October 28, 2003
Spartans wary of
Blue receiving trio
State constantly relies
on element of surprise
By Kyle O'Neill
Daily Sports Editor
EAST LANSING - In one fashion
or the other, this weekend's Michigan-
Michigan State game will come down
to which team can
through the air.
gan State will rely
heavily on the air
attack through its
spread offense, it will
probably be Michi-
move the ball
gan's passing game that will be the dif-
ference maker as a complement to its
And the Spartans know that this
game will come down to whether its
David of a secondary can compete
with the Goliath of a trio the Wolver-
ines have in Braylon Edwards, Jason
Avant and Steve Breaston.
"On paper the matchup is incompa-
rable," Michigan State defensive backs
coach Paul Haynes said. "They do have
a lot of talent."
Haynes also went on to say that this
Michigan receiving core was "by far"
the best he had seen this season.
"They've got a good stable of wide-
outs ... as good as you'll see anywhere
in the country," Michigan State head
coach John L. Smith said.
Given that this stable of horses is
able to break a big play at any moment,
it will be up to the four or five defen-
sive backs to contain Edwards, Avant
and Breaston, so that the other six or
seven defenders can focus on Chris
Perry and Michigan's running attack.
One aspect that the Spartans have
already begun preparing for in the sec-
ondary is the physical play of Edwards
and Avant - either in down-field
blocking or stiff-arming opponents to
gain extra yards.
Two plays that exemplify this were
Edwards' bull-rush of a Minnesota
defensive back for an extra four yards
and a first down (setting up Breaston's
throw-back to Navarre), and Avant's
stiff arm of Purdue's Jacques Reeves,
turning a one-yard gain into 34.
"They better be," said Haynes of his
cornerbacks' preparation for the game.
"I mean they have to be. With this
game, everything is thrown out the
window. Guys elevate their games."
Elevation is one thing Michigan
State is concerned with. Against Min-
nesota two weeks ago, the secondary,
led by cornerbacks Darren Barnett and
Roderick Maples, gave up 377 yards
in the air.
"They've made improvements," said
Haynes of Barnett and Maples. "Early
in the season we had communication
problems. We got that situated, and I
thought they were improving. Then
two weeks ago, I challenged them
again and they didn't play that well.
They took two steps back against Min-
nesota. The thing about those two guys
is that they don't have a lot of game
experience. I challenge them week by
week, you don't want to take those
The Spartans' secondary is going
against scout team members to simu-
late the play of Michigan's trio.
"Our scout team has done a great
Michigan punt returner and receiver Steve Breaston has combined with Braylon
Edwards and Jason Avant to form one of the best wideout trios in the country.
job," Smith said. "Whether it's dressing
(for an award), they fight for it. You
can't put a number on the equation of
how important that is. If your scout
team is good, your other guys have to
work to stay good."
But even though Michigan State's
scout team has stepped up to the chal-
lenge of running the right routes, there
are other things that can't be emulated.
"As far as the actual receiver, I don't
think we can get that," Haynes said.
MEANWHILE ... A FEW MILES SOUTH:
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr announced
that Big Ten Preseason Defensive Play-
er of the Year Marlin Jackson would be
back in action this weekend. He had
been bugged by a muscle pull in his
right leg against Minnesota. Jackson
didn't dress against Illinois and could
have played against Purdue, but it was-
Also, Carr said defensive end Alain
Kashama would be "ready to go." The
senior, who had been seeing signifi-
cant playing time early in the season,
will return after not dressing against
Hoops conference turns into pigskin roast
The Daily Janitor
f Michigan gets 24 points,
I they'll beat us. The only way the
Spartans are winning this game
is if they keep it a low-scoring
That was in 1995, and those were
the words of my father before we
watched the Michigan-Michigan
State game down in our basement.
