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October 01, 2008 - Image 8

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8A - Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Michigan picked to finish
first in CCHA by media

CCH
PRESET
POL
COACHE
1. Notre Dame
2. Michigan (3
3 Miami (1)
4. Northern Mi
5. Michigan St
6. Ferris State
7. Ohio State
8. Nebraska-0
9. Bowling Gre
10. Lake Superi
T-11, Alaska
T-11. WesternN

iA
ASON
LS

Mitera, Palushaj and
Sauer selected to
preseason
all-conference teams
By MICHAEL EISENSTEIN
Daily SportsEditor

GRAND RAPIDS - Last year,
Michigan coach Red Berenson was
focused on reassuring Wolver-
S POLL ine fans that the freshman-laden
(8) team was better than its predicted
fourth-place CCHA finish.
) "Nothing has changed at Michi-
gan," Berenson said a year ago,
referring to the program's consis-
ichigan tent place among the conference's
ate top teams.
This season, NOTEBOOK
with a Frozen
Four behind them and a No. 2
national ranking, the Wolverines
maha won't be surprising anyone.
Michigan was picked to finish
!en first in the CCHA by the media
or State (43 first-place votes), acrd second
by the conference's coaches (three
first-place votes) behind Notre
ichigan Dame, who ousted the Wolverines
from the NCAA Tournament last
April.
Miami (Ohio), Michigan State
and Northern Michigan round out
the top-five in each poll.
"I just see this as being a
good team right from the get-
go," Berenson said at yesterday's
CCHA Media day in Grand Rapids.
"Last year we weren't supposed to
be good, (and) we surprised our-
POLL selves."
The preseason all-conference
3) teams, however, did contain a
(35) slight surprise. Sophomore right-
winger Aaron Palushaj - an all-
te (2) rookie honorable mention last year
- was a first-team pick, garnering
just one fewer first-place vote at
chigan (1) forward than Fighting Irish cap-
tain Erik Condra. Palushaj led
the league in assists and was the
en CCHA's top freshman scorer last
maha season, but went unnoticed play-
ing behind the Wolverines' top
line - the highest scoring in the
for State country.
Captain Mark Mitera was also
a first-team selection and received
the most points among defense-
chigan men. Senior goalie Billy Sauer was
named to the second team.
GOODBYE TIES: With the
rentheses CCIHA's biannual rule changes
evotes taking effect this season, there
will be two major differences at
conference games: Shootouts to
SoURCE: CCHA end ties and an extra referee call-
ing penalties.

The shootouts - received by
coaches with mixed reviews
according to CCHA commissioner
Tom Anastos - will be used to
break ties if a five-minute over-
time period fails to do so.
Berenson was not overly enthu-
siastic about the new rule, but is
interested to see how well it works
this season.
"I think it's good for college
hockey, I think it's good for the
fans and I
know the play-
ers are excited
for it," Beren-
son said. "I'm
an old-school
guy, and I know
I'm probably.
going to bite
my tongue if we PALUSHAJ
lose shootouts.
That's a tough way to lose a game.
But still, I think it will be good."
Berenson didn't vote for the
officiating crew change, and is
worried it doesn't address the
issue of having a "glorified goal
judge" getting in the way of puck
movement down low on offense.
But he does like the protection is
gives the puck handler coming up
the ice.
"It's going to create more penal-
ties, and therefore more open play,
more wide-open play because the
players now know that there's eyes
behind them and eyes in front of
them," Berenson said.
TIME FLIES: For25 years, Beren-
son has been behind the Michigan
bench, racking up two national
championships, 10 CCHA regular
season titles and eight conference
postseason trophies.
But for the legendary coach,
time is not standing still.
"I just look old, and 25 (years)
might seem like a lot," Beren-
son said. "But I'll tell you what,
the first five years took about 20
years, and the next 20 years took
about five. That's really houw it's
been. Once we started winning,
it's gone by so fast and been so
much fun compared to the first
five years."
Berenson wouldn't say whether
or not he would extend his expir-
ing contract. But he is not focused
on reaching the quarter-century
mark.
"It's a nice number but people
that worked on the railroad worked
for 40 years or whatever, I mean a
long time," Berenson said. "Now
coaching 25 years in one place, I
mean I think there are coaches in
our league who have coached lon-
ger than I have, I just happened to
get a late start."

