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September 25, 2002 - Image 12

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-25

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Tackling for 'M'
needs to improve
GRADES
Continued from Page 10
OFFENSIVE LINE: The linemen have done what is
asked of them. The Michigan style of play that
wears down opposing defensive lines over the
course of a game has worked well, evident by Chris
Perry's seven and 11-yard runs late in the Utah
game. They have given Navarre decent protection,
although that can improve. They are getting better
than average push in the trenches.
"I think we are playing really well," junior Tony
Pape said. "We are running the ball well, but we
need to protect John (Navarre) a little better. We
have allowed too many hurries, and I think we need
to give him more time back there."
A-

DEFENSIVE LINE: The run? Whatarun? The line has
held, and is getting to opposing quarterbacks with
satisfactory frequency (17 sacks in the four
games). Opponents are rushing just 81.8 yards per
game and 2.5 yards per carry.
A-
LINEBACKERS: "I think we need to be more con-
sistent as a group," senior captain Victor Hobson
said. "We have the talent to do it and we have the
experience. We just need to come out and be more
consistent."
Every team has been able to pick apart Michi-
gan's zone pass defense and march down the field,
and the linebackers are a big part of that. Further,
the entirety of the Michigan defense has had a
tough time making tackles, and the linebackers are
going to be the first to incur the wrath of the
coaching staff if the trend continues.
B-
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Marlin Jackson has emerged
as the preeminent cover corner in the Big Ten, and
is among the best in the country. Quarterbacks are
not only avoiding his side of the field, but readily
admitting as much (Utah quarterback Lance Rice
said their game plan was altered because of Jack-
son's presence).
That being said, the team has allowed more than
230 yards per game in the air, and the defensive
backs, like the linebackers, are having a difficult
time tackling. Jackson gets an A-plus. The
defensive backs as a unit are
not yet that good.
B

Gators look to bounce back in SEC
Nebraska hits the road against ranked opponent in No. 19 Iowa State

By Asim Modi
For The Daily
Unlike Texas (which does not
believe in playing a real game until the
middle of October), there are a num-
ber of ranked teams playing in some
interesting contests this weekend.
KENTUCKY AT No. 7 FLORIDA, 3:30
P.M., CBS: After emerging victorious
from the Slip-N-Slide that was Ney-
land Stadium last Saturday, Florida
now faces a Kentucky squad that
sports a perfect 4-0
record. The Wild- ACROSS THE
cats defeated Mid-
dle Tennessee State NATON
handily and go into
Gainesville looking to break their 15-
game losing streak against the Gators.
Rex Grossman got his Heisman cam-
paign back on track by completing 20-
of-34 passes for 324 yards with three
touchdowns, en route to a stunning road
victory against the Volunteers. But credit
for the win should go to the defense for
their limiting of Tennessee to just 99
rushing yards after giving up an average
of more than 200 yards on the ground in
their previous contests. This improve-
ment will have to continue if Florida
hopes to stop the high-powered Ken-
tucky offense.
In previous years, the defense could
just concentrate on the massive target
that is Wildcat quarterback Jared
Lorenzen, but now Kentucky boasts a
balanced attack that features the SEC's
second leading rusher Artose Pinner.
Even though the Kentucky defense is
giving up nearly 15 points a game
fewer than last year, it will find it dif-
ficult to stop a Gator offense that has
players like Grossman, Earnest Gra-
ham, and Taylor Jacobs.

Florida 45, Kentucky 17
No. 20 NEBRASKA AT No. 19 IOWA
STATE, 3:30 P.M.: This is Nebraska's
first game since its humiliating 40-7
drubbing against Penn State and it
faces an Iowa State squad that is led
by one of the nation's most exciting
players, Seneca Wallace. The Corn-
huskers have questions on both sides
of the ball, but the defense has to be.
particularly worried. In their last three
games against ranked opponents, the
Huskers have given up 139 points.
The offense, meanwhile, has also
struggled under new quarterback Jam-
mal Lord. He has passed for just 328
yards in four games and many of his
423 rushing yards came during the end
of the Penn State game, when the out-
come was not in doubt. Last year's
conference rushing leader, Dahrran
Diedrick, has been unable to break
100 yards in a game so far this year.
On the other hand, Wallace ranks
sixth in the nation in pass efficiency
and his ability to improvise nearly led
to an upset against Florida State in the
Cyclones' season opener. ,
Iowa State 35, Nebraska 30
No. 16 WASHINGTON STATE AT CALI-
FORNIA, 5:00 P.M.: This is a matchup
between teams that have come back to
Earth in recent weeks. California
jumped out to a 3-0 start after destroy-
ing Michigan State, but lost a squeaker
to Air Force last weekend.
The Cougars lost the highly antici-
pated Rose Bowl preview to Ohio
State two weeks ago, but they may
have lost even more after quarterback
Jason Gesser left last week's win over
Montana Sate with a broken rib. His
status for Saturday's game is unclear,
as is the condition of his backup Matt

Kegel, who suffered a bruised knee
last week.
Washington State is still a leading
contender for the Pac-10 title despite
the unimpressive showing against the
Buckeyes. Gesser passed all over the
Golden Bears last year and even with a
flak jacket, he should be able to match
his previous success if he plays.
New California coach Jeff Tedford
has gotten a lot from his limited talent,
but his team will be overmatched
against the Cougars.
Washington State 38, California 20
No. 23 OREGON STATE AT No. 18
USC, 6:30 P.M.: After proving the
writers of Sports Illustrated wrong last
year, Oregon State has opened the year
4-0 and is going after its best start in
63 years.
The Beavers have run all over weak
nonconference opponents behind quar-
terback Derek Anderson who has
already thrown 15 touchdowns and
ranks second in the nation in passing
efficiency.
The defense has allowed just 49
points in four games. Of course, it is
easy to compile these stats against
lightweights likes Temple and Eastern
Kentucky.
The Trojans started out the season
with impressive wins over Auburn and
Colorado, but lost a heartbreaker to
Kansas State 27-20 last weekend.
Chronic underachiever Carson Palmer
has played well so far this year and is
showing some of the ability that made
him such a highly touted recruit. Ore-
gon State's lack of big game experi-
ence this year will hurt them against
the Trojans. The game should be a
shootout, but the Trojans should be
able to win this conference opener.
USC 34, Oregon State 27

0

the michigan daily
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