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November 17, 2005 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-17

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Thursday
November 17, 2005
sports.michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily. com

Ohe WRi TSn Bailg

5A

Game may
hinge on
specialists
By Gabe Edelson
Daily Sports Writer
The pivotal play in last year's Michigan-Ohio State
game occurred with neither Wolverines quarterback
Chad Henne nor Buckeyes signal-caller Troy Smith
on the field. Braylon Edwards and Mike Hart were
also on the sideline. Ohio State starting running back
Lydell Ross was nowhere to be found.
With just five minutes gone in the second half and
the Buckeyes leading, 20-14, former Michigan punt-
er Adam Finley booted a 48-yard bomb inside Ohio
State's 20-yard line. The Buckeyes' punt returner,
then-freshman Ted Ginn Jr., put some moves on a
few would-be tacklers before breaking free and out-
running the rest of the Wolverines' coverage unit for
an 82-yard touchdown gallop. The Buckeyes took a
commanding 13-point lead and quickly widened the
gap, eventually downing Michigan 37-21.
"(Ginn) ripped our hearts out when he scored,"
said linebacker David Harris, who saw his only action
that day on the punt team. "He was the fastest man on
the field, and nobody was able to catch him."
Harris's recollection calls attention to a crucial but fre-
quently underappreciated part of football: special teams.
Well-executed punts and kickoffs can strongly influ-
ence a game's outcome by giving a team a field-position
advantage. Missed tackles, poor kick-coverage and long
returns can blow a game wide open in a matter of sec-
onds. Field goals and extra points have an obvious impact
on the score and can also affect the flow of a game.
Special teams have played an especially huge role
in the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. The last two Wol-
verines to win the Heisman Trophy, Charles Wood-
son and Desmond Howard, are remembered largely
for punt returns against the Buckeyes. Woodson's 78-
yard return for a touchdown in 1997 and Howard's
93-yard scoring sprint in 1991 rank among the most
memorable plays in Michigan history.
"Looking back at the history of this game since I've
been in it, special teams almost always play a criti-
cal role in winning or losing," coach Lloyd Carr said.
"I think every player understands that on every single
play, there is an opportunity to make something hap-
pen or there is a chance to make a mistake. Everybody
understands that every single play is important, and
any time two teams play with that mindset, normally it
means great intensity and a great football game."
Both Ohio State and Michigan boast game-break-
ing personnel on special teams this year. Ginn
still handles the kickoff and punt return duties for
the Buckeyes, and although his numbers are down
from last year - when he led the nation with 25.6
yards per punt return and scored four touchdowns,
compared to this year's 12.2-yard average and one
score - he remains one of the most exciting big-play

Toledo native
laments war loss

FILE PHOTO
Ohio State receiver and return specialist Ted Ginn Jr. broke last year's game open with an 82-yard punt return.

threats in -the country. Ginn ranks in the top-five in
the Big Ten for both punt and kickoff returns, and
Ohio State receiver Santonio Holmes averages an
impressive 14.7 yards per punt return. The Buckeyes
rank first in kickoff returns in the Big Ten.
"Ohio State has explosive returners," said receiver
Carl Tabb, who returns kickoffs and plays on the kick-
coverage unit. "They have their best players on spe-
cial teams, which creates problems for other teams.
... Ted Ginn is probably one of the best returners I've
seen. But, to be honest with you, one man doesn't
make or break a unit."
Michigan's Steve Breaston picked up most of his 201
all-purpose yards in last week's game against Indiana on
returns. The redshirt junior receiver provides the Wol-
verines with a similarly gifted athlete on special teams.
After getting off to a slow start this season due to injury,
Breaston has turned in some tremendous performances
recently. A 52-yard touchdown catch at Iowa and a 95-
yard kickoff return for a score against Minnesota pro-
vided a glimpse of what Breaston is capable of.
"I think certainly we've got to do a great job pre-
paring for their return game, and certainly Steve is a
weapon for us," Carr said. "That dimension makes
for a great football game. ... Certainly when you
have skilled people like Ohio State has, like we have,

