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October 31, 2008 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-31

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8 - Friday, October 31, 2008

I
I

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

'M' hits the road
to face ranked
conference foes

By MARK BURNS
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan volleyball coach
Mark Rosen gathered his squad
after practice yesterday to dis-
cuss the team's
weekendmatch-
ups. t d Michigan
At the end at Illinois
of the huddle, Matchup:
Rosen told the Michigan 18-4;
Wolverines, Illinois 16-5
"We're going to When: Tonight
beat Illinois this g P.M.
Friday night."
No. 18 Michi- Whe
gan faces two u
top-20 teams Stats:
on the road this MGoBlue.com
weekend - the
17th-ranked
Fighting Illini on Friday night
and No. 20 Purdue on Saturday
night.
The Wolverines are riding
high after" their first weekend
sweep in conference play, knock-
ing off overmatched Iowa and
then- No. 11 Minnesota in three
straight sets.
Rosen knows from experience
that his team has to keep every
match within the context of the
season.
"Everyone knows how impor-
tant every match is in the Big
Ten, so I don't think our team
will have any letdown at all,"
Rosen said.
Michigan hopes to avenge an
early-October loss to the Fight-
ing Illini. Illinois swept the Wol-
verines in three sets at Cliff Keen
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Arena in dominating fashion.
The Illini had 10 team blocks
in the match and limited the Wol-
verines' offensive opportunities,
holding Michigan to an attack
percentage of .158.
The Wolverines managed just
three blocks in three sets against
Illinois, which boasted. a .364
attack percentage.
Rosenknows thisweekendwill
be a crucial test for Michigan.
"I think it's not so much a big
weekend butmoreofatoughweek-
end," Rosen said. "Both opponents
are so evenly matched. We don't
have a high-ranked team and a
low-ranked team, but we have two
solid, ranked opponents."
The Wolverines are sand-
wiched between the Fighting
Illini and Purdue in the national
rankings, so both matches have
extra emphasis.
In the conference standings,
one game separates the three
teams, so if Michigan wins twice,
the Wolverines could find them-
selves in third place on Sunday.
But Purdue and Illinois are
both tough and aggressive
teams.
"I think we are going to have
to play very tenacious defense,
because both teams are very
offensive-minded," Rosen said.
The Wolverines won't have the
comfort of playing at Cliff Keen
Arena - they will have to deal
with Purdue and Illinois' hostile
arenas..
The Wolverines are .500 on
the road this year in the Big Ten,
with tough losses coming at Penn
State and Michigan State.
But Michigan learned from
those two defeats.
Since the twoslosses the team,
has gone 5-2, with one of those
losses coming against Illinois.
Illinois has an average crowd
attendance over 1,100, while
Purdue's is over 1,400.
"We feed off the crowd's
excitement, even though they
may not be cheering for us,"
freshman libero Sloane Donhoff
said.
Rosen doesn't think going on
the road will have that much of
an impact on his team, though.
"I love how our girls are com-
peting," Rosen said. "I really
like the energy level and the
mentality of our girls in the gym
right now."

I
I

Senior Tim Jamison and the Michigan defense have yet to play to their potential this year. The Wolverines face off against another Big Ten underachiever, Purduetomorrow.
'Snake oil'comment receives
more hptan lackluster game

By NATE SANDALS two storied programs' struggles.
Daily SportsEditor Most of the media coverage has
centered on an offseason comment
The Purdue and Michigan foot- with no bearing on how the game
ballprograms are headinginoppo- will play out.
site directions. On National Signing Day in Feb-
The Wolver- ary, wide receiver,ecruit Roy
ines are a young Michigan Roundtree signed to play at Michi-
group with a at Purdue gan even though he had verbally
first-year coach. Matchup: committed to Purdue. The late'
Purdue is an Michigan 2-6; switch angered Purdue coach Joe
experienced Purdue 2-6 Tiller, who was entering his finals
team with a vet- When: season as coach of the Boilermak-
eran coach who's Saturday, Noon ers.
retiring after this Where: Ross- "If we had an early signing date,
season. Ade Stadium you wouldn't have another outfit
But there TV: Big Ten with a guy in a wizard hat selling
are similari- Network snake oil get a guy at the last min-
ties between ute, but that's whathappened," Til-
the teams, too. ler said to the Indianapolis Star.
Michigan is on a four-game los- Both Tiller and Michigan coach
ing streak. Purdue's skid is at five Rich Rodriguez have had to answer
games. plenty of questions aboutthe state-
It's a match made in Big Ten ment this week, and both agree it's
mediocrity. been blown out of proportion.
But in the buildