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September 16, 2008 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-09-16

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8 - Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Coach defends statement

CIIF REEDER/Daily
Senior Beth Karpiak leads Michigan with 92 kills through nine matches.
New attit ud key
to 'M' resurgence

By NATE SANDALS
Daily Sports Editor
Rich Rodriguez knew he had to
explain himself.
The first-year Michigan coach
went out of his way at his Monday
press conference to clarify his state-
ment that "Michigan football will
be back" after his team's 35-17 loss
to Notre Dame.
"I realize that every time you say
something ... somebody will take it
and make a big deal out of it," Rodri-
guez said yesterday. "What I mean is
that this programhashad alot of suc-
cess by playing error-free football,
playing tough and physical and not
beatingyourselves.And those arethe
thingsthat we can do immediately."
Rodriguez reiterated the confi-
dence he felt in the program, stress-
ing the positives that might not be
readily apparent to the public.
BUTLER FALLOUT: Junior tight
end Carson Butler may be suspend-
ed for his personal foul and ejection
late in the fourth quarter Saturday.
Replays appeared to show But-
ler taking a swing at a Notre Dame
player's head after the end of a play,
with his team down by18 points and
less than two minutes remaining in
the game.
But the report filed by the Big
East officials that worked the game
didn't make clear if Butler was
ejected for fighting or for a flagrant
foul. An ejection for fighting results
in an automatic suspension for the
first half of the player's next game,
but a flagrant personal foul does not
carry an automatic suspension.
Rodriguez said he is seeking clar-
ification from the game officials to
find out what Butler's status will be
against Wisconsin on Sept.27.
The coach said he stillhadn't seen
footage of the incident but didn't
defend Butler.
"A guy was grabbing him or
something at the end and he retali-
ated in the wrong way," Rodriguez
said. "He apologized for it, but
you've still got to keep your poise

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RODRIGO GAYA/Daily
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez said the Wolverines will emphasize playing "error-free football" this week in practice.

By ALEX PROSPERI
Daily Sports Writer
One of the best classes in Michi-
gan volleyball history graduated
last spring, leaving this year's Wol-
verines with plenty of questions
entering this season.
Most have already been
answered.
Michigan's all-time leader in
kills, Katie Bruzdzinski, left a
gaping hole in the Wolverines'
offensive attack. But thanks to the
addition of junior transfer Juliana
Paz and the stellar play of senior
Beth Karpiak, the void left by the
three-time captain is shrinking
each day.
Karpiak leads the team in kills
with 92 and Paz is just behind with
88. Junior Megan Bower has also
stepped up her play, tallying 82 kills
in the team's first nine games..
The rest of last year's quartet of
seniors included right-side hitter
Sarah Draves, libero Stesha Sel-
sky and co-captain middle blocker
Lyndsay Miller. All three played
a significant role in Michigan's
NCAA Tournament run last win-
ter. Now, Karpiak, senior Kerry
Hance and sophomore Lexi Zim-
merman are key to repeating the
success of last year's team.
To return to the Sweet16, Mich-
iganmustgeteven better play from
Zimmerman, a 2007 AVCA All-
America honorable mention. Last
year, Zimmerman complemented
the play of her teammates, espe-
cially the seniors, but she's no lon-
ger a freshman along for the ride.
"Lexi's in a new role because
she's such a talented player," Michi-
gan coach Mark Rosen said. "She's
running the offense more and run-
ning the team more instead of just
delivering the ball."
Zimmerman played a big role on
last year's team, averaging more
than 13 assists per game. Rosen
said her experience and exposure
to the seniors' mentality will help
her reach the nextlevel.
"I think one of the things (last
year's seniors) brought to this pro-
gram and really developed in their
time here was the sense of win-

ning," he said. "A sense of, if we're
in a battle, we're going to win it. I
see that in this team."
Rosen's optimism was justified
last weekend on the road at Geor-
gia Tech. The Wolverines lost their
first game of the season in the first
frame. The loss put a young and rel-
ativelyinexperienced squad in a dif-
ficult position, and between games,
Rosen asked his team whether they
were going to fold or toughen up.
Michigan responded to Rosen's pep
talk, won game two and eventually
took the match, 3-2.
While the team is doing its best
to mimic last year's play, the one
big difference is that Rosen decid-
ed to implement a new captain sys-
tem. Rather than name captains,
Rosen selected one member from
each class as a representative.
"We have each person speaking
from each class, so there's not real-
ly one person sticking out," Hance
said. "It's actually better that way
because then the senior's not doing
all the leadership, when in reality,
there's only two seniors."
The same attitude applied to
selecting class representatives will
be present on the floor, too. It's one
that is focused more on the team
and less on the individual.
Last year, Bruzdzinski was the
focal point of the offense, but this
year, the team has been forced to
become more balanced. Without
her game-changing skills, Rosen
said he believes the team will
benefit from a balanced approach.
But he realizes that with less tal-
ent, the Wolverines have a smaller
margin for error and cannot stray
from their game plan like they did
at times last season.
"I don't know that we can sur-
vive by just being out of system,"
Rosen said. "I use the term 'thug
it up' with the other team. I don't
see us being thugs. We got to be
quick, we got to be more agile. So,
therefore, we got to control the
ball."
Despite the new captain system,
the seniors - Karpiak and Hance
- are still the leaders of the team.
"You go as far as your seniors
take you," Rosen said.

better than that."
A DIFFERENT SCHEDULE: Mich-
igan is off this coming Saturday,
which allows the coaches to adjust
the practice schedule and do some
in-season recruiting.
The Wolverines usually take
Monday off but had a short practice
yesterday. The main focus was spe-
cial teams, which was a particular
sore spot in the loss to Notre Dame.
Michiganreturnmen fumbledthree
times, including twice in the first 10
minutes of the game, which helped
the Fighting Irish jump out to a 21-0
first-quarter lead.
The team will practice as usual
today and tomorrow and hold an
early morning practice Thursday.
After Thursday's practice, many of
the team's coaches will leave town
to recruit.
"We'll get out full force to watch
games and visit schools, you know,
check on the transcripts and get
information from the coaches,"

Rodriguez said.
The team will have Friday and
Saturday off from practice before
returning to a normal game-week
schedule on Sunday.
THREE IN A ROW FOR THREET:
Redshirt freshman quarterback Ste-
ven Threet willstarthis third game in
a row when Michigan hosts Wiscon-
sin intwo weeks, Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez praised Threet's ability
to throw the ball downfield despite
the wet conditions in South Bend.
Threetwent 16-of-23 with 175 yards
and one touchdown against the
Fighting Irish.
Redshirt sophomore Nick Sheri-
dan was the starter in Michigan's
opening game against Utah, but
Threet has taken the openingsnaps
in the last two games.
Rodriguez didn't go so far as to
declare the quarterback competi-
tion over, saying Sheridan is still in
the picture.
INJURY REPORT: Rodriguez

didn't report any new injuries from
the Notre Dame game and said the
bye week could allow some key play-
ers to return in time for Michigan's
next game.
Offensive guard Mark Huyge,
who suffered a high-ankle sprain
in fall camp, could be-ready for the
game against the Badgers. Offen-
sive tackle Mark Ortmann, who
dislocated his elbow against Miami
(Ohio) on Sept. 6, will be limited
in practice this week but could do
much more next week.
A knee injury has held true fresh-
man slot receiver Terrence Robin-
son off the practice field since fall
camp, but he could be available for
the Wisconsin game.
Rodriguez also said redshirt
junior offensive lineman Cory Zirbel
will probably miss the entire season
with his knee injury. The coach had
previously expressed some hope
that Zirbel could return by the end
of the season.

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