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April 04, 2003 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-04-04

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April 4, 2003



Underwood making progress

By J. Brady McCollough
Daily Sports Editor
David Underwood has learned a lot about
himself in his first two years as a Michigan
running back.
The junior, highly recruited out of Madis-
onville, Texas, has had to watch B.J. Askew
and Chris Perry do the job he expected to do
when he arrived in the fall
of 2001.
After being thrown into
the fire as a true freshman 0
and rushing for 111 yards X
and one touchdown in five
games, Underwood expect-
ed his sophomore cam-
paign to be his coming out party.
In the early part of the season, the coaches
gave him his chance to earn significant car-
ries in the backup role behind Perry, but they
felt that Underwood didn't take advantage,
and Michigan coach Lloyd Carr decided that
fullback B.J. Askew would work at tailback
to relieve Perry. Underwood finished a dis-
appointing season with similar numbers to
his freshman year: 111 yards and one touch-
down in five games.
"What he went through a year ago was
tough on him," Carr said. "He fully expected
to play more, but he hung in there. I'm very
pleased with where he is."
"I kind of had some ups and downs this
year, and I've grown," Underwood said
after Michigan's 38-31 win over Florida
in the Outback Bowl. "I've matured more
as a man.
"I'm still happy here. It comes a time in

life when you come to a road block, and you
have to make a decision. You can't run from
your problems."
Underwood is doing everything he can to
make sure he'll be running away from
opposing defenders next fall. Carr has
opened up the competition for the No. 2 spot
in spring practice, and the role is Under-
wood's for the taking.
After the Outback Bowl, Underwood
pointed to spring drills as the time where he
could make his move, saying he would be
"playing no games." He has worked to
improve his pass blocking ability, as well as
his speed and strength. His efforts have paid
off, as Carr is noticeably excited about
Underwood's emergence in spring practice.
"David has really taken a step," Carr
said. "He's made some great runs out
there, knows where the holes are, knows
the protections better and he's catching the
ball better."
With fellow junior Tim Bracken still
plagued by injuries and redshirt freshman
Pierre Rembert still learning the ropes, the
spare carries that went to Askew last season
could easily fall into Underwood's hands.
"Hopefully, next year I can get in and
show the world what I'm made of," Under-
wood said.
No matter what happens on the football
field, Underwood has gotten a strong taste of
what it takes to succeed.
"(The disappointment) makes some peo-
ple grow up, and it makes some people
fold," Underwood said. "I want to learn from
what happened to me this year and turn it
into positive energy next year."

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: As hard as it must
have been for Carr to give in to his tradition-
al instincts and give John Navarre the nod at
starting quarterback heading into spring
practice, Carr still has his coveted quarter-
back competition.
Senior Spencer Brinton, who played the
backup role last season, is battling it out
with redshirt freshman Matt Gutierrez, the
blue-chip recruit out of Concord, Calif. who
has Michigan fans salivating.
While Brinton has more experience,
Gutierrez is the probable successor to
Navarre, and if Michigan follows past
precedent, Gutierrez will get some serious
snaps this season to get ready for the start-
ing role in 2004.
Spencer has been slowed some with
shoulder problems, so he has missed
some practice," Carr said. "Matt Gutier-
rez has a good grasp at his age for what
we're doing, and he continues to improve.
' He's got a lot to learn like any freshman.
But he's really smart."
GAME STILL ON?: It's too bad that the
Michigan Athletic Department won't be able
to get its new FieldTurf in the Big House
before the annual spring scrimmage,
because Carr expressed obvious frustration
with the status of the natural grass surface
that still remains at Michigan Stadium.
"I was just at the stadium (Wednesday),
because a week ago, that field was nothing
but mud," Carr said. "It's a little bit better
(Wednesday). Hopefully, we won't get
enough rain that will make it impossible to
play there. It's a day-to-day thing."
See UNDERWOOD, Page 10

Michigan's David Underwood has had an excellent spring season and has put himself in position to be a
contributing factor to Michigan's offensive backfield this coming season.

Tired pen
resting for
By Jako Rosenwasser
Daily Sports Writer

Gartman ready for shot at old teammates

With a pivotal four-game series
against Minnesota coming up this
weekend, Michigan coach Rich Mal-
oney would have loved to rest his
bullpen against Eastern Michigan.
Unfortunately, relaxation was not an
option, as Maloney was forced to use
seven hurlers in Michigan's 11-9 win
on Wednesday.
Craig Murray started for the Wolver-
ines. He pitched three innings and sur-
rendered just two hits. Despite the
shutout performance by the freshman,
he was pulled early because of the
impending Minnesota series.
"He would have only pitched three
innings if he had struck out all nine
guys," Maloney said. "He threw like
45 pitches, and we didn't want him to
throw any more."
Matt Collins entered the
game in the sixth inning and THIS
struggled with his control as
he has all season long. He
walked two batters in his
inning of work and was for- 1 }
tunate to get out of the game
yielding just one run. With
runners on first and second
in the sixth, Michigan third
baseman Brock Koman snagged a hard
liner and rifled the ball over to second to
finish the double play. Collins escaped
after giving up just one run, and gave
way to freshman Jeff Niemiec who was
making his college debut. Niemiec's
debut was not a memorable one, as he
faced four batters and retired just one.
Niemiec was charged with three runs,
two of which were earned.
"We're very inexperienced on the
mound," Maloney said. "We've got to
pitch a lot of guys to get them experi-
ence. That's just where we're at."
All of this inexperience may cost the
Wolverines when they play a difficult
Big Ten schedule. Will Michigan be
able to hold a lead in the late innings?
Who will Maloney call on in a tight
spot when he needs outs?
"Right now I'd have to say Murray,"
Maloney said. "But we're going to go


