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September 30, 2008 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-09-30

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8 - Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Veterans make
freshmen feel
comfortable in A2

Junior Greg Mathews fumbled a punt return in Saturday's game against Wisconsin. Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said special teams will be a focus in pracice this week.
kickoff woes continue

Daily SportsEditor
After Michigan players fumbled
two kick returns against Notre
Dame, Michigan
coach Rich Rodri- NOTEBOOK
guez said the kick
returning position was wide open.
Five days before the Wolverines
played Wisconsin, he named six
players as possible candidates.
But the shuffling didn't seem to
work - Rodriguez called the return
game "atrocious" yesterday. The
Wolverines had another fumble on
a kickoff return against Wisconsin,
this one by fifth-year senior cor-
nerback Morgan Trent in the sec-
ond quarter. The fumble gave the
Badgers the ball at the Michigan
27-yard line and set up a field goal
that put Wisconsin ahead 16-0. The
drive before Trent's fumble, junior
wide receiver Greg .Mathews also
fumbled a punt return that the Bad-
gers recovered.
The kick returners listed on the
depth chart at this morning's press
conference were freshman Mar-
tavious Odoms, redshirt freshman

Avery Horn, sophomore James
Rogers and senior Brandon Har-
rison. Freshmen Boubacar Cissoko
and Michael Shaw, who both bob-
bled kickoffs against Notre Dame,
did not play against Wisconsin.
This is the first week Horn and
Rogers have been listed on the
depth chart for kick returns. Har-
rison is the team's leading returner
this season, with six returns for Ill
yards. Against Wisconsin, Odoms
returned three kickoffs for 61
"Until we get guys who can hold
onto the ball and hit it up in there,
it's a revolving door," Rodriguez
said. "You shouldn't have to do
that four games in. But I mean, it's
pretty obvious to us. We got to get
somebody who can catch it first."
Overall,the Wolverineslost three
fumbles in the firsthalf againstWis-
consin, just one game after Michi-
gan lost four fumbles against Notre
Dame. Rodriguez said some of the
fumbles can be attributed to a "lack
of discipline" when players carried
the ball in the wrong hand or didn't
secure the ball tightly before being
hit by the defense.

"I don't want them walking on
eggshells, or worrying about play-
ing so tight ... that they can't run
fast," Rodriguez said. "If they con-
tinue to have turnovers and drop
the ball, we can't put the ball in
their hands."
redshirt junior Mark Ortmann
came back from his elbow injury
Saturday and with redshirt sopho-
more Perry Dorrestein now healthy,
the coaching staff will try to move
players around this week to find the
Wolverines' top five offensive line-
Rodriguez said Dorrestein will
play at left tackle and Ortmann may
move to left guard this week.
When asked if the offensive line
noticeably improved with Ort-
mann's return Saturday, redshirt
sophomore Stephen Schilling talk-
ed about the line's depth, especially
Dorrestein's strong play against
Notre Dame.
"I don't really know if (Ortmann
returning) had any difference," he
said. "Everybody practices at differ-
ent positions, just because you want
to be prepared for more than one
position on the offensive line."
Evaluating the offensive line's
performance against Wisconsin,
Rodriguez said redshirt sopho-
more John Ferrara played "okay"
in his first start at left guard and
said redshirt junior center David
Moosman had his strongest game
to date.
Freshman Kevin Koger has offi-
cially gone from almost redshirt-
ing to becomingtheteam's second
tight end. Rodriguez said he orig-
inally expected Koger to sit out
this season, but Koger came in to
score Michigan's first touchdown
on a26-yard reception in the third
quarter. He is now listed behind
fifth-year senior Mike Massey,
nudging out junior Carson Butler

for the second spot. Rodriguez con-
firmed Massey and Koger willbe on
the two-deep roster for Illinois.
Rodriguez said the 'choice to
move Koger ahead Butler was a
"coaches' decision. (It's) what we
think is best for us rightnow."
ing his comments after Saturday's
game, Rodriguez said Michi-
gan's freshness in the second half
against Wisconsin could be attrib-
uted to the Wolverines' strong
strength and conditioning pro-
gram. He said he thought his team
looked strong enough to play well
in overtime against the Badgers, if
But though the players didn't
look tired, Rodriguez stressed that
the Wolverines still aren't quick
enough to run the system as well as
he would like.
"We're not playing as fast as we
need to be," he said. "Not even close.
That's the most frustrating thing."
said running back Michael Shaw
saw limited game action against
Wisconsin because of injury, but
the freshman is "close to 100 per-
cent" and will definitely play more
against Illinois.
Rodriguez also said junior run-
ning back Carlos Brown, who was
limping on the field after the win,
suffered a foot sprain and will
be evaluated during practice this
NOTES: Rodriguez said fresh-
man quarterback Justin Feagin,
who is on the scout team, will imi-
tate Illinois quarterback Juice Wil-
liams in practice this week as the
Wolverines simulate the Fighting
Illini offense. ... Junior defensive
end Brandon Graham was named
the Big Ten Defensive Player of the
Week after he posted three sacks
and two forced fumbles in Satur-
day's win. He leads the defensive
line in tackles this season with 19.