you have an opportunity to create great field posi-
tion (and) you have an opportunity to create great
momentum shifts."
When it comes to the kicking game, the Buckeyes
have a couple fresh faces this season. Sixth-year senior
Josh Huston has replaced last year's placekicker, Mike
Nugent, who now plays for the New York Jets. Huston
leads the Big Ten in field-goal percentage and scor-
ing among kickers, and he hasn't missed a field goal
shorter than 49 yards all season. Redshirt freshman
A.J. Trapasso has taken over punting duties from Kyle
Turano, and he's averaging over 40 yards per attempt.
Michigan placekicker Garrett Rivas sits second in the
Big Ten in field-goal percentage and field goals per game.
Kickoff specialist Ross Ryan has boomed 35 of his 59
kickoffs for touchbacks while averaging 38.6 yards per
attempt as the Wolverines' punter this season.
Both Michigan and Ohio State know that errors on
special teams must be minimized on Saturday.
"I can't make any mistakes," Tabb said. "My
mistakes may cost my team a touchdown or the
game, and that is not something that I'm willing
to put on my shoulders. So when it comes to prac-
ticing this week, I'm going to do everything I can
to make sure I'm not the one that makes a crucial
mistake at a critical time."

veryone knows that this heated
battle between the Buckeyes
and the Wolverines . has been
going on for a long, long time. Few,
however, realize exactly how ancient
the rivalry is.
The initial battle - war,
actually - occurred in
1835, not in 1897, as the
record books suggest. So
what catalyzed the now-
epic conflict?
Toledo, Ohio.
For those of you who
don't know, Toledo is a
medium-sized city about 50
miles south of Ann Arbor, .ME
just five miles beyond the KOL
Michigan border. For those
of you who are familiar Megol
with the "Glass City," you
might be a little confused as to why
anyone would fight over it. Although it
boasts an excellent art museum, a pret-
ty awesome zoo and is my hometown,
one can't help but notice the plethora of
abandoned buildings and nondescript
strip malls scattered around downtown.
The peculiar dispute began with a
question of who owned the so-called
Toledo strip --the area around the
mouth of the Maumee River. The North-
west Ordinance gave Ohio the land in
1787, but the border was later redrawn
so that the strip officially belonged to
Michigan. But the Buckeyes were reso-
lute - first come, first serve.
What followed was one of the
more iridiculous episodes in Ameri-
can history.
In 1833, Michigan applied for state-
hood, but Ohio congressmen wouldn't
admit it to the Union until Michigan
agreed to the Ohio version of the bor-
der. After fuming for years, both states'
militias decided to take action. They
planned to meet somewhere on the strip,
but both legions got lost in the Black
Swamp, which covered most of the area.
When they finally stumbled into one
another, little violence ensued.
The war's only casualty - which
actually took place at a tavern - was
a Michigan sheriff, who was stabbed
in the thigh by Two (not to be con-
fused with his brother, One) Stickney,
an Ohioan. It took the intervention of
President Andrew Jackson to quell the
dispute.
Michigan still wanted its statehood,
but again, the Buckeyes in Congress
were resolute, and wouldn't allow it.
Finally, Michigan compromised and
received the Upper Peninsula, while
Ohio got its way and could officially
claim Toledo as its own.
And thus, Michiganders had their
first excuse to dislike their neighbors to
the south. Since then, the Buckeyes have
provided us with plenty of fodder to fuel
the sometimes-ugly rivalry. Here, in no
particular order, are a few more:
Putting their noses where they
don't belong: Last year, upon its arrival
in Columbus, the Michigan football

G
O
og

team was forced to stand in a long line
waiting to be sniffed by search dogs and
had officials root through their equip-
ment. Coach Lloyd Carr later voiced his
disappointment with this surreptitious
psych-out tactic. I guess the
Unabomber did go here, but
this was still a pretty under-
handed move.
Moments in the sun:
Maurice Clarett, former
Ohio State standout turned
deranged whistle blower is,
to Wolverine fans, prob-
ably more amusing than
irritating. After all, the
3AN attention-hungry star did
DGY try to out Buckeye football
for alleged athletic boost-
y 101 er violations. Although
the NCAA investigation
cleared the names of boosters and
coach Jim Tressel of any wrongdoing,
it sure makes you wonder.
We must ignite this couch: Win or
lose, there's only one mode of operation
for the Bucknuts - they riot. Whether
it's lighting couches oh fire, overturn-
ing cars or simply assaulting others,
Ohio State's post-game revelry is some
of the most, well, intense in all of col-
lege sports. This week, an editorial
appeared in The Lantern, Ohio State's
student newspaper, imploring students
to behave themselves and clean up their
rather embarrassing reputation. In order
to cope with this problem, University
President Karen Holbrook formed "The
Task Force on Preventing Celebratory
Riots." My tax dollars at work.
Delusions of grandeur: I know
several people have complained about
this, but what's with Ohio State call-
ing itself THE Ohio State University?
I'm not sure what it's trying to distin-
guish itself from, but it's managed to
set themselves apart from the pack
- just for being silly.
There are copious other reasons
to dislike the Buckeyes, but they're
too numerous to list here. I hope
that this small sample is enough to
get your minds churning. Remember
that the roots of this rivalry involved
the Buckeyes using brute force in
an effort to cheat Michigan out of
its rightful land, so even though the
Bucks got the first win in the series,
they didn't do it honestly.
Then again, was securing Toledo
really a victory for Ohio? The Upper
Peninsula is pretty nice, and Toledo's
not quite the bustling metropolis it once
was. I guess that's another notch in the
Michigan win column.
Although, with the series record at
58-37-6 in the Wolverines' favor, I don't
think Michigan really needs any retro-
active victories.
Just the one on Saturday.
- Megan Kolodgy defends the
state of Ohio every other week of
the year but this one. She can be
reached at megkolo@umich.edu.