Freshman Craig Murray pitched three
innings for Michigan on Wednesday.
by pitcher-by-committee and see what
Freshman Derek Feldkamp was
brought in to hopefully close out the
game for the Wolverines, who were
leading 8-6. With a 3.80 ERA, Feld-
kamp had been Maloney's most reli-
able reliever on the season. But
Feldkamp could not get the job done
either. He got out of a
bases-loaded jam in the
FEKENJDeighth inning, but Luke
Beeler launched another
homerun to tie the game at
ay 8-8 in the ninth.
Feldkamp was relieved
by Ali Husain, Michigan's
N seventh and final pitcher of
the day. The sophomore
surrendered one run on
three hits as Michigan's bullpen had
relinquished what was once a five-run
Fortunately for the bullpen, the
Michigan bats bailed them out. Jordan
Cantalamessa's three-run-homerun
gave the Wolverines an 11-9 victory.
Even though the bullpen has a long
way to go, it feels it is improving.
"We're young, and we know we have
flaws, but we're definitely making
strides," Husain said. "We're ready for
the challenges of the Big Ten."
Minnesota comes to Ann Arbor this
weekend for a four-game series with
game one at 3 p.m. at the Fish today.
Minnesota comes in boasting a 4-0
mark in the Big Ten thus far.
"They're a real experienced team,"
Maloney said. "I think we're evenly
matched hitting teams, but they have
more experience on the mound."

By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer
After gaining a spot in next
week's Frozen Four, backup goal-
tender Chris Gartman told fellow
backup Noah Ruden that he really
wanted to beat Cornell - the
nation's top-ranked team - for a
national title.
While any Wolverine would love
for that to occur, because that would
mean they would have beaten Min-
nesota in the national semifinal,
Gartman has a little extra motiva-
tion. If that happened; Gartman
would be triumphing over his for-
mer teammates.
"You can tell in his voice he
wants not just to win, but to have a
little revenge on Cornell if he can,"
Ruden said.
The Idwin, N.Y. native went to
Cornell after playing with the U.S.
National Development Program
Under-18 Team in the 1998-99 sea-
son, but played in just five games for
the Big Red in two seasons in Ithaca.
He then went out West to Iowa to
play in the U.S. Hockey League for
the Des Moines Buccaneers.
He tied the team's shutout record
with three and finished second in
the league with 27 wins, giving

him an opportunity to walk-on to
Michigan. But then Al Montoya
solidified his spot as the starter,
and Gartman was deemed ineligi-
ble for the entire first semester
because he failed to meet the com-
plicated NCAA transfer require-
ments for a 4-2-4 student, leaving
him unable to suit up or even travel
with the team.
"That was a big kick in the end
for him because he really wanted to
come in and compete for one of the
top spots," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said. "But I asked him to
make a list of all his goals. I said,
'Think about what you're going to
do this semester. You can waste it,
or you can take advantage of it.' He
did a good job."
Despite his predicament, Gartman
gave his teammates praise for how
they have treated him like an upper-
classman even though he is new to
the team.
"They've respected me through-
out the whole process," Gartman
said. "It's an honor to be apart of

the Michigan program. I'm just
doing whatever I can to help the
team. If the team's winning, that's
all I can ask for."
Ruden, who faced Gartman many
times last season as a member of the
USHL Tri-City Storm, said that it
has been helpful having him around
at practice.
"He's compact," Ruden said. "He
comes across, he stays tight, and
you can see (the puck) when it gets
into his body."
Gartman would love to face a sen-
ior Cornell class that wants to win
the school's first national title since
The Big Red finished 16-12-5 in
Gartman's final season with the
team. But a lot has changed since
then. The team will go to Buffalo,
N.Y., next weekend with a 30-4-1
record and the consensus No. 1
defense in the country. Cornell has
given up an average of less than 21
shots a game and has a goaltender
- sophomore Dave LeNeveu -
that currently holds the best single-

- - - - - --l - - - -- - -, - - -1 - - - -- - ---- - - - - ----

season goals-against-average in the
history of college hockey, and
starred for Team Canada at the
World Junior Championships this
past winter.
Gartman said he keeps in touch
with much of the senior class, and
has followed the team through its
playoff run, but that there will not
be much socializing when he meets
"If I see anybody, it will be a
quick hellos" Gartman said. d'Other
than that, we're there to get a job
Although Gartman has been
unable to get into a game this sea-
son, Berenson always stresses that
both him and Ruden need to be
ready to go if, by chance, Al Mon-
toya is unable to play. If that hap-
pens, Gartman could get a chance to
play for it all against his former
"If something happens, they could
be the difference in our whole season,"
Berenson said. "(And) you might only
play one game, or one period."


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