Both on ice and
off, hockey team
embraces newcomers
Daily Sports Writer
Puck after puck flew full force
at the boards surroundingthe rink
at Yost Ice Arena.
Standing a few feet outside the
glass, Michigan freshman defen-
seman Brandon Burlon couldn't
even hear himself think.
"You guys are killing me," he
yelled outto them, cheeks flushed.
Moments later, while he was
answering questions in one of his
first interviews asa member of the
Michigan hockey team, a team-
mate jokingly slammed Burlon
into the wall.
"It's been really greatgetting to
know the guys individually," Bur-
ion said. "It's notlikethey separate
you from the group or leave you
out. They always try to include
you and make you feel welcome."
Sometimes, that means the vet-
erans shoot pucks at rookies or
playfully push them around.
For the five newest Wolverines,
the transition to collegiate com-
petition has been challenging, yet
"It's definitely different,
because everyone's bigger and
stronger now," freshman forward
Robbie Czarnik said. "Everyone's
faster. It's different from playing
on teams where everyone was the
same age and relatively the same
weight. It's an adjustment, but it's
not that big of a deal."
The five freshmen took differ-
ent paths to Ann Arbor, but each
has taken a route traveled before.
And every player was brought
here with high expectations.
"You never know how a play-
er is going to play at this level,"
Michigan coach Red Berenson'
said. "There are some hopes. We'
recruited them with hopes."
Czarnik and forward David
Wohlberg, who have been team-
mates for the pastsix years, played
for the U.S. National Team Devel-
opment Program last year, and
both first skated at Yost against
the Wolverines in an exhibition
game last January. The annual
contest showcases some of the
best local talent, and often NTDP
players are recruited to play for
Michigan. Nineteen Wolverines
have been involved in that pro-
gram since 1999.
Defenseman Greg Pateryn
played high school hockey and
spent last year playing for the Ohio
Junior Blue Jackets, ateam in the

U.S. hockey league.
Forward Luke Glendening
came to Michigan after spending a
fifth year of high school as a post-
graduate at the Hotchkiss School,
a boarding school in Connecticut.
A three-sport athlete, Glenden-
ing has excelled on football fields,
baseball diamonds and ice rinks.
But he followed his passion to
Michigan, where he was offered a
walk-on spot.
Burlon, a Nobletown, Ontario
native, traveled south to Ann
Arbor after two seasons in the
Junior 'A' Hockey League. Burlon
followed the path of sophomore
forward Louie Caporusso, who he
played with two seasons ago, from
Ontario to Michigan.
"I was in close contact with
(Caporusso) the whole time I was
being recruited here," Burlon said.
"He kept telling me how great it
was here, and how much fun he
was having, and aside from the fun
and how exciting it all is, he told
me about how much he learned
even in the first two weeks by
being around the older guys, like
Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik
and the coaches."
Czarnik said he also looked to a
current sophomore, forward Matt
Rust, who played in the NTDP
before he came to Michigan.
The freshmen have already
picked up a lot from the upper-
classman leadership of this year's
team, including senior captain
Mark Mitera and junior alternate
captain Chris Summers.
Berenson hasn't seen the fresh-
men play much so far, because of
rules regarding practice schedules
before the start of regular season
play, but Berenson said he likes
what he's seen.
"Those kids definitely belong
here," Berenson said. "As for their
roles, we'll see how they develop...
(The) team is changing every year,
even if the faces aren't changing."
Burlon said the retreatthe hock-
' ey team went on two weeks ago
was a great bonding experience.
Between trust-building activities
on the ropes course and late-night
talks, the players became close
before the start of the demanding
Being on the same page off the
ice is just as important as an on-ice
"Guys know their place in the
room," Burlon said. "As freshmen,
we obviously do. 'Get some tape,
get this, get that.' But (the upper-
classmen) look out for us and try
to include us. There's a time and a
place for everything, and they tell
us whatthose times and places are,
so we feel like we're a part of the




