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October 31, 2003 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-31

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October 31, 2003

PORTSigan Bait,


Receivers will give State fits

By Naweed Sikora
Daily Sports Editor
No matter what the players and coaches have to
say, this year's in-state rivalry bout between Michi-
gan and Michigan State is more than just a fight to
see who is tops in the state. This battle has national
The winner will not only find itself in the nation's
top 10, but put itself in position to win the Big Ten
Championship and play in Pasadena on New Year's
Day. The stakes are high, but both teams have proven
to be up for the challenge.
PASSING DEFENSE: The Spartans' defense has drastical-
ly improved from last season. Unfortunately for
Michigan State, the bulk of this improvement has
come on the front line.
The Spartans' secondary allows 269 yards per
game. The Wolverines pick up about 273 yards per
game throwing the ball, so there won't be much clash-
ing here. The only chance Michigan State will have to
slow down Michigan's passing attack is if it can get to
John Navarre before he throws. The Spartans do lead
the Big Ten with 34 sacks, so this will definitely be
their best shot.
The secondary, though, will not be able to contend
with the physical dominance of Michigan's top three
receivers. As long as Navarre is on target and his main
guys are holding on to the ball, Michigan shouldn't
experience any turbulence in Spartan Stadium.
Advantage: Michigan

Ten in sacks, the Spartans' front line hasn't had a lot of
trouble putting pressure on their opponents' offense
and closing the gaps. The defense gives up just 86.9
rushing yards per game and has allowed just three
rushing touchdowns.
Defensive end Greg Taplin, who called out mem-
bers of Michigan's offensive line earlier this week, is a
major reason for this dominance up front, as he is tied
for the team lead in sacks (six) along with defensive
tackle Matthias Askew.
Michigan's offensive line might use Taplin words as
fuel for its fire, but the line has been pushed around
against some of Michigan's tougher opponents this
year, and Chris Perry hasn't had any room to operate.
This could be one of those days.
Advantage: Michigan State

tral Michigan and its game at Minnesota, Michigan
has had great success defending the run this season.
The Wolverines are allowing 137 yards per game on
the ground, but this is misleading because they
allowed 400-plus against the Gophers.
Michigan State's Jaren Hayes has run well this sea-
son, but if the Spartans want to put points on the
board, they will have to look to the air.
Advantage: Michigan

PASSING DEFENSE: Michigan State quarterback Jeff
Smoker battled back from several problems just to
play this year, and nobody had any idea he would be
playing so well. Smoker has thrown 12 touchdowns
this season and averaged 258 yards per game. He has
amassed an efficiency rating of 140.5 - 10 points
higher than Navarre.
The Wolverines are coming off a game against a
pass-happy Purdue team in which its secondary
showed great depth and quickness - even without
Marlin Jackson. Both sides should have their
Advantage: Push
RUSHING DEFENSE: Outside of its opener against Cen-

SPECIAL TEAMS: Michigan special teams and play-
ing on the road is always a bad combination. Although
the talent is there, the special teams find a way to
make mistakes in the kicking game - mistakes that
usually cost the Wolverines a win.
Michigan State's DeAndra Cobb has returned two
kickoffs for touchdowns this season and is someone
the Wolverines need to be aware of. But this battle will
be won by the team that makes the fewest mistakes,
rather than the big plays.
Advantage: Push
INTANGIBLES: The Wolverines haven't won at
Michigan State since 1999, and John L. Smith has his
Spartans believing that they can rebound from last
season's blowout and come out with a strong effort.
But that won't be enough to slow down the Wolver-
ines, who won't be denied a Rose Bowl berth this year.
Advantage: Michigan

RUSHING DEFENSE: Besides the resurgence of quarter-
back Jeff Smoker, Michigan State's defensive line has
been the story out of East Lansing. Leading the Big

Cornerback Marlin Jackson's return to the lineup this weekend should provide the
extra spark the Wolverines need to shut down the spread offense.

