
sit down and play the run. So we'll
have to keep on our toes," said fifth-
year senior nose tackle Rob Renes.
"They're very capable of picking up a
bunch of yards on offense. They have
an offensive line that's very good at
sustaining blocks."
But Michigan has a defense capable
of sustaining 60 minutes of effort and
emotion.
"I think the most important thing
about this year's defense is the cama-
raderie," junior defensive end Jake
Frysinger said. "I've been playing
football since I was eight years old,
and this is the best team chemistry I've
ever felt in my whole life."
In the season opener against Notre
Dame, the only chemistry Michigan's
defenders felt was the burning lactic
acid in their legs. After Jabari
Holloway's beyond-wide-open touch-
down catch woke up the echoes of last
season - the only time Michigan ever
allowed 30 or more points in three
games - they began to emerge.
Linebacker Dhani Jones and safety
Tommy Hendricks sacked Jackson on
the Michigan 29 in the final minute.
His next pass was complete, but short
of the first down, and time ran out on
the Irish.
Timely?
"I was tired, I was dead, I was on
'E'," Jones said.
That sack was the first step in build-
ing recognition for a unit that finally
appeared on the national scene last
week, debunking the "suspect" label
as they simultaneously embraced it.
But Michigan's pass rushers - who
in defensive coordinator Jim
Hermann's schemes can be almost
anyone - deserve just as much credit.
They made Purdue's Drew Brees pay
for bad snaps and covered receivers.
Now, against an offense they call the
toughest they've faced yet, the chal-
lenge is tantalizing.
Despite the comparisons Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr makes to Michigan
State's Lorenzo White-led wrecking
crew of 1987, the fact is Purdue is a

more productive offense -- producing
450 yards per game to the Spartans'
423. But unlike the Boilermakers, the
Spartans have balance. Their ground
game rips off 185 yards per game -
Purdue hovers near 125.
"I can say clear-cut it's the best
Michigan State team since 1987." said
Carr. "They have a lot of weapons and
they don't have any weaknesses."
So much the better for Michigan's
defense. The Wolverines have a calm,
even-keel confidence that has helped A&
them ride out three late-game come-
back attempts, and then against
Purdue, one of the nation's most
potent passing attacks and a trick sub-
stitution pattern that might have
thrown less cohesive units into disar-
ray.
"We don't like to get into a situation
where we feel panic-stricken at all,
and we haven't felt that this year"
Renes said. "Even with the last few
seconds on the clock against Notre
Dame up until the end of the Purdue
game, we've really felt as if we can
rely on the other 10 guys on the field.
The defense's biggest challenge -
other than the balanced Spartans -
might be deflecting comments about
their similarity to the 1997 unit.
Carr says "this team doesn't mea-
sure up in any way" to the national
champions, but he knows the 1999
defense best. He might see how they
respond to critics; how a putdown
fires them up. How they just seem to
click, defying an explanation.
"The chemistry," Renes said. "Is
starting to take over."
And that's what's more important
about this year's Michigan defense.
Lloyd Carr was right when he said
they look nothing like '97's defense.
That unit was known for stinginess,
swagger and the being the only set ofA
defenders to claim a Heisman Trophy
winner as one of their own.
This year's defense has given up 66
points in five games. 1997's gave up
26 in the first five. It took a late-game
touchdown and two-point conversion
at Penn State in the season's ninth
game for that unit to give up more than
66.
From that last stand against Notre
Dame five weeks ago to the hit Todd{
Howard laid on Purdue wideout Larry
Shyne, this year's defense has played
on emotion and fire - even when
their collective needle has been
pegged on E.'
Believe that they're looking forward
to Saturday because it will be tough.
Believe that they want to shut down
men with names like Plaxico and Gari
and even Bill.
Or don't. They like it better that way.

LOUIS BROWN Daiv
The Michigan defense will target the Spartans the way they've targeted other foes, like Wisconsin's Nick Davis two weeks
ago.

BURKE
Continued from Page 9A
make an impact last season. Burke
had his moments, engineering a 45-24
upset of Notre Dame last September
and leading the Spartans back from a
24-9 deficit to shock top-ranked Ohio
State, 28-24, in Columbus.
But the surprising successes were
counteracted by mind-numbing fail-
ures. The Spartans were stomped by
Oregon, 48-14, and lost to Minnesota
for the first time in 22 seasons.
That unpredictability has been
cited by a lack of continuous focus.
Burke indicates that the Spartans did-
n't exactly have tunnel vision last sea-
son.
"We've been hot and cold because
we haven't had the maturity to focus
the entire game," Burke said. "We
sometimes would lose focus at times
during games, and that would cost
us.

The Spartans have had razor-sharp
focus in the first five games of the
season, pummeling Oregon, Eastern
Michigan, Notre Dame, Illinois and
Iowa by a combined score of 177-53.
This point discrepancy can be attrib-
uted to a solid defense and relatively
mistake-free play from Burke.
This type of play is what Burke
expects out of himself and is what he
is intent on providing the Spartans in
every game.
"I'd like to think that I'm a guy who
can throw the ball effectively. I like to
think that I am an efficient quarter-
back that doesn't make mistakes,"
Burke said.
While Burke has been pretty effec-
tive in cutting down on that thus far
this season, he is faced with the
biggest game of his college career so
far Saturday against arch-rival
Michigan.
Although he is an Ohio native,
Burke was just as aware of the bad

blood between the Spartans and
Wolverines as he was of the
Michigan-Ohio State rivalry.
"Anybody who watches the game
know what a big rivalry this is,"
Burke said. "The state is pretty much
divided in two during this week."
The Green half of the state has not
seen a win in this game since 1995.
The Michigan State campus is eager
to see that streak end, therefore
putting the pressure on Burke's shoul-
ders.
Burke, while wary of the Michigan
defense, has faith in himself and his
team to give a good performance.
"The Michigan defense is very
good," Burke said. "They aren't afraid
to come after you and attack the quar-
terback. Their defensive players are
very comfortable when they are out
there.
"We are only concentrating on one
game right now, and that's on
Saturday. We expect to play well."

Ann Arbor only has
five kinds of students

MUIR
Continued from Page 9A
Senior defensive end Robaire Smith
and friends will have more sacks
than Ann Arbor has trendy shoe
stores.
The game should be over by
halftime, leaving our five Michigan
friends some free time.
Nicky will turn off the television
and change out of her daytime tight
black pants and into her evening
tight black pants.
Moonbeam will turn off her tele-
vision, do some yoga, smoke a joint
and talk about the game's cosmic
significance.
William will turn off the com-

puter Webcast of the game, open up .
a book of Kurt Vonnegut's short sto-O
ries and start building a letter bomb.
Mike won't be watching the
Michigan State vs. Michigan game
because, "It's so Midwestern."
By Saturday night, the five of
them will be out on the street head
ed to consolation parties.
We'll be here celebrating a glori-
ous victory - all 40,000 of us.
- Pat Muir, The State News
sports editor, is still trying to finda
place in Ann Arbor where he can
buy a regular cup of coffee.
If'you know of one, or would
like to contact himfor any other
reason, he can be reached at
muirpatr ,nmsu.edit.

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