Septerber 13, 2005
By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Editor
By the end of Saturday's 17-10 loss to Notre
Dame, tight end Tyler Ecker was spent. He was
dehydrated, and the training staff had to pump him
full of fluids. Ecker played more than he was used
to and more than the coaching staff wanted him to,
but he was always ready for more.
"Tyler had some real fluid problems after that
game because he left everything out there," Michi-
gan coach Lloyd Carr said yesterday.
Before this season, the senior had caught passes
in just 14 games - and in only six games made
more than one catch. Heading into Saturday's game,
Ecker had made just 24 catches for 255 yards in his
career. Saturday, he put up numbers that were aston-
ishing by comparison: seven catches for 74 yards.
Michigan's offense often provides a large role
for the tight end. Three years ago, tight end Bennie
Joppru was second to Braylon Edwards in terms of
receptions and total reception yardage. That year,
Joppru grabbed 53 balls for 579 yards - an average
of 10.9 yards per catch. So Ecker's lack of produc-
tion for his first two seasons - he didn't play as a
freshman - was low not because he didn't fit into
the offense, but because of his position on the depth
chart. Ecker has played most of his career behind
fifth-year senior Tim Massaquoi, who this season
was voted preseason All-Big Ten first team.
But on Saturday, Massaquoi didn't warm up with
the team and wasn't dressed when the team ran out
onto the field. Minutes before kickoff, he walked
onto the field at Michigan Stadium with his right
arm in a sling. Massaquoi wouldn't talk after the
game, and Carr wouldn't comment on the extent of
his injury. But most of the attention was on Ecker
Ecker might have been the lone bright spot for
a Michigan offense that racked up 337 yards but
turned the ball over twice in the red zone.
"I thought he played really hard," Carr said. "I
thought he caught the ball well, and I think he did
some things to get open. And Tyler Ecker is a heck
of a football player."
But even though Ecker doesn't have a ton of
catches, he has gotten quite a lot of game experi-
ence. Michigan often rotates three tight ends into
the game - Massaquoi, Ecker and sophomore
Mike Massey. Last season, in Michigan's comeback
Pioneer's mantra a
lesson in toughness
B efore we get going with this would perform in this event, which pit-
column, I'm going to ask you to ted Ak-O-Makkers against their brother
do something that could prove to campers across the lake at Chikopi.
be quite difficult - stop thinking about As the meal concluded, Rosemary,
football for a minute. nwho was co-owner of the
I know it's hard. I, too, camp her father founded for
was crushed by the results her, gingerly hobbled to the
of last weekend's game. center of the main house.
But I think that it's worth it In my few weeks there, I
at the beginning of a new had never actually heard
school year, a time when her speak extensively - I
freshman in particular are assumed she operated as a
becoming indoctrinated in figurehead.
University culture, to take At first, her voice was
the time to remember how as wobbly as her steps. But
our athletic forefathers (or MEGAN what began as a shaky lec-
in this case, foremothers) KOLODGY ture morphed into a bold,
helped create the distinc- Megology 101 feminist diatribe. Instead
tive Michigan tradition of merely telling us that we
that keeps us trekking to the Big House, could swim faster than those Chikopi
Crisler or any other Michigan venue boys, she regaled us with anecdotes of
week after week. Plus, I think we could the many Ak-O-Makkers who actually
all use a little boost to our pride in the out-touched their counterparts at the
Maize and Blue. dock.
In this spirit, let me introduce you to "If a boy gets in front of you, and he's
Rosemary Dawson, formerly Rosemary close enough to reach, yank him back by
Mann, daughter of legendary Michigan the feet and swim ahead!" she roared.
and Olympic swimming coach, Matt At this point the more experienced
Mann II. Although she was too-often campers chortled knowingly, but all
referred to as Mann's daughter, or as her I could manage was a dumbfounded
husband Buck Dawson's wife (Dawson expression.
founded the International Swimming Rosemary continued on her intense,
Hall of Fame), Rosemary's accomplish- yet endearing rant for several minutes,
ments stood sturdily on their own. She and concluded with a trademark mantra.
was a pioneering and successful swim- "So, how tough are you?" she cried.
ming and water polo coach at the Uni- "Tough enough," the audience bel-
versity despite struggling with diabetes, lowed.
which finally took her life before the The message of that terse, but poi-
summer of 2003. gnant phrase permeated Rosemary's
Of course, I didn't know all this when actions throughout her life. She was, in
I caught my first glimpse of Rosemary's essence, the first female coach of the
personality. Initially, I saw her as a non- first women's sports team at the Uni-
descript elderly woman. .versity. Before women's varsity sports,
It was July 1997 - the eve of Camp before Title IX, there was Rosemary,
Ak-O-Mak's annual 5K swimming race standing poolside, coaching what was
- and each of the 100 or so girls who then known as "The Ladies Speed Swim
called the rickety cabins and icy lake Club."
in Northern Ontario her summer home In this era, the athletic department
voraciously carbo-loaded in preparation would not allow a female to be called
for the event. The 13-year-old version of "coach," instead giving her the milder
myself unenthusiastically scratched her moniker of adviser. This, of course,
collection of mosquito bites. did not affect the manner in which she
Although I looked forward to partici- operated. To the contrary - it was
pating in an open-water race, where I fuel for the already blazing fire of her
wouldn't have that nagging "hamster on determination. While coping with a
a wheel" feeling that troubled me in the dearth of support from Michigan, she
pool, I was rather apathetic about how I See KOLODGY, page 12
Senior Tyler Ecker had a career day against Notre Dame on Saturday, catching seven passes for 74 yards.
win over Minnesota, Ecker had the game-winning
catch, a 31-yard score on second-and-one in which
he ran over two of the Gopher's defenders.
"He and Tim rotate so much that (it wasn't a
problem)," Massey said. "Tyler is a great player and
Tim is a great player. So it was really nothing new
Massey also helped fill the Massaquoi void dur-
ing Saturday's game. He caught two passes for three
yards - the first two receptions of his career. But
Ecker's performance was especially important given
the struggles of the receiving corps. Senior co-cap-
tain Jason Avant had five catches for 90 yards, but
the next three wideouts - Steve Breaston, Doug
Dutch and Mario Manningham - combined for
just four catches and 50 yards.
"They always, defensively, have the chance to
take a guy out of the game," Carr said. "They can
always double a guy and now you have to be able to
go somewhere else during the game."
For a lot of game, "somewhere else" was to
Ecker. When Michigan got the ball back with three
minutes left in the first quarter, the Wolverines
needed to get something started. Their first two
drives had both stalled and Michigan was desperate
to put some points on the board before the end of
the quarter. When a screen pass to sophomore Mike
Hart didn't work, quarterback Chad Henne went to
Ecker over the middle. The completion went for 17
yards and gave Michigan just its second first down
of the game, although the Wolverines punted four
Ecker was also the intended target of one of
Henne's worst throws of the game, even though he
never touched the ball. On second-and-nine from
See ECKER, page 11
E IC ED
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