The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - September 22, 2003 - 5B
X's AND (kv(e) 0'S
Michigan Daily Sports Editor Kyle O'Neill is not a collegiate athlete, nor is
he a collegiate coach. But he was a starting wide receiver for his winless
team at Garber High School, was third in Bay County in receptions his sen-
ior year and claims to know something about the game of football. So each
game, we'll let him and his 5-foot-10, 158-pound frame break down why
Michigan either succeeded or failed.
3 Observations Key play: Second quarter, 13:07; 2nd-and-7
EDITOR'S NOTE: On page
5B of SportsMonday, the foot-
ball writers will answer your
questions about anything, and
we mean anything. E-mail us
with questions or just to vent at:
game last year
- Lloyd's proud
You'll be a fine
on 3rd down
on cell phones
1. You can't feel nothing but sorry for
fullback Brian Thompson. Despite not
seeing much game time, Thompson
had a game that he's not going to want
to watch on game film. After being one
of a few Wolverines that missed Ore-
gon's Steven Moore on his punt return,
Thompson had a big special teams
mishap when he was knocked back by
the Ducks' J.D. Nelson a good two
yards on Nelson's punt block to win
the game. Thompson, serving as Fin-
leys personal protector, nearly
redeemed himself by getting Nelson to
fumble the ball into the endzone. It's
just a shame that someone who gets
beat up all game blocking for others in
a reduced role should have have one
or two mistakes be so costly.
2. The defense should be quite ticked
off with the way this game played out.
It held Oregon to two offensive touch-
downs and a field goal - something to
brag about, given that the Ducks had
been averaging more than 40 points
a game. The fact that the offense
could not eat up any of the clock in
the first quarter (Oregon held the ball
for all but 56 seconds of the first quar-
ter), is something that should not be
sitting well with Carl Diggs and the
rest of the defense that had eight
tackles for loss during practice this
3. Yes, Braylon Edwards dropped a
few balls that he shouldn't have on
Saturday. But guess what? The kid
also made some catches that he had
no business making, including ripping
the ball from Oregon defensive back
Steven Moore's hands to give Michi-
gan one first down on its final drive.
Aso, Edwards may not have any ribs
by the end of this season if John
Navarre keeps throwing him high balls
the Way he does. Edwards does make
those catches consistently, so it's eas-
ier to throw it high.
MINISEE X -4 X ( FIRST DOWN AT
TBPRYL X 30 YARD LINE
TUCKER LONG VALENZUELA SIA OLHANSKY MARTIN
X X X
"00 f23 YARD LINE
*/TB PERRY LT STENAVICH
.-FB DUDLEY LG BAAS
-'WR EnwARDS C PEARSON
THIN LINE: PRE-SNAP RTE MIGNERY RG LENTz
THICK LINE: AFTER SNAP LTE MAsSAQUoi RT PAPE
Explanation: Say what you want about Michigan's inept special teams, but it was the Wolverines' inability
to control the clock through the running game that cost them the game. It didn't help that Michigan got into
a big hole in a hurry - forcing more passing downs than usual - but it did abandon the run quite early
and down just 15. Eleven rushing attempts is hardly Michigan football, and neither was what the guards
and tackles did against Oregon's front seven. Michigan's pulling linemen were barely able to get to their
holes in time, let alone make a hole for running back Chris Perry. This comes as a surprise for an offensive
line that was as just as fast as it had been physical.
On this particular play, Michigan ran with a pulling guard - a simple play, but one that Michigan has run
well all season. As left guard David Baas pulled through the hole between right tackle Tony Pape and right
tight end Andy Mignery, he hit Oregon defensive end Igor Olshansky out of the play. Mignery blocked out
outside linebacker David Martin and fullback Kevin Dudley took middle linebacker Jerry Matson head on,
setting up what seemed like another successful run. But the play was broken up by defensive tackle
Junior Siavii who fought through a Pape and Matt Lentz double team to drop Chris Perry for a one-yard
gain. Was it the most impressive play of the day? No. But it did set a tone for the game, convincing Michi-
gan it could not run the ball.