For much of the game, I was dis-
gusted with the way Michigan was
playing. Brian Griese - pre-nation-
al championship form - was hard-
ly as good as injured starter Scott
Driesbach and was showing it in the
first half, as he and the Wolverines
fell behind 14-3 at the half. I was
more concerned with how Michigan
could manage any offensive touch-
down, let alone three to get the
fabled 24 points.
The Wolverines, behind the run-
ning of Tshimanga Biakabutuka,
clawed their way back into the game,
and after a Griese-to-Mercury Hayes
touchdown pass with just minutes
left, Michigan was up 25-21.
Then I did something I regret to
this day. I trusted a Spartan. I
believed my dad's claim that 24
points would be enough. The 13-
year-old me eyen fell for my
father's throwing of the white flag
in defeat after the Michigan touch-
"Well, you got your 24," he said
I should have known better.
Michigan State thrives on doing the
I expected them to lose when
Michigan hit 25 points.
Tony Banks had me and the rest
of the Wolverines right where he
wanted us. He would need just 2:14
seconds to drive 88 yards of the
field and connect with Nigea Carter
for the winning touchdown. Michi-
gan would muster nothing after that.
I would muster nothing after that
for the next few hours - aside
from the few tears I would always
have at that age from a Michigan
The Spartans had once again done
the unexpected, and as always, I was
caught off guard when I saw it.
But those who have graced the
green and white have always caught
me off guard: my father, my friends'
and those who compete in those
For instance, take my friend Cara
DeSanto. Her boyfriend came in
from Colorado, went into East
Lansing and proposed to her during
a football game. What game you
may ask? Not Notre Dame. Not
even Iowa. But Rutgers.
That's right, the punching bag of
the Big East and a few Division II
teams was the right scene for a life-
Now me, personally, if I were
ever to propose to a girl at a Michi-
gan game, it's Ohio State, the Rose
Bowl or not at all. Even in Min-
neapolis they have their proposal-
timing corrected. A guy named
Mark waited until the Michigan
game a couple weeks ago before he
proposed to his girl, Jamie. I guar-
antee he wasn't going to do that
during Louisiana-Monroe or Troy
But that's what makes Michigan
State so special. They take the norm
and completely reverse it.
Oh, despite the lack of a good
game against the Scarlet Knights,
Cara said, "Yes" and I wish her and
her fiancee the best - even if they
should have waited for nationally
televised exposure before popping
Then there is my friend Charlie
Doriean. He's easily the smartest
person my age that I know.
He was, and still is, almost a lock
for any Ivy-league school that he
Instead, he went to East Lansing.
Not because it was a step down,
but because he had won The Alumni
Distinguished Scholarship, thanks
in part to a test featuring knowledge
on anything, including the architec-
ture of Egyptian buildings from
hundreds of years ago.
That's not even the unexpected
part, though. He's a pro-wrestling
fan. The same guy who will talk to
me about topics that are over my
head, will chat with the same fire
about how Vince McMahon is using
Stone Cold Steve Austin poorly in
storylines. I guarantee the Alumni
Distinguished Scholarship Test
asked nothing about that.
Spartans just know how to throw
you for loops better than anyone
else in the business.
Take last season. Michigan State
had so much talent and expectations
of a Big Ten title. Then the Spartans
fell apart in dramatic fashion. Head
coach Bobby Williams was fired
after the Michigan loss and two of
the team's captains were removed
from the team - one permanently.
Enter John L. Smith. He was
expected to have a rebuilding year.
He was expected to be mediocre at
best. He was expected to have a
mess of a situation that would be
impossible to clean up in one year.
Well, I don't think I need to go
into what has happened since then.
The Spartans, with the same talent
from last year (sans Charles
Rogers), have begun to look like the
Big Ten Champions they were sup-
posed to be.
I'll admit it, I've been surprised
by the Spartans.
I should know better by now.
