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October 21, 2002 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-10-21

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Monday ,
October 21, 2002





omet in



Daily football writers
square off on the potential
of the Michigan offense

"Malone has the
tools to put a lot
of paints on the
Michigan score-
board ... he
needs to let his
athletes make
the plays that
they are capable
of making.

"This offense
plays within
itself, and I
don't expect
much more than
what it's been
doing because
it's not capable
of doing much



Is there anybody else pulling their
hair out each week watching this
"new" Michigan offense teeter
between perfect execution and absolute
If you're happy with what you're see-
ing because it has produced six victo-
ries, then you're just a contributing
factor to the problem. The fact is that
this offense, which is producing just
over 27 points per game, could be aver-
aging 37 without its weekly problem
(exclude the Illinois game).
And that problem certainly doesn't
reserve itself to one thing. It's something
new every week, although the one con-
stant has been first half play-calling. It
seems like every game the olnt
Michigan defense is stranded on
the field in the first 30 minutes
as the offense works itself into a
rhythm. The play-calling isn't
giving Michigan a chance to
score points and get going early in
Chris Perry continually finishes the
first half with fewer than 10 carries. Yet,
he is averaging at least four yards a
cary. That doesn't add up. Establishing
Perry in the first half is something that
must occur, because it will not only help
put points on the board, it will also keep
time of possession in Michigan's favor
- something that hasn't happened
New offensive coordinator Terry Mal-
one has run more passing plays than
rushing. But if you're going to pass,
pass. If you're going to take carries away
from Perry, who could be a legitimate
threat, you better make the passing calls
count. The plays that are called early in
the game are normally short passes,
ones in which John Navarre already has
a chosen receiver before he even takes
the snap (the quick three-yard out that is
rarely completed or the screen to B. J.
Askew, for instance). But Malone does-
n't have to call these plays anymore.
Navarre is not a machine any longer -
he is actually a strength of this offense,
week in and week out. He has shown
that he can make reads and hit his third
and fourth receiver, so why not let him
do that in the first half, on the first
If this play-calling trend continues
against Iowa, which is averaging 38
points per game, Michigan will find
itself in a hole early at home, and the

W en the 14th-ranked Iowa
Hawkeyes bring their three-
ring offensive circus to Ann
Arbor next Saturday, they will bring with
them a scoring average of 38 points per
game. Note to the Michigan defense: If
Iowa scores 38 points next Saturday,
Michigan will lose.
The pressure will be on Michigan's
defense - not its offense - to win that
game, and subsequent games, as the Big
Ten season grinds on.
I praise the offense for what is has
been able to do. An inexperienced
receiving corps has shown signs of
excellence, albeit inconsistently, and
quarterback John Navarre has shown
continued growth. The play
calling is typically Michigan -
it is conservative and function-
al. This offense plays within
ounter- itself, and I don't expect much
more than what it's been doing
because it's not capable of doing much
more. But that means that the Michigan
defense needs to step it up.
On Saturday against Purdue, the
Michigan offense wasn't bad, and it was-
n't good. All season long, the offense has
been unspectacular; serviceable. It is
averaging 27.7 points per game, good
enough for seventh in the conference,
and against Purdue put up 23. That out-
put is the result of an inability to kick
field goals from anywhere beyond the
10-yard line, an inability to move the ball
in short-yardage situations, a recurring
tendency of its receivers to drop balls
and a lack of offensive creativity.
Michigan features a running game that
seems to have a different problem every
week. If it isn't fumbles, then it's dropped
passes in the flat. If it isn't dropped pass-
es, then it's dysfunction on 3rd-and-short
and 4th-and-short (which is as much the
offensive line's responsibility as the
backs'). Running back Chris Perry and
fullback B.J. Askew are decent - the
Michigan running game is averaging
146.4 yards per game and has punched
the ball in 11 times - but their inconsis-
tency dnd above-mentioned errors make
them only so good. They help Michigan
to a point, but ultimately keep the offense
from achieving a consistency that would
allow for greater offensive output.
Inconsistency also plagues the receiv-
ing corps. There are days when everyone
is keeping tabs on Braylon Edwards or
Ronald Bellamy; there are days when
See HORN, Page 4B

BJ. Askew celebrates with Michigan fans after the Wolverines eked out a win against the lowly Purdue Boilermakers. And while some are satisfied that the Michigan offense will
be able to keep its head above water through the rest of the Big Ten season, others are concerned that its productivity and efficiency will have to improve.
Injury, controversy and trickery mark Blue victory

