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September 30, 2002 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-30

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SPORTSMNA

Monday
September 30, 2002

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MICHIGAN 45,
fi t

in

Illini

* Smooth
afternoon
for Blue
By David Horn
Daily Sports Editor
CHAMPAIGN - Offense. Defense.
Special teams. It all worked. It all
worked about as well as it needed to,
anyway, and Michigan cruised to a
laughable 45-28 win over Illinois.
Following a foreboding first two
drives (in which the Wolverines went
three-and-out both times), the Michi-
gan offense moved the ball with a fluid-
ity and efficiency reminiscent of the
Henson-Thomas-Terrell offense of
2000. It was offense with an ease that
has eluded the Wolverines (1-0 Big
Ten, 4-1 overall) thus far this season,
but exemplifies the kind of game the
Michigan coaches want to become the
standard.
Of course, quarterback John Navarre
and the well-oiled machine that was the
Michigan offense got by Illinois (0-1,
1-4) with a little help from their friends.
The defense played its most produc-
tive game of the season, causing five
turnovers and setting up its offensive
teammates for easy scores. Two inter-
ceptions by sophomore cornerback
Marlin Jackson, an interception by sen-
ior safety Charles Drake and fumble
recoveries by senior safety Julius Curry
and placekicker Phil Brabbs gave the
offense enough to work with. Navarre
and Co. scored 24 points off the five
turnovers, and benefited mightily in the
field position battle.
"We've talked about (capitalizing on
opportunities) all through training
camp and all through the season -
being an opportunistic team," Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr said. "But we haven't
been able to do that. We did it today,
and it was the big difference in the
game.",
The forced turnovers were comple-
mented by another week of success-
ful Michigan blitz packages.
Particularly impressive was the Julius
Curry sack of Illinois quarterback
Jon Beutjer during which the Michi-
gan safety bulldozed Illinois running
back Morris Virgil en route.
But the turnovers, opportune and
fruitful as they were, overshadowed an
aspect of the defensive game that still
needs serious work. The Wolverines
gave up 368 yards in the air (including
10 receptions for 156 yards and a
touchdown by Illinois wide receiver
Brandon Lloyd) and 543 yards of total
offense. It was a performance that
would be a major cause for concern,
had the turnovers not come when they
did. And the offense turned those
turnovers into points.
"I thought John Navarre had his best
game since he's been at Michigan,"
See ILLINI, Page 48

By the
numbers
Michigan only had one turnover, a
forth-quarter fumble by David
Underwood, when the Wolverines
held a comfortable 45-21lead.
The Wolverines were charged with
just two penalties for 20 yards all
afternoon.
John Navarre threw for four touch-
downs for the third time in his
Michigan career, but just the first
time away from home. Navarre
went 22-for-37 for 264 yards to
round out arguably his best road
performance as a Wolverine.
The Michigan defense forced a
season-best five turnovers. Marlin
Jackson recorded a team-high two
interceptions, while linebacker
Victor Hobson recorded eight tack-
les and one forced fumble.
Michigan converted on six of its
seven opportunities within the red
zone.
Tight end Bennie Joppru matched
his career high with seven catch-
es for 74 yards. He also had a
career-best two touchdown recep-
tions on the day.
Michigan's offense improved its
third down efficiency, converting
10 times out of 17 opportunities.
The Wolverines were just 5-of-19
against Utah, and 5-of44 against
Notre Dame.
The Wolverines have won 21. con-
secutive Big Ten Conference open-
ers, and 34 of their last 35.

DAVID KATZ/Daily

Michigan kicker Phillip Brabbs celebrates with his teammates after recovering a fumble off his own kickoff in the third quarter of Saturday's game.

D efense isn 't great, but is goo

CHAMPAIGN - Entering this
season, the buzz surrounding
Michigan was how good its
defense would be. The discussion
came both from inside and outside the
Michigan pro- _
gram. But
through four
games, had the
Wolverines
shown that they
were a good
defense?
There is no
statistical catego-
ry that proves theJEFF
Michigan PHILLIPS
defense deserves Ramble
to be mentioned On
among the elite
defenses in the
nation, such as Miami (Fla.), Virginia
Tech or Oklahoma. Yet opposing
coaches still talk about Michigan's
intimidating defense after the game.
After Illinois put up 543 yards of
offense - of which about 400 yards
came against Michigan's first
stringers - in its 45-28 drubbing at
home, coach Ron Turner still had
nothing but respect for the Wolver-
ines' defense.