:Dear Diry: Kolarik shows improvement

By Daniel Levy
Daily Sports Writer
Chad Kolarik opened eyes during his impressive freshman year. Notching 18 goals
and 17 assists, Kolarik was named a CCHA All-Rookie Team honorable mention. He
especially made his mark on the power play, where he scored 11 times. Those I I
power-play goals were tops on the Michigan hockey team and the most scored by a
Michigan freshman in 15 years.
But Kolarik got off to a surprisingly slow start this year. Through the Wolver-
ines' first seven games, Kolarik had totaled just four points - all assists. Despite his
high-scoring freshman season, Kolarik seemed to be repeating a trend. Last year, he
managed just four points in his first eight games. Still, the sophomore was concerned
about his low total to start his second campaign.
"I was pressuring myself a little too much," Kolarik said. "I was thinking 18 goals
was pretty good (last year) so I wanted to score more than 18 this season."
While he struggled with the stick on the ice, Kolarik stepped up his work with his
pen off the ice. During Michigan's long trek to Alaska at the end of October, Kolarik
kept a daily journal about the team's activities in the days leading up to the games.
The sophomore enjoyed doing it, but it wasn't initially his idea.
"I didn't really volunteer with (sports information director Matt) Trevor," Kolarik
said. "When he asked us to do it, Matt Hunwick and T.J. Hensick were the only guys
there, so I said I'd do it. It was fun. I had a good time writing it."
In addition to writing papers for his classes, keeping the journals has helped Kolarik get
out some of his thoughts, while also showing people what the team is like off the ice.
"It's a good way to express yourself," Kolarik said. "You can get everything out in
the open and let everyone know what is happening with the team outside of hockey."
Kolarik's interest in writing peaked thanks to Randy Tessier - Kolarik's teacher
in both English classes he took last year.
"I took (English) 225 with him and then 325 this spring," Kolarik said. "He helped
me a lot with my writing. It wasn't one of my strong points, but I think it's definitely
going to be. It has gotten a lot better."
Even though Kolarik didn't keep a journal during last weekend's trip to Northern
Michigan, he wouldn't mind doing it again if he was asked to.
"If my number gets called again I would definitely do it," Kolarik said.
Kolarik's newfound hobby has coincided with a revival on the ice. Before the Wol-
verines began their home-and-home series against Notre Dame on Nov. 4, Michigan
coach Red Berenson switched Kolarik from right-wing to center. The move paid off

RYAN WEINER/Daily
Chad Kolarik has enjoyed improved play since being moved to center from right wing.
immediately for Kolarik and the Wolverines. In the first game at Notre Dame, Kolarik
scored his first goal of the season and added an assist in a Michigan win. Back at Yost
the next night, Kolarik tallied two more goals, including the game-winner.
"(Berenson) tried me at center last year, and it worked out," Kolarik said. "I went
on a good point streak last year, too, when he moved me to center around Christmas
time. And it's worked out so far this year."
The change has continued to work out for Kolarik, who added another goal and
an assist in last weekend's series sweep at Northern Michigan. The center position is
more suited to Kolarik's talents, which makes him a greater threat on offense.
"I'm more of a speedy guy," Kolarik said. "I get my feet moving in the middle (of
the ice), I touch the puck a lot more, and I can make more plays."

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