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November 03, 2004 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-03

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November 3, 2004

SPE fR TSgan Bailu



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

still on side
of nirvana
By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan was in desperate need of some good fortune.
Sophomore Garrett Rivas had just kicked a field goal
to cut Michigan State's lead to 27-13 on Saturday, but
time was quickly dwindling on the Wolverines.
And then backup fullback Brian
Thompson made the biggest play of
his football career.
It was the redshirt sophomore who
jumped on Rivas's onside kick with
6:27 left in the fourth quarter - a
play that instantly made Michigan's
comeback dreams possible.
"It was an unbelievable feeling," Thompson said. "Gar-
rett made a great kick and I just happened to be there."
On the play, Michigan lined up with two kickers on
the field - Rivas and senior Troy Nienberg. Rivas came
from the right side and nailed alow line drive. The ball
didn't travel the required 10 yards, but it banged off a
Michigan State defender and bounced back into Thomp-
son's arms.
"We had worked on (the two-kicker formation) before,"
Rivas said. "With onside kicks, it gets a little tricky. You
just hope to get a good bounce and hope that it hits off
someone's pads or something like that.
"It just worked out like we wanted to."
Following the recovery, Michigan needed just two
plays and 15 seconds to pull within seven points on a
Michigan State on a Chad Henne-to-Braylon Edwards
touchdown pass. The Wolverines would tie the score at
27 three minutes later.
But aside from giving Michigan a chance to rally from
behind, the onside kick also served to reignite the thin-
ning Michigan Stadium crowd. Almost immediately, the

Blue should embrace

Brian Thompson, pictured kicking In Michigan's win over Indiana, revived the Wolverines on Saturd,
recovering Garrett Rivas's onside kick in the fourth quarter.

Wolverine faithful were brought back to life - though
Thompson would have to wait until he got off the field
following the onside kick to realize that.
"I couldn't hear anything, I was in my own little zone,"
said Thompson of the crowd's reaction when he fell on
the ball. "Honest to God, you're just kind of in a whole
little nirvana."
There may have been more highlight-worthy plays in
Michigan's comeback victory. But for Thompson - a
Saginaw native whose brother Shawn was a tight end at
Michigan from 1998-2001 - his role in the win couldn't
have been bigger
"A lot of people rank their favorite games as the over-

time against Penn State (in 2002) or the field goal against
Washington (in 2001) or Minnesota last year," Thomp-
son said. "But, being from Michigan, this was the best
thing that I could have ever been a part of. I will never
forget it."
You oA HEis-MAN: After eclipsing the 200-yard mark
on the ground for the third straight game, freshman run-
ning back Mike Hart's name was quietly bandied about
in the Heisman Trophy race.
But Michigan coach Lloyd Carr believes Hart's not the
Wolverine that should be following Chris Perry's foot-
steps to the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York.
See FOOTBALL, page 13

Ebbett, Gajic and Porter form one funny line

By Gabe Edelson
Daily Sports Writer
Maybe the players on the Michigan
hockey team's most productive scor-
ing line play so well together on the ice
because of how different they are off
of it.
Junior Andrew Ebbett's unassuming
demeanor and Kevin Porter's freshman
humility combine to keep two-thirds of
the unit calm, but senior Milan Gajic's
outgoing style spices things upa little.
"It's a bit of a clash when it comes to
personalities," Gajic said. "But (Ebbett
and Porter) both like to joke around,
and I'm a pretty big joker. I'll say things
sometimes just to get a rise out of them,

to see how they react."
Gajic's latest stunt has come at Por-
ter's expense. Throughout the season,
the senior has lightheartedly badgered
the freshman about not passing him
the puck.
"(I) just like to give him hell about
it," Gajic said. "We've even got his dad
involved now."
Said Porter: "My dad would call me
up and leave me messages on my cell
phone. He would say, 'Hey, this is Gajic.
Move me the puck. Pass me the puck.
I've got a stick, too.' After every game
Gajic will go talk to him, just to let
him know that I need to move the puck
But Porter's play this year has left

little to be desired.
"Porter is really finding his way
here," Ebbett said. "He's really working
hard and he's listened to everything that
everybody's told him. He just does his
job out there."
Gajic isn't shocked by his new line-
mate's quick start on the college level.
"We'd heard things about (Porter and
fellow freshman Chad Kolarik)," Gajic
said. "So it doesn't surprise me at all."
Still, Porter isn't completely happy
with his progress. He knows he still has
to continue to adjust to a quicker game
in the CCHA.
"I think I need to get used to the pace
a little more," Porter said. "(Ebbett and
Gajic) are a lot quicker, and I just need

The University of Michigan
S 1. Department of Recreational Sports L
SPORTS Intramural Sports Program SPORTS
JNTR AL WWW.recsports.umich.edu