I
I

ANGEtA ttStRt/Daily
Junior Carson Butler, sees here against Indiana in02006, did nout see any snaps on offeose against Wisconsin.
Butler st rugglfes to
find paein offe nse

MEDIA
1. Michigan (43
2. Notre Dame
3. Michigan Sta
4. Miami (2)
5. Northern Mi
6. Ferris State
7. Bowling Gre
8. Nebraska-Di
9. Ohio State
10. Lake Superi
11. Alaska
12. Western Mi
Note: Numberin pa:
indicatesfirst-place

By DAN FELDMAN
Daily Sports Editor
When the Michigan football
team shocked Florida in the Capi-
tal One Bowl on New Year's Day by
ditching its pro-style offense for
one with several characteristics of
the spread, tight end Carson But-
ler seemed like a perfect fit.
On one play in the second quar-
ter, with four receivers lined up on
the right side of the field, Butler
leaked from the left side of the line
and caught a screen pass. He then
raced 65 yards down the sideline
before the speedy Gator defense
finally pushed him out of bounds
at the one-yard line.
An ABC announcer asked new
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez,
who was in the broadcast booth at
the time, if he could find a place for
a 247-pound tight end in his spread
offense.
"Certainly guys that can run
like that," Rodriguez said.
But nine months later, Butler
doesn't seem to have a firm spot on
the Wolverine roster.
Butler started Michigan's first

three games but didn't play on
offense against Wisconsin, even
though he was healthy. The junior
has just two catches for 17 yards
this season and is listed as the
third-string tight end for Satur-
day's game against Illinois.
Rodriguez was asked Monday
about. Michigan's top four tight
ends - Butler, fifth-year senior
Mike Massey, freshman Kevin
Koger and sophomore Martell
Webb. Rodriguez addressed the
last three by name, but didn't men-
tion Butler at all.
Late in the fourth quarter of
the Wolverines' frustrating loss at
Notre Dame on Sept. 13, Butler was
ejected after he took a swing at an
Irish player after a play. Though
Rodriguez expressed displeasure
with Butler's lack of composure,
he didn't suspend him.
Butler also got into trouble with
former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr.
Butler was kicked off the team
after being charged with assault-
ing another student in West Quad
on St. Patrick's Day in 2007. After
he was cleared of the charges, But-
ler retugned to the team.

Before the season, Butler said
he was excited about a fresh start
under Rodriguez. He was initially
concerned when Rodriguez was
hiredbecause WestVirginia didn't
utilize its tight ends often, but the
coaches assured him Michigan
would use its tight ends frequent-
ly.
It turns out Butler might not be
one of them, though. Koger and
Massey, both listed as possible
starters against the Illini, have
impressed Rodriguez.
Against Wisconsin, Massey
becamethe firstWolverinetoserve
as a captain'twice this season.
Koger made his debut in the
same game, though Rodriguez had
considered redshirting him earlier
in the season. The move paid off,
as Koger, caught a 26-yard touch-
down pass in the third quarter. It
was his first career reception.
Redshirt freshman quarterback
StevenThreetsuccinctlydescribed
the play.
"It was a good route," Threet
said. "He made a great catch."
If only everything were so sim-
ple for the talented Butler.

Goalie hopes to continue
hot streak against Irish

Southern Cal and Florida look to
rebound from upsets in conference play

By JOE STAPLETON
Daily Sports Writer
It was halfway through the
Michigan men's soccer team's
practice, cold and rainy, and goal-
keeper Patrick Sperry was sitting
in his goal on the wet grass, watch-
ing his team do corner-kick drills.
He looked like he was thinking.
Maybe he was thinking about how
to continue his current hot streak;
over the last 3 games, Sperry has
allowed just two goals and made
11 saves. Or about how he's going
to avoid a repeat of the four goals
he allowed against then-No.16
Illinois-Chicago earlier this sea-
son. Or about playing No. 8 Notre
Dame this afternoon.
Michigan is 6-2-2 this season,
already just four wins away from
last year's win total. Sperry's play
in net is no small factor. He has
allowed more than two goals just
twice this season. He has also
posted two shutouts.
"I think I've helped us win some
games," Sperry, a redshirt junior,
said. "I've come up with some big
saves, which is great. It feels good
to help your team."
But against ranked opponents,
the Wolverines have struggled
both times they faced top compe-
tition. The first game was a 2-1 loss
to then-No.2 Connecticut. Sperry
made three big saves on five shots
by the talented Huskies.
The more recent loss, the blow-
out against UIC, was tougher to
swallow.
"We scored an own goal, they
got a P.K., and they scored two bril-
liant goals," Sperry said about the
low point of the season thus far.

Redshirt Junior Patrick Sperry and the Michigan soccer tean face the eighth-
ranked Fighting Irish this afternoon in Ypsilanti.

Michigan has moved forward.
The Wolverines have gone 3-1-1
since the loss, and Sperry has
been on fire. He has allowed just
one goal in four of those games
and even posted a shutout in
another.
"Pat is a guy we expect to come
every day and put a real consis-
tent performance together," said
Michigan coach Steve Burns.
"And it's at a high level."
Sperry's play has raised his
coach's confidence, and helped
improve the entire team's atti-
tude.
"It breathes life into a whole
team," Burns said. "When he's
playing well, everyone can look to
attack knowing that our keeper's
on."
Sperry is looking to keep his
performance up against a talented
Notre Dame team on Wednesday.