By Jeff Phillips
Daily Sports Editor
wouldn't be a 2002 Michigan foot-
ball game if it wasn't close and
without a controversial call or two
by the much-maligned Big Ten offi-
cials - and for both teams the 23-
21 Michigan victory left them with
a familiar feeling.
The Wolverines again narrowly
escaped a loss; Purdue will again be
looking at why it cannot get a win
despite having so much talent.
Winning close games "is the
mark of a championship team,"
quarterback John Navarre said. "We
know no matter what the score is,
what time it is, we are going to give
ourselves a chance to win."
With Michigan leading 23-14 and
two minutes left in the game, Pur-
due began its last drive at its own
45-yard line. The Boilermakers
marched down the field courtesy of
wide receiver Taylor Stubblefield,
who made up for two drops on third
down earlier in the fourth quarter
by catching three Brandon Kirsch

passes for 33 yards to put the ball at
the Michigan 11-yard line. But that
is where it got sticky for the offi-
On second down, Kirsch again hit
Stubblefield across the middle. He
then ran it along the sideline and
dove toward the endzone pylon,
knocking it over.
After some debate, the officials
ruled that Stubblefield was down
inbounds and before he reached the
"I most definitely think I was in
and even looking at the replay, I felt
I was in," Stubblefield said. "I was
surprised that they ruled I didn't get
in, and I was also surprised they
ruled that I didn't get out of
As it turned out, the difference
between having 30 seconds or eight
seconds on the clock did not matter
as Michigan recovered the ensuing
onsides kick.
But rather than point to losing
time, both teams can point to
missed opportunities and the inabil-
ity to move the football.
"We had the opportunities and

Michigan linebacker Zach Kaufman is brought down after making an interception
to stifle a Purdue drive late in the fourth quarter.

the field position, but we were
unable to take advantage of our
chances on too many occasions,"
Purdue coach Joe Tiller said.
Twice in the fourth quarter, Pur-
due had the ball inside the Michi-'
gan 40-yard line only to turn the

ball over on two interceptions by
Boilermakers' quarterback Kyle
Orton, one picked off by Markus
Curry at the 1-yard line, and the
other by linebacker Zach Kaufman
at the 14-yard line.

Newcomers lead icers to
series sweep of Merrimack

Cagers' freshmen class
debuts at open practice

By Dan Rosen
Daily Sports Writer
Freshman Andrew Ebbett was just trying to do
what his coaches had asked him to.
All week the Michigan coaching staff had
implored the Wolverines to get more shots on goal
- the team took just 19 against North Dakota last
Saturday. So when Ebbett saw that his team had
two players in front of Merrimack's net, he decided
to let one fly from the point.
The shot was not struck cleanly, but it somehow
found its way over the shoulder of Merrimack
goalie and team captain Joe Exter, into the top right
corner of the net.

With the tally, the first of Ebbett's college career,
Michigan took a 5-0 lead just 6:40 into the second
period. From there, the team cruised to a comfort-
able 5-1 victory on 36 shots and a series sweep of
Ebbett's goal was also the fourth of the night for
the Wolverines' five freshman position players. As
a class, the newcomers notched a point on all five
of the Michigan goals.
The game got out of hand early for the Warriors.
They gave up a goal just four minutes into the con-
test on a steal by Jeff Tambellini along the blue
line. The freshman passed the puck around Merri-
mack's lone defender to sophomore Dwight Helmi-
nen, who beat Exter for a 1-0 lead.

By Naweed Sikora
Daily Sports Editor
After one week of official Michigan
basketball practices, two things have
become apparent for coach Tommy
Amaker: The Wolverines' freshman
class has shown it is capable of con-
tributing earlier than expected, and
Michigan might have depth issues early
on at the center position.
At Friday afternoon's open prac-
tice, Amaker expressed his happiness
with how his new kids have per-

make a tremendous impact sooner than
we anticipated."
With the exception of senior captain
LaVell Blanchard, who Amaker has
already said will be on the floor to
begin the season, no other player has
secured a starting position as of yet.
Amaker said he's waiting to observe
how his players will fit together as the
season progresses before making a
final decision.
Freshman guards Daniel Horton and
Lester Abram continued to impress
coaches and returning players as they

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