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October 04, 2007 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-10-04

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, October 4, 2007 - 5A

Six matchups
ensure more
top-25 losses

Junior Brandon Harrison and the rest of the Michigan defense have turned things around, causing 10 turnovers while allowing just six second-half
points during the Wolverines' three-game winning streak.
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Daily Sports Editor
A group of reporters sur-
rounded cornerback Donovan
Warren in the Crisler Arena
parking lot following Mich-
igan's crushing home loss to
But the gathering would
have to wait a few extra min-
utes to talk to the disheartened
freshman. It was Michigan
secondary coach Vance Bed-
ford's turn.
"These guys can wait," said
Bedford, motioning to the
reporters. "I need to know if I
can count on you."
That was the lowest of lows
for the Michigan defense.
Two weeks into the season,
the unit with the most ques-
tions coming into the year,
failed to positively answer a
single one.
The players' responses fol-
lowing the Appalachian State
and Oregon games, in which
the defense surrendered

a combined 73 points and
1,011 yards, were ambiguous.
Nobody seemed to grasp the
crux of the problem.
"A lot of people didn't feel
comfortable, and we really
weren't meshing that well,"
cornerback Brandon Harrison
said. "But now it's rolling."
Two weeks removed from
a trying 0-2 start to the sea-
son, the Michigan defense has
regained its swagger.
The unit has forced 10 turn-
overs in the last three games
and surrendered just six
points in the second half dur-
ing that span.
And the players are promot-
ing a new company line - fun
and trust.
"We're starting to become
more of a family," Harrison
said. "Our motto is trust. You
have to trust everybody to do
their job, to do their responsi-
bility, to play their technique,
and everything will fall into
Defensive end Tim Jamison

traced the new look to having
fun in practice, where he can
count on hearing defensive
tackle Terrance Taylor.
Taylor, never short on
words, likes to tell the coaches
when Jamison is tired, and in
the same breath, point outthat
he's still on the field.
Jamison said that kind of
fun competition carries over
into games.
"We keep that going, and
that motivates everybody
else to call each other out,"
Jamison said. "That sounds
fun to me."
Coming into the season,
those around the program
knew the defense would be
inexperienced. The feared
unit of a year ago would be
just that - a thing of the
past. Defensive coordinator
Ron English had to fill both
defensive end spots, a pair of
secondary positions and two
linebacker openings with
young, raw talent.
Taylor admitted he went

into the seasontryingto do too
much, but now he's focused
on doing his job and allowing
everyone else to do theirs.
"We had people willing
to do their job and not worry
about everybody else's job,"
Taylor said after the Notre
Dame game. "It's just do their
The fun has even rolled
over from the practice field to
gameday, when the defense
gets together and chants the
lyrics from the 50 Cent song "I
Get Money."
Harrison started it with
a few other defensive backs
in the locker room, and what
had once been a secondary
tradition soon created a more
crowded circle.
"It was just the DBs," Har-
rison said. "Now it's the line-
backers and the linemen. Now
the offense is getting into it.
Everything's starting to come
And all it took was a little
trust and fun.

Daily Sports Editor
On this day 67 years ago, the
movie "Knute Rockne All-Ameri-
can" debuted featuring then B-
list celebrity Ronald Reagan as
the Gipper. Why does this mat-
ter? Because this weekend, Notre
Dame willneed some movie magic
to defeat UCLA on the road.
Any other season, this game
would likely be must see TV, but
with the Fighting Irish's pros-
pects for winning season look-
ing worse than Charlie Weis in
a Speedo, that ABC primetime
game doesn't look so appealing.
("Mediocrity lives here!")
Not to worry. There are six
matchups worth watching this
weekend, and you can watch all of
them without having to miss the
Battle for Washtenaw County.
So here they are, this week's
No. 8 Kentucky at No.11
South Carolina, tonight, 7:30
p.m. - ESPN
Really? Kentucky? At No. 8?
It's hard to believe, but there's
reason to ignore the hardwood in
favor of the gridiron for the folks
in Lexington, Ky.
The Wildcats stunned an over-
rated Louisville team and hasn't
looked back since. Granted, it's
been just two games, but what
a wild ride it's been for the five
Kentucky football fans who
haven't been fair weather. On the
other side of the field is the 'Ol
Ball Coach, who hasn't beaten a
top-10 team during his three sea-
sons in Columbia, S.C.
Now is just as good a time
as ever to get that big win. The
Wildcats are a great story, but life
in the Southeastern Conference
East won't get any easier now
that the division smells blood fol-
lowing Florida's loss. How many
more days until midnight mad-
ness at Rupp?
No.11 South Carolina 22, No.
8 Kentucky 13
No.10 Oklahoma at No.19
Texas, 3:30 p.m. - ABC
Yeah, yeah, the Red River
Shootout is a great rivalry and
everything, but is anyone out-
side of the two states geared up
for this game? Both squads had
embarrassing losses last week-
end, and now this shootout just
feels like a slap fest.
The Longhorns have won the
last two games, so they have some
momentum in the series. But

