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October 19, 2007 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-10-19

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8 - Friday, October 19, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

A new look
for Illini

By DANIEL BROMWICH
Daily Sports Editor
When reporters asked Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr at Monday's press
conference what he thought about
Illinois football's recent resurgence,
he deferred.
"You'll have to ask (Illinois) coach
(Ron) Zook that," Carr said.
Carr's response made sense.
Recently, Zook seems to have all
the answers.
In 2005, he took over a program
that hadn't finished with a winning
season since 2001. Illinois had strug-
gled with recruiting under previous
coach Ron Turner, who had led his
team to 0-8 and 1-7 Big Ten records
in 2003 and 2004, respectively.
After two rebuilding years under
Zook, the turnaround has been
remarkable. Zook has his team at 5-
2, and the Illini were ranked 18th in
the country before being upset (yes,
upset) byIowalast Saturday. Illinois
barely dropped its season opener to
now-No. 15 Missouri, 40-34, before
ripping off five straight wins. The
streak included a win over then-No.
21 Penn State - the Illini's first win
over a ranked team since 2001.
That victory marked Illinois' (3-1
Big Ten, 5-2 overall) fourth win, the
first time it had surpassed that mea-
sly benchmark since 2002.
Even more remarkably, the win
was its first home one over a ranked

Big Ten team since 1991. The Illini
proved the win wasn't a fluke the
very next week when they beat
then-No. 5 Wisconsin, 31-26, in
Champaign.
Zook has managed to attract
many big-name recruits to Illinois, a
marked change from before he took
over. In 2004, not a single five-star
recruit and just one four-star recruit
chose to play for the Illini. The next
year wasn't much better. Illinois
failed to get a five-star recruit for
the second straight year and just
three four-star recruits made the
commitment.
But Zook's arrival brought about
an immediate change. In his first
year with the program, the Illini
attracted six four-star recruits,
including quarterback Isaiah
"Juice" Williams, ranked as the
No. 3 quarterback in the country by
Rivals.com. Williams almost imme-
diately assumed the starting role
and is giving defenses headaches
with his athleticism in his sopho-
more season.
"Even when you have people in
position who are responsible to take
the quarterback, that doesn't mean
that he's going to be tackled," Carr
said. "He's a great athlete, and he
will make people miss."
Michigan has traditionally strug-
gled against mobile quarterbacks,
and images of Texas's Vince Young
and Ohio State's Troy Smith hav-

a

ing career games against Wolverine
defenses still haunt Michigan fans.
Even more recently, Appalachian
State's Armanti Edwards and Ore-
gon's Dennis Dixon tore through
the Wolverines.
But Michigan defenders say
they've fixed the problem.
"We were hesitant to blow up-
field because (they) could pull it
down and run," defensive tackle
Terrance Taylorssaid. "Butnow, run-
ning quarterback or not, we're going
to come after you. If he makes some
plays, he makes some plays. But in
the end, if we make more plays than
you, we're going to win."

Not so fast, cautions defensive
coordinator Ron English. Against
Purdue, which ran the spread
offense but did not boast a mobile
quarterback, English saw some
problems.
On Purdue's only offensive score
in the first half, defensive end/line-
backer Shawn Crable missed an
assignment and allowed Painter to
scramble into the end zone.
"(Crable) should have had the
quarterback, and he didn't take
him," English said. "Next week,
we'll see a bunch of that. Illinoiswill
jump in and out of plays, and that's
where our discipline is going to have

to show up."
Williams isn't the only threat
Zook has brought to Illinois. He fol-
lowed up a top-30 recruiting class
in 2006 with an even better one in
2007 - a class that included receiv-
er Arrelious Benn as one of two five-
star recruits and an additional five
four-star recruits, among others.
Benn has already made his pres-
ence felt. He's started every game
this season and broke out against
the Nittany Lions, returning the
first kick of his career for a 90-yard
touchdown and adding six recep-
tions for 84 yards and another
touchdown.

JOSH BIRNBAUM/The Daily Illini
Illinois coach Ron Zook
has orchestrated a turn-
around in Champaign since
oning the team in 2005.
"Benn is extremely impressive
in terms of what he can do when he
catches the ball," Carr said. "He's
tough. For a true freshman, he has
been extremely impressive. Then,
you look at what he's been able to do
in the return game. (Stopping him)
is a challenge."
Traveling to Illinois usually isn't
much of a challenge for Michigan.
The Wolverines haven't lost to the
Illini on the road since 1983. But
this year, with a revamped and reju-
venated team awaiting them and
a hostile Champaign environment
waiting all Saturday for the game,
things could be different.

STAFF PICKS
The Daily football
writers do their best
to predict what happens
in the 2007 college
football season.

