October 14, 2004
in role as blocker
Illinois treats Michigan
as prime football rival
By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Editor
While preparing for the upcoming
season during fall practice, fifth-year
senior fullback Kevin Dudley decided
he'd have a little talk with Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr.
Dudley had played in 24 games over
his career, notching 12 starts (11 of
them coming in 2003). But he had yet
to receive a carry - instead focusing
all of his effort on paving the way for
Michigan's running backs.
So Dudley decided to ask Michi-
gan coach Lloyd Carr to give him the
ball every once in a while. And the
request has paid off.
Well, sort of.
Through Michigan's first six games
this season - all of which Dudley has
started at fullback - the fifth-year
senior has carried the ball twice, for
a total of 11 yards. And while the two
plays called for No. 32 have satisfied
his request, Dudley keeps hoping that
Carr will utilize him again.
"I'm not going to turn (carries)
down," Dudley said.
At Franklin County High School
in Brookville, Ind., Dudley enjoyed
a hugely successful career on the
ground, rushing 525 times for 45
touchdowns and almost 3,300 yards
during his prep days.
But during his time at Michigan,
Dudley has been a blocking back
from day one - using his thick, 6-
foot-1, 236-pound frame to help the
running backs post big numbers.
"It's not really (frustrating)," said
Dudley about his lack of carries. "I've
never really gotten any (at Michigan)
to have taken away."
While Dudley hasn't had many
opportunities to run the ball, fresh-
man Mike Hart has. Hart, now fully
entrenched as Michigan's top running
back option, exploded for 160 yards
in Michigan's win over Minnesota on
Hart has rushed for just shy of 500
yards on the season - and no one is
more impressed with his efforts than
the guy leading him down the field.
"Mike Hart is just stepping up
unbelievably," Dudley said. "Being
able to pick up the reads and every-
thing, it takes some people two years
to figure it out - the way he's come
in and done it in two months, it's just
One of the knocks on Hart com-
ing into Michigan was that he might
not be big enough to stand up to the
punishment of Big Ten football. But
Dudley, who has prided himself on
delivering some of that punishment
to Michigan's opponents, says that
Hart isn't about to back down from
"When he lowers that shoulder, he
gets the job done," Dudley said. "I
think the one play I really figured out
that he was going to be the real deal
was when we ran a screen pass to him
(against Notre Dame). He went up
the sideline and ran over a (defensive
back). I was like, 'He's here.' "
One of the challenges that Dudley
has had to endure this season is mak-
ing the adjustment from blocking for
Heisman Trophy-finalist Chris Perry,
to blocking for the stream of backs
that have flooded into Michigan's
backfield this year.
Hart - who Dudley describes as
"shifty" - is the clear-cut No. 1 back
for now, but six different Wolverine
running backs have received carries
during key moments this season. That
means Dudley has to pay attention to
who's running the ball.
"It's sort of different, especially
Fifth-year senior Kevin Dudley enjoys his duties blocking for freshman
running back Mike Hart.
on the sweep plays," Dudley said.
"(You have to know) how a guy runs
and what you will have to do to the
For the time being, Dudley will
continue to focus on his blocking
assignments - he claims he doesn't
have any plans to ask for more car-
ries. That's not surprising because
Dudley doesn't exactly see himself
as one of the Wolverines more vocal
"When it gets intense, I'll start
yelling, (but) I'm definitely laid
back," Dudley said. "I pretty much
let my actions on the field speak for
Time will tell if those actions
include what Dudley's really hoping
for: carry No. 3.
The Michigan football team will
spend its weekend in a town
approximately equidistant from
Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis. It's
a town called Champaign, where the
corn fields start inside the city limits.
Michigan football fans may view this
Saturday's game as just a side step to the
following week's clash at Purdue.
But in Champaign, it will be the big-
gest football game of the year.
Unlike Michigan, Illinois doesn't
have a natural rival. The Fighting Illini
haven't finished the season going against
the same opponent since the 1930s.
They also don't have another in-state
school that can cause neighborhood
divides each October. Yes, Illinois and
Northwestern happen to be in the same
state, but that's where the animosity
stops (except for that precious Sweet
Sioux Tomahawk they play for). Illinois
is a state school that draws mostly from
within state borders, while Northwest-
ern is a private school that draws from
all around the country. There is nothing
to build rivalry.
So, with no definitive date to circle on
their calendar, most Illinois students and
players pick Michigan. While football
student involvement in Champaign has
decreased significantly with the decline
of the football program and the rise of
the basketball team, the Wolverines have
always been a target. In Ann Arbor,
games against Illinois are quickly for-
gotten. But in Champaign, the Michigan
games still loom large. Fighting Illini
fans remember the 2000 matchup, when
Michigan wvon in a controversially
officiated game that caused the Big Ten
conference to issue a statement of apol-
ogy the Monday following the game.
They also recall 2001, when Michigan
won, but Illinois went on to the Sugar
Bowl. Many Illinois alumni still remem-
ber close games the two teams played in
the late 1980s.