what they have in momentum,
they lack in defense. Kansas State
and Central Florida racked up 41
and 32 points, respectively, and
neither team is in the top 40 in
total offense this season. Oklaho-
ma is No. 10 in that category, and
after redshirt freshman quarter-
back Sam Bradford shakes off the
shock of his first collegiate loss
(which should be right about now)
it'll be all about the Sooners.
No.10 Oklahoma 37, No.19
Texas 14
No.9 Florida at No.1Louisi-
ana State, 8p.m. - CBS
This is the kind of game that
makes me giddy to be a college
football fan. Louisiana State
hasn't been ranked No. 1 during
the regular season since 1959,
and it gets to host the defending
National Champs. And in Death
Valley, no less. Nothing could be
sweeter for Tiger Nation. But as
ESPN analyst Lee Corso would
say, "Not so fast, my friend."
Florida may have played poor-
ly for most of the game against
Auburn last weekend, but the
Gators came back swinging in
the second half, outscoring those
Tigers 17-6. Too little, too late?
Yes, but in terms of building a
little momentum going into their
trip to Baton Rouge, the Gators
Saturday night, Florida will
be playing angrier than, well,
an injured gator, and you never
want to come across one of those.
Four years ago today, the Gators
lost to Mississippi State and then
rebounded with a win at Loui-
siana State. History will repeat
No. 9 Florida 17, No.1 Louisi-
ana State 13
Quick hits:
Hey, speaking of basketball
schools turned football schools,
how about No. 20 Cincinnati?
Too bad No. 21 Rutgers was
upset last week. The bitter Scar-
let Knights will look to chop
down the undefeated Bearcats.
Revenge will be very sweet.... Did
anyone even know that No. 22
Clemson was undefeated going
into last weekend? Neither did
I. Regardless, it'll be two losses
in a row for the Tigers when
they square off against Virginia
Tech. ... Remember that game
10 years ago that cost Michigan
an outright national champion-
ship? Well this year's edition of
Missouri-Nebraska won't mean
nearly as much, and Missouri
will actually beat Nebraska.

Poor first half leaves 1lue mulling future

After 7-0 start,
team has lost two
of last four games
Daily Sports Writer
The No. 10 Michigan men's soc-
cer team is used to shutting teams
But for the first time all year,
the tables were turned as the
third-ranked Fighting Irish (7-1-
2 overall) blanked the suddenly
stumbling Wolverines, 3-0 at
Alumni Field in South Bend.
Michigan (0-1-1 Big Ten, 8-2-
1 overall) began the game in the
soccer equivalent of a "full-court
press," according to Michigan
coach Steve Burns, hoping to score

an early goal through aggressive
play. But mistakes during midfield
transitions hurt the Wolverines.
"When you look at the stats and
the numbers, it was a relatively
even game statistically, but there
were uncharacteristic mistakes
for us," Burns said. "Good teams
make you pay for those."
Instead of Notre Dame, it was
Michigan that never completely
recovered from an early goal.
Notre Dame defender Ryan
Miller intercepted a Wolverine
pass and carried it all the way in
for a goal at 6:42. The Irish scored
twice more in the half, putting
Michigan at a three-goal deficit.
The Wolverines were at a fur-
ther disadvantage because they
were without the skills of fresh-
man defender Jeff Quijano, usu-
ally a significant force on the field,
because of a red card in last Satur-
day's game against Indiana.

But the Wolverines weren't dis-
"This team has some really
strong leadership within it," Burns
said. "It was literally at halftime
that they dealt with it. The sec-
ond half, we played very well. We
looked the better team. ... Unfor-
tunately, we weren't able to score
three goals in that half."
Since beginning the season 7-0-
0, Michigan has gone 1-2-1, partly
because the quality of its oppo-
nents has increased.
The Wolverines just finished
one of the most difficult stretches
of the season, where they played
four games in just nine days
against high-quality teams.
"Everybody is stressed out,"
Burns said. "It's difficult for us
but this is what college sports is
about. This is how you become a
better person - recognizing how
to manage your time and deal with

those stresses, how to compart-
mentalize and hopefully put your
best foot forward for the exam and
the game."
Although the team looks for-
ward to having a week off to recu-
perate, the challenges remain.
Next Wednesday's opponent, St.
John's, is a small but scrappy team
that will to give Michigan a tough
Undaunted by their latest set-
back, the Wolverines remain opti-
mistic with seven more games on
the schedule, four of them against
Big Ten opponents.
"This is great experience for
these guys to try and win big
games against good teams on the
road," Burns said. "You need to
be able to show you can do that to
be in the NCAA Tournament, and
we've still got quite a few more big
games against good teams on the


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