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January 05, 2005 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-05

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4B - The Michigan Daily - SportsWednesday - January 5, 2005
TEXAS 38, MICHIGAN 37

To solve the defense,
examine the offense

GAME STATISTICS

Team Stats
First Downs
Rush/Yds
Passing Yards
Offensive Plays
Total Offense
Return Yards
Comp/Att/Int
Punts/Avg
Fumbles/Lost
Penalties/Yards
Time of Poss

TEXAS
25
46/264
180
74
444
223
16/28/1
4/39.8
1/1
5/40
32:40

MICH
17
31/125
227
65
352
223
18/34/0
5/42.0
1/0
9/67
27:20

SHARAD MATTU
Mattu fast, Mattu furious
PASADENA, Calif. - When
Lloyd Carr finally sits down to
figure out exactly how to revamp
the defense (with or without defen-
sive coordinator Jim Herrmann), he
ought to keep in mind the way he and
his assistants have revolutionized the
offense.
Think "revolutionized" is going too
far? Well, think back to the beginning
of the season when the Wolverines
were supposed to go as far as their
defense would take them. That's when
they were still trying to find a running
back and true freshman quarterback
Chad Henne was just settling in. Back
then, the defense even managed to
exceed expectations.
But then each unit took a drastic
turn.
The Wolverines allowed mobile
quarterbacks such as Michigan State's
Drew Stanton and Ohio State's Troy
Smith to pick them apart. Then, with
nearly a month to prepare, they allowed
Texas's Vince Young to do the same.
While the defense stumbled, the
offense developed into a balanced and
explosive unit. It gutted out wins over
Minnesota and Purdue with late scores,
exploded late for an epic overtime vic-
tory under the lights against Michigan
State and capped the season by scoring
37 points against an excellent Long-
horns defense.
The Wolverines are going to lose
one of their best players ever in receiver
Braylon Edwards and other valuable
offensive players in center David Baas
and fullback Kevin Dudley, but they still
could be an offensive juggernaut next
year. Henne and Mike Hart have just

begun their careers, and receivers Jason
Avant and Steve Breaston have shown
over the course of the season that, when
healthy, they can step up and be stars.
But Michigan's offense didn't
become great this year solely because
it has great players; in fact, its defense
has just as much talent. No, the reason
one unit was peaking and the other was
reeling is coaching.
Once known for their grind-it-out
running game, the Wolverines are now
known for sending quarterback after
quarterback to the NFL and having
perhaps the best receiving corps in the
nation.
And these changes didn't happen on
their own. Although assistant coaches
rarely speak to the media and little is
known about them, it's clear that, on
offense, Michigan has some of the best.
It's why - even if the talent on next
year's team doesn't quite stack up with
this year's - the offense will likely
continue to put up points.
There's quarterbacks coach Scot
Loeffler, who Henne said is one of
the biggest reasons he came to Ann
Arbor and who John Navarre credits
for much of his development while at
Michigan.
Loeffler made Henne's transition
to college football smoother than ever
seemed possible. In Pasadena, the
young quarterback was composed and
spread the ball around like the veteran
that he isn't. His final numbers for the
season - 25 touchdowns to just 12
interceptions and a completion per-
centage over 60 - are stellar, but he
wasn't headed to these kind of numbers
five games into the season. That rapid
improvement can be credited, in large
part, to Loeffler.
In offensive coordinator Terry Malo-
ne and running backs coach Fred Jack-
son, Michigan has two more coaches
who have made sure that its offense is
all that it can be.
This season, the coaches started
freshmen at quarterback and running
back, something that is completely
unheard of at Michigan. They were

PASSING
Player
Henno
Totals
RUSHING
Player
Hart
Martin
Edwards
Breaston
Henne
Totals
RECEIVING
Player
Edwards
Breaston
Massequoi
Ecker
Hart
Totals

C-A Yds TD
18-34 227 4
18.34 227 4

Att
21
3
2
3
2
31
No.
10
3
2
2
1
18

M I C H I G A N

willing to open the offense up and put
four receivers on the field and pass
the ball on nearly every down if they
thought it would work.
Up just three points in the fourth
quarter against Texas, the Wolverines
attempted a flea-flicker, something that
seems very unlike them but really isn't.
As well as the offense played late
this season, it's possible that, with three
more years of Henne and Hart, the
best is yet to come. And with offensive
coaches that are as bold and daring
as any Michigan team has ever had,
there's an excellent chance the offense
will reach its potential.
If we can say the same about the
defense one year from now, then we
may be talking about a third straight
Rose Bowl, in which case Michigan
would be playing for the national
championship.
Sharad Mattu can be reached at
smattu @umich.edu.