- Kyle O'Neill would like to tell all
Michigan State fans that the Spartans
can expect to win should they score
24 points against Michigan.He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer
CHICAGO - In the town that created the "Super
Bowl Shuffle" the one topic everyone wanted to talk
about was the "Conference Shuffle." Big Ten commis-
sioner Jim Delany was doused Sunday with questions,
as the future of almost every football conference in the
country seems to be in doubt.
However, there was one thing that made this
media frenzy different: This was supposed to be
"How'd we get into football, I thought we were
going to do all basketball," Delany said after his dis-
cussions with the media as Big Ten media day trans-
formed into a forum on the future of college football.
Delany is known as one of the most powerful peo-
ple in college football. But in a time when new oppor-
tunities are arising, Delany doesn't really want any.
When asked about possible expansion, including the
mention of Notre Dame, or a conference title game,
the commissioner wasn't very excited.
"Unless we can add another Penn State, we proba-
bly are where we are," Delany said.
When the league's basketball and football coaches
and athletic directors met last spring, they came to the
conclusion that they wanted to play each other more,
not less, and adding a 12th team would contradict that.
As for Notre Dame joining the conference, Delany
said, "I have no idea." He restated that the conference
talked with Notre Dame in 1999 and that was the last
conversation they had on the matter.
According to Delany, the Big Ten is under zero
pressure to add a conference title game. While there
are obvious advantages to having a title game, Delany
stressed many of the negatives. He cited the additional
hurdle the game creates to the Bowl Championship
Series title game, the effect the losing team receives
on its bowl prospects and the season-ending rivalries
that would be undermined by the game's presence.
Delany also said the recent addition of multiple con-
ference title games makes the games less meaningful
in terms of television revenue.
"While there's money there and some marketing
and promotional value, it's not (as) appealing (to) us
as it us to others," Delany said.
Delany is unsure of the impact the recent exodus
of Big East teams to the Atlantic Coast Conference
"I'm not sure that at the end of the day what comes
out is an improvement," Delany said.
Delany said that while he felt people understood the
addition of Miami, Florida State and Penn State from
independent status and the merger of the Southwest-
ern Conference and the Big VIII, he does not feel the
same about the ensuing movement in the ACC, Big
East, Conference USA and WAC.
"Other people can disagree, and maybe 10 years
from now we'll look at it and have a different view,"
Delany said. "But I see a lot of dislocation, a lot of
consternation and a media public relation that is not a
Delany did say, though, that this type of movement
has been going on for 20 years without the commer-
cialism involved. He discussed the move Arizona and
Arizona State made from the WAC to the then-Pac-8 in
1978 and how that cost the WAC its Fiesta Bowl bid.
Delany also commented on the controversy over
mid-major conference access to the BCS, which he
said wasn't an issue until the mid-majors started to
receive some access
"No one had a problem with Northern Illinois not
going to the Rose Bowl from 1947 until about two
years ago," Delany said. "No one ever received
money from the Rose Bowl, and now it's an issue.
Everybody's saying that there's not additional
access, but anyone's who ranked number one in
both polls will go."
Delany also said he had no idea that the BCS would
grow into the monster it has become. He said the sole
idea of the BCS was to create a clear No. 1 vs. No. 2
title game each year. Decisions over the future of the
system, he said, will continue over the-next several
months. Delany, in this basketball-turned-football
press conference, did say one thing:
"The only thing the BCS is not responsible for is
'Sponges' soaking up Burnett's intense style
By Ellen McGawrity
Daily Sports Writer
CHICAGO - Three years ago,
Michigan welcomed new men's basket-
ball coach Tommy Amaker to Crisler
Arena. This season, the athletic depart-
ment has proven it can get from point A
- A as in Amaker - to point B - B
as in Burnett - quickly and smoothly.
Cheryl Burnett is the new face on the
sideline, taking over as the new
women's basketball coach after Sue
Guevara's resignation last season. Bur-
nett, the former Southwest Missouri
State head coach, began practices with
her team at the beginning of October.
