November 18, 2005
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. . . .... . ............ . 41
key to the
By Stephanie Wright
Daily Sports Editor
A.J. Hawk could have left for the NFL after last season.
As a junior, the Ohio State linebacker finished second in the
Big Ten in tackles and earned national recognition as a first-team
All-America selection. But the humble Hawk chose to return to
the Buckeyes for his senior season - which, luckily for the rest
of the conference, is also his last.
"Consistency is always a great measure of performance, and
he certainly has done it for a long time," Michigan coach Lloyd
Carr said. "I'll be glad to see him leave."
Now a senior, the Centerville, Ohio, native is one of
three finalists for the Butkus Award - given annually
to the nation's top linebacker - and the centerpiece of
Ohio State's highly regarded linebacking corps. Through
10 games, only Hawk ranks among the top five in the
Big Ten in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss.
After the Buckeyes' blowout win over Northwestern last
weekend, Wildcats coach Randy Walker said he had never seen a
football player better than Hawk.
But even though Hawk garners the attention and accolades,
seniors Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel - Ohio State's
other two starting linebackers - are almost as tough to contain
and block. Carpenter sacked Michigan State quarterback Drew
Stanton four times in the Buckeyes' victory and ranks second in
the Big Ten with eight sacks. Schlegel is known as one of the
most intense players on the team and trails only Hawk among
Ohio State defenders with 65 tackles.
Together, the Buckeyes' top-three linebackers have amassed
216 tackles and 17.5 sacks. From the game tape, Michigan's
offense knows it has to find a way to contain all three.
A.J. Hawk leads a Buckeye linebacking corp that has recorded 216 tackles and 17.5 sacks this season.
"We've just got to make sure we get a hand on them all the
time," fifth-year senior Adam Stenavich said. "We've got to make
sure they're accounted for every single down because you can't
let them free."
Added fullback Brian Thompson: "It's going to be a crucial
part of the game, taking them out."
One way in which the Wolverines might adjust their offense in
order to shut down Hawk and company is running plays where
the tight ends act more like additional offensive linemen than
"This is a week where tight ends protecting might be a little
bit more important," fifth-year senior Tim Massaquoi said. "(The
Buckeyes) come alive; they send their linebackers a lot because
Massaquoi has seen fewer balls thrown in his direction all sea-
son, in part because of the wrist injury he suffered earlier this
year. But even senior Tyler Ecker - who has caught 18 passes for
201 yards - may spend more of his time protecting the Wolver-
ines' backfield tomorrow.
While Michigan focuses much of its preparation on stopping
the Buckeyes' linebackers, they recognize that they will have
their hands full with the Wolverines - especially their newfound
depth at running back.
"Our nain goal is to stop the run," Schlegel said. "Their run-
ning backs run hard and try to get you off-balanced. Michigan is
a hard, physical team."
clean slate for
By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Editor
This week, Ann Arbor is more-or-less exclusively
focused on the looming showdown with the Buckeyes
on the football field. But for those fans looking for a
little warmup before the Wolverines take the field Sat-
urday afternoon, the Michigan basketball team will be
kicking off its regular season tonight against Central
Michigan in Crisler Arena.
After a disappointing 2004-
05 season rife with injury and .
scandal, the Wolverines are a 4 N & "
looking forward to a fresh
start this season. Cfia
"I think it's very important Mig.
for our team to get some confi-
dence early, and, certainly, the
best way to do that is for us to Cn.;
do two things: play well and
win," Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker said. "I think we played
fairly well in our last exhibition game, and, hopefully, we
can use that as a springboard for Friday night. Certainly, I
think it would be helpful for our team to get out of the blocks
early and get some confidence and see where we can take it
Losing key players to injury is any team's biggest
nightmare - especially during the exhibition season.
So, the second half of the Wolverines' 101-56 victory
over Northern Michigan must have been petrifying for
Amaker. In a 10-minute span, junior center Courtney
Sims went down with a seemingly serious knee injury,
and senior forward Chris Hunter left the court clutching
his face. Neither returned to the game.