Entries due:
Wed, 11/03
4:30 PM
IM Building
Entry Fee:
$180.00 per team
Manager's Meeting:
Thur, 11/04
6:30 PM
IM Building
Tournament Dates:
11/7- 11/18
Yost Ice Arena
ICe Hockey
Entries due:
Thur., 12/02
IM Building
Entry Fee:
$35.00 per team
$5.00 per individual
Manager's Meeting:
Thurs, 12/02
6:00 PM - IM Building
Tournament Dates:
Entries also Tues - Thurs,
taken online 12/07-12/09
Sports Coliseum

: Run

Entries due:
Thurs, 1 1/04
4:30 PM
IM Building
Entry Fee:
$25.00 per team
$5.00 per individual
taken online
11/06, 9:00 AM
hell Fields/Gallup Park

to pick up my speed a little bit. Their
first couple steps are real strong, and
they get off to a good start. It's hard to
catch them when they get going."
While practical jokes may steal
the attention, exceptional play from
Ebbett - who according to Michi-
gan coach Red Berenson is the line's
"glue" - has often gone unappreci-
ated. Ebbett quietly put up 38 points
last season, good for the second-best
mark on the team.
"I just kind of float under the radar,"
Ebbett said before practice on Monday.
"I do my job, I work hard and I make
sure my line's ready to go every night. It
doesn't bother me not getting any press.
As long as I go out there and work hard,
my teammates notice it and I notice it,
and that works for me."
Over the past two-plus years, Gajic
has come to appreciate what sets Ebbett
apart from most other skaters.
"(Ebbett) is such a great player," Gajic
said. "He moves the puck and his head
is always up. It would be really hard not
to have success with him because he's
just so good with the puck."
But it's Gajic who currently leads No.
3 Michigan (3-1-0 CCHA, 5-2-1 over-
all) in scoring with 10 points.
"(Gajic) is a very offensive-minded
guy, and that really helps me," Ebbett
said. "I'm able to get him the puck, and
he does the rest. He knows how to put
the puck in the net."
This season, all three linemates are
currently among the top five point-earn-
ers on the team. Ebbett sits third with
eight and Porter finds himself tied with
senior defenseman Eric Werner in the
fifth spot with six points.
"You've got a little bit of every-
thing there," Berenson said, referring
to the varying ages and styles of play
of the three forwards. "We've made
a lot of line changes for different
reasons, but right now they're defi-
nitely a line I can count on. Gajic is
a smart player and he's an opportun-
ist who can score. He can also make
good plays. Porter's a good two-way
player. Ebbett's a classic centerman.
If you play with (him), you should get
chances to score."
Gajic is satisfied playing on a line that
has registered at least a point in every
game this year except Saturday's shut-
out loss at Ferris State. But he believes
his team is deep enough to duplicate his
group's achievements with any combi-
nation of players.
"Just from the makeup of our for-
wards, you can't have a bad line on this
team," Gajic said.
Still, Ebbett is content to milk his
trio's scoring surge for all it's worth.
"We're just really clicking right now,"
he said.

Saturday 1_
Garden State of Mind
On Saturday, I witnessed the best
game I have ever seen in my four
years as a student at Michigan.
The 45-37 win over Michigan State
was amazing for the play on the field,
but maybe even more so because of the
atmosphere surrounding the game - an
environment that was directly related to
the amount of light in the sky. When the
sun set over the Big House, the atmo-
sphere drastically improved.
And that is why Michigan needs to
add a night home game toits schedule
each year.
This thought first crossed my mind
even before the game ended. As I
walked from the press box, down the
aisle between section 23 and 24 to get on
the field, I looked around me and decid-
ed: that we need to have a night game
each year, to recreate this atmosphere.
So after the game, when I saw Ath-
letic Director Bill Martin outside the
tunnel entrance to the stadium, I figured
I should at least see if he shared my sen-
I asked Martin whether or not he felt
any sort of atmosphere change between
the time it was light out, and after the
sun set.
"It just seemed like the momen-
tum turned for us in the second half,
when ..." Martin started out.
Yes! Maybe he does agree.
"..Braylon caught that firs score,"
Martin finished.
Martin went on to talk about how
the athletic department doesn't want to
play night games, and about the greater
responsibility that a night game puts on
him and his cohorts. A concern for Mar-
tin was public safety following a night
game - making sure that parking lots
were well lit, police were in place, etc.
Not to discount this as being unim-
portant, but if professional stadiums all
around the country can accommodate
their fans, I'm sure that we could make
the appropriate arrangements here in
Ann Arbor. Tennessee seems to host
104,000-plus at least once or twice a
year - there's no reason why a few
thousand more fans should be a problem
at the Big House.
One potential problem that Martin
didn't mention - but I'm sure has
crossed the minds of the administrators
- is the all-day tailgating that students
would most likely participate in before a
night game. It's true - students would
spend all afternoon drinking. But how is
that any worse than spending all morn-
ing drinking, like students do now before
the 3:30 games?
And I know arrests were high for
Saturday's game - 21 total - but that
number could be largely due to the oppo-
nent, not the time of the game. Should
0.0002 percent of the fans in Michigan
Stadium ruin it for everyone?
Martin even went as far as saying that
he wasn't fully convinced that students
would even want to go to night games.
With all due respect, students would eat
this idea up faster than free Pancheros on
a bar night.
Throwing a night game into the mix
would be an opportunity to take an oth-
erwise crappy Michigan cakewalk over
a team - like Miami (Ohio) - and
turn it into a game people would actu-
ally want to go to. Or, even better, take a
traditional rivalry game like Michigan's

