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September 21, 2005 - Image 12

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Wednesday
September 21, 2005
sports. michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

PORTS

12

Don't forget to
look Avant's way

Steve Breaston was missing
in action until his dazzling
72-yard punt return against
Eastern Michigan last Saturday, but
he still hasn't scored a touchdown
this season.
One week earlier against Notre
Dame, Chad Henne had the worst
game of his Michigan career. In the
same game, Mike Hart aggravated
an injury that has kept him off the
field since.
The Michigan offense has given
fans and media alike a lot to talk
about over the past few weeks.
But all that chatter has often over-
looked the one constant for the
Wolverines this season, and that's

Jason Avant.
In three games, the
senior co-captain has
quietly caught 22 passes
for 310 yards - good
enough to lead the Big
Ten in both receptions
and receiving yards. At
this point last season,
Avant had five recep-
tions for 57 yards; in
2003, six catches for 79
yards. By any measure,
the Chicago native is

STEPH
WRI
Jtright on

having a career year.
But many of us are missing it.
After Saturday's game, most of
the coverage focused on Henne
rebounding from his woes against
the Irish,nand players like Antonio
Bass and Max Martin seeing their
first extensive action of the season.
Few media outletswdid more than
mention Avant's two touchdowns
- the first time in his career he's
scored multiple touchdowns in a
game.
Part of the reason is that, unlike
many of his teammates, Avant has
lived up to his preseason hype,
maybe even exceeding it.
When Braylon Edwards moved
on to the NFL after last season,
Avant and Breaston jointly inher-
ited'his role as Michigan's go-to
receiver. While Breaston has strug-
gled as a starter - catching five
passes for 44 yards - Avant has
excelled in his turn as the Wolver-
ines' most experienced skill-posi-
tion player.
That's one way an eight-recep-
tion, 93-yard, two-touchdown out-
ing can go unnoticed.
But an even better explanation
may be our own expectations of
what a star receiver should be.
After three games last year,
Edwards had 26 receptions,
350 yards and four touchdowns
- remarkably similar to Avant's
numbers this season. Even though
Avant is a Biletnikoff Award can-
didate this year, he has received a

fraction of the attention Edwards
got a season ago.
Because Avant has never been
Michigan's prime target in the end
zone - with eight touchdowns in
35 career games - or a consistent
deep-field threat, he's always been
less visible than Edwards, who
recorded 39 touchdowns in his
career.
Because Avant lacks Breaston's
elusiveness in the open field, he
is rarely considered one of the
nation's top playmakers.
Avant is the reliable third-down
receiver with Velcro hands who
blocks like a fullback, sacrifices
his body after almost every recep-
tion and cares more
about the team than
about himself. And that's
just not the type of play-
er who becomes a star.
Look at the NFL.
Many of the big-name
receivers (Terrell Owens
and Randy Moss, in
particular) have equally
big egos, which have
ANIE alienated them from
GHT teammates and coaches.
STr get Avant displays none of
the "me first" mentality
that helped make Moss and Owens
household names - or that, two
seasons ago, led Lloyd Carr to limit
Edwards's playing time.
Like most great receivers, Avant
surely wants the ball in his hands
when the game is on the line. And
he's not opposed to end zone cel-
ebrationsp he proved that after his
one-handed grab at Northwestern
in 2003.
But it's hard to imagine Avant,
who couldn't stop cheering for Bass
and Mario Manningham from the
sideline last Saturday, doing any-
thing to hurt his team, especially
this season.
"It's not a Biletnikoff thing; it's
a win for Michigan deal with me,"
Avant said after the Wolverines'
win over Northern Illinois. "When
I got selected as captain, every one
of my goals individually went out
the window. All I want to do is help
the team win. That's the biggest
responsibility I have."
And for the past four years,
that's exactly what Avant has done.
Unfortunately, it's probably the rea-
son his accomplishments have gone
relatively unnoticed.
Avant may never command
the same attention as Edwards or
Breaston. Because he's not that
type of player or that type of guy.
But he deserves it.
Wright can be reached
at smwr@umich.edu

DAVID TUMAN/Daily

Redshirt freshman Morgan Trent successfully switched from wide receiver to defensive back this spring.

*1

Switch doesn't slow down speedy Trent

By Matt Venegoni
Daily Sports Editor

In football, many say speed kills. Michigan
cornerback redshirt freshman Morgan Trent
definitely has that going for him. But as the
season has progressed, he has become better
known for the plays he makes rather than just
for how fast he is.
Trent came to Michigan last year as a wide
receiver but was moved from that position to
the defensive backfield during spring practice
last April.
"Coach Carr thought it would be a good fit
for me," Trent said. "So we went through the
spring, and it went pretty smooth. So we decid-
ed to do the switch."
So far, that change has paid dividends for
Trent and the Wolverines. In his first few games
as a collegiate player, Trent has impressed.
In Michigan's 17-10 loss to Notre Dame,
Trent showed poise at his new position by
keeping containment on a reverse by Irish wide
receiver Rhema McKnight. It looked like McK-
night had room to run, but Trent made a solid
open-field tackle against the speedy receiver,
impressing Carr.
"He stayed home, and we came up with a big

