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April 12, 2004 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-12

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - April 12, 2004 - 38

Spring Game snoozer has potential to be great

JASON COOPER/Daily
Lloyd Carr throws a touchdown pass to a coaching assistant in the "last play" of
the Wolverines' Spring Game on Saturday.

This year's Spring Game left more than a little bit to
be desired. After watching players go through the
motions for about two hours, a more accurate
name would have been the Spring Light Scrimmage.
Leaving the field afterward, I thought about how I hadn't
felt so disappointed since I saw my grades on Wolverine
Access after fall semester. Sure, it was good to see how
Matt Gutierrez had devel-
oped since last year, or
who might be the first-
string running back. And I
enjoyed watching Ryan
Mundy absolutely drill
David Underwood in a
game where there wasn't DANIEL
supposed to be any tack- BREMMER
ling. But I couldn't help
but feel like I was viewing The SportsMonday
a practice that I had no Column
business watching.
Heading in, I thought the Spring Game was supposed
to be fun. And I still think that the game - and the event
as a whole - should be more entertaining than it is, even
if that's not necessarily the intent. There are just six home
games this year - the team played seven each of the past
two years. And since tickets to Michigan games are so
expensive and in such short supply, it would be great for
the team to give something back to the fans by putting on
a free show people would want to see in the spring,
instead of just holding an open practice.
Maybe it's because I was in the press box and couldn't
hear the crowd too well. Or maybe it's just because the
crowd didn't make much noise. It's hard to tell. But I'll
tell you one thing: The sight of just 18,000 fans in the Big
House was eerie, and putting on a better show before the
Spring Game would quickly boost that attendance figure.
Right now, the Spring Game is an event where people
turn to the person next to them and ask if it's over yet.
Here's how I would turn it into a festivity that the entire
campus would want to watch.
Allow tackling
I know that seeing a player go down with a serious
injury in something as meaningless as the Spring Game
would make Lloyd Carr squirm, but the glorified version
of one-hand touch which we saw on Saturday - instead
of tackling -- is just plain boring to watch. Underwood
busted two big runs for about 80 total yards, but how
many more would he have ran for if he were allowed to
break a tackle with a stiff arm instead of being called
down on the play? It works the other way, too. Tackling
would make the game more exciting for the fans, as evi-
denced by the oohs and ahhs after Mundy's crack on
Underwood.
Hold a skills competition before the game
Since the Spring Game should be geared toward the
fans want to watch, I say the event should parallel some
of the best events in sports: the all-star extravaganzas. The
dunk contest, home run derby, NHL skills, quarterback
challenge - these are some of the most entertaining
events in each respective sport, excluding the playoffs.
Why not try out a mini Michigan football skills competi-
tion before the Spring Game instead of the usual drills?
I'd love to see who on the team can kick the longest
field goal. Would it be Garret Rivas, Troy Neinberg or
Phillip Brabbs? Or would it be a non-kicker? How long
would it be? What about setting up a few targets to see
whether Gutierrez, Clayton Richard, Spencer Brinton or
Jermaine Gonzales (a receiver who came into Michigan

as a quarterback) could hit the most? Maybe an obstacle
course for the linemen. They'd all be great.
For that matter, I'd love to see them bring in some
other sports. Wheeling a basketball hoop out onto the
field to pit Marlin Jackson vs. Braylon Edwards in a
dunk contest could be as good as Jordan vs. Dominique
for a Michigan fan - especially since rumor has it that
Braylon's been dunking from the free-throw line at the
CCRB. I bet students would pay to see this, let alone
come for free.
All these ideas go along the lines of playing to the
fans. Teams are allowed 15 practices during the spring,
with the 15th being Saturday's Spring Game. Are you try-
ing to tell me that 14-and-a-half practices - 14 regular
ones and then some fun before the 15th, the Spring Game
- wouldn't accomplish the same thing? If the team spent
half of Saturday's practice putting on a show for fans,
there wouldn't have been that same feeling of disappoint-
ment after the game.
More Lloyd
Another Spring Game highlight was watching Carr
behind center to take a snap on the "last play" of the
game. Carr rolled out and hit one of his assistants - who
made a great catch, considering Carr's bullet of a pass -
for a touchdown against a token defense to the delight of
players and fans. This got me thinking. More Carr equals
more fun. I'd love to see Carr get involved in some other
fun aspects of the practice, especially in the same type of
situation or even in the skills competitions I described
above. The fact that the coach's usual demeanor is so
straight-laced makes it all the more fun when he loosens
up. I'm telling you, SportsCenter would pay for footage
of Carr running the offense.

