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September 16, 2003 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-16

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4

Tuesday
September i6, 2003
www.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

PORTS

8

0

Bulking up makes
Stevens big threat

Forget Perry and Navarre,

for Heisman

By Courtney Lewis
Daily Sports Editor
At 6-foot-3 and 257 pounds, it's not
surprising that Michigan defensive end
Larry Stevens has lit-
tle trouble wrapping
up quarterbacks and,
slamming them to the
turf. What's impres-
sive is that the senior
lineman was once
trying to do the same job as a less-than-
hulkish freshman.
Stevens played safety in high school
and was recruited at that position by
several Pac-10 schools. He came to
Michigan about 30 pounds lighter than
he is now and having "no idea" that he
would end up moving from the second-
ary to the defensive line.
"For a guy to come into this pro-
gram and play as a defensive lineman
at 225 pounds, probably, says a lot
about his toughness and his quickness
and his athletic ability because he was
overmatched," coach Lloyd Carr said.
Stevens quickly learned that he

would need a new physique to go
along with his new position.
"I was underweight, and I didn't
have much to bring to the table (as a
freshman)," Stevens said. "At the
beginning, I wasn't fit to do the job,
but now I am. My attitude was always
about being aggressive and playing
hard, but physically it was challenging
at the start being underweight."
Since then, Stevens has bulked up
and established himself as a serious
threat to quarterbacks and an integral
part of Michigan's imposing defense.
Stevens raced in untouched and threw
down Notre Dame quarterback Carlyle
Holiday for a 10-yard loss in the first
quarter last Saturday, giving him a total
of three sacks for 35 yards lost on the
season. He has a total of seven tackles
in three games.
Besides a physical presence, the
loquacious lineman brings emotion
and plenty of energy to the Wolver-
ines' defense. Stevens said he wants to
be a playmaker, but within the team
strategy.
"I want to make the plays. The guys

BRETT MOUNTAIN/Daily
Michigan safety-turned-defensive end Larry Stevens gets props from his teammates.

next to me want to make the plays. And
we all realize that if we don't make the
plays, we're leaving our secondary out
to dry," Stevens said.
Go WEST, YOUNG MEN: Michigan heads
to the West Coast this weekend, where it
hasn't had much success as of late. In
their last two trips, in 2001 and 2000, the
Wolverines lost nonconference games to
Washington and UCLA respectively.
But Carr said he doesn't think there
is anything particular about the playing
style of Pac-10 teams that gives Michi-

gan trouble.
"I think the Big Ten has changed a
lot in recent years with a lot more wide-
open offenses, and I think we followed
the Pac-10 in that area, but I don't know
that I would say that there's a different
philosophy by conference," Carr said.
"I think that's an individual thing."
PERSONNEL UPDATE: Backup safeties
Willis Barringer, who did not play Sat-
urday for unspecified reasons, and
Jacob Stewart, who pulled a muscle, are
questionable for the Oregon game.

NAWEED SIKORA
Blowin' Smoke
it's time to play (Insert Michigan
player here) for Heisman. In just
three weeks time, two Michigan
players have already been mentioned as
top Heisman Trophy contenders.
So here's how the game works. John
Navarre and Chris Perry are not accept-
able answers, but basically anyone else
will work, as long as you can justify it.
Let's start with Pierre Rembert. The
third-string running back gets limited
playing time toward the ends of games,
but he's a touchdown machine. He's
already run for three scores on just 12
carries, giving him the best carry-to-
touchdown ratio in the nation. Eat your
heart out, Perry (ratio of more than
11). Strike the pose, Pierre. Strike the
pose.
What about Andy Mignery? He
doesn't have any catches yet this sea-
son, but anybody who makes a transi-
tion from quarterback to tight end
should be up for the Heisman.
The receiving corps also may have
some Heisman hopefuls. While the
passing game has struggled a bit, the
play of Jason Avant and Carl Tabb
against Notre Dame was encouraging.
Both had success on the play action,
and it seems as though Navarre is look-
ing to get the ball to them, as well as his
main target Braylon Edwards.
And special teams has drastically
improved from last season and has been
a big part of Michigan's success so far.
Steve Breaston has brought excitement
to the Big House. Although he hasn't
quite taken it to the house yet, he came
close against Notre Dame and is on the
verge of doing it any game now. He.
should be up for the Heisman this year.
Forget that whole "before he graduates"
idea.
Now although they haven't been test-
ed, corners Jeremy LeSueur and Markus
Curry should be up for the Heisman.