LaPlante reflectson story of his career

Track coach gains
perspective from
legendary leader
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan track and field head
coach Fred LaPlante is a story-
Or as former head track coach
and now assistant Ron Warhurst
says he's a "pisser."
"In the old days, that means he's
funny as hell," Warhurst said. "He's
the best storyteller you'll ever want

....- I.-

Vj School of Information

to hear.
When asked to recall his favorite
storyof LaPlante's, Warhurstjoked
that it probably wasn't appropriate
for him to say.
For most of the athletes he
coaches, LaPlante's stories act as
"Every time I'm going through
something, he has a story for it,"
sophomore hurdler Carl Bucha-
non said. "It's easy to relate to that
instead of just, do this, do that. If
you have a story for it, it makes it
more realistic."
LaPlante draws his stories from
a long career in track and field.
When LaPlante was in high
school he had heard of Warhurst,
a Western Michigan runner who
went on to become a graduate
assistant at Eastern Michigan.
When LaPlante attended Eastern
Michigan in 1969 to run track, he
thought he would learn from War-
hurst. But Warhurst decided to join
the Marine Corps and was shipped
to Vietnam.
During his tour in Vietnam,
Warhurst kept up correspondence
with the track team, and LaPlante
remembers reading Warhurst's let-
ters posted in the locker room.
"Whenhe cameback,that's when
I came to knowhim," LaPlante said.
"He was living in Ann Arbor and he
was like a local guru. He was 25 or
26 years old, close to our age, and
knew a lot about running. So a lot
of us would listen to Ron."
After LaPlante graduated, the
two parted ways. Warhurst was
hired as the men's cross country
coach at Michigan and LaPlante
headed to California to pursue a
career in running. But, soon he
found out he didn't have the talent

to become an Olympian.
"From way back I knew I want-
ed to coach," LaPlante said. "My
high school coach was somebody I
looked up to as a person, and I just
got this sense that's what I want to
do in life - be a track coach."
LaPlante received his first head
coaching job in 1979, taking advan-
tage of Title IX at San Diego State.
"There were some girls around
that were interested in track and
they were close to my age," LaPlan-
te said. "So I started coaching them
and they actually became great
At San Diego State, he eventu-
ally coached a world-record setting
athlete. LaPlante later took over as
head coach for Southern Cal's team
and continued his success in colle-
giate women's track and field. But
he wasn't satisfied.
"I didn't want to coach women,"
LaPlante said. "There's noth-
ing against women, but I want to
coach guys. I was afraid of getting
labeled as a coach who only coach-
es women."
In an unusual move, LaPlante
spurned the sun of southern Cali-
fornia and headed home to Eastern
Michigan to become the assistant
men's coach.
He later went on to be the head
coach of men and women at Lehigh
University in Pennsylvania for four
years before he was offered the job
of associate head coach to lead the
sprint and hurdle athletes at Mich-
The main reasonhe came back
to Ann Arbor was obvious: the
opportunity to coach alongside his
former mentor, Warhurst.
Over the past 12 years, the two
have become best friends, and their

relationship has grown on and off
the track
"We have a great time coaching
together," Warhurst said. "Every
day, it's fun to come to work. We
can get a laugh out of anything."
Warhurst and LaPlante's chem-
istry is evident in how they coach
their athletes. When they try to
motivate a runner, they often try
the good cop bad cop routine.
"Somebody would yell and the
other would go and pat the guy on
the back," Warhurst said. "We'd go
back and forth every lap about it.
But it was always with the intent of
helping the athlete."
On September 3rd, Warhurst
stepped down as head coach of
the men's track team, and there
was only one man he considered to
replace him - LaPlante.
"He's a fantastic communicator,
a great organizer," Warhurst said
the day of the transition. "It's just
a natural slide. I count on him and
coach (David) Kaiser as co-coaches
anyways. It's just somebody else
is going to be designated as a head
Though he stepped down as
head coach, Warhurst isn't retiring
from coaching and said he plans to
spend at least10 more seasonswith
"(I'm proud) that we lasted in
college coaching this long and
remained friends," Warhurst said.
"We've known each other for such
a long period of time, and I think
we're going to step away togeth-
Maybe whenever they do retire,
LaPlante and Warhurst will sit
back and recall the stories of their
careers and how they ended up


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