Michigan 28, Michigan State 21

Werner brings offense to 'M' blueline

By Sharad Mattu
Daily Sports Writer

When Eric Werner abandons the blueline and
heads for the net, opposing goaltenders would be
wise to keep an eye on him.
"Ever since juniors and when I was growing up,

I've always liked getting in on goals,"
the junior defenseman said. "I like
creating opportunities offensively.
From the blueline in, I like to jump in
on the play."
Last weekend against Northern
Michigan, Werner demonstrated the
many ways he can contribute to the
Sunday, he closed out the Wolver-
ines' win by setting up an easy goal
for Andrew Ebbett. Off a pass from
Mike Woodford, Werner skated right

No.3 Mic
Yost kre
toward the

tender Craig Kowalski. He also made a nice cross-
ing pass for an assist on Milan Gajic's goal later
in the game.
For Werner, who leads Michigan defenseman
with two goals and five points, simply being back
on the ice for games has been gratifying.
Werner was declared academically ineligible by
the Big Ten Conference for the sec-
ond half of last season and missed
RDAY Michigan's final 23 games.
At the time his suspension seemed
higan vs. as though it could be a horrible blow
to Michigan, as it was left with just
35 p~m. five defensemen who had been con-
tributing regularly.
Areni a "It was tough when it was it was
1-TV announced that I wasn't eligible,"
Werner said. "I had let down-my team
and my family, and I was disappoint-
ed in myself. It was hard dealing with the disap-
pointment for the rest of the year."
But the Wolverines ultimately did fine without
him, going on all the way to the Final Four.
Nobody took Werner's suspension harder than
Werner himself.
"I was allowed to practice with the team, but I
was in the stands during the games and not on the
ice," Werner said. "I couldn't put on the jersey
and play in the games. That was real tough."

Michigan coach Red Berenson did not promise
Werner that he would get back his spot on the
team this year, instead leaving it up to Werner to
prove that he had overcome the problems that had
led to his suspension.
Werner made all the necessary strides - after
winter term he took classes spring and summer
"I learned a lot last year about how to be a stu-
dent-athlete," Werner said. "I'm making my work
more of a priority and really just taking better
care of my work."
During the summer, Werner was officially back
on the team. When the season started, Werner's
last game was Jan. 5, and he feels the layoff has
lead to some rust.
"At the beginning of the season, I'd gone 10
months without playing a game," Werner said.
"I'm actually still getting in a groove out on the
ice. There's still things I need to work on to step
up my play."
If that means the best is yet to come, then the
CCHA had better be ready for more offensive
outbursts from Werner like the one he had this
Werner and the Wolverines take on Niagara in a
nonconference matchup tomorrow. The Purple
Eagles knocked off top-ranked New Hampshire
last week, their lone win of the season.

Rebecca Walter led all Wolverines in last year's Big Ten Championships, finishing
fifth overall in the conference and earned All-Big Ten honors.
HarriRers ready to repeat
Sco erence champs

goal and at the last moment sent a pass across the
ice to Ebbett for the powerplay tally.
Friday, the offensive-minded Werner was
involved in both of Michigan's goals. Midway
through the opening period, he noticed an open
lane to the net and snuck behind the Wildcats'
defenseman. T.J. Hensick found him all alone in
front of the net and Werner knew what to do,
making a nice move to fire the puck past goal-

By Anne Uible
Daily Sports Writer
The 11th Michigan women's cross
country team won't be the highest
ranked team at the Big Ten Champi-
onships this weekend, but that's just the
way it likes it.
"We want to protect our title," cap-
tain Andrea Parker said. "We enjoy
being the underdogs because it makes
us more intense for the race. It will be a
challenge, but I think we are up for it."
Last year, the team claimed the Big
Ten title by three points over Michigan
State - the smallest margin of victory
in conference history. Sunday, the team
looks to defend its title in Spartan terri-
tory at the 23rd Big Ten Champi-
Coach Mike McGuire thinks the
team is capable of winning the Big Ten
title this year and is expecting Jessie
Allen-Young, Lindsey Gallo and
Rebecca Walter to spearhead the attack.
"All of the girls have been tested in
big meets this season," McGuire said.
"So I know they are ready, it's just a
matter of staying close to the competi-
tion. This race will require a total team
effort, because there are going to be a
lot of fast athletes, and it's paramount
that we race tightly."
At the 2002 championships, Walter
was the top Michigan finisher, finish-
ing in fifth place. She was also named
Big Ten Freshman of the Year at the
Championships. Now, as a sophomore,
Walter sees this year's race as a chance
to prove her abilities.
"There is a bit of pressure to do better
than last year," Walter said. "But I know
that I'm a faster runner, and I've done a

