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September 21, 2006 - Image 9

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-21

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Thursday
September 21, 2006
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

RSE iiigan Iailv

9A

- -----------

Blue bounces
back with win
over Oakland
By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer
Flash back to Sept. 16, 2005. The Michigan men's soccer team suf-
fered its first ever loss to Oakland 2-1, on the road. The faces of frus-
tration and disappointment rode the bus home in dead silence.
Flash forward to last night. This time, Michigan played on its home
turf. This time, the Wolverines played with confidence. This time, the
only thing left for dead was the Golden Grizzlies. A
Michigan buried Oakland alive, 3-0.
"We talked about the fact that Michigan has a
lot of tradition," Michigan coach Steve Burns said.
"We really just tried to make sure that the guys represented our school
well (yesterday). We knew coming in that Oakland is a real motivated
team.... We knew we had to be on. And I think the guys were on."
Michigan (0-1 Big Ten, 5-4 overall) struck net first 17 minutes in and
never looked back. Sophomore Santos Perez dribbled through Oakland's
defense and passed the ball to freshman Peri Marosevic, who was sitting at
the top of the 18-yard box. The rookie had a defender behind him but turned
and sent the ball toward Oakland's net. Even though Grizzlies goalie Steve
Clark got a hand on the shot, the deflected ball sailed over his head, giving
the Wolverines an early 1-0 lead.
"That's what scoring goals is about, making those runs all the
time" Burns said. "When you make that run, the timing is right and
the ball gets played there, it looks pretty easy. But it's about being in
the right place all the time, and, for the most part, Peri does that. We
did a pretty decent job finding his feet as he was slipping into those
holes, too."
But the freshman forward was just heating up. Once again (at 30:12)
Marosevic found himself in the 18-yard box. Once again, Marosevic
received the ball with his back to the net. And once again, Michigan's
go-to scorer used a spin move to shoot the ball across his body into
the left corner of Oakland's net.
Running over to the Michigan crowd with two fingers raised in the
air, Marosevic's second goal of the day also marked his team-leading
fifth tally of the year.
"Coach Burns told me (yesterday) that I would have that opportu-
nity, with guys at my back, close to the goal and just being able to spin
off," Marosevic said. "I took what coach said and used it. It is part of
my game. It is what I do. I love having the goal to my back because
I know where it is. I don't have to look back. All I have to do is turn
and shoot."
Though Michigan carried the momentum through the first half of the
game, Oakland (1-0 Mid-Continent, 2-6) had numerous golden opportuni-
ties to score. The Grizzlies earned a total of six corner kicks in just the first
period of play, but couldn't crack the Wolverines' defense.

This year, 'M'
lets us dream

Freshman Pern Marosevic continued to light up the nets last night,
contributing two goals in Michigan's 3-0 shellacking of Oakland.
"Corner kick defense has been a focus for us," Burns said. "Last
year, we didn't give up any goals on corner kicks. But we have already
given up two this year. We've really been emphasizing and focusing
on the little details with defending those corner kicks."
Michigan also got some help from its last line of defense, goalkeep-
er Patrick Sperry. The redshirt freshman put on a show of his own,
notching his second shutout of the season with five saves.
Heading into halftime with a 2-0 lead, Michigan wasn't about to let
the Grizzlies climb their way back into the game.
"At halftime, the challenge was still there to continue to represent
Michigan and really show the coaching staff and everybody in the
stands what kind of season we're going to have in the second half of
the season," Burns said.
Just over five minutes into the second period, Michigan made its
statement. Off of a free kick from senior co-captain Brian Popeney,
sophomore Michael Holody fished the ball out of a scrum and sent it
into the back of Oakland's net. After posting an assist earlier in the
game, Holody's goal hammered the final nail into the Grizzlies' coffin
and sealed Michigan's 3-0 shutout.
After a disappointing 2-1 loss to Wisconsin on Sunday, Michigan
bounced back against Oakland with a vengeance.
"We are getting stronger each game," Marosevic said. "As you can
see (yesterday), that's what we do. This is our style of play. We can
be dominant."

It's week one of the Big Ten
season. And the dream is
alive.
The Wolverines are
undefeated.
Take a look at ,
that. Swish it around
in your mouth for a
couple seconds. Tastes
good, doesn't it?
Big Ten titles are
great. Rose Bowls are
awesome. Wins like '
Michigan State in MP
2004 and Penn State
in 2005 are moments t SIN
no Michigan fan will Spittii
ever forget.
But a national title - that's
what we're really after.
I've been on campus for four
years now, and I can honestly say
that most of my favorite sports
experiences have been watching
Michigan football. But make no
mistake about it: A big void has
developed in my psyche, where
national championship hopes
belong.
For me, the void was created
when the John Navarre-led Wol-
verines went into Oregon in 2003
and cracked under the pressure of
100-plus-decibel levels in Autzen
Stadium. It widened when Michi-
gan went to South Bend in 2004
and couldn't punch the ball into
the endzone. It became a black
hole in 2005 when Michigan
failed to polish off the Fighting
Irish at the Big House.
But now, the Wolverines finally
appear to (notice how I included
those words) have a legitimate shot
at running off a succession of vic-
tories to start the season. It's really
amazing when you think about it:
Michigan students who arrived
between 2000 and 2003 have
never once seen the Wolverines
start 4-0.
Consider all the great names
that donned maize and blue
through those years. Perry.
Edwards. A-Train. Terrell.
Between 2000 and 2005, none of

