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September 02, 2003 - Image 56

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-02

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MEMM"

2E - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2003

p14

Football season ends with Outback victory

By David Horn
Daily Sports Editor
TAMPA, Fla. - Michigan began 2002 as the victims of a central Florida
slaughter, courtesy of Tennessee in the Florida Citrus Bowl. Fortunately for
the Wolverines, the first day of 2003 began very differently. Michigan (6-2
Big Ten, 10-3 overall) survived six lead changes and a late Florida charge to
defeat the Gators, 38-30, before a sold-out crowd of 65,101 at Raymond
James Stadium.
Trailing by eight with just over two minutes remaining in the game, Florida
junior quarterback Rex Grossman engineered a drive from his team's own 27-
yard line. Grossman, who was likely playing in his final game for the Gators,
completed two passes for 18 yards and drew a 15-yard personal foul on a late hit
from Michigan senior linebacker Victor Hobson. But two plays after jeopardizing
his defense's chances at shutting down the suddenly efficient Florida offense,
Hobson made amends.
On ist-and-10 from the Michigan 27-yard line, the Gators (6-2 SEC, 8-
5) called for a reverse option pass to wideout (and former high school
quarterback) Vernell Brown. Brown rolled out to the left and was pursued
by defensive end Alain Kashama, then forced a desperate, wobbly pass
toward the sideline. Hobson stepped in front of Grossman (the intended
receiver) and took the ball 42 yards in the other direction to ensure victory
for the Wolverines.
"They'd been getting man coverage all that series, and Rex was going to be
open," Florida first-year coach Ron Zook said. "When you're in man coverage

you don't account for the quarterback, and at that point in time I thought it was a
good opportunity."
Hobson was one of several Michigan seniors who made waves in his final
game for the Maize and Blue. In particular, captain Bennie Joppru set the team's
season-receptions record for a tight end on the strength of eight catches for 80
yards. That brought his season total to 53, surpassing a 33-year old record previ-
ously held by Jim Mandich.
But truly it was a couple of juniors who led the Wolverines. Tailback Chris
Perry set an Outback Bowl record with four touchdowns; the accomplishment
is also a Michigan bowl record. He finished the game with 85 yards rushing on
28 carries, as well as 108 yards receiving. Quarterback John Navarre threw for
a career-best 319 yards, going a very efficient 21-for-36 with a touchdown and
no interceptions.
Despite Navarre's career performance, the Michigan offense stumbled out of the
gate and took some time to find its rhythm; the unit's only score until late in the
second quarter came as a result of a Florida miscue.
Deep in his own territory, Grossman found himself scrambling after a high snap.
Kashama beat him to the ball, recovered it inside the five-yard line, and put his
offense in position to grant Perry his first touchdown.
After two Florida touchdowns, Zook made the decision to attempt the two-
point conversion try. Its failure seemed to swing the momentum back to the
Wolverines, who utilized Perry via a number of screen passes to get him, Navarre
and the 10-win Wolverines back on track.
This is the 23rd 10-win season in Michigan's football history and finished the
2002-2003 season ranked number nine nationally.

TONY DING/Daily
Michigan seniors John Navarre (16) and Dave Pearson (57), stretch during the final
spring practice of the year Saturday, April 12 at Schembechier field.
'M'redy orcompetition?

