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September 05, 2006 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-05

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SportsTuesday - September 5, 2006 - The Michigan Daily - 5B

COMMODORES
Continued from Page 1B
a streaking Mario Manningham along the
left sideline for a 27-yard touchdown.
Henne and his receivers agreed their
problems are correctable.
"There were mistakes out there and
improvements to be made," said Henne, who
threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns on
just 10 completions. "It definitely wasn't my
best performance, but we'll see from this
week to next week how much improvement
we make from myself and from the team."
On the other side of the ball, Michigan's
defense dominated. Throughout the day, the
Wolverines controlled the point of attack
and even managed to run down Commodore
quarterback Chris Nickson on many of his
scrambles. The defense racked up six sacks
with senior defensive ends Rondell Biggs
and LaMarr Woodley leading the way with
two apiece.
"I think we did pretty good," Woodley
said. "It was the first game, and (we) actu-
ally got a look (at a running quarterback).
... We just have to continue to improve on
that."
Vanderbilt's lone touchdown came off a
trick play with 12:26 left in the second quar-
ter. The Michigan defense bit on a Nickson
lateral to wide receiver Earl Bennett. Ben-
nett in turn fired it downfield to a wide-open
Marlon White. White waltzed into the end-
zone to cut the Wolverine lead to 13-7.

But on the following two Commodore
drives, the Michigan defense allowed just
one play for a gain and racked up two sacks
and two stops for a loss.
As cth- passing game struggled, the
Michigan running attack showed significant
improvement from a year ago.
Last season, the Wolverine running
game faltered down the stretch. It failed to
out-rush Ohio State and Nebraska. And the
results showed: Michigan lost both games.
With the glaring running problem in
mind, Carr continually said during the off-
season that the 2006 Wolverines would need
to return to form before they could become
national contenders.
And Saturday, Michigan responded.
The team finished the game with a total
of 246 rushing yards, including 146 from
Hart. Behind an offensive line featuring a
healthy left tackle Jake Long, the Michigan
running backs had plenty of running room.
Reserve running backs Grady and fresh-
man Brandon Minor showed what valuable
support they can give Hart. Minor - who
ran for 30 yards on three carries - flashed
his speed with an impressive 24-yard run on
the first play of the second quarter. Grady
also finished with 30 yards.
"That's what we have to do all year," Hart
said. "We have to play together as a back-
field. ... That's the biggest thing - those
two have to come in and produce so coaches
aren't scared to take me out of the game.
They did a great job of that today"

The Michigan Daily Top 10 Poll
- The Michigan Daily Top 10 has 6. West Virginia: The Mountaineers' schedule
>rts staffers will fill out ballots, looked easy enough when Big East rival Louisville had
g 10 points, second-place running back Michael Bush - a potential Heisman
>n. Every Monday, the results candidate - healthy. One broken tibia later, West
lace votes in parentheses. Virginia has a clear path to an undefeated season.

T3. Notre Dame (2): The Fighting Irish struggled in
their opener against Georgia Tech, failing to put away
the Yellow Jackets until the fourth quarter. That didn't
deter a couple of our staffers from buying the hype and
picking Notre Dame as the top team in the nation.

10. Oklahoma: The Sooners looked sluggish
against UAB this weekend, just squeaking out a
seven-point win. But it's hard to keep ateam with a
player like Adrian Peterson out of the Daily Top 10.

T3. Southern Cal: No Leinart. No Bush. Butplenty
of love from the MichiganDaily sports staff. Hilariously
named quarterback John David Booty appears to be
more than ready to take the reins of the Trojan offense
after throwing three TDs in a blowout over Arkansas.

Speedy QB
struggles
against JM'
onslaught
SINGER
Continued from Page 1B
Branch, Terrance Taylor and Will Johnson ate up
blockers in the middle, ends Rondell Biggs and
LaMarr Woodley exploded the stat sheet. The duo
spent most of its day in the Vanderbilt backfield,
combining for four sacks and seven tackles for
losses. With Michigan's big boys owning the line
of scrimmage, the Commodore running game
- if you could call it that - never got off the
ground. Running back Cassen Jackson-Garrison
ran eight times for a laughable two yards, losing
yardage on half of his carries.
Shutting down a weak rushing attack is one
thing, but as Michigan has proven in the past,
even the most talented defense can struggle with
running quarterbacks. Indeed, I'm sure many
Michigan fans have developed ulcers watching
signal callers like Troy Smith and Vince Young
pirouette around maize and blue defenders for
huge gains.
Obviously, Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nick-
son is neither of those guys, but he definitely
brings plenty of athleticism to the table. The
defense let Nickson run for a few decent gains -
it's virtually impossible to completely shut down Defensive end La
a running signal-caller - but Michigan contained against Vanderbil
him by playing fundamentally sound football. All Michigan defensi'
game long, the Wolverines funneled Nickson's
scrambles inside, preventing him from getting up Carr indicated i
the sidelines and turning solid gains into huge more backups p
ones. Michigan's discipline paid off - Nickson igan's sketchy o
finished with 22 yards on 16 carries and never ran - having the st
for more than 15 yards on a single play. to be a nice test
"I thought we did an excellent job on the edges, stamina. And ti
not letting their quarterback out on the perimeter," Of course, th
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "Because that's sive performant
where a guy can hurt you. For the most part, we doesn't prove a]
did a great job with quarterback run plays." aging that, unli
In every sense of the word, Michigan's defense nois put up 411
finished on Saturday. During 2005, tackling raised no defen
was hit-or-miss for the Wolverines. But against That's why I
Vanderbilt, under English's tutelage, Michigan's out of the Big H
defenders could be counted on to hit, wrap and Michigan made
bring ballcarriers down. Virtually every time a takes, none of t
Wolverine sunk his claws into a Commodore jer- ing penalties) a
sey, the player was on Michigan Stadium's Field- turn into chron
Turf moments later. of question mar
In another notable improvement from last sea- game - but if
son, Michigan's defense finished off the game with improve under
authority. The Wolverines' off-season emphasis on tainly compete
conditioning appeared to pay off, as Michigan's D and the rest of t
stayed strong throughout, picking up three sacks
and forcing a fumble in the final frame. While - Singer can
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tMarr Woodley picked up two sacks
t Saturday, leading a revamped
ve attack.
that he would have liked to get
laying time - something Mich-
ffensive performance prevented
tarters in for four quarters proved
of the Wolverines' defensive
hey passed with flying colors.
e Wolverines' dominating defen-
ce against a third-tier opponent
nything. But it's certainly encour-
ke last year, when Northern Illi-
yards, Michigan's season opener
sive red flags.
felt relatively encouraged walking
louse on Saturday. Even though
more than its fair share of mis-
hem (besides, perhaps, the hold-
ppeared to be anything that could
ic problems. There are still plenty
rks - most notably in the passing
Michigan's defense continues to
English, the Wolverines will cer-
against Notre Dame, Ohio State
their star-studded schedule.
be reached at mattsing@umich.edu.

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