4B - The Michigan Daily - SportsWednesday - October 20, 2004
Everybody hoping to
see the Breaston of old'
Time of Poss
CHAMPAIGN - Whatever situation
Steve Breaston was in last year, the
unthinkable seemed not just possible,
Punt returns? Breaston had a knack for
weaving through traffic, disappearing into the
mass of tacklers and popping out the other
end. He ran back two punts for touchdowns,
and put Michigan
within sight of the
Line up at quar-
terback and run the
option? That's how he
opened the scoring in
the Wolverines' battle
against Ohio State last
Catch a lateral from The SportsWednesday
the quarterback and Column
throw it back across
the field? With Michigan falling apart on
offense and defense against Minnesota a year
ago, Breaston, a quarterback in high school,
turned his only pass last season into a touch-
No. 15 was responsible for eight touchdowns
in all last year, but points and yards drasti-
cally understated his impact. When he had the
ball, players and coaches on the sidelines and
fans in the stands held their breath in antici-
pation. His combination of jukes, vision and
speed almost seemed out of place in Michigan
Stadium and the Big Ten; he looked like he
belonged on Miami or an SEC team.
But that was last year. This season - at
least so far - has been a different story. The
redshirt sophomore's yards per catch has
dropped from 11.7 to 6.8 and his punt return
average has dropped from 13.8 to 8.1 yards.
What's contributed to his struggles? Well,
depending on who you ask, Breaston's big-
gest obstacle is simply getting healthy. He had
foot surgery during the summer and suffered
a "freak injury" when he broke a finger in his
left hand against Iowa earlier in the season.
Even after Saturday's game, he was walking
with a noticeable limp.
"I can't imagine anybody being able to
come back as fast as he did," Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr said. "I mean that bone
was in two, and he had to have a plate and
five screws inserted, I think. He's a study in
toughness. He's not a big guy, but he's got a
That's fine, but then why does receiver
Braylon Edwards insist nobody should worry
about Breaston? Why does receivers coach
Erik Campbell say: "Steve is fine. There's
nothing new with him. Nothing different.
What does Breaston himself have to say?
Well, Michigan's reserved do-it-all star acts
as if talking about his pain hurts more than
actually playing with the pain.
"It's been tough," Breaston conceded. "But
if I come out and play I have no excuses. As
long as I'm on the field, how I feel doesn't
matter. I've just got to play my hardest and do
what I'm capable of doing."
Another reason Breaston's statistics have
taken a dive has to be his laughably predict-
able role when the Wolverines have the ball.
Sure, Michigan's offense is successful, but
often times it's easy to see what's coming. Any
time Breaston is on the field, whether he's the
first or third read, he seems to take the same
shallow route to the sidelines. And, 100 percent
healthy or not, it seems to take him so many
moves to get past one tackler, the second and
third arrive before he's even gotten five yards.
It's gotten to the point where it seems as
though the coaching staff fears that if it asks
Breaston to run a route of any kind, disaster
will undoubtedly ensue. Aside from during
Michigan's comeback attempt against Notre
Dame, it's hard to remember a single time
Breaston ran a deep pattern.
"I know how to run routes," Breaston said.
"I've been coached, and I know how to play
"I know that my role is helping Braylon,
Jason (Avant), the running game and every-
body else on the offense. If Braylon catches
a ball, I know I'm doing my job because I'm
All Campbell had to say about Breaston's
role in the offense was, "That's just the way it
is right now."
But regardless of how banged up he is
and what his role and stats are, Breaston is a
threat that Michigan needs on every play.
When he sat out against Indiana due to his
injured finger, his replacements - it took
three people to do what he alone normally
does - caught a 40-yard touchdown pass,
returned a punt 79 yards for a score and a
M I C H I G A N
Yds Avg Lg
114 38.0 44
114 38.0 44
After a spectacular freshman season, receiver Steve Breaston has struggled so far this year.
kick 97 yards. But it took just one half in
Michigan's next game against Minnesota to
get his role entirely back.
That's because everyone - teammates,
coaches and fans - looks at Breaston, thinks
back to last year, blocks out the Wolverines'
first seven games and says, "Just one play, and
everything will be back to normal."
"He's an 'any play' guy," receiver Jason
Avant said. "If he keeps touching the ball
one of these times he'll make something hap-
pen. When he's got the ball, there's always a
If the Breaston of old is set to reappear,
Saturday at Purdue wouldn't be a bad game to
do it. Michigan hasn't faced a prolific offense
like the Boilermakers' this year, and after
Purdue's loss to Wisconsin, it'll be eager to
salvage its season.
"I always feel like if I'm on the field, I have
the chance to do something big," Breaston
said. "But it's really all about the team with
me. I'm a team player and this team is winning
right now, so I'm happy and have nothing to
complain about. I love this team."
Sharad Mattu can be reached at
Yds Avg Lg
14 7.0 9
14 7.0 9
BIG TEN STANDINGS
McClintock leads defense with two picks
By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Editor
CHAMPAIGN - After starting
the season with a flurry of turn-
overs, Michigan started to hit a
slump against teams that took extra
precaution to hold onto the ball.
Enter Scott McClintock.
One of the Wolverines' unsung
heroes, the linebacker shined on
defense Saturday with two intercep-
tions. Both plays came at crucial
moments during the contest.
The first came during Illinois'
first drive of the second half with
the ball up by
cut in front of Illi-
nois wide receiver
Franklin Payne, v)0
picked off quarter-
back Jon Beutjer's
pass and took the
ball to the Illinois' six-yard line.