loss," Carr said.
Later, Trent had man-to-man coverage, and
he forced an incompletion, causing Notre Dame
to punt.
All of that was just a warmup for the Brighton
native, who, in Saturday's game against Eastern
Michigan, notched his first career interception. In the
second quarter, Trent dropped into his zone of cover-
age and saw Eagles quarterback Matt Bohnet look for
wide receiver A.J. Bennett deep down the right side-
line. The six-foot cornerback went up and snatched the
ball in midair.
"(Safety)Jamesr Adas gave me a great re-
route on the No. 2 receiver, so I just did my job
and spread the No. Iand No. 2, and it was right
there," Trent said. "It happened so fast, I didn't
know what happened until I got tackled."
Unfortunately for Michigan fans, Trent didn't
get to show off his blazing speed. Instead, he
was tackled by Bennett as soon as he caught
the ball.
"I wish I could have (scored a touchdown),"
Trent said. "After watching the film I'll prob-
ably see that I could have done something but
we got the ball, so that works. Everybody kept
saying if I went inside instead of outside, they
would have my block."
With the nonconference season over, Trent

has made the transition from offense to defense
look relatively easy. He understands that some
of the nuances from the receiver position have
helped him make the adjustment to corner.
"(It helps) being able to get in the mindset
of the receiver, knowing what they're going to
do, looking at their splits and thinking what I
would do," Trent said.
Other than his own personal experience, Trent
also has been able to lean on both current and
former Wolverines for advice. He acknowledg-
es that going up against receivers Jason Avant
and Steve Breaston in practice has helped' hf1i
since "they're some of the best receivers in the
country." Additionally, Trent gets advice from
older cornerbacks such as starters Leon Hall
and Grant Mason and even former standout
Marlin Jackson, who he still speaks to.
"They're making it a lot easier for me -
they're always helping." Trent said.
Their guidance and Trent's speed has helped
him gat playing time, but Michigan fans should
look for even more contributions from the
young corner.
"I just try to do what I can," Trent said.
"When I get an opportunity to play, I try to do
my best. As long as they keep putting me out
there, I'm going to do what I can."

Netters hope
fiery Maravic
will lead team
By Dan Feldman
For the Daily
Native-Croatian Matko Maravich, a sopho-
more on the Michigan men's tennis team, had
a rude awakening to sports in America.
During his junior year of high school,
Maravich participated in a youth exchange
program that sent him to Grand Rapids, where
he attended East Grand Rapids High School.
While there, he participated in his first flag
football game.
"I got the ball, started running and got
tackled by one of the players that currently
plays (football) for Michigan," Maravich said.
"It was funny, though. I was just so confused
because I didn't know much about football,
flag football or any of that stuff."
Maravich declined to name the player, but
did say he is a running back.
Luckily for the men's tennis team, Marav-
ich's transition from tennis in Croatia to ten-
nis in America was much smoother.
"We play on clay a lot, and here it's all
hard court," Maravich said. "We play on hard
court (in Croatia) as well, but not throughout
the whole season. (Adjusting) was not a prob-
lem at all."
Maravich started last season at No. 4

W 'S GOLF
Walk-on hopes to excel
after redshirt season

By Lindsey Ungar
Daily Sports Writer
As a freshman, Michigan golfer Rose
Cassard crossed one hurdle - making the
team as walk-on - only to be stopped by
another.
She was redshirted her first year.
Cassard wasn't discouraged and man-
aged to keep her focus on making the cut
as a sophomore this season.
She just started playing golf in high
school, and she knew she needed more
consistency in her game to match the
quality on the Michigan team. She's
also in the engineering program and had
already planned to stay five years, so
being redshirted fit nicely into her aca-
demic schedule.
"Coming into this year, I knew I wasn't
ready last year," Cassard said.
But early signs have given both Cas-
sard and Michigan coach Kathy Teichert
reasons to believe that this could be the
breakthrough season. After a poor perfor-
mance in the Colorado Women's Open this
summer, Cassard made it to the match-play
semifinals of the Michigan Women's Ama-
teur Championship. She lost to the eventual
champion, Mandi McConnell of Michigan
State, but the strong finish was an indica-
tion of the maturity in her game, according

255 total (87-80-88). Her disappointing play
matched that of the team, which finished sixth
out of fifteen teams after winning the tourna-
ment last season.
Cassard knows shooting in the 80s is not
good enough if she wants to be a permanent
fixture on the roster. But it is something she
does not intend to repeat.
"It's definitely an experience that I can
learn from," Cassard said. "I just need to
do better next time. I think I will."
Teichert attributed the high scores to
Cassard not hitting the ball well and focus-
ing too much on the negatives in her game
over the weekend. Sometimes this takes a
toll on the mental part of the competition,
Teichert said.
"Being the engineer she is, she ana-
lyzes everything too much," Teichert said.
"That's where experience comes in. The
more you do it the better you become."
Cassard acknowledges that, when she
overanalyzes the problem, it hurts her
game.
"During practice, I wasn't hitting the
ball well. My tempo disappeared," Cas-
sard said. "Then I tried harder to shoot
lower scores, but it's not something you
can make happen. You just have to let it
happen."
Cassard quickly bounced back after
the dismal performance, shooting a 74

01

Sophomore Matko Maravich has adapted well in his transition to the United States.

team's three juniors (Ryan Heller, Brian Hung
and Steve Peretz) all posses leadership skills, the
coach said that Maravich, the lone sophomore on
the team, is the most vocal of all the players, an
assessment Maravich agrees with.
"I am naturally (vocal)," Maravich said. "It
is a part of my personality. I am not going to
hesitate to talk to anyone."
Maravich is often outspoken in practice.
"I simply talk to (my teammates)," Marav-

"I yell a lot - usually 'dobar,' which means
'come on' in Croatian," Mandarich said.
Berque said that Maravich's emotions may
have hindered him slightly last year, but he
was never too worried about it.
"When he was mad when things weren't going
his way, he tended to rush," Berque said. "Some-
times he got excited and didn't think, but his
energy is a huge asset. It wasn't a big problem,
and I expect it to be even less of a problem this

I

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