Scott vaeiI
Bell Bromwich

Jack Kevin
Herman Wright

Szypa

No.24Michigan(-2)vs.ILLINOIS Michigan Michigan Illinois Michigan Michigan
No.1OHIO STATE (-17)vs.Michigan State Michigan State Michigan State Michigan State Michigan State Michigan State
No.2 South Florida (-2) vs. RUTGERS South Florida Rutgers Rutgers South Florida South Florida
No.4 Oklahoma (29.5) vs. IOWA STAT Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma mowa State Oklahoma
No.:5 LSU (-10.5) s. No.18 Auburn Auburn Loulsiana State Louisiana State Auburn.Auburn
No.6 S. CAROLINA (-13.5) vs. Vanderbilt Vanderilt Soth Carolina South Carolina Vanderbilt South Carolina
No.7 Oregon (-11.5)s WASHINGTON Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon Washington
No.8 KENTUCKYv(+6.)ns.No.14 Florida Florida Florida Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky
No.9 WEST VIRGINIA (-24) s.Miss. St. West Virginia West Virginia Mississippi State Mississippi State Mississippi State
No10 California (No Line) vs. UCLA California California California California California
No.13 USC(-7) vs. Notre Dame Southern Cal Southern Cal Notre Dame Southern Cal Southern Cal
No.15 Kansas (.5) vs. COLORADO Colorado Kansas Kansas Colorado Kansas
No. 15 MISSOURI (-3.5) vs. No.22 T. Tech Missouri Missouri Missouri Missouri Missouri
No.19 Texas (-25) vs. BAYLOR Texas Texas Texas Baylor Texas
No.20 Tennessee (PK) vs. ALABAMA Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama
No.23 Cincinnati (-5) vs. PITTSBURGH Cincinnati Cincinnati Cincinnati Cincinnati Cincinnati
No.25 Kansas St. (3)vs. OKLAHOMA ST. Kansas State Kansas State Kansas Stale Oklahoma State Oklahoma State
owa(+7)os.PURDUE Purdue Purdue Iowa Iowa Purdue
WISCONSIN (-23.5) vs. Northern Illinois Wisconsin Northern Ilios N. Illinois Wisconsin Wisconsin
Penn State (-7.5) vs. INDIANA Indiana Penn State Penn State Indiana Penn State
Northwestern (-10) vs. E. Michigan Northwestern Northwestern Northwestern Northwestern Eastern Michigan
Best Bet Texas Oregon Rutgers South Florida Michigan
Record Last Week 12-12-0 (0-1) 10-14-0 (1-0) 9-15-0 (0-1) 0-14-0 (0-1) 9-15-0 (0-1)
Overall Record 84-65-4 (2-4)76-73-4(42) 74754 (1-5) 76-73-4 (4-2) 74754 (1-5)

* MORE ONLINE
at michigandaily.com

BREAKDOWN
The Daily analyzes
tomorrow's match-up.
michigandaily.com

PROCRASTINATION
STATION
Check out this week's 108-7
thumping. michigandailycom

Things not yet set in ice for Michigan

0

I r i

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I
I

Check out

the Fall Realty section
I on Nov.lst
i because it's NEVER too early
to start looking for

By NATE SANDALS
Daily Sports Editor
Despite an excellent opening
weekend, things are far from
settled for the Michigan hockey
team.
Though the sixth-ranked Wol-
verines surprised many with
their performance at the Ice
Breaker Invitational, they are not
satisfied. Practice this week con-
tinued to be an intense affair.
For the team, things are still
in flux. Going into this weekend's
CCHA series at Northern Michi-
gan, position battles are in full
force.
With four freshmen defense-
men and just three available ros-
let spots on any given night, the
first-year blue-liners have been
working hard all week to set
themselves apart.
A number of the goals Michi-
gan allowed last weekend can
be traced to errors by the fresh-
men defensemen, but the veter-
an blue-liners are confident the
young guns can offer solid con-
tributions.
"They have experience play-
ing," sophomore defenseman
Steve Kampfer said. "With them
coming in now, it's helping us
out big time. With each one of
us paired with a freshman, it's
helping us out and we're all doing

pretty well out there."
Michigan coach Red Beren-
son has been impressed with
each member of the group, but
sat Kevin Quick on Friday night
against Boston College and Tris-
tin Llewellyn in the Saturday
night loss to Minnesota.
"I think they have all shown us
they can play, and we wanted to
get them in a game, but we didn't
necessarily want to dress four in
either of those games," Berenson
said.
The defense will play a big role
again this weekend at Northern
Michigan. Goals are harder to
come by on the road, and Michi-
gan must stay ahead to keep the
parents-weekend crowd nut of
the game.
Though it's early in the season,
Michigan knows it can't allow for
a let down.
"Especially in the CCHA, you
can't afford to lose games,"junior
goalie Billy Sauer said. "You
never know - a game here is just
as important as a game down the
road."
Sauer has played well against
Northern Michigan throughout
his career, including a sweep in
Marquette early in his freshman
year. Sauer benefited from solid
offensive support that weekend
and expects the same this time
around.

His expectations will likely be
met as the forwards are working
hard to solidify their ice time,
too.
The left-wing spot on Mich-
igan's fourth line appears to
be up for grabs between junior
Brandon Naurato and sophomore
Brian Lebler. Naurato dressed
last Friday night and Lebler saw
action Saturday night against
Minnesota.
Lebler skated with the fourth
line in practice this week, but
that's no guarantee he will dress
for this weekend's games. The
sophomore may be at a disad-
vantage for no reason other than
the size of Northern Michigan's
rink.
The Wildcats play on an Olym-
pic ice sheet, which is wider than
those at most CCHA arenas. The
big surface suits speedy play-
ers like sophomore defenseman
Chris Summers and freshman
forward Carl Hagelin, but it can
be a difficult test for more physi-
cal players like Lebler.
Still, Berenson isn't counting
anyone out when it comes to the
fight for playing time.
"I'm not as interested in giv-
ing chances as I am seeing who is
putting our best team on the ice
night after night," Berenson said.
"Do I know who that is yet? Not
really."

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