Michigan scored a touchdown three
plays later to come within one. But
Garrett Rivas missed the extra point.
The second came when Illinois
was driving late in the fourth quar-
ter and trying to make it a one-pos-
session game. Beutjer threw the ball
into the middle of the endzone, right
into the hands of McClintock, seal-
ing the victory for the Wolverines.
But that was not the only aspect of
McClintock's game that impressed
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr.
"I saw him make a lot of other
plays today," Carr said. "Scott's a
tough guy; he's paid his dues. As
a senior, as a fourth-year guy here,
he's having his best year."
McClintock has fought injury
this year to become a crucial part
of the defense. Before the season,
McClintock was slated to have a
consistent starting role for the first
time after playing in mainly nickel
situations last year behind fellow
linebacker Carl Diggs. Carr said that
the Bell Vernon, Penn. native was
one of the fastest non-skill players
on the team.
McClintock suffered a setback
when he hurt his leg against San
Diego State and walked out of the
locker room after the game on
crutches. Although the coaching
staff thought that he had little to
"He's played very well," Carr said.
"We expected when we recruited
him that he was going to be an out-
standing football player. I think last
year he really began to come into
his own; he played two years ago
quite a bit, and he still has another
year. To be able to step in there as
a starter this year and play as well
as he has, it's been a great bonus for
SWITCHING IT UP: Woodley, a sopho-
more outside linebacker, has been
a consistent starter. Senior Pierre
Woods, on the other hand, has mys-
teriously received less playing time
this year after being on the field a lot
last year. Carr said that Woods was
injured, even though Woods would
not confirm that this was the case.
But Woods was placed above
Woodley on the depth chart that was
released yesterday. Carr would not
delve deeply into why he made that
"Pierre has done a great job in
every area," Carr said. "He's getting
a little healthier. I think that's the
Carr had just this to say about
Woodley: "As I always say, it's bet-
ter to be three hours early than one
ROLLING THE DICE: Having already
missed an extra point, Michigan
has decided to go for two occasions
on Saturday. Having taken a 22-17
lead on a run by true freshman Max
Martin, Carr decided that with the
two-point conversion chances were
better going for two. Henne threw
an incomplete pass.
He felt that, with the strong gusts
of wind that blew up to 35 miles
per hour and the fact that Michigan
would have the wind in the fourth
quarter, the Wolverines would have
been better off going for a seven-
"I went for two because I felt like
it was the thing to do," Carr said. "I
normally am very reluctant until late
in the game to go for two, because
I really think the odds are against
you. But at that particular point I felt
it was worth the risk because I felt
anybody was going to have trouble
kicking field goals."
ADDING TO THE ROTATION: After
Mike Hart was on the field for every
play except one against Minnesota,
Carr decided to feature Martin in
spells against Illinois. Martin played
well, carrying the ball 12 times for
67 yards and a touchdown. At the
beginning of the season, Carr didn't
mention Martin among the pool of
backs competing for a starting role.
But after the game, Carr said Mar-
tin has made strides in practice and
that he will likely be used down the
Carr also mentioned that senior
David Underwood, who started the
season as the No. 1 tailback, had a
good week of practice and may see
time in upcoming weeks.
"We're going to need everybody,
and I think the key is just that
everyone keeps working hard," Carr
Big Ten Overall
THIS WEEKEND'S RESULTS:
Michigan 30, ILLINOIS 19
Wisconsin 20, PURDUE 17
MICHIGAN STATE 51, Minnesota 17
IOWA 33, Ohio state 7.
NEXT WEEKEND'S GAMES:
Michigan at Purdue, 3:30 p.m.
Iowa at Penn State, 12:00 p.m.
Northwestern at Wisconsin, 12:00 p.m.
Indiana at Ohio State, 12:00 p.m.
Illinois at Minnesota, 2:00 p.m.
Max Martin got his first extended action on Saturday
Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton
ALL ABOUT THE 'U': In arguably
the best game of the year, Miami
scored 34 points in the second half
to squeak by Louisville on Thursday
night. The Canes trailed 24-7 at the
half before quarterback Brock Berlin
led the offense to six straight scor-
ing drives, including a sensational
punt return by specialist Devin
Hester. Hester racked up 184 total
return yards and provided Miami
with good field position all day long.
a1min TAA n-w v..K1- I- 7 F1 -AA- c.v.. 'n.
HOW THE AP TOP 25 FARED
Associated Press Poll for the week of Oct. 12-17
Games updated through Oct. 17
NEW AP TOP 25
(first-place votes in parentheses)
1. Southern Cal.
7. Florida State
beat Arizona State 45-7
beat Kansas State 31-21
beat Louisville 41-38
beat Arkansas 38-20
lost to Wisconsin 20-17
lost to Florida State 36-3
beat Virginia 36-3
beat UCLA 45-28
beat Missouri 28-20
beat Purdue 20-17
beat North Carolina 46-13
at N.C. State
at Wake Forest
at Texas Tech
1. Southern Cal. (50)
2. Oklahoma (13)
3. Auburn (2)
5. Florida State
Not since Drew Brees's senior year in 2000
has their been this much excitement revolving
around a Purdue Boilermakers team. Despite
their heart-breaking loss to Wisconsin, the
Boilermakers still have BCS aspirations
and would love to improve head coach Joe
Tiller's 1-6 record against the Wolverines.
Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton gets most
of his team's headlines - 19 touchdowns,
1,877 passing yards and a quarterback rat-
ing of 165.1 warrant them - but it will be the
Big Ten's third-best rushing defense that will
need to have a game-breaking performance