and Penn State, who are also schools
ranked in the top 20 nationally.
Penn State runner Molly Landreth
will be part of the tough competition
this Sunday, as she broke her school
record this past weekend and produced
one of the fastest times in the Big Ten
this season.
But perhaps the two fastest runners
to beat will come from Michigan State.
Reigning Big Ten champion
Michelle Carson and runner-up Jamie
Krzyminski have had solid races this
season and are coming in to the Cham-
pionships strong.
"Carson is a very accomplished run-
ner," McGuire said. "She's had some
of the fastest times in the conference,
and I imagine she'll win the title again
this year. But that won't stop us from
trying to beat her."
Much of the Wolverines training this
season has been geared toward defend-
ing their title and holding off the veter-
an-member Spartan team. McGuire
feels that if any time were right for the
Championships, it would be now.
"I don't need to give the brim and
fire stone speech before the race,"
McGuire said. "The girls know what
they need to do. They are relaxed and
focused and ready to compete for the
McGuire and his team will face off
against the best in the conference at
Forest Akers East Golf Course in East
Lansing at 10:45 a.m.

Moore, spikers try to reclam Cliff Keen

By Brad Johnson
Daily Sports Writer
Erin Moore has 1,193 career kills as a
Michigan volleyball player. When you
hear her talk, she might as well have
The senior is 68 kills away from
becoming Michigan's all-time leader,
but like a true competitor, is more con-

cerned with her team's
performance than her indi-
vidual achievements.
"I don't even know how
many kills I have left,"
Moore said. "I'm probably
not even going to know
(when I break the record);
I'm not keeping a tally on
my fingers"

Ti ns w
-mow 7W2

The Wolverines (6-4 Big Ten, 14-7
overall) have been doing just that
throughout the first half of the confer-
ence season, thanks in no small part to
Moore's senior leadership. She has
had a large role in mentoring impact
freshmen like Megan Bowman and
Danielle Pflum in their transition to
college volleyball.
"I think it's a really hard process to
come in out of high
ECE ND school, especially if (the
freshmen) are not super
experienced with volley-
ball in general," Moore
said. "I know Megan came
mIOrOW in and decided to play vol-
leyball for two years
before she came and didn't
have a ton of experience,
whereas other kids have come in with
years and years of experience."
In addition to racking up kills and
looking after the team's freshmen,
Moore is leading the team in blocking
and is third in the Big Ten with a career-
best 1.36 blocks per-game average.
"(Erin) has definitely been someone
who we've really fed off of all year,"
coach Mark Rosen said. "She's had a
great year and a great career. She's kept
getting better every year, and this has

been her best year yet."
But Rosen feels that Moore's impact
is about more than just statistics.
"I think how she plays in critical
points is more important than how many
kills she's gotten or whatever," Rosen
Those critical points have often come
against ranked teams, against which the
Wolverines have a sub-par 1-5 record
this year. Michigan's only victory
against a ranked opponent this season
came on the road against then-No. 14
Michigan State.
The mental impact of playing a
ranked opponent has not been the prob-
lem, according to Moore.
"It's not mental, I just think we get in

crunch situations a lot of times when we
break for a point," Moore said. "Other
teams that have had that experience
won't break for that point, and that's
when the game will go their way."
Michigan will have plenty of opportu-
nities to improve its mark against ranked
teams throughout the rest of the season,
but needs to focus on getting back on
track at home first. The Wolverines are
2-3 in conference play at Cliff Keen
Arena this year and will get a chance to
reclaim their dominance at home against
Purdue and Indiana this weekend.
"It's a matter of saying, hey, people
can't come into our gym and kick us
around like we've let them during the
first half (of the season)," Moore said.

The all-time mark of 1,261 is held by
Karen Chase, who played for the
Wolverines from 1995 to 1998. Moore
will most likely shatter the record some-
time during the next three weeks.
"My name is going to be in the record
book, and it's awesome," Moore said.
"I'm glad I can contribute that way, but
honestly we are all just more concerned
with taking care of the second half of
the Big Ten. We're just concerned with

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