But both Sims and Hunter have been practicing and
appear to be ready to go for tonight's season opener.
Sims's injury turned out to be a mild knee sprain, while
Hunter chipped a tooth.
At least two freshmen are likely to make their Michi-
gan debut tonight. Guards Jeret Smith and Jevohn
Shepherd both received significant playing time during
the exhibition season and will probably see some min-
utes as reserves. Another freshman, forward Kendric
Price, is being considered for a redshirt, which would
keep him on the bench for the entire season.
"If you look at our roster right now with the players that we
have, if we stay healthy, if things go along as planned, there
may not be as many opportunities in terms of actual minutes
in games at this point," Amaker said. "I think (Price) is com-
ing along nicely, but the other two freshman kids are a little
more advanced coming in."
The game will also be a homecoming of sorts for
a few veterans. Redshirt junior Lester Abram hasn't
played since Dec. 4 of last year, after shoulder surgery
knocked him out for the season. Similarly, senior Dan-
iel Horton missed the last 12 games of last season after
he was suspended from the team. So, after playing just
two exhibitions to reintegrate with the squad, the two
backcourt stars will be thrust back into action.
"They're veteran guys, they've been through it,
they're tough, they've won big games for us," Amaker
said. "It's no secret that not having those guys, we're at
a big disadvantage. When you have your arsenal at your
expense to use, that's all you can ask for, and that's what
As usual, media blitz precedes 'Big Game'
By Gabe Edelson
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan and Ohio State players aren't
the only ones who have been working extra
hard in preparation for the 102nd meet-
ing between the Wolverines and Buckeyes
tomorrow. Michigan's Athletic Media Rela-
tions personnel have also been swamped
with credential requests and the immense
task of preparing for the imminent press
"When they say it's the 'Big Game,' it
really is, in terms of the national exposure
and the national and regional media that
cover this game," said David Ablauf, sports
information director for football. "It's the
most visible game in college football. From
a media standpoint, there's often more media
that cover the Michigan-Ohio State game
than cover bowl games."
This year, the Athletic Media Relations
office has issued nearly 1,000 media cre-
dentials, a figure significantly higher than
for other games on Michigan's schedule, but
typical for a contest in the storied rivalry.
Ablauf expects no fewer than seven pre-game
television shows to air live on location out-
side Michigan Stadium.
"The amount of interest in this game is
enormous," Ablauf said. "There's always
been something on the line. It's a great bor-
der war, it's a great rivalry game, and there's
always been a title of some nature on the line
when this game is played. I think that's what
continues to add to it, as well as the fact
that it's the last game of the year for both
Ablauf cites 1997 and 2003 as the years
with the most media attention in recent
memory. The former was Michigan's
national championship season, and the latter
was the rivalry's 100th game. But this year's
television coverage situation is unprecedent-
ed. ABC will broadcast the game nationally
to all but five states: Washington, Oregon,
California, New Mexico and Nevada. If nec-
essary, ESPN will break into its coverage of
Virginia Tech at Virginia - which starts at
noon - to air Michigan-Ohio State in the
West Coast markets that don't get the game
"This is the first time that ESPN has ever
done a split regional," Ablauf said.
Even international viewers will be able to
watch on television.
Westwood One will broadcast the game
nationally on the radio, while out-of-town
print publications - including The New York
Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and
the Chicago Tribune - will descend on the
Big House press box en masse.
"It's not the largest press box anymore
- by any stretch - to accommodate a huge
crowd," Ablauf said. "I think that's the one
thing that's hopefully (going to improve in)
the future, is to be able to accommodate the
big type of crowds. We're getting to the point
where we're getting maxed out in terms of
space in order to accommodate the media for
Several bowl game representatives will
also be on-hand to watch the proceedings.
Although neither Michigan nor Ohio State
has any chance to contend for the national
championship, the Rose Bowl will still send
staffers to watch.
