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October 28, 2008 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-28

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The Michigan Gaily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 - 9

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com Tuesday, October 28, 2008 - 9

Subs aren't
ready to play

Three cornerbacks
could be used
in package
Daily Sports Editor
Anyone expecting major per-
sonnel changes in the Michigan
hold their breath.
"For any of the guys, trust
me when I tell you this - if they
would help us win, they'd be play-
ing more," Michigan coach Rich
Rodriguez said
at his press NOTEBOOK
Monday. "We're playing the best
guys that give us the best chance to
win. Why wouldn't we? It doesn't
make any sense."
In Michigan's loss to Michigan
State, the defensive backs were
burned for several deep passes.
Rodriguez alternated the combi-
nation of fifth-year senior strong
safety Charles Stewart and fresh-
man cornerback Boubacar Cissoko
with fifth-year senior cornerback
Morgan Trent and junior safety
Stevie Brown in the game.
Rodriguez said he might have
played free safety Michael Wil-
liams more, but the redshirt fresh-
man went down with a concussion
in the first quarter.
Against teams that run the
spread, like Purdue, this weekend's
opponent, Rodriguezsaid he would
consider using a three-cornerback
formation, playing Cissoko, Trent
and sophomore Donovan Warren.
"The frustrating part is, after
eight games, we should have more
consistency on the level of play,"
Rodriguez said.
With seven returning starters
on defense, many thought that unit
would make up for some of the
offense's inexperience.
"There were more assumptions
made defensively that we're OK at
this position or that we'll get this
kind of production at this posi-
tion," Rodriguez said. "I think
there's an assumption that this guy
is a returning starter, so he'll be
able to pick up the scheme and be
able to go just like that. That's not
always the case."

Michigan's back is against the wall,
both literally and figuratively.
At 2-6, the Wolverines need
to win their final four games to
become bowl eligible. In Sunday's
practice, Rodriguez made the met-
aphor a reality.
He had the entire team line up
along the wall at Oosterbaan Field-
house. Then, he told them to try
and punch. But there wasn't much
power in their jabs.
Then, Rodriguez told them to
step away from the wall and step
into their punches, which were
much more powerful.
"We keep emphasizing that our
backs are to the wall," freshman
defensive tackle Mike Martin said.
"We have to fight to get our backs
off the wall."
shirt junior Carson Butler is get-
ting closer to playing at defensive
end, Rodriguez said. Butler started
the season as a tight end.
"It's not this easy to move a
guy and say, 'OK, here you go,' "
Rodriguez said. "There are alot of
schemes. There are different plays
you've got to defend."
Butler's athleticism and quick
first step will help him on the
defensive side of the ball.
Rodriguez -didn't rule out of
the possibility of Butler playing
defense this season.
Not a touchdown: Junior Bran-
don Minor's first-quarter touch-
down reception has raised a bit of
controversy. After the play was ini-
tially ruled incomplete, the replay
booth overturned the call. Since
the game, many have acknowl-
edged that the replay officials
made the wrong call.
"Was that what they said?"
Rodriguez said when asked about
the call. "Too late now."
running back Sam McGuffie and
Williams, both of whom left Satur-
day's game with mild concussions,
didn't practice Sunday and are
considered day-to-day.
Redshirt sophomore left tackle
Perry Dorrestein (knee) and red-
shirt sophomore linebacker Jonas
Mouton (hamstring) should prac-
tice this week.

Senior Travis Turnbull will replace sophomore Aaron Palushaj on Michigan's first line for this weekend's series against Ohio State.
Wolveries will focus
on pe nalty-kill unit

Daily Sports Writer
Call it shock therapy.
After then-No. 6 Boston Univer-
sity gouged then-No. S Michigan
for five power-
play goals Satur- NOTEBOOK
day, the coaching
staff has pulled out the defibrilla-
tor to revive the Wolverine pen-
alty kill.
A week after focusing on a pow-
er-playunit thatwent just1-31in its
first four games, the Wolverines,
now ranked eighth in the country,
started this week working on kill-
ing off shorthanded situations:
"If we hadn't played the BU
game, I don't think I'd sit here and
say I was alarmed by anything
because we've been close to the
mark in most of our games," Mich-
igan coach Red Berenson said.
"But that was the game we took a'
big step back in."
The penalty kill is just the one
of the problems exposed against
the Terriers, but it's the point of
most concern.
Two of the biggest problems
have been the stick placement and
turnovers deep in Michigan's own