A
1(
n

those guys emerged from Septem-
ber undefeated.
Six years of early
losses have made the
Michigan fan base
cynical, and rightfully
so. Every year, with-
out fail, the Wolver-
ines enter the season
as one of the nation's
most talented teams.
And every year, they
manage to blow an
tTT early-season game
against an inferior
GER squad, pushing them-
ng Fire selves right out of the
national title picture.
It was a beautiful sight, last
Saturday, to see that formula
reversed. Notre Dame was the talk
of the nation. The Wolverines were
-the underdogs. And they did to the
Fighting Irish what UCLA, Wash-
ington, Notre Dame and Oregon
have done to Michigan the past six
years, leaving the Golden Domers
licking their wounds and praying
for top-10 teams to crumble.
Going into last Saturday's game,
I expected the Wolverines to lose.
Not because I honestly believed
Notre Dame was a better team -
I was sure the Weis-Quinn hype
machine was out of control - but
because Michigan had never given
me a reason to believe (I'm from
New York, so I was out of the loop
for the '97 title).
I believe now. For the first time
during my career as a Michigan
student, I can't pinpoint a single
major flaw with this Wolverine
team. The offense is balanced,
featuring real playmakers work-
ing behind a solid offensive line.
The defense is fierce, hungry and
disciplined. And, for once, the
Wolverines don't seem to have a
big problem playing in a hostile
environment.
Of course, I haven't booked my
plane tickets to Arizona for Jan.
8 just yet. But at the very least,
I believe this year's Wolverine
See SINGER, page 10A

Oluigbo impresses on big stage

By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Editor
As a fullback and special-teams
player, Obi Oluigbo doesn't spend
much time in the spotlight. But for
two plays during Saturday's game
at Notre Dame Stadium, the fifth-
year senior was front-and-center.
After kicker Garrett Rivas's
extra point was blocked, keeping
the Michigan lead at 13-7, Oluigbo
helped swing the momentum back
in Michigan's favor by drilling
Fighting Irish kick returner David
Grimes on the ensuing kickoff.
The ball popped free, cornerback
Morgan Trent pounced on it and
the Wolverines had marvelous
field position at the Notre Dame
27-yard line.
On the very next play, Oluigbo
lined up at fullback. Quarterback
Chad Henne faked a handoff,
rolled to the right and fired to Olu-
igbo in the right flat. The Laurel,
Md., native caught the ball and
turned upfield for a nine-yard gain
- the first reception of his colle-
giate career.
"I remember catching it, look-
ing up and seeing three Notre
Dame defenders," Oluigbo said.
"So I was like, 'Let me just protect

this ball.' "
When he first came to Michi-
gan, Oluigbo never would have
dreamt of catching a pass from a
Wolverine quarterback. An all-
state linebacker in high school,
Oluigbo was recruited exclusively
as a defensive player, where he
stayed for the first year-and-a-half
of his Michigan career.
"I came here to play line-
backer," Oluigbo said. "I had big
aspirations to be one of the great
Michigan linebackers."
But in the middle of Oluigbo's
redshirt-freshman season, coach
Lloyd Carr called the young line-
backer into his office and told
Oluigbo he was moving to full-
back. Carr didn't give a reason for
the position change. Oluigbo was
devastated.
"I was a little shocked," Olu-
igbo said. "When he first called
me in, I thought I was going to be
in trouble or something. Because
any time coach Carr calls you into
his office, you think it's going to
be something bad. And he told
me that we're gonna move you to
fullback. At the time, I was just
shocked, I didn't know what to
do. I talked to my parents about it.
Honestly, I wanted to transfer."

Instead of transferring, Oluigbo
put his defensive past behind him
and adjusted to life on the offensive
side of the ball. While he never quite
abandoned his defensive roots -
just ask Grimes - Oluigbo worked
to improve his fullback skills. Over
the next two seasons, he earned
a spot in the fullback rotation and
became one of Michigan's top spe-
cial-teams performers.
But it wasn't until this season
that Oluigbo finally began to reach
his true potential as a fullback.
This summer, Oluigbo embraced
new offensive coordinator Mike
DeBord's zone-blocking scheme
andspenteverydayinthefilmroom.
Factoring in Oluigbo's strength and
improved pass-receiving skills, the
coaching staff rewarded him with
the starting nod.
"I've improved blocking, catch-
ing, understanding the offense,"
Oluigbo said. "So I think it's just
my overall knowledge of the game.
I just took it to heart when coach
DeBord brought the new scheme."
Even as a starter, Oluigbo con-
tinues to fly under the radar. In
Michigan's offense, fullbacks
spend the vast majority of their
time blocking, with only rare
opportunities to catch a dump-off

pass and get their names on the
stat sheet. Plus, according to Olu-
igbo, Michigan's playbook doesn't
include a single run for him.
Although No. 40 may not spend
much time with the football in his
hands, his teammates are aware of
his contributions. Oluigbo won't
ever stand among the great Wol-
verine linebackers, as he had ini-
tially hoped, but his workmanlike
attitude is a perfect fit for the often
thankless fullback job.
"(Oluigbo is a) big, physical guy
- he doesn't care who he has to
block, he'll go do it," offensive
tackle Rueben Riley said. "Just
a rugged guy who doesn't care
about doing the dirty work. You
can't say anything but good things
about a guy like that."

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