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October 05, 2006 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-05

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Thursda
October 5, 2006
sports.michigandaily.cam
sports@michigandaily.com

Gabe iibigan Eaild
SPORTrS

Nowhere to run: Varsity
run defense dominates

By Stephanie Wright
Daily Sports Editor
When Alan Branch was told
after Saturday's game that Min-
nesota had gained more than 100
yards on the ground, the defen-
sive tackle seemed a little disap-
pointed.
Branch's slightly dejected reac-
tion begged the question: How
many yards would have been
acceptable?
Eighty?
Fifty?
Ten?
"We really do not want anyone
to rush for any yards," sophomore
Terrance Taylor said.
It's an indication of just how
dominant the Wolverines' run
defense has been.
Even after counting the 108
yards amassed by the Gophers,
Michigan has allowed just 182
net rushing yards this season. The
Wolverines' 36.4 yards per game
average continues to be the best in
Division I-A. Just as impressive,
they haven't given up a rushing
touchdown.
Michigan's run-stopping abil-

ity represents a major turnaround Michigan struggled to finish
from last year's squad. The Wol- games, the Wolverines are con-
verines finished last season with fident they can stop opposing
the nation's 41st-ranked run offenses when it counts.
defense, yielding an average of "Last year, we were afraid to get
137.3 yards per game. tired," Taylor said. "You can't be
Perhaps even more significant, afraid to get tired, because when
Michigan often gave up long runs you're afraid of getting tired, you
in big games - contests it often won't run to the ball, you won't
lost. give it your all. We have people
So what changed? The Wolver- laying out and just out there gasp-
ines offer a number of explanations ing for air."
for their revitalization under first- Michigan's lone slip-up in this
year coordinator Ron English. area came against the Gophers
"Everybody knows what they're last Saturday. Minnesota running
supposed to do," defensive end back Amir Pinnix gained 91 yards
Rondell Biggs said. "Everyone on the ground.
knows their gaps - simple things. The Wolverines let Pinnix and
Everybody knows their jobs." the rest of the Gophers' backfield
Said Branch: "Since I've been outside for big gains.
here, I had never seen guys watch- And for the first time all season,
ing film as much as they are this Michigan's defense let an oppo-
year.... I think we are a smarter nent back in the game instead of
defense." finishing it off.
In addition to being better pre- Coach Lloyd Carr dismissed
pared, Michigan's defenders have most of that criticism, limiting his
improved their tackling. Espe- ire to the plays that led to Minne-
cially in the Wolverines' first four sota scores.
games, it was common to see as "No defense is going to be
many as seven or eight defenders invincible," Carr said. "That's not
around the ball. going to happen. Some people
And unlike last season, when See DEFENSE, page 11A

4

MIKE HULSEBUS/Dail
Alan Branch, David Harris and LaMarr Woodley have led the charge against the run this season.

Offensive woes continue for Kickers

By Andy Reid
For the Daily
With tired legs resulting from
three con~ -N_______2
secutive dou-
ble-overtime
games prior
to last night, the Michigan men's
soccer team tried to upset No. 8
Notre Dame at U-M Soccer Field.
Unfortunately for the Wolver-
ines, they came up short.
The 2-0 loss is part of a four-
game winless streak, including
two ties.

The contest remained tight until
Notre Dame junior forward Joseph
Lapira got a pass down the middle
from sophomore midfielder Cory
Rellas and took it to the back of
the net to put the Irish up, 1-0, at
29:31.
He scored again at 72:40
after Michigan goalkeeper Pat-
rick Sperry mishandled the ball.
Lapira - who was tied nation-
ally for goals scored coming into
last night's contest - brought his
tally up to 17 on the season. It was
the fourth straight match in which
Lapira notched two goals.

Michigan (0-1-1 Big Ten, 5-6-
2 overall) continued to struggle
offensively. Despite taking sixty
shots in the last three games,
including a team-record 34 against
Detroit, the Wolverines haven't
scored over that stretch.
"We have been creating chanc-
es for scores over the last couple
of games, but we haven't been tak-
ing advantage of them." Michigan
head coach Steve Burns said. "We
have to do a better job of recog-
nizing our position on the field
and knowing what to do in certain
situations.'

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"If you look at the stats, we
were pretty even with Notre Dame.
The difference was that they took
advantage of what we gave them.
We didn't take advantage of what
they gave us."
Michigan's three games leading
up to the contest against the Irish
(5-2-0, 8-3-2) were all double-
overtime games. The Wolverines
played a total of 223:29 min-
utes over that time period, which
forced Burns to change the team's
routine.
"We have to balanced things
out because we've been playing
so many minutes," Burns said.
"We had to cut practices down to
90 minutes and start relying more
heavily on the bench."
Sophomore Daniel Grey is one
of the players the team has been
looking to for a boost. The mid-
fielder made his first start of his
See IRISH, page 11A
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Mv'cigan Da y
Ac r ount Exec e

Sophomore Jake Stacey fires a shot duing last night's game against Notre
Dame. The Wolverines lost 2-0.
Tuura act as a
brick wall for Blue

4

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By Robert Kaitz
Daily Sports Writer
Four shutouts in 10 starts. A
miniscule 0.45 goals against aver-
age (GAA) that ranks first in
the Big Ten. A dependable 5-2-1
record more than halfway through
the season. Oh, and don't forget to
throw in an assist on a game-win-
ning overtime goal.
Any believer in the clich6 that
stats don't lie can only be impressed
with the contributions of senior
goalkeeper Megan Tuura to the
Michigan women's soccer team.
"She's a rock back there," Mich-
igan coach Debbie Rademacher
said. "It comes with all her experi-
ence."
Tuura, a four-year starter, arrived
in Ann Arbor as part of a highly
touted recruiting class. Four years
later, that group is still thriving on
the pitch. Redshirt junior defender
Lindsey Cottrell, who joined the
team along with Tuura, has used
their time together to establish a
unique rapport.
"There is a great deal of confi-
dence and comfort between one
and another," Cottrell said. "We
have an unspoken understanding."
As a sweeper, Cottrell's job is to

eisure that Tuura is tested as little
a possible during the game. The
fmiliarity between the duo has
ben a significant factor in Mich-
ipn's defensive success - Tuura
hs yielded just four goals this sea-
sO.
Hailing from the suburbs of
Alanta, Tuura attracted the atten-
tin of numerous Southeastern
Cnference and Atlantic Coast
Cnference schools as well as Stan-
fed, but in the end, she decided to
ply for the Maize and Blue.
"Michigan is a great school
atdemically and athletically, and
audemics were of paramount
irportance to me," Tuura said.
Much of her time in Ann Arbor
ha been a success, but last season
bth Tuura and the team saw some
u:expected troubles. The team
filed to qualify for the NCAA
Turnament for the first time in
seen years, and Tuura posted her
worst numbers ever. She had a
gals against average over 1.8 and
reorded just one shutout during
th season.
'We struggled defensively as a
tem and showed a lot of inexperi-
ene," Rademacher said about last
yer's difficulties.
See TUURA, page 11A

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