With Marlin Jackson now playing safety,
these two have really begun to bear down
and improve their man-to-man coverage.
Curry even came away with an acrobatic
interception against the Irish.
Moving on, we can't overlook the
play of Michigan's linebackers. Pierre
Woods, Carl Diggs and Lawrence Reid
should all be Heisman candidates.
Every time you look up, one of them is
around the ball -they've been relent-
less in their pursuits. Houston only had
74 yards on the ground, and Notre
Dame could only manage 49. Much of
that is due to the linebackers.
The success of Navarre and Perry is
largely due to the players blocking for
them - who should all be up for the
Heisman. The offensive line has annihi-
lated whoever comes in its way, so Tony
Pape, David Baas, Dave Pearson, Adam
Stenavich and Matt Lentz for Heisman.
"The Casanova line" has overpowered
opponents with not only its size and
strength, but also its superior technique
and ability to help each other out.
Since Jackson and Ernest Shazor
made their return against Houston, the
defense has been as sharp and fast as
ever. Just ask Houston wide receiver
Vincent Marshall, who was laid out by
these two guys and fumbled the ball in
the first quarter of the game. I bet Mar-
shall thinks one of them should take
home the trophy.
The point is, it's still early in the sea-
son, and everyone is playing up to
potential right now. If this is to be the
dream season that every Michigan foot-
ball player wants, they have to continue
playing at this high level.
Although there is no chance for most
of these players to win the Heisman -
or even be considered a candidate for
that matter - they do have a chance to
do something special as a unit.
And bringing that championship tro-
phy back to Ann Arbor probably mat-
ters more to each one than bringing
home the Heisman.
Naweed Sikora is putting himselfup for
the Heisman, too, after two solid weeks of
football coverage. He can be reached at
nsikora@umich.edu.

Big Ten teams tune up for conference slate

By Sean Friedland
and Harold Fogel
For the Daily

While it may seem contrary to recent news cover-
age, other teams still exist in the Big Ten. With con-
ference play right around the corner, contenders look
for a burst of momentum before
the race for the Big Ten title
begins. X.1V3 X

BOWLING GREEN (3-0) AT NO. 4
OHIO STATE (3-0) - 12:10 P.M.:
The Horseshoe will be rocking as
the Ohio State Buckeyes, looking

BiG

jamming to Bob Marley, Ohio State's running game
has been pathetic. In last week's thrilling triple-over-
time win over N.C. State, the Buckeyes' running backs
combined for eight lousy yards on seventeen carries. It
is this week that the running game, or lack thereof, will
catch up to them. Senior Craig Krenzel will not be able
to carry the team past the potent Bowling Green
offense, led by stud quarterback Josh Harris. Look for
the Buckeyes to plummet in the national rankings.
Bowling Green 31, Ohio State 24
MICHIGAN STATE (2-1) AT NOTRE DAME (1-1) -
2:30 P.M., NBC: That team from East Lansing gets
to try to match the Wolverines' as they head to South
Bend to take on the wounded Fighting Irish of Notre
Dame. Rehabilitated Michigan State quarterback Jeff
Smoker's comeback went up in smoke last Saturday,
as the Spartans lost Smoker to a right big toe injury
in a 20-19 home loss to an unproven Louisiana Tech
program. You don't need to be smoking anything to

predict this one. Notre Dame should win this barn-
burner in a route, as the Irish look to make a big
comeback statement.
Notre Dame 31, Michigan State 10
NORTH CAROLINA (0-2) AT WISCONSIN (2-1) -
NOON: Another big name in the Big Ten went down
this past Saturday when Wisconsin star running back
Anthony Davis sprained his left ankle early in the
first quarter against UNLV Davis scampered for just
11 yards on two carries as the Badgers were brutally
embarrassed in a 23-5 home loss to the unranked
Runnin' Rebels. Regardless of Davis's playing status,
the Badgers will rebound this weekend in Madison
against the lowly North Carolina Tar Heels, who just
can't wait for the Miami Hurricanes to enter the ACC
next year. Wisconsin better not find a way to lose this
cakewalk, or else its season can turn into a mess,
much like a spoiled slice of cheese.
Wisconsin 44, North Carolina 10

to extend their 17-game winning streak, host the red-
hot Bowling Green Falcons. If the first three games
have shown anything for the Buckeyes, it is that they
miss the presence of Maurice Clarett dearly. While the
trouble-plagued Clarett is busy testing every rule and

I

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