The Irish were ranked third as
recently as last week, but dropped
a 2-1 heartbreaker on Sunday to
No. 14 Louisville. The loss ended
a seven-game winning streak for
the Irish. -
"It's a great matchup," Sperry
said. "Something I want to do is
leave Michigan with a win against
Notre Dame."
Back at practice, the rain
cleared up for a moment and
turns ended the corner-kick
drill. As the defense dropped
back to his side of the field, Sperry
pushed himself off the grass and
jumped into his stance.
He looked ready. Ready to keep
pushing himself and ride his hot
streak. Ready to learn from his
past mistakes and put the lessons
to use. Ready to get Michigan soc-
cer its first ever win against Notre
Dame.

By NICK COSTON
Daily Sports Writer
Considering the havoc wreaked
upon the Associated Press poll's top
10 last week, every college football
team in the country should watch be
watching its back. A handful of top
teams suffered particularly excru-
ciating conference losses and will
likely lose all hope of a title if they
drop another contest this weekend.
Perhaps the most surprisingupset
of the weekend came last Thurs-
day night on the campus of Oregon
State University, where the Beavers
shocked then-No. 1 Southern Cal. It
was the third crippling upset in as
many seasons for the Trojans, who
fell to Oregon State on the road two
years ago and to 40-point underdog
Stanford in the Coliseum last sea-
son.
Meanwhile, in Gainesville, Fla.,
Florida entered Saturday's game
against lowly Mississippi fresh off a
30-6 beating of conference foe Ten-
nessee. But reigning Heisman Tro-
phy winner Tim Tebow could not
penetrate the Rebels' defensive line
and the Gators were stunned, 31-30.
And No. 9 Wisconsin lost to some
Big Ten team in Michigan. You
might have heard about it.
Those three disheartened teams
had better dry their eyes quickly
if they're hoping for a bid to a BCS
bowl game, because this weekend
only heightens the in-conference
drama.
NO.23 OREGON AT NO.9
SOUTHERN CAL
Despite preseason worries that
losing running back Jonathan Stew-
art and quarterback Dennis Dixon

would derail the Ducks' offense,
Oregon has scorched defenses early
in 2008. Give most of the credit to
an unstoppable running attack that
is averaging 309 yards per game,
good for fourth in the nation.
If linebacker Rey Maualuga and
the Southern Cal defense can't stop
Oregon on the ground, the Trojans
may fail to reach a BCS bowl game
for the first time in six years.
NO.12 FLORIDA AT ARKANSAS
Florida entered last Saturday's
home game overlooking Missis-
sippi as it anticipated a showdown
with Louisiana State on October
11th. Unfortunately for the Gators,
Mississippi was clearly focused on
Tebow and came away from the
Swamp with the huge upset. Now,
Florida must regroup against an
equally wounded Arkansas team
that was dominated by Texas, 52-10,
in Austin.
Florida will be heavily favored to
win this SEC game - just as it was
against Mississippi.
PITTSBURGH AT NO.10
SOUTH FLORIDA
After last weekend's upset bonan-
za, the Bulls find themselves in the
Top10 and contendingfor a BCStitle
for the second straight year. South
Florida is suddenly the top team in,
the Sunshine State and will have
a target on its back when it hosts
Pittsburgh on Thursday. The Pan-
thers have won three straight and
will look to keep the upsets coming
and unseat the Big East favorite.
South Florida has proven to be a
dominant team on both sides of the
I it

ball with quarterback Matt Grothe
and defensive end George Selvie
leading the Bulls to a 5-0 start.
But Pitt sophomore running back
LeSean McCoy is a special talent
and can singlehandedly keep his
team in contention. Could we see
another Thursday night miracle?
NO.13 AUBURN AT NO.19
VANDERBILT
It's a strange sight - Vanderbilt
is undefeated and currently sits
atop the SEC East. It will be even
stranger if the Commodores beat
AuburnSaturday.The Commodores
haven't beaten the Tigers since the
1955 Gator Bowl, and Vanderbilt
hasn't opened the season with five
straight wins since 1943.
Whatever happens, don't expect
this to be a high-scoring slugfest.
Vanderbilt has one of the worst
passing attacks since the invention
of the forward pass, but quarter-
back Chris Nickson makes up for it
with his feet and he leads the Com-
modores in rushing touchdowns.
Auburn's offense isn't exactly
potent either, and it has been
plagued this season with costly
turnovers. The Tiger defense has
scored in every game this season,
the one exception being a 3-2 win
over Mississippi.
Auburn fans expect to continue
their domination over the usual
laughingstock of the SEC. But the
Commodores have never been more
confident, especially after their last
home win over then-ranked South
Carolina. The place should be rock-
ing. After all, it's Nashville.

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