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September 07, 2006 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-07

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September 7, 2006



Senior Adam Kraus (57) and the rest of the Michigan offensive line have embraced a new blocking scheme
Varsity off and running

By Kevin Wright
Daily Sports Editor
Senior left guard Adam Kraus noticed it.
The Michigan fans definitely saw the effects of it.
And Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and offensive coor-
dinator Mike DeBord decided to change it.
After suffering through a 7-5 season last year, Carr
promoted DeBord from special teams coach to the man
overseeing the offense. And Debord adopted a new run-
blocking scheme.
"I think everybody knew that something needed to
be changed,'"Kraus said. "Coach DeBord wanted to find
the offense that fit us the best, and I think he did a good
job. I think we found one."
Last year's totals speak for themselves. Just 94 rush-
ing yards in a 23-20 loss to Minnesota. A measly 32 in a
25-21 loss to Ohio State.
But this past offseason, DeBord brought in Alex
Gibbs, an assistant coach for the Atlanta Falcons, to
implementa zone-blocking scheme that could open up
the running game.
The scheme, which has been used to great success by
the Denver Broncos as well as the Falcons, requires the
offensive line toblock "landmarks" (a certain spot on the
defenders jersey) and get a quicker jump off the line.
"I was excited when they told us we were going to
change to a zone scheme "Kraus said. "I'm a lighter guy.
I'm not as big as some of the past offensive linemen. This
scheme really fits me and our offensive line."
Even though the jury may still be out as to whether or
not the new zone-blocking scheme will continue to work
against tougher competition, DeBord's system made a
nice debut last Saturday.
From the first play from scrimmage when junior run-
ning back Mike Hart took the ball for an l-yard gain

to the 19-yard touchdown run from sophomore running
back Kevin Grady, there always seemed to be room
for the backs to run. The 246 yards the unit racked up
eclipsed all but one of last year's game totals.
"If you have great vision, this is a great offense for
you," Grady said. "It's not really likea set offense where
you have tobe in a certain gap all the time. You got land-
marks and courses you have to stay on, but for the most
part, it's you being out there being able to see the blocks
and how things are set up."
DeBord - Michigan's offensive coordinator during
the 1997 National Championship team - regains the
reigns of an offense that struggled to control the clock
late in games when the running game especially seemed
to falter.
This year, the team committed to losing weight and
leaving training camp in better shape. And it's a good
thing, because the new scheme forces the offensive line-
men to be quicker up front, so they're able to get off the
line and create multiple gaps that the running back can
"What you're trying to do as a coach is find thingsthat
fit what your players can do," Carr said. "I think that this
scheme does give our linemen an opportunity because
one of the reasons we wanted to get our weight down up
front (was because) this scheme requires offensive line-
men who can move, (who) have quickness."
But for all the hype surrounding the new scheme and
the boost it's given to what once was a stagnant running
game,the offense knows thatbeing a good running team
comes down to more than just Xs and Os.
"Running the ball is an attitude," Grady said. "As an
offense we've developed an attitude to be able to, every
Saturday, commit ourselves to go out and run the foot-
ball. That's where it all starts, being able to run the foot-
ball and control the clock."

By Chris Herring
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan dominated for the first
60 minutes of yesterday's match
against Kent State. There was just
one slight problem: field hockey
games last 70 minutes.
In the final 10 minutes of regu-
lation the Wolverines let a 2-0 lead
slip away, and
the Golden KENT ST°E 2
Flashes forced
overtime by
tying the score
at two. But just four minutes into
the extra session, senior Mary Fox
scored her first goal of the season to
wrap up Michigan's first win of the
year, 3-2.
The victory came as a relief for the
Wolverines, both because they had
held a comfortable lead and because
they lost their first four matches.
"It's a huge confidence boost;'
Fox said. "We hadn't won yet this
season, so knowing what it feels like
to win again is great."
Michigan (1-4) completely con-
trolled the first half of play. The
team fired 13 shots in the first period
and managed five penalty corners,
and kept the Golden Flashes (0-5)
from taking any shots or corners.
Freshman Kelly Fitzpatrick scored
the lone goal of the half on a cross
pass from freshman Paige Laytos in
the 21st minute of the game.
The Wolverines continued to out-
play Kent State for much of the sec-
ond half. Junior Kristen Tiner gave
the team a 2-0 advantage when she
found the back of the goal off of a
corner nearly 50 minutes into the
game, making Michigan's first cor-

rMMAFx d dhW s s K Ln MIta /ODily
Senior Mary Fox helped lead the Wolverines past Kent State in overtime


ner conversion this season.
"We have a very young attack-
ing line, so we are looking to our
corner unit to convert" Michigan
coach Nancy Cox said. "Your cor-
ner unit should be converting on at
least 20 percent of its tries, and we're
not there yet. We're (1-for-33) right
But then Michigan lost its way,
and Kent State climbed back into
the match.
The opportunistic Golden Flashes
cut the lead in half in the 60th minute
when an airborne shot got past senior
goalkeeper Beth Riley to make the
score 2-1. And with less than five
minutes left in regulation, Kent State
scored again off of a rebound to knot
the game at two apiece.
The quick change in the momen-
tum shocked the Wolverines.
"I think we were all a little bit sur-
prised;' Fox said. "At one point, we
had been looking to shut them out."
But in the sudden-death overtime,
the team wasted no time in finishing
off the Golden Flashes. Fitzpatrick
found Fox in the center of the circle,
and Fox nailed the gamewinner into
the right corner of the goal four min-
utes into the extra period.
Cox seemed pleased with the
team's ability to bounce back after

Kent State tied the score late in the
"The girls certainly like to keep
it interesting," Cox said. "But today,
our team responded well to an over-
time game on its home field. We're
building our leadership, and the
team is just going to keep getting
better and better with each match. It
was a good growth opportunity for
us today."
Two freshmen starters - Fitzpat-
rick and Laytos - have exhibited
that growth. Together they account-
ed for two of the team's goals in their
home debut. They may still be get-
ting used to the quicker pace of the
collegiate game, but they have been
able to make an impact.
"Things are starting to come
together a little bit better for
myself and the other freshmen,"
Fitzpatrick said. "We have been
able to bring a lot of energy to the
table so far."
While the freshmen have stepped
up, Cox called out the team's vet-
erans, and said they should do the
"The seniors have to lead this
year;" Cox said. "They've got to find
it within themselves to lead because
that's what seniors and captains at
Michigan do"


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