PUNTING
Player
Finley
Totals
KICKOFF RETURNS
Player No.
Breaston 1
Totals 1
PUNT RETURNS
Player No.
Breaston 6
Totals 6
DEFENSE
Player
Woodley
Jackson
McClintock
Shazor
Burgess
Reid
Manning
Hall
Mundy
Hood
Biggs
Nienberg
Mason
Opong-Owusu
campbell
Of ili
Graham
Dudley
Massey
Watson
Tabb
Englemon
Sarantos

Yds
83
18
17
15
-8
143
Yds
109
77
19
18
4
227
No.
5
5
Yds
2
2
Yds
221
221
Solo
9
6
6
6
4
5
3
3
1
2
1
1
1
1
1

Avg
4.0
6.0
8.5
5.0
-4.0
4.0
Avg
10.9
25.7
9.5
9
4.0
12.6

Lg
12
8
9
8
2
12
Lg
39
50
20
9
4
50

Yds Avg Lg
210 42.0 49
210 42.0 49
Avg Lg TD
2.0 2 0
2.0 2 0
Avg Lg TD
36.8 53 0
36.8 53 0
Asst Tot
2 11
3 9
2 8
1 7
3 7
0 5
0 3
0 3
2 3
0 2
1 2
1 2
1 2
0 1
0 1
0 1
0 1
0 1
0 1
0 1
1 1
1 1
1 1

0

int
O
TO
TD
0
0
0
0
0
O
TD
0
0
0
4

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, bottom, played true freshmen at quarterback and running
back in Chad Henne, top, and Mike Hart.

Edwards passes torch to Breaston in Pasadena

BIG TEN STANDINGS

By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer
PASADENA, Calif. - As the sun set
at the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day, it
also set on one of the greatest careers in
Michigan football history. But the night-
fall provided a new light into Michigan's
future.
In his last game donning the Maize and
Blue, senior Braylon Edwards made his
mark whenever he was called upon. As
Texas quarterback Vince Young eluded
the Michigan defense all over the field, it
was Edwards that provided the consistent
answer for the Wolverines on the offensive
end. Edwards finished with 10 catches for
three touchdowns and 109 yards.
If Edwards's dropped deep pass in

the first quarter of last year's Rose Bowl
against Southern Cal represented his
junior year, his outstanding performance
on Saturday represented a thrilling senior
year in which he earned the Biletnikoff
Award as the nation's top wide receiver.
A year ago, people were wondering
whether Michigan's No. 1 was worth
the trouble. Now, Edwards is viewed as
a model player and ambassador for the
University.
"He's had an All-American year,"
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "He
was a great football player on the field,
he was a great leader on our team and
the thing that I'm very, very proud of
- and that I had nothing to do with -
is that person off the field. He's been a
great representative of the University of

Michigan, and that goes back to the day
he came here."
Against Texas, Edwards -showed his
ability to do it all, whether it was jump-
ing up and snatching the ball in the cor-
ner of the endzone or taking a quick pass
and running for a first down. He scored
his first touchdown in the second quarter
when he caught a deep bomb from fresh-
man quarterback Chad Henne in double
coverage, corralling the ball before fall-
ing out of bounds. Edwards then helped
tie the game at the end of the half when
he caught a pass wide open in the back of
the endzone on a crucial third-and-goal
from the Texas eight. Later in the third
quarter, he gave Michigan the lead, when,
easily caught a quick slant during the few
instances he was in single coverage.