By Courtney Lewis
Daily Sports Editor

Michigan Stadium underwent some
major changes during the offseason -
a new lockerroom and a new field -
but the team that plays there will look
pretty familiar.
The first Michigan squad to play on
an artificial surface in the Big House
since 1990 (FieldTurf was laid early
this summer) returns 15 starters from
last year's 10-3 Outback Bowl team,
including the statistical leaders in pass-
ing, rushing and receptions. And that
depth and experience will lead to high
expectations for this season.
ESPN.com ranked Michigan at No. 5
in the nation after the spring practice
season, two spots behind defending
champion Ohio State.
Tailback Chris Perry, who led the
Wolverines with 1,110 rushing yards in
2002, anchors Michigan's ground
attack and has impressed head coach
Lloyd Carr.
"I expect Chris Perry to have an
outstanding season," Carr said. "Great
backs can do everything, and Perry
has turned into a very good pass pro-
tector, can catch the football and can
run with power."
Fifth-year senior John Navarre, the
third-year starter at quarterback, will
be throwing to a deep receiving corps
that includes his favorite target last
season, Braylon Edwards. Edwards
racked up more than 1,000 yards in the
air in his sophomore campaign.
The Wolverines also return the core
of their offensive line, and Carr was
excited about that area.
"I can tell you this: We are going
to have a line - a Michigan line,"
Carr said.
Michigan's veterans are comple-
mented by a group of very talented
newcomers. Outside linebacker
LaMarr Woodley was recruited hard by
Michigan State, but the firing of for-
mer Spartans coach Bobby Williams
helped steer the Saginaw native to Ann
Arbor. Analyst Tom Lemming ranked
Woodley the second-best OLB recruit
in the country
High on Lemming's list was also
safety Prescott Burgess out of Warren,
Ohio. And Clayton Richard may spark
a quarterback controversy - but not
this year. The 6-foot-5 lefthander, who
was also a baseball standout in high
school, is known for his deepball and
is expected to compete with redshirt-
freshman Matt Gutierrez for the job as

DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
Michigan Wolverine B.J. Askew catches a pass from John Navarre under pressure from Gators Mike Nattiel and Keiwan Ratliff at the Outback Bowl on January 1.

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Navarre's successor.
But for now, Navarre is running the
show and after warmups against Cen-
tral Michigan and Houston, he and the
Wolverines will face Notre Dame Sept.
13 in their first real test. Michigan
opens a conference schedule that is
devoid of Penn State and Wisconsin
when it hosts Indiana, Sept. 27.
Here are some lingering questions
about the 2003 Wolverines:
Can Navarre finally silence the
critics? The oft-maligned signal
caller showed much improvement
last year, throwing 21 touchdowns
and just seven interceptions while
moving into second place on Michi-
gan's all-time yardage and touch-
down lists.
"John, as a fifth-year senior, has
endured a lot of struggles and things
and has come out on top," receiver
Edwards said. "He is stronger now.
What doesn't kill you makes you
stronger and that is definitely the case
with John Navarre."
Navarre is a more confident
quarterback now, but he'll need to
beat Ohio State in order win over
the fans.
Will Michigan's tradition at tight
end continue? The tight end has
become vital to the Michigan offense
and Bennie Joppru continued that last
season when he caught a single-season
record 53 passes at the position. Jop-
pru was the Michigan player drafted
highest in the 2003 NFL draft. Tim
Massaquoi and Andy Mignery are bat-
tling to replace him.
Can Edwards live up to the new
number on his back? Carrtmade. a
deal with the young receiver: if
Edwards wanted to wear No. 1, the
number belonging to past stars such as
Anthony Carter and David Terrell, he'd
have to earn it. After grabbing 10
touchdowns and 1,035 yards in 2002,
Edwards switched from No. 80 to No.
1. The junior who struggled to hang
onto the ball at times last season
admits the new number makes him, a
target "because No. 1 is a significant
number in any team and people will go
after that player."
Who will win the tight competi-
tion at safety? The Wolverines are
high on candidates but low on experi-
ence at this position. Marlin Jackson
and Willis Barringer have both moved
to the spot from cornerback and will
compete with Ernest Shazor, Jon Shaw
and Jacob Stewart. Highly touted new-
comers Burgess and Ryan Mundy
could also be thrown into the mix.
Does Michigan have a consistent
kicking game? Philip Brabbs went
from hero to goat when he nailed the
game-winning field goal against Wash-
ington but connected on just two more
attempts the rest of the season. Punter
Adam Finley stepped in and hit seven-
of-10. Finley, Brabbs and Troy Nien-
berg (two-of-five field goals last
season) are all back and are joined by
true freshman Garrett Rivas.

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