"The Rose Bowl always comes to the
Michigan-Ohio State game, regardless if it is
the national title game," Ablauf said."They're
very supportive of this conference, like they
are with the Pac-10."
The Orange, Fiesta, Capital One, Outback
and Alamo bowls will also send delegates to
Unlike in previous years, ESPN's "Col-
lege GameDay" on-campus studio show
will stay away from Ann Arbor. Instead,
the production will air from East Lansing,
where Penn State can lock up an outright
Big Ten title by beating Michigan State. But
that won't lessen the load too much for Ath-
letic Media Relations.
"Our whole entire office staff pitches in and
really helps," Ablauf said. "I think that's a huge
factor in why we can put on games like this.
Our offices are well-equipped and have done
this so many years that everyone knows how to
handle this. It's a total team effort, from top to
Associate athletic director Bruce Madej
remembers a caravan of satellite trucks so
large a few years ago that he had to park a
few himself on the Friday morning before the
"We have huge media crowds for Notre
Dame and Michigan State," Madej said. "But
remember, when we have a Michigan State
media crowd, rarely do we get all the big
national groups in. ... The game itself is defi-
nitely high-pressure for everybody. But that's
what makes it interesting."
0 CE HOCKEY
Triple-play: Icers ink three
By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
After bringing in 11 freshmen this
year, securing a trio of new ones for
next season must have seemed like
a walk in the park for Michigan
hockey coaches Mel Pearson and
Billy Powers, who spend every free
second combing North America for
the next Wolverines. Wednesday,
they announced that Brian Lebler,
Steven Kampfer and Chris Summers
are those three new players.
Lebler - a forward from Pentic-
ton, British Columbia - fills a hole
that will be created by the loss of
senior forwards Brandon Kaleniecki
and Andrew Ebbett .
Although Lebler is bigger than
Kaleniecki, Powers said that their
play is similar.
"We're trying to replace Kalen-
iecki, and I see (Lebler) as a bigger
version of Kaleniecki," Powers said.
"(Lebler is) a power forward. But,
he has a touch around the net. He's
known to be a guy who can score
goals and create room and space for
Kampfer and Summers are defen-
semen who will bolster an already
strong returning class at the posi-
tion. They are Michigan natives,
so it was an easy sell to keep them
"The two defensemen were both
Michigan kids, and we were at the
top of their list from the start," Pow-
ers said. "(Kampfer and Summers)
committed a year or a year and a
half ago. Both of them, in their age
groups, are top-type defensemen in
the U.S. in their age group."
Powers believes that their best
asset is their skating ability, which
he compares to current juniors Matt
Hunwick and Jason Dest.
"(Kampfer and Summers) are
different, but also similar," Powers
said. "They both have good mobil-
ity, and there are really good feet on
both players. Offensively, they are
doing fine, but they aren't putting
up dramatic numbers."
Powers compares Kampfer, a
smaller defenseman, to Eric Werner
- a recent graduate known best for
his hard work and offensive contri-
"He's got a lot of Eric Werner
in him," Powers said. "He's that 5-
foot-10, rock solid guy that plays a
lot bigger than he is. And, he does
have some really nice offensive
Summers, however, reminds Pow-
ers of a more recent addition.
"I think Summers is a lot like
(freshman defenseman Mark) Mitera,"
Powers said. "They come in here with
not great numbers, but Mark has some
great instincts and has made an impact
on the power play right off the bat. I
see Summers being like that, and we'd
love to have another guy like Mark."
These two extra defensemen on
the roster could potentially leave
the Wolverines with 10 defensemen
next season. Ideally, the team would
like to have just seven, six to play
and one to jump into the lineup in
the event of an injury.
One possibility to remedy this
overstocking of defenders would be
to move junior David Rohlfs back
to forward, where he played for two
years before permanently switching
to the blue line this season.
"Rohlfs has adapted really well to
the position," Powers said. "But that
tells you where we were at, when we
had to move a two-year forward to
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