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September 05, 2007 - Image 18

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-09-05

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2B Wednesday, September 5,2007
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2B Wednesday, September S, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
KICKOFF 2007

Wednesday, September 5, 2007 lI
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com B

2007 Michigan Schedule
Appalachian St. (Sept. 1), L 32-34: Imagine opening the door to your dorm
room and someone just punching you in the face. That's what transpired
at the Big House. So much for a National Championship.

Is Michigan out of the picture in the Big Ten? Read our conference
preview to find out.
Three senior leaders returned to campus for a National Cham-
pionship. Now, their focus shifts.
The college football season is underway, and the Daily football
writers predict how it will unfold.
Garrett Rivas is gone. What kind of a kicker does it take to
replace him?

Oregon (Sept. 8): For everyone who prefers nonconference tests asopposed to guaranteed
wins, be careful what you wish for. The Ducks squeaked past Michigan in 2003, 31-27,
and the Wolverines have beaten a Pac-10 foe just once since the 1997 title game.
Notre Dame (Sept.15): After some recent Irish dominance, the Wolverines stomped
all over Notre Dame in South Bend last year. And that was with Brady Quinn and Jeff
Samardzija. Things should only get easier as the series returns to Ann Arbor.
Penn State (Sept. 22): Last time the Nittany Lions visited the Big House, they
were 8-0 and contending for a spot in the National Championship game. Then
Chad Henne found Mario Manningham on a slant in the end zone with one
second remaining, rudely awakening Penn State from its dream season.
Northwestern (Sept. 29): Michigan's first road test will most likely resemble a quiz. The
Wolverines haven't lost to Northwestern since 2000. Then again, Michigan wasn't supposed
to lose to Appalachian State. Not that we'll still be bitter about that game late in September.
Eastern Michigan (Oct. 6): Although it's not a bye week, Michigan will likely get
some much-needed rest when it faces its Huron River rivals. The Wolverines are
7-0 against the Eagles all-time, including a 55-0 steamroller in 2005.
Purdue (Oct.13): Purdue coach Joe Tiller sits on the hot seat after his team failed twice to capitalize
on a Michigan-/Ohio State-less schedule. But his team returns nine defensive starters. Too bad
it composed one of the nation's worst run defenses last year. Somewhere, Mike Hart smiles.
at Illinois (Oct. 20): Michigan has not lost a game at Memorial Stadium since
1983. But this year the game starts late, and you never know what can happen
under the lights. Then again, Juice Williams is still the Illini quarterback.
Minnesota (Oct.27): Two years ago, the Gophers captured the Brown Jug for the first
time since1986 thanks to - surprise - a late-game, long run. First-year head coach Tim
Brewster seemed excited about this game at Big Media day, but we'll see how he feels after
at Michigan State (Nov.3): No longer will the Big Ten have John L. Smith to kick around.
The oft-criticized coach was fired after a disappointing 4-8 season. New coach Mark
Dantonio is known as a defensive guru, but have you seen what he has to work with?
at Wisconsin (Nov.10): Of all the times and places to play Wisconsin, Michigan probably
prefers not to do so at Camp Randall on a Saturday night. But that's probably when the
two teams will lock horns in a game that's likely to have Big Ten title implications.

Jason Gin Ie

I WELCOME STUDENTS

KICKERS
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Senior captain Jake Long knows Lopata
is a fan of the movie Kingpin, so he makes
sure to voice memorable lines from the film
to distract his teammate.
"After a while - not to say it's not nerve-
wracking at all - you learn ways to cope
with the nerves you get in practice and use
them to get a little bit of adrenaline so you
can really get some extra pop on the ball,"
Lopata said. "I tend to like it, and I think
most of the guys do."
DeBord, who splits his duties between
the tight ends, running the offense and
working with the kickers, can't spend as
much time as he would like with the group,
but he's confident in their abilities to pre-
pare mentally for the job.
The offensive coordinator corrects any
mistakes he sees on the fly - like when
one his pupils oversteps with his plant foot
- and watches practice film to further ana-
lyze flaws. But for the most part, it's up to
two seniors lacking in actual game experi-
ence to lead the unit.
Gingell and Lopata say they learned
enough from their mentor, Rivas, to carry
the place kickers smoothly through the
transition.
During practice, Rivas would meticu-
lously work on his technique and watch