Sept. 10 meeting with Notre Dame in
2005, and move that one back a few
hours ... Maize and Blue supporters
would never be more excited for a game
10 months away.

ight Lights
You think anyone would be opposed
to actually waking up at a reasonable
hour following a Friday night out on the
town and still having all day to tailgate?
How could they not love it? Think
back to how great the atmosphere was at
the end of Saturday's game.
Instead of equal levels of brightness
all around the stadium, when the sun set,
you could barely see the crowd, and fans
were able to focus solely on the well-lit
120-yards of turf in front of them.
The scoreboard was much brighter
and vibrant in the surrounding darkness,
and flashes went off throughout the sea
of 11,000-plus fans.
You could see players' shadows on
the field - not those one-dimensional
shadows the sun gives you, but the criss-
crossing X-shaped ones from the four
sets of lights.
Sure, any game between heated in-
state rivals will be big. But the aura of
the night game played a huge role in
making Saturday's game what it was.
And if Martin still doesn't think a
night game is worth considering, maybe
the TV networks could have some
influence. You think ESPN or ABC
wouldn't love to broadcast Michigan's
first-ever night game? Imagine the hype
that would surround this monumental
moment. And as everyone's noticed
lately through this SBC-fiasco, some-
times companies and networks can have
big influences.
One more reason to consider play-
ing under the lights: Maybe if Michi-
gan had more games broadcast to the
entire country (not just ABC regional),
guys like Braylon Edwards and Mike
Hart would be getting the national
hype they deserve.
If the students and the networks aren't
enough, what about player reactions?
"I wish we had a night game here at
Michigan Stadium," senior safety Ernest
Shazor told me after Saturday's game.
And Shazor wasn't the only Michigan
player who loved the idea.
"I think the fans get into ita little bit
more under the lights," tight end Tim
Massaquoi said. "I felt the crowd. The
crowd got rowdy."
Not surprisingly, this night game idea
tested through the roof with all the play-
ers I talked to after Saturday's win.
Usually, Michigan football players
are fairly reserved (some are just plain
unexcited) when they talk abotiany-
thing after a game. But on Saturday,
talking about playing under the lights,
the players were as giddy as a kid in a
candy store.
The closest thing I got to a negative
answer about a potential night game was
when Matt Lentz suggested that play-
ing one in November might be too cold
- a problem that some good scheduling
could easily solve.
So here's the idea: Take one of Mich-
igan's first few home games - from
September or early October - and shift
it later in the day by a few hours to a 7 or
8 p.m. start.
All in all, our home schedule would
be enhanced year after year by adding
a night game to the schedule. When I
think back on Big House football during
my four years at Michigan, the games
that stick out the most are-2002's win
over Washington (last-second field goal
by Phillip Brabbs), 2002's overtime win
against Penn State - which also ended
under the lights - and Saturday's win
over Michigan State.
And if things go the way they should,
maybe future Michigan students will
be able to make their own memories
of great games played entirely at night,
rather than just 3:30 games that go into

Daniel Bremmer would love to petition
the athletic department to play an annual
night game at Michigan Stadium. If you
support the cause, drop him an e-mail at

Cross Country Run


Michigan Stadium needs to see the lights.

Officials are needed!
Basketball - January 51°, 7:00 PM.
All clinics are held at the Intramural Sports Building.
Please contact David Siegle at
763-3562 for more information.

Elections 2004
The Next Four Years: What the Election Results
Suggest for Policymaking
Michigan's 13th District Representative John Dingell and 8th District Candidate
John J.H. "Joe" Schwarz
Wednesday, November 3, 2004 3:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Pendleton Room, Michigan Union
530 South State Street, Ann Arbor
These lectures are sponsored by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Institute for Social Research at the
University of Michigan. Each program includes time for questions from the audience. For more information, contact
fordevents@umich.edu or phone 734-764-3490.




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