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September 14, 2004 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-09-14

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September 14, 2004
sports. michigandaily.com
sportsr@michigandaily. com

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. . .. . .. .. .. . .. .. ... .. .. .. ... .. .

Rivas comfortable
with kicking duty

Nonconference loss
fair trade for Roses

By Gennaro Flce
Daily Sports Editor
"I can do all things through Christ
who strengthens me."
Sophomore Garrett Rivas utters this
Bible verse - Philippians 4:13 - every
time Michigan coach Lloyd Carr calls
his number.
"I like kinda being on my own and
getting a little focused (before attempt-
ing a field goal)," Rivas said. "I always
do the same ritual before every kick,
try and keep everything consistent. I do
the sign of the cross and then I say the
Bible verse. Then I say, 'Head down,
straight through the ball, let's go.' "
Rivas' pre-kick ritual was effective
during the Wolverines' 28-20 loss
to Notre Dame, as the sophomore
converted all four of his attempts,
including a 47-yarder, which tied his
career long.
"I would certainly rather have been
hitting extra points than field goals,"
Rivas said. "It just didn't work out that
Carr praised his kicker and the
entire kicking team for their services
"Garrett Rivas was outstanding;
I thought he had a great day," Carr
said. "Of course, that has something
to do with the guys that helped him.
He had great protection on a rush that
we had not seen Notre Dame give. The
snapping was excellent. The holding
- some of the things that we had prob-
lems with last week obviously we cor-
In his first game of the season, Rivas'
day was much different, as he shanked
two extra point attempts.

"I just didn't have solid contact
on them and certain technical things
didn't go right," Rivas said. "(Against
Notre Dame) I had better focus and I
was more into the game and able to
play a lot better."
Rivas recognizes that having an iso-
lated meltdown is part of being a kicker.
Two weeks ago, Northwestern's Brian
Huffman and Oregon State's Alexis
Serna made national news in dubious
fashion, missing five field goals and
three extra points, respectively. Both
players were blamed for their teams'
losses, and Rivas felt for them.
"I've been there before - you just
have an off day," Rivas said. "The most
important thing is to have the strength
to come back stronger. You have to feel
badfor (Serna) because you know what
he's going through, you know what it's
like to see the ball miss the uprights.
It's just a part of the game."
But it's a part of the game that Rivas
wishes to avoid. The Tampa, Fla.,
native said that seeing Serna's miscues
"absolutely" made him take extra reps
at practice.
Last season, Rivas was billed a
Michigan's saving grace after a couple
of years of horrendous placekicking.
He started as a true freshman, going
nine-for-12 in field goal attempts and
50-for-51 in extra points. Rivas had a
spotty spring practice, but entered the
season fully confident.
"I was pretty pleased (with spring
practice)," Rivas said. "I had a little bit
of a problem in the middle of camp, but
I was able to come back; studying film
a little extra, taking some extra reps.
I ended up camp being just where I
wanted to be."

Garrett Rivas' prekick ritual of prayer paid off on Saturday, as he connected on all
four of his field goal attempts, including a career-long 47-yard kick.

This year, Rivas is much more com-
fortable handling Michigan's place-
kicking duties.
"I know a little bit more about what
to expect," Rivas said. "I feel like I am
a little more into the game now and I
understand more about the game. I just
feel like I have been there before."
The 19-year-old has also made phys-

ical strides and says that he's made a
55-yarder while practicing on his own.
"I've definitely gotten a little bit
stronger since last year - more height
and more consistency," Rivas said.
Rivas has taken to his new special
teams coach, Mike DeBord, stating that
DeBord runs "a more organized prac-
tice" than Jim Boccher did last year.

