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October 10, 2008 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-10

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8A - Friday, October 10, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Michigan finally meets the neighbors
Defense ready for
By COURTNEY RATKOWIAK bootlegs and nakeds, a whole
Daily Sports Editor bunch of screens," Rodriguez said. 71
"The two things that hurt us in physical m atchup
Tomorrow, the Wolverines will the last game were play action and

finally meet their neighbors.
It's not like they're complete
strangers - Ann Arbor and Toledo
are just 50 miles
away, and the
schools often Toledo at
cross paths. For Michigan
the most part,
both sets of fans Matchup:
can't stand the Toledo 1-4;
Buckeyes. Toledo Michigan 2-3
is so close to the When:
Michigan border Tomorrow,
that it's not hard n
to spot maize- Where:
and-blue apparel Michigan
while driving Stadium
around town. TV: BTN
Toledo's also
familiar with
some of Michigan's players and
coaches. Michigan running backs
coach Fred Jackson started his
29-year collegiate coaching career
at Toledo, and freshman tight
end Kevin Koger, a Toledo native,
knows several players on the cur-
rent Rockets roster.
But Saturday's game against the
Rockets will be the first between
the two teams, not counting a 1928
matchup between Toledo Univer-
sity and the Michigan junior var-
sity team, which the Wolverines
won 33-0.
Michigan (1-1 Big Ten, 2-3 over-
all) is 24-0 all-time against MAC
teams, including a 16-6 win over

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is worried about how his team will cover Toledo's
play-action offense, plays which gave the Wolverines trouble last week against Illinois

This season, teams have aver-
aged 238.6 receiving yards per
game against the Michigan sec-
ondary. Rodriguez said the talent
of Toledo's wide receivers was a
concern for the Wolverines. Junior
wideout Stephen Williams is the
Rockets' leading receiver with an
average of 67.8 yards per game.
And the Wolverines are still
searching for stability in the return
game. With freshman Martavi-
ous Odoms limited by a shoulder
injury, Rodriguez named Avery
Horn and James Rogers as two of
the team's likely kick returners at
Wednesday's practice.
Michigan hopes to get back
to .500 with a win in front of the
Michigan Stadium crowd. Just
don't suggest to Rodriguez that
his team might be able to grab an
easy victory - because after their
inconsistent first five games, it's
clear the Wolverines can't afford
to take a game against a MAC team
"There's an element of danger
to that, and your players have to
be aware of that," Rodriguez said.
"Coaches will tell you you've got to
schedule those because we've got
to have home games. Home games
are the revenue. But those games
are ones that as coaches, you've got
to make sure your guys are focused
on playing, not just showing up."

Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 6. And with
a trip to Happy Valley to play No. 6
Penn State looming next weekend,
the Wolverines will have to string
together four quarters of consis-
tent play - something they haven't
done this season - if they want to
build momentum for the rest of the
Big Ten season.
Toledo (1-1 MAC, 1-4) has had
plenty of trouble, too. The week
before the Wolverines pulled off
a 19-point comeback against Wis-
consin, the Rockets lost a double-
overtime, 55-54 heartbreaker to
then-No. 25 Fresno State.
"I think that helps get our play-
ers' attention," Michigan coach

Rich Rodriguez said of Toledo's
near-upset. "Talking to some other
coachesthathave played them, they
think (the Rockets) are probably as
athletic as anybody in the MAC."
But in the two games since the
loss to the Bulldogs, Toledo has
lost by a combined score of 66-16.
Last week, in a 31-0 loss to Ball
State, the Rocket defense gave up a
season-high 482 yards.
And the Wolverines are going
into Saturday'sgamewith adefense
that was embarrassed last week,
allowing 501 yards to Illinois.
That means both teams will be
looking for some sort of vindication.
"Toledo runs a lot of play action,