"We're struggling for some con-
sistency," Berenson said. "You can't
play, or Michigan's a great offensive
team or Michigan is a team that will
outwork you to a fault.
"We're still struggling to get
our feet on the ground and get our
team going on a day-to-day basis."
The Wolverines have given up
eight power-play goals this sea-
son, and have scored just five on
the man advantage.
The loss was a wake-up call for
a team that has fallen into a rut of
giving up an early lead, surrender-
ing the first goal in four of its six
games this year.
"We're a team that recognizes
that we're going to have to battle
for 60 minutes for a chance to win
these games no matter who we're
playing," assistant coach Billy
Powers said. "If we're not ready to
play some of the elite opponents,
then what happens Saturday can
the Wolverines' sluggish effort
against Boston University, it isn't
surprising that Berenson made
some changes to his line chart.
But his switching of right wing-
ers on the top two lines come as

a surprise given the top line's
two-goal performance Thursday
against Niagara.
Travis Turnbull with sophomore
Aaron Palushaj to give Michigan
a different look on its scoring lines
going into this weekend.
Turnbull will play with sopho-
mores Carl Hagelin and Matt Rust.
Palushaj will play with senior Tim
Miller and sophomore Louie Capo-
Palushaj, the Wolverines' point
leader (10), has scored five goals,
tied for best on the team with Capo-
"We weren't happy with our
games last weekend, so sometimes
you have to switch it up," Turnbull
The team is looking to spark an
offense that mustered just 17 shots
against the Terriers on Saturday,
half weeks after senior captain
Mark Mitera suffered a devastat-
e ing knee injury against St. Law-
rence, Mitera and his family still
haven't decided whether he will
have surgery.
Berenson said he suspects the
Livonia native will ultimately opt
for the surgery. He didn't say if

Mitera would return to the team
before the end of the season.
"I think they're looking at the
swelling and looking at how tender
the outside ligament is," Berenson
said. "I'm thinking they're going to
end up doing the surgery, I think
its just a matter of announcing
when they're going to do it."
Freshman Brandon Burlon skat-
ed before yesterday's practice for
the first time in three weeks. The
freshman suffered an ankle injury
in practice, and has been restrict-
ed to off ice rehabilitation.Though
Burlon didn't participate in yester-
day's drills, there's a small chance
that he will play against Ohio State
this weekend.
"It's still tender, which it will
be," Berenson said. "It's just a mat-
ter of when he can put his weight
on it and pivot and skate back-
wards and then take bits,"
DISQUALIFIED: Junior forward
Brian Lebler is not eligible to play
in Friday's game after receiving a
game disqualification in the wan-
ing seconds of Saturday's loss.
Lebler and BU's Vinny Saponari
fought with 22 seconds left in
the game and the Terriers up 7-2.
Both players were disqualified and
received fighting majors.

" Phenom Price learned
hard lessons in college

T he summer after my
freshman year, I made the
10-hour road trip from
Ann Arbor to Nashville to watch
the Michigan baseball team play
then-No. IVanderbilt in the NCAA
Not exactly how most Michigan
fans spent their summer vacation,
but it was worth it.
For those of you who don't
remember the Wolverines'
improbable win over the Commo-
dores, a freshman benchwarmer
named Alan Oaks cranked one of
the greatest homers in Michigan
baseballhistoryoffthe best pitcher
in the nation, David Price. The run
helped the Wolverines upset Van-
derbilt to win their first regional
title in more than 20 years.
The next day, The Tampa Bay
Rays took Price with the first
pick in the Major League Base-
ball Draft. Now, with Oaks still in
college, Price is one of the fastest-
rising rookies in the game, deliver-
ing two clutch
against Boston
in the Ameri-
can League ec
ship ' Series.
But I'm sure
you've heard
of Price by ANDY
now - his ice- REID
veins playoff
saves have been the talk of ESPN
I still get chills when I think
about Oaks's homer. I'd be willing
to bet Price does, too.
To most people, college baseball
is an afterthought - especially
here in the North where it's about
as popular as professional rock;
paper, scissors. It's what players
do when they can't enter the farm
systemright after high school.
But the college level can be the

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price celebrates after saving game seven of the
American League Championship Series, clinching the pennant for the Rays.


most important in the develop-
ment of a future star, as it was for
David Price.
Maybe an NCAA regional
championship doesn't sound as
exciting as a World Series ring to
you, but ask someone playing in it.
The Wolverinesrushed the mound
after they toppled the top-ranked
team in the country with as much
intensity as any other champi-
onship team. That game meant
To both teams.
Honestly, what better way to
prepare for the majors than by
staring down a batter in the bot-
tom of the ninth of a win-or-go-
home championship game? The
experience Price gained in the
final inning against Michigan was
invaluable, especially considering
the circumstances surrounding
his first two career MLB clutch
performances: recording the final
four outs in game seven of the
ALCS and pitching 2.1 innings in
game two of the World Series.
While Price faltered against
the Wolverines, he excelled on an
even higher stage. He has his time
at Vanderbilt to thank for that, not

his stint in the minors.
College baseball provides a
unique opportunity for MLB
prospects. Players get the chance
to play at a high level of competi-
tion (the Wolverines tied the New
York Mets, 4-4, in an exhibition
game last year), and they do so
without a paycheck. Whereas
minor leaguers play for money
and the chance to move up to the
majors, college players are in it for
the love of the game - they play
not for themselves but as part of a
team. You saw that team mental-
ity from Price in his heroics of the
That kind of passion can't be
learned in the minors. But for a
rookie pitcher coming out of the
bullpen in the ACLS, it's essen-
So the next time you hear an
ESPN report say that Price's
clutch pitching is unbelievable
and inexplicable, you'll know bet-
ter. College baseball is responsi-
ble for making him the player he
is today.
- Reid can be reached at

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