Being the new girl in town isn't easy,
but Burnett seems to be making the
transition well. Not surprisingly, Amak-
er has been one of her main sources of
information and direction while she has
found her footing in Ann Arbor.
"Our relationship so far - I'd like to
think it's been great," Amaker said. "I
think she's going to add a tremendous
amount to our women's basketball pro-
gram, the athletic department and our
university. I think she's taken this place
Burnett said she is in his office two
to three times a day conferring on prac-
tice times, speaking engagements and
recruiting, among other things.
"It's wonderful," Burnett said. "I feel
so good about (the relationship) because
Barry Hinson was the men's coach at
Southwest Missouri State. We had such
a great relationship, and I was hoping it
would be the same way (here)."
In the past, Burnett has often learned.
from her relationship with other men's
coaches such as Dean Smith, former
coach of North Carolina, and UNLV's
Charlie Spoonhauer, who coached at.
Southwest Missouri State with her early
in her career. During her time off
between coaching at Southwest Mis-
souri State and Michigan, Burnett also
spent a lot of time learning from former
Kansas and current North Carolina
coach Roy Williams.
Both Amaker and Burnett have also
made a habit of attending each other's
practices - something the women's
players said did not happen in the past.
Even the men's players have had the
chance to meet Burnett.
"It seems like she's straight forward,
and she works the players a lot harder,"
forward Bernard Robinson said. "She's
more involved with the program. She's
tried to say hello to us. I definitely plan
to go see how she works. I could proba-
bly learn a few things from her, too."
Burnett's own players have also been
receptive to their new coach. After a
less than pretty season last year - the
team went 3-13 Big Ten, 13-16 overall
- Burnett's tough and up-tempo
coaching style has been welcomed by
"I don't want to compare her to last
year's coach, but she's definitely really
intense," senior center Jennifer Smith
said. "She's highly motivating and
pushes us as far as we can go through-
out the entire practice. I think the team
has been very responsive to her style."
Senior forward Stephanie Gandy also
likes that her new coach is focused
more on the team developing as a
whole instead of individually.
"She pushes us as a group," Gandy
said. "She's very team oriented"
Burnett has been overwhelmed by
the team's openness to her and her style.
"The effort, the intensity, the willing-
ness to learn and to work hard -
they're just like sponges," Burnett said.
By Gennaro Filice
Daily Sports Writer
Three weeks ago, the Michigan
hockey team kicked off CCHA play in
shocking fashion: Miami (Ohio) pum-
meled the Wolverines in Goggin Ice
Arena, 8-3. The win snapped a 14-
game Miami losing streak in the series
that stretched back to the Clinton
administration, pre-Starr Report (Jan.
24, 1998 to be exact).
Though many deficiencies in
Michigan's play stood out that night,
the most glaring statistic was the
Wolverines' penalty kill - or lack
thereof. The RedHawks completed an
astounding four of five powerplay
opportunities. Ranked second in the
NCAA last year in penalty killing
with a success rate of 89.2 percent
(189-of-212), Michigan obviously
struggled to replace some key special
last year like (juniors) Dwight Helmi-
nen and Eric Nystrom, who are proba-
bly two of the premier penalty killers
in college hockey," Pearson said. "But,
in the time being, we've used some
new guys like Mike Brown - (who
has) done a nice job as a freshman,
and we're slowly getting him involved
- and some other guys who haven't
killed a lot of penalties in the past like
(sophomores) Andrew Ebbett and
Brandon Kaleniecki and (junior)
Michael Woodford, (who) all have
done a nice job for us."
The Wolverines have flourished in
keeping opponents' opportunities to a
minimum, especially last weekend
when Northern Michigan could muster
just nine shots and no goals on eight
"We really did a good job of pres-
suring them in their own zone on the
breakout, and I think that really helped
so they didn't spend a lot of time in
Penalty kill coming
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