Trading c-mails with a number of
Illinois students this week, the one
overall theme was that the Fighting
Illini don't think too kindly of students
from Ann Arbor. Many view the school
as arrogant and haughty. Some even
went onto say that they hate everyone
from the state of Michigan. Others
downplayed their hatred for Michigan
because of Illinois' recent dominance
in basketball, saying that they get up for
basketball games against Michigan State
and Wisconsin. But don't worry, one
basketball win for the Wolverines, and
those Michigan-haters will fly right out
of the closet. The website for the Orange
Krush, Illinois' version of the Maize
Rage, features a behind-the-scenes look
at how Illinois students lined up outside
Assembly Hall at 7:30 a.m. before last
year's game against Michigan.
This Saturday, the students who
attend the game (many will be pre-
partying for "Midday Madness" taking
place immediately after the football
game) will be wearing orange and blue
"Muck Fichigan" T-shirts and bringing
anti-Michigan signs. They'll view them-
selves as Red Sox fans taking on the
When the football team was more of
an emphasis, hating Michigan football
used to be a source of school pride. In
2002 the Daily Illini, the Illinois student
newspaper, wrote an entire story about
students' hatred for Michigan the day
before Michigan's last game in Cham-
paign. The story included quotes from
students saying that Michigan is the
embodiment of all evil and that Michi-
gan students are the most arrogant they
have ever met.
While one could probably find stu-
dents at any Big Ten school that don't
like Michigan because of its consistent
football success, Illinois is a unique
case. Most schools that care about ath-
letics have a consistent rival. Indiana and
Purdue have a great basketball rivalry.
Minnesota and Wisconsin have a big
rivalry in football and hockey. Illinois
has nothing like this.
Illinois administration also views
Michigan as a target to some degree.
Illinois competes with Michigan in a
number of programs, especially in the
sciences and engineering. When Illinois
needed a chancellor in 2001, it got then
Michigan provost Nancy Cantor (Can-
tor recently left to become chancellor at
Illinois football has eroded in
recent seasons from the teams it had a
few years ago (Braylon Edwards has
said repeatedly that former Illinois
cornerback Eugene Wilson was the
best he has ever faced in a game), so
the excitement surrounding football
Saturday has eroded as well. But this
Saturday's game will bring the best
atmosphere that Memorial Stadium
will see this year.
So just remember, while you may
not care about them, they certainly care
Bob Hunt is looking forward to hit-
ting up the bar scene in Champaign this
Friday, where he hopes students don't
give him too much trouble. He can be
reached at email@example.com.
Blue hoping early loss won't haunt future
By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Writer
To put it mildly, the No. 3 Michigan hockey team
was not pleased after Friday's 4-2 lost to North-
eastern. The players didn't come to play, and the
team - then-No. 1 in the country, according to the
Sept. 27 USCHO poll - was embarrassed.
"The players weren't satisfied, the coaches
weren't satisfied, and it was a long 24 hours for
everyone," coach Red Berenson said. "Getting the
messages across, looking at the video, showing
the team the chances and the mistakes, chances
against. It could have been a lot worse than it was.
The score flattered us."
But a nonconference loss can't really hurt Mich-
igan that much, can it?
Wrong. According to Berenson, these games
matter a great deal. A loss looks bad for Michigan
in head-to-head comparisons with Northeastern
down the road. But the Huskies aren't expected to
make much noise in the Hockey East conference
this season. More importantly, nonconference
losses like this one reflect badly on the CCHA.
Notre Dame, Ferris State and Ohio State all lost
nonconference games last weekend as well, which
puts the CCHA behind the rest of the country to
start the season.
"They're huge because they really do have a
bearing on how all the teams in our league are
considered for the NCAA tournament," Berenson
Berenson added that the games in October count
just as much as the ones the team plays in March.
Though he noted that Denver - who won the
national championship last season - was not even
expecting to making the tournament after its play
With the loss to Northeastern, Michigan also
lost the No. 1 ranking that it held for two weeks
before the season began. Although Berenson was
visibly upset about the loss on Friday, he was not
so upset about the loss of the No. 1 ranking.
"It's so easy to talk about it, and it seems like
it becomes a topic of the media on a regular basis
when you are ranked high like that," Berenson
said. "And we're not unused to being ranked high.
Our teams have been ranked high before."
With the bullseye off of its back, Michigan can
focus on other important things. After Friday's
loss, the Wolverines talked a lot about making
better decisions on the ice - both with and with-
out the puck. The Wolverines had a lot of pucks
bounce over their sticks and a lot of opportunities
that weren't converted.
Senior captain Eric Nystrom had to watch
the game from the stands because of an inju-
ry to his ribs that occurred in practice three
Both Nystrom and Berenson said that the team
would try to use this game as a stepping stone.
Berenson said he wasn't sure how he would judge
this weekend's games just yet, but he said that the
players knew that they had to get better. The Wol-
verines have spent the week working on 5-on-2
and 5-on-5 drills. Berenson said that playing .500
hockey is obviously unacceptable, and the team
has worked this week to improve before it gets
back on the ice.
"I'll tell you a month from now if (the loss on Fri-
day made it) a good weekend," Berenson said. "It
might have been a great weekend for us, depending
on how we respond to it over the next month."
The No. 3 Michigan hockey team fell in rankings after
losing its first regularseason game to Northeastern.
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