Goin' to work
et me point something out for
you real quick here: Michigan
has won one national title since
The Wolverines aren't winning them
every other year. They're not playing
in the title game consistently. They've
won one title in 55 years.
So maybe former Michigan coach
Bo Schembechler had it right when he
was here.
When Schembechler had the reins,
the Wolverines played nonconference
games for one simple reason: to get
ready for the Big Ten season and a run
at the Rose Bowl.
Even though Michigan was con-
sistently among the nation's best, that
thinking never really changed until
1997, when the Wolverines ran the
table en route to the program's 11th
national title. And it wasn't that the
fans, coaches and players didn't want
to win those nonconference games
under Schembechler - of course they
did. But Michigan belonged in the
Rose Bowl, and if it took a loss prior to
the Big Ten season to find out what the
team was made of, so be it.
So now, just days removed from
that punch-in-the-stomach collapse
in South Bend, it might be time to
embrace that Schembechler strategy.
That's because Michigan is hosting
a pretty good San Diego State team
on Saturday - the last game before a
very good Iowa team comes into town
- and the Wolverines certainly don't
look ready to head back to Pasadena.
"We're going to look at the film,"
Michigan running back David Under-
wood said after Saturday's loss.
"We've got a lot of things that need to
get covered."
First and foremost, this team needs
to get refocused. On the one hand, it
shouldn't be that hard because every
Michigan team over the last five years
has now endured this same fate during
its first time venturing out on the road.
On the other hand, there's always a
chance that a tough loss - especially

on the road to a rival - could linger
for the rest of the year.
The good news is that Michigan has
been able to avoid that sort of misery.
The Wolverines are 4-0 following a
nonconference road loss over the last
four years.
Getting back to finding success is
critical this coming weekend because
the following week begins - that's
right, Bo - the Big Ten season. And
that means that the Wolverines have
one week to right the ship before the
Hawkeyes come a-callin' in search of
their third straight victory over Michi-
"We're going to see what kind of
leadership we have," Michigan coach
Lloyd Carr said yesterday of Michi-
gan's final nonconference tuneup. "We
have to see if we can get ready to go
into the Big Ten season. Certainly,
we've got a challenge here this week."
Carr wants to win this game, no
doubt. But Carr's been here long
enough to know that a Big Ten confer-
ence title can make people forget all
about the problems earlier in the year.
Do you think anyone was thinking
about Oregon's victory last year while
they were storming the field after
Michigan knocked off Ohio State? I
highly doubt it.
So with that in mind, it's time for
the Wolverines to take a deep breath,
try to forget about bombing at Notre
Dame and figure out how to get ready
for the Hawkeyes.
"We're going to come back,"
linebacker Scott McClintock said.
"Notre Dame played great, but they
have nothing to do with the rest of
the season."
Right, damage control.
Obviously, if the goal of every
Michigan team is to win the Big Ten
title, then the Wolverines had darn
well better be firing on all cylinders
for the start of the Big Ten season.
Which means Michigan has some
significant questions to answer on
But when you're talking Big Ten
football, you're talking about the run-
ning game (which is probably another
thing Michigan can thank Bo for). And
no matter how many sensational wide
receivers Michigan has on its roster,
the Wolverines will not be going any-
where in the conference season unless
someone steps up and takes the run-
ning back position by the throat.
See BURKE, Page 12

oa contests ahead or conference powers
Buckeyes narrowly escaped with a victory against the rival Iowa State Saturday, Iowa looks to carry its

and Adam Wallace
For the Daily
Despite Michigan's loss at Notre Dame last week-
end, the Big Ten is shaping up to be one of the top
conferences in the nation this year. Six teams are cur-
rently ranked in the top 25, but most of them will have.
to deal with tough road games this Saturday that could
truly indicate the overall strength of the conference.
No.7 OHIo STATE (2-0) AT N.C. STATE (1-0) - 3:30
This is a rematch of one of last year's best games,
with the venue shifting to Raleigh this weekend. The

Wolfpack in three overtimes in 2003. Both teams fea-
ture a new starting quarterback and are searching for
a new identity. The Wolfpack will certainly use last
year as a motivational tool, and Ohio State has had
problems in nonconference road games under coach
Jim Tressel. But the Buckeyes always seem to find a,
way to win, which is exactly what will happen this
Ohio State 20, N.C. State 17
No. 12 IowA (2-0) AT ARIZONA STATE (2-0) - 10
P.M., ESPN Plus
Coming off a 17-10 home win against in-state

momentum into the desert. In a matchup of two 2-0
teams, the Sun Devils will look to avenge last year's
21-2 thumping at the hands of the Hawkeyes. Arizona
State needs to improve its running attack against the
Hawkeyes, as it managed a meager 24 yards on 21
carries in last season's game. Arizona State quarter-
back Andrew Walter also needs just four touchdowns
to tie Jake Plummer's all-time school record. Iowa
senior running back Jermelle Lewis looks to build on
a solid game against Iowa State, when he rushed for a
career-high 102 yards on 32 carries.
Iowa 17, Arizona State 13
See BIG TEN, Page 12

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