Second down: The other key to Oregon's successes was its ability to switch its fullback with tight end right
before the snap. Whether Michigan was caught off guard or just in the wrong defense, Oregon let its full-
back go on the line for strictly blocking purposes as the tight end would come from the other side of the
line - switching the line strength. The tight end, now in the fullback position, became not only a blocking
threat, but also a key receiver out of the backfield. Running just simple dump passes into the flats, Oregon
was able to take advantage of Michigan's lack of coverage in that area and turn three-yard passes into 20-
yard gains. Tight ends Nate LiaBraaten and Tim Day combined for five catches for 89 yards - three for
first downs and 20-or-more yard gains.
Deafening begins to describe
what Autzen Stadium sounds
like. But even then, we're not
doing it justice. The alumni? Cra-
zier than the students. The stu-
dents? Puts anything the Big
Ten has to offer to shame. We're
not saying this just to say it.
They're that good. The students
sprint into the stadium - yes,
sprint - to get the best seats
possible when the gates open
an hour and a half before the
game. "Let's go Ducks!" chants
broke out two minutes after that
by the hundreds already stand-
ing. Even after Oregon got up to
a 31-21 lead, the place just got
louder as all remained standing.
Michigan fans there kept it
respectful, as they remained
throughout. Oh yeah, one more
thing about the Ducks'fans:
They don't need gimmicks. No
"Duck-out," no first down
mock/chop, no keys and no
wave. Just insane enthusiasm to
be watching football on Satur-
Why the fake punt? And
to Scott McClintock of
- Bryan Bielawski,
Well, the fake punt was
a calculated risk, but
one that needed to be
taken. The defense had
been on the field for 15
of the first 20 minutes
and needed a rest. The
only way to get the
defense a rest was to
keep the offense on the
field. Why the fake punt
instead of just keeping
the offense out there .
It's a gut-feeling call.
Much like when Oregon
went for the fake field
goal at the beginning of
the fourth quarter, it is a
move that can make or
break a game. Unfortu-
nately it didn't work out
- and not because
they weren't ready for it.
McClintock just mishan-
dled the snap, some-
thing that is going to
happen with a defen-
sive player not accus-
tomed to handling
snaps repeatedly. It was
a risk, one that could
have refreshed Michi-
gan's defense. Instead,
i failed, and allowed an
offense to attack on
three plays for 49 yards
for the 14-6 lead.
Predictions against the
spread for 9/20/03
No. 3 Michigan (-8) at No. 22 OREGON
North Carolina at WIScoNSIN (-14.5)
Arizona at No. 25 PURDUE (-25.5)
Northwestern at DUKE (-3)
Bowling Green at No. 5 OHIo STATE (-14)
Michigan State at NOTRE DAME (-11.5)
No. 16 Arizona State at No. 1.8 lowA (-8)
Kentucky (-8.5) at INDIANA
Calfornia at ILwwos (-4)
Kent State at PENN STATE (-24.5)
West Virgnia at MARYLAND (-9)
No. 12 Tennessee at No. 17 FLORIDA (-3.5)
No. 7 Georgia at No.11L0USwANASTmE (-1)
Colorado at No. 10 FLORIDA STATE (-19)
Clemson at GEORGIA TECH (-4.5)
Marshall at No. 6 KANSAS STATE (-18)
UCLA at No.1 Ow.AHomA (-19)
Texas Tech at NORTH CAROLINA STATE (-6)
Last week's record (best bets)
Total season record (best bets)
Barry from "Beiner's Wieners"
- outside 'M' Book and Supply
Oregon defeats Barry
and football writers
As if beating Michigan wasn't
enough, Oregon decided to crush
the hopes and dreams of the fab five
of staff picks as well - including
destroying three best bets as well.