film the day after the games to process his what happened during a game.
form. Gingell said Rivas always kept an "He would just come back to the sideline
even keel after he missed a kick and just if he missed it and ask, 'How did it look?
focused on the next try. Was it my fault? Was the snap all right?
"(Garrett), in my opinion, has set the Was it the height on the ball?'" Gingell said.
measuring stick of excellence for a Michi- "Usually you can tell by the path of the ball
gan kicker," Lopata said. "(He's) a guy who what you did wrong, and he would always
has always come through in the clutch and just come back and make the next one."
has been extremely dependable. He's a guy Wright likes to keep his thoughts from
we're all going to try to live up to and fill harping on the magnitude of the attempt.
his shoes." "I'm thinking make the kick," Wright
said. "Keep it simple. Don't worry about it;
Game time don't think about it. Just make the kick."
Gingell didn't quite realize how quickly Unfortunately, some of the elements are
Carr could call his name during a game. out of his control.

The Northville native's lone extra-point
attempt last season came after backup
linebacker Max Pollack returned an inter-
ception for a touchdown against Central
Michigan. Gingell didn't have a chance to
warmup his leg when Carr shouted for him
to enter the game. '
"I think it's harder to stay warm the
whole game," Gingell said. "Mentally, it's
hard, but physically, it's hard because you
have to be warmed up and ready to go at all
times."
The three-year starter at Northville Cath-
olic Central spent the lastthree years watch-
ing Rivas, who hit around 80 percent of his
kicks, prepare before and during the game.
Gingell admired Rivas's approach. Last
season's starter would ride the bike and
maintain a calm demeanor regardless of

The 'double-edged sword'
It's known for holding more than110,000
fans, but a forgotten Michigan Stadium
trademark is the swirling wind.
"You just got to aim straight unless
there's some serious wind," Gingell said.
"It's not the easiest place to kick because
you can never reallytell. It always switches
on you really quick"
And when the ball misses the uprights,
theman responsible can expect to hear it
from Wolverine nation.
In the last four years of Michigan foot-
ball, Rivas cemented his legacy. He became
the Wolverines' all-time scoring leader
with 354 points and ranks second in career
field-goal percentage (78 percent).
But many of the Michigan faithful won't

PETER SCHOTTENFELS/Daiy
remember that consistent Rivas. Those
fans held their arms extended above their
heads with fingers crossed every time he
stepped onto the field and taunted him
after each missed attempt.
That's the price Rivas paid when he
walked into the spotlight forever focused
on Michigan kickers.
"It's a double-edged sword," walk-on
kicker Jason Olesnavage said. "Garrett had
a great year last year. He did have some
critics when he was younger. I think it kind
of comes with the territory. People will
support you if you're doing well or get on
you when you're not doing so well."
Gingell just found out what the ultimate
low feels like after two of his boots were
blocked, even though Carr cited missed
assignments as the reason for both mis-
cues.
Now, the quiet kid from Northville will
have to regain the trust of a Wolverine
nation that is ready to jump to Wright or
Lopata before they give Gingell another
chance.
But at the position where perfection is
demanded, criticism is expected.
"You can'treally let stuff like that bother
you," Olesnavage said. "It's other peoples'
opinions. You want to do your best as long
as you're working as hard as you can.You're
not goingto be perfect. Nobody's perfect."
Gingell had to find that out the hard
way.

Ohio State(Nov.17): With the
loss of Troy Smith and many of
his merrymen, Ohio Statewill be
vulnerable when it comestothe
Big House in November. That's
good news for Chad Henne,
Mike Hart and the rest of the
seniors, who don't want to be
remembered for one record: 0-4.

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