"They have a great defense, as good
as I've seen in a while," Turner said.
Is Turner right? Is this really one of
the best defenses that Illinois has faced?
Statistics-wise, the Wolverines are
hampered by facing some of the most
potent offenses in the country. Michi-
gan allows nearly 260 yards passing
per game, but Washington, Western
Michigan and Illinois all have effec-
tive passing games with several talent-
ed receivers. Should a quality defense
be able to shut down these air attacks?
Illinois wide receiver Brandon
Lloyd knew that his team couldn't be
stopped and wasn't as impressed as
his coach.
"We beat ourselves, Michigan did-
n't do anything," Lloyd said. "They
couldn't stop us on the first drive.
They couldn't stop us any drive, but
we made mistakes and that's why they
came out winning."
Lloyd is right. Michigan couldn't
stop the Illini passing game at the
beginning, but it didn't matter
because it forced Illinois turnovers,
both interceptions and fumbles. By
doing so the defense put the Wolver-
ines in a position to win, just as all
good defenses do.
"They were good, I'm not going to

say I wasn't impressed, but they are
just like everybody else," Lloyd said.
"They put their pads on like every-
body else."
The only common opponent that
Michigan shares with an extraordinary
defense is Western Michigan with Vir-
ginia Tech. In the end, it makes no dif-
ference that the Hokies shut out
Western Michigan last Saturday while
the Wolverines gave up 12 points to
the same team on Sept. 7.
There doesn't have be a specific
M.O. for a team. A defense cannot be
expected to force multiple turnovers
every game, but it can be expected to
keep the game close.
For instance, against Washington,
Michigan had trouble stopping the
Huskies' passing attack all game,
but the Wolverines held strong at the
end, setting up Philip Brabbs' game
winning kick. Similarly against
Utah, Michigan again came up with
a big fourth quarter stop when it was
needed most.
In Michigan's only loss this season,
the Wolverines did an admirable job
by forcing four Notre Dame turnovers
in a 25-23 loss. But the offense did
not capitalize the way it did against
Illinois. Instead of scoring touch-

d eno1/'ugh
downs and rewarding the defense, the
offense coughed up the ball itself. But
the Wolverines still had a chance to
win because of the defense.
The talent is there and the team
speed is good when compared to the
rest of the Big Ten. And while the Illi
ni were in agreement that the
turnovers were mistakes and accepted
responsibility for them, they were still
caused by Michigan's hard-hitting
defense. Lloyd pointed to this as to
why Michigan is more respected than
other defenses.
"They play fast. Everybody is play-
ing fast, everybody is flying around to
the ball. Everybody doesn't do that
every snap and they do it every snap,"
Lloyd said.
The Wolverines' defense is not the
best in the nation, but it transcends the
boxscore. Statistical comparisons to
other teams do not do it justice.
For the remainder of the season, the,
defense will continue to give Michi-
gan the opportunity to win the game
and - with the continued support of
the offense - the Big Ten title.
Jeff Phillips can be reached at
jpphilli@umich.edu.

Field hockey jumps all over Terriers

By Brian Schick
Daily Sports Writer
This season, the Michigan field
hockey team has had difficulty scoring
the first goal of the game and has need-
ed overtime to win on two occasions.
What a difference a week makes.
The second-ranked Wolverines wast-
ed little time in securing a lead against
Boston Uni-
versity (3-5) BOSTON UNIV. o
Saturday, and
never looked MICHIGAN 3
back on the
way to a 3-0 victory.
"I was really happy with our play,
especially in the first half," Michigan
coach Marcia Pankratz said. "We
played very crisp and we transferred
the ball well, which is something we've
worked on and we did it really well."

ing shot off the inbound pass, and Terri-
ers goalkeeper Susan Harrington
stacked the pads to stop the initial shot,
but Powers was in the right place at the
right time to put the ball into the open
net.
"Every time I'm in the circle I'm
looking to score, or at least get a tip on
the ball," said Powers, who now is tied
for second on the team with nine goals
this season. "For the last three years
I've been working on (getting
rebounds), and this year its starting to
click for me."
Midfielder Adrienne Hortillosa
might have scored the prettiest goal of
the season for the Wolverines in the
second half. The Terriers tried to hurry
an out-of-bounds restart and Hortillosa
stole the inbounds pass and began to
head up field. Two Boston defenders
converged on her, but she managed to

Hortillosa was an integral part of the
Wolverines' national championship run
last season, scoring the go-ahead goal
in the title game against Maryland. But
Saturday was her first tally of the sea-
son, ending a 10-game drought.
"For (countless) games, everyone has
been saying 'This is going to be your
game,' and there was a lot of pressure,"
Hortillosa said. "Today I took it off of
myself and had fun."
On Friday, the Wolverines got their
revenge against Ohio State (4-5, 0-1)
with a 4-1 victory. The Buckeyes were
the thorn in Michigan's side last season,
handing the Wolverines two losses,
including an especially tough 3-0 loss
at the Big Ten Tournament.
This time, Powers tallied two goals,
Johnson scored on a penalty corner
with another one of her booming shots,
and midfielder Jessica Rose put one in
to rmind ont the s'coring.

I<.m

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