Daily Sports Writer
Michigan junior defenseman
Steve Kampfer knows he's going to
get some bruises
tonight. St. Lawrence
"(St. Law- at Michigan
rence) is aa
physical team," Matchup: St.
Kampfer said Lawrence 0-0;
about tonight's ,Michigan 0-0
opponent. "We've When: Tonight,
been practicing 7:35 P.M.
hitting all week. Where: Yost
Obviously, when Ice Arena
we go back for a TV:
puck, we under- MGoBlue.com
stand we're going
to get hit. We've gotto make the
The Wolverine defensive corps
has one major factor on its side -
its size. Six of the eight defensemen
are at least six feet tall, and just one
weighs less than 190 pounds.
"Gaining a couple extra pounds,
being a lot stronger on the puck
and knowing where to be on the
ice (helps our) guys out," Kampfer
Familiarity helps, too.
With all blueliners returning to
the team this year, the Wolverines
hoped each and every player would
show marked improvement. As the
regular season opens tonight, the
defense seems poised to reach a
higher level this year.
Last year, the squad allowed an
average of 2.07 goals per game.
Last weekend in exhibition play,
the defense gave up justone goal in
each game - both of them allowed
in the third period when Michigan
had full control of the game.
"As acore group and as a whole,
we're very encouraged by the way
our 'D' looks, how they're practic-
ing,howtheylooked in exhibition,"
Michigan assistant coach Billy
Powers said. "I know we didn't
play the Detroit Red Wings, but it
was game competition and we kept
the puck out of the zone, moved it
out quickly and didn't give up a lot
of opportunities."
With the loss of last year's top
line, the highest-scoring trio in
the nation, the defense will have

to shut down opponents. Though
the defensemen say they don't feel
added pressure because offen-
sive production might be lower,
they acknowledged their role has
"We're going into the season
thinking we have to produce a lit-
tle more," sophomore defenseman
Chad Langlais said. "We've talk-
ed a little bit about as a defensive
corps, trying to jump up and be a
little more offensive."
None of the three freshmen
defensemen recorded a goalilast
year. Langlais thinks that should
Powers agreed that the defen-
sive role has shifted, and he thinks
that makes it more important than
"We're still evolving as an
offense, so we have to be perfect as
a defense," Powers said.
Over the past few weeks, includ-
ing exhibition play, the Michigan
coaching staff has mixed up its
defensive pairings, trying to incor-
porate freshmen and find the best
on-ice chemistry.
Sophomore Scooter Vaughan
and senior captain Mark Mit-
era proved to be an effective pair
last season, and will likely play
as the top duo tonight. Kampfer
and Langlais have a great rapport
after playing together often last
year, too. But throw in two physi-
cal freshmen, Brandon Burlon and
Greg Pateryn, and move junior
Chris Summers to forward, and
the mix-and-match pairing begins
"We're all used to everyone
now," Kampfer said. "You play
with everyone.You learn to do this
and that. You read the tendencies
of everyone. That's a big help going
into games."
Heading into this weekend's
series against the Saints at Yost
Ice Arena, the Michigan defense
knows it will play a crucial role in
the tough, physical contests.
"This'll be a war," Michigan
coach Red Berenson said about the
St. Lawrence series. "They play
hard-nose, physical, close-check-
ing hockey. Our players are going
to have to battle."

Blue's first game at new field slated for this afternoon

For the Daily
After almost a whole season of
waiting, the Michigan women's
soccer team is ready to play a home
game in Ann Arbor.
Due to ongoing construction at
the new U-M Soccer Complex on
South State Street, the Wolverines
have played their home games in
Ypsilanti and Canton this season.
They will finally get a home field
Friday, when the West Practice Field
will be ready to host Penn State.
"Being at home allows you to
manage your energy a lot better,"

Michigan coach Greg Ryan said.
"You're home, you're not traveling.
You're sleeping in your own bed."
That energy will be crucial in
two critical games this weekend.
Friday's game is against the 25th-
ranked Nittany Lions, and the Wol-
verines will face Ohio State, which
has won six straight, on Sunday.
"I think the new field will defi-
nitely help a lot with the momentum
and the spirit," freshman Natalie
Horner said. "We should come out
real strong againstour opponents."
Horner has helped contribute to
the outstanding performance of the
team's first-year players, named the

top freshman recruiting class in the
Big Ten by Soccer Buzz Magazine.
While this weekend will be the first
time Horner and her fellow fresh-
men play at home, it will be the last
opportunity for the team's seniors.
Before Sunday's game, the Wolver-
ines will honor their five seniors.
"We're obviously thrilled to have
a home weekend," senior captain
Kristin Thomas said. "But at the
same time, it's our last home week-
end, so it's definitely goingto be bit-
The season on the road has been
a strange one for Thomas, whose
senior year was "definitely not what

I expected." She said the team has
overcome many challenges.
And those challenges won't stop
just because the traveling temporar-
ily has.
"The difficult thing is that with-
out lights, you have to play a 4 p.m.
game," Ryan said. "It's usually the
disadvantage to the traveling team,
but I would rather travel than play
a game at 4 p.m. Most of our kids
aren't even going to be able to make
it to the pregame meal."
But Michigan is ready to make the
adjustments necessary to succeed.
"I'mjust happy that we're playing
in Ann Arbor," Ryan said.


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