Despite the Wolverines' loss, Edwards
earned any respect he didn't have from
the Longhorns previously.
"My hats off to that guy," Young said.
"(He has) great hands. He took some big
hits but popped right back up. That's the
type of athlete I like to see."
Following the Rose Bowl, Edwards
finished the season with 97 receptions
for 1,330 yards and 15 touchdowns. He
now leaves Ann Arbor with 252 recep-
tions, 3,542 receiving yards, 39 touch-
downs and 16 100-yard receiving games
- all school records. He is projected to
be at least a top-15 pick in the upcoming
NFL draft.
"I'm very excited that I came back,"
Edwards said. "Getting a chance to wear
that winged helmet for another season,
playing with this great group of guys,
being under coach Carr's tutelage for
another year and learning so much more
than football (and) learning life lessons
- it allowed me to mature as a man and
allowed me to leave the nest and go out in
the real world."
When Edwards wasn't providing the
spark, it appeared in sophomore Steve
Breaston. His performance reminded
Michigan fans of his freshman season,
when he became a favorite with his elec-
trifying return ability. Breaston took the
game's opening kickoff down the left
sideline before he was taken down from
behind at midfield. The return was the
beginning of a 315-total-yard perfor-
mance, breaking a Rose Bowl record
previously held by O.J. Simpson.
For Breaston, this year has also been a
maturation process but in a different man-
ner. After being a shining star as a redshirt
freshman on last season's team, Breaston
never seemed to recover from the surgery
he had for a stress fracture in his right
foot. He also broke his finger before the
Iowa game. Instead of flying free with the
ball, Breaston looked sluggish.
Breaston said after the game that he
was never able to feel 100 percent with
the grind of playing every week. But,

following a bye week, Breaston showed
glimpses of last season with a 61-yard
punt return for a touchdown against
Northwestern.
After the long layoff, Breaston proved
the rust had come off from the opening
kickoff against Texas. Carr said Michi-
gan had the opportunity to work more on
the kicking game during the long layoff,
and it showed. Breaston had three returns
of over 40 yards.
Junior wide receiver Jason Avant
didn't play because he was still recov-
ering from surgery on his left knee, but
Breaston stepped up as Michigan's sec-
ond receiver.
"Steve filled in for Jason (Avant) in
terms of emotion," Edwards said. "From
the start - from his kick returns to his
50-yard touchdown to his attitude as he
approached the game - he filled that
void that Jason had left."
Breaston's best play of the day came
after found himself wide open on a route
on the left side of the field. After catching
a pass from Henne, Breaston broke to the
right and blew by the Texas defense for a
50-yard score.
"I like him," Texas co-defensive coor-
dinator Greg Robinson said. "He's a
smooth route runner, and I see talent in
him. It caused me a lick when he caught
it and started to go with it. When I saw
him with a little green grass, I was wor-
ried because I knew he could run."
Now that Edwards' college career
is complete, Breaston will become one
part of the young offensive nucleus for
the Wolverines that also includes Henne
and running back Mike Hart. Although
Edwards has finished writing his Michi-
gan legacy, he knows the tradition of the
offense will still carry on.
"It's pretty sad that I won't get a chance
to play with him anymore, but Steve has
to carry the team now - he has to carry
the torch," Edwards said. "Steve is going
to have to carry it on all cylinders - on
offense and special teams. But he's the
type of guys that can do it."

Team

ig Ten Ovenrall

Ivan I "IsINWIN vivgcan

Iowa.
Michigan
Wisconsin
Northwestern
Ohio State
Purdue
Michigan State
Minnesota
Penn State
Illinois
Indiana

7 .
7
6
5
4
4
4
3
2
1
1

1
i
1
2
3
4
4
4
5
6
7
7

10
9
9
6
8
7
5
7
4
3
3

2
3
3
6
4
5
7
5
7
8
8

Bowl game results:
Alamo Bowl
Ohio State 33, Oklahoma State 7
Music City Bowl
Minnesota 20, Alabama 16
Sun Bowl
Arizona St. 27, Purdue 23
Outback Bowl
Georgia 24, Wisconsin 21
Capital One Bowl
Iowa 30, LSU 25
Rose Bowl
Texas 38, Michigan 37

n I v n y Dily
Michigan wide receiver Steve Breaston breaks off a 50-yard touchdown reception In the third quarter of the Rose Bowl.

C MICHIGAN FOOTBALL: FINAL GRADES
Offense Defense.Special Teams Coachng{
A C B+
* .-.A..............f.n .. . . .

TONY DING/Daily
Michigan quarterback Chad Henne
UP NEXT:
SPRING GAME
This spring, the Wolverines will recon-
vene for spring practice. Michigan will
look to replace Braylon Edwards, Marlin
Jackson, David Baas and a slew of other
Wolverines. But Michigan will return a
number of offensive stars, including
Jason Avant, Steve Breaston, Mike Hart,
and Chad Henne. Michigan opens up its
season in September at home against
Nnrthern lllinni It alsn faces two othAr

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