One best bet streak did remain, as
Kyle O'Neill kept his faith in his moth-
er's alma mater and the school
where Scott Paluch coaches hockey.
O'Neill was screwed once more by
the Spartansrenewing his fuming
hatred for the Green and White.
Producing more offense than all of
Notre Dame was Courtney Lewis,
who had a week-high 11 wins to
tie her with O'Neill for the overall
Falling out of first place thanks to the
MAC, most namely Marshall, was J.
Brady McCollough, who watched his
preseason champion Kansas State
fall to the Thundering Herd.
The most surprising thing about the
weekend had to have been Naweed
Sikora's 8-10 record, not because he
didn't do extremely well or poor, but
because his streak of a .500 winning
percentage ended at two weeks. So
much for that No. 8 spot in the NHL
After a 9-9 week, it was a step back
for Ann Arbor's celebrities as Barry
from Beiner's Wieners made picks
that were not the quality of his prod-
uct that he sells everyday outside M'
Book and Supply.
Continued from Page 1B
and he's a leader worth fighting for. If
you're anything like me, you wanted
Navarre to win that game more than any
But Navarre is becoming a tragic
character in this cruel, repetitive plotline.
No matter how hard he tries and how
well he plays, it's never good enough.
What about Michigan's Rubbermaid
defense? Always bends like underage
drinking laws, but never breaks. Out of
the Ducks' 31 points, 17 of them came
on offense. The Ducks held the ball for
24 plays before the Wolverines touched
the ball on offense, and when they did
get the ball, Oregon had a "0" on the
scoreboard. Amazing. The Oregon
offense was efficient for the entire game,
but the Michigan 'D' gave our protago-
nist and his supporting cast a chance.
Crazy things happen when the
Wolverines pack up their bags and head
out West. Crazy things, mostly, on spe-
cial teams. Aye, there's the rub. The
Wolverines' special teams have haunted
them in each production of "West Toast."
At UCLA in 2000, kicker Hayden
Epstein missed two chip-shot field
goals and an extra point, and No. 3
Michigan fell 23-20. At Washington in
2001, the Wolverines, up 12-6, had a
field goal attempt blocked and returned
to the house to give the Huskies a 13-12
lead. Instead of going ahead 15-6 and
riding a pumped-up defense to victory,
Michigan lost 23-18.
Saturday, the Wolverines gave up a
punt return and a blocked punt for a
touchdown, giving the Ducks 14 points
in the kicking game.
The weird thing about the way this
drama unfolds each time is that it never
feels like the antagonist is Michigan's
opponent. Michigan's antagonist is
itself, and when it comes to the Wild
West, it's the special teams.
Same plot, same characters.
Oh, but what of the script. The heavens
gave this one a double-shot of creativity
and a triple-shot ofAbsolut cruelty.
As the drama played out after inter-
mission, a song from my past began to
play over and over again in my head:
"Quit Playing Games With My Heart."
When Oregon took a 24-6 lead in
the third quarter and Michigan didn't
score on its next two possessions, I'd
given up on our protagonist. Ono 98-
yard drive, two touchdowns and a two-
point conversion later, I was a believer
This went on and on throughout the
final act. Jump off. Jump on. And when
the heavens finally smiled on Michigan,
down 31-27, with a recovered onside
kick at its own 44-yard line with 2:12 to
play (these things NEVER happen to
the Wolverines), I believed there was no
way this drama could end up yet anoth-
er Wolverine tragedy.
Quit playing games.
When receiver Braylon Edwards, who
played the character of a man possessed
in the final act, couldn't catch a high
throw from Navarre on 4th-and-7 from
the Oregon 41-yard line, it was done.
Same plot, same characters, slightly-
If only this were a musical perform-
ance; the Wolverines would have the
option of an encore.
Something tells me our hearts could-
n't take it.
J. Brady McCollough would like to thank
Mrs. Skulicz, his high school English
teacher He can be reached at
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