Fix the PA system
One of the funniest moments of the Spring Game
came before the whole thing even started - when
David Baas and Tyler Ecker sang the national anthem.
No, their rendition of the song wasn't what I was
laughing at -- I was laughing at the fact that a band at
Touchdowns has better equipment than the Michigan
Athletic Department. Baas and Ecker could barely get
two words from their mouths before the microphone
cut out, prompting Baas to state, "This is horrible,"
during one of the few points when the microphone cut
back in for the whole crowd to hear. If it wasn't for
the crowd's collective impromptu anthem, they might
still be there now, waiting for the game to start.
As much as the Spring Game bored me, there were
some things I enjoyed. Specifically, watching the refs was
hilarious. I don't know exactly why - I can only guess
that it was funny seeing these zebras taking the game so
seriously when not many other people were. Where exact-
ly do you even get refs for a Spring Game? Are these the
same guys who would do a real Michigan game, or did
they pluck these guys from the high school leagues?
I also had a good time watching Braylon go up against
Marlin. These are two legitimate All-America candidates
going head-to-head, both working hard. Since most prac-
tices aren't open for anyone to watch, this was one of the
only chances for fans to see two of Michigan's best go
one-on-one. Now, if we can just get them some basket-
balls to dunk, I'll see you at next year's Spring Game.
Daniel Bremmer can be reached at bremmerd(aumich.edu.

SPRING GAME
Continued from Page 16
wanted to do. We battle in practice all
the time - when you have two good
guys who are competitive, it's a pretty
heated battle. He wins his fair share,
and I win my fair share."
With Jackson's move back to corner,
there is competition for one of the free
safety spot - strong safety is locked
down by senior Ernest Shazor. Joining
Shazor on the first-team defense on
Saturday was youngster Ryan Mundy,
who has impressed Carr throughout
the spring, making him the clear-cut
favorite to win the position.
Michigan was hit with one piece of
bad news during the week. Carr
announced after the game that defen-

sive lineman Jeremy Van Alstyne had
injured his knee last Tuesday in prac-
tice. Though the injury was initially
thought to be minor, it was later
learned that Van Alstyne - a starter
last season - would require recon-
structive surgery that will prevent him
from playing in 2004.
"Jeremy Van Alstyne was a starter
on this team, and was one of the better
football players on this team, even
though he's still a young guy," Carr
said. "The good news is, he'll be back
next spring, and he'll still have two
years of eligibility left."
Several other Wolverines, including
expected secondary contributor Leon
Hall and starting offensive lineman
Adam Stenavich, were held out of yes-
terday's practice.

ROWING
Rowers make important
strides against ACC foes

By Chastity Rolling
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's rowing
team excelled in every race against
No. 20 Duke and its varsity four
boat beat No. 6 Virginia by open
water on Saturday at the Big
Ten/ACC Double Dual at Lake
Monticello in Virginia. This was a
vast improvement from last week's
regatta against Ohio State, in which
Michigan walked away with just
one win in six races. The Wolver-
ines recovered from last week's loss
by taking four of their six varsity
races.
"Last week we rowed, this week we
raced," Michigan coach Mark Roth-
stein said.
The Wolverines vastly increased
their speed, making it a difficult
day for their opponents. In the
morning, Michigan dominated.
Duke, winning all of its races by
open water. Improvement was the
word of the day for Michigan.
"We raced better this week," Roth-
stein said. "Even our losses (to Vir-
ginia) were not by that much."
After changes in the afternoon,
Michigan's highly-successful morn-
ing results could not carry over, it
only managed to win the varsity
four race over Virginia, dropping
both the varsity eight races. This
single win did give the Wolverines a
bit of hope for a rematch at the
NCAA Championship.
"We get another shot at Virginia,"
Rothstein said.
When Michigan competes against
* Virginia again, the battle should be
engaging. Despite the Wolverines'

loss, the races were relatively close.
Just 1.8 seconds separated the two
varsity eight boats.
But Virginia won't face the same
Michigan squad it did this weekend
if the Wolverines continue to
improve.
"We want to keep stepping it up a
notch," assistant head coach Emily
Ford said. "We want to keep doing
what we are already doing (in terms
of competition and race strategies),
only better."
Ford feels that Michigan is racing
well, but it needs to be better. The
team knows that it must improve on
the technical aspects of its strokes if
it wants to have success for the
remainder of the season. These
alterations are a must because the
competition is just going to get
more intense from here.
"There are no easy races on our
schedule," Rothstein said. "We want
personal growth - we want to win
though."
But winning is not everything.
"I want to see their hard work pay
off," Ford said. "I want them to feel
good about their rowing ability."
Michigan will test its ability again
against Michigan State on Saturday.
RESULTS

JASON COOPER/Daily
Tyler Ecker, left, and Davis Baas team up for a rousing rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" prior to the start
of the Spring Game. Unfortunately, most fans were unable to hear them due to faulty microphones.

MORNING SESSION
First Varsity Eight
1. Michigan 6:49.2
2. Duke 6:53.2
Second Varsity Eight
1. Michigan 6:43.6
2. Duke 7:02.5
First Varsity Four
1. Michigan 7:45.7
2. Duke 8:01.6

AFTERNOON SESSION
First Varsity Eight
1. Virginia 6:38.0
2. Michigan 6:39.8
Second Varsity Eight
Virginia 6:55.0
2. Michigan 7:02.7
First Varsity Four
L Michigan 7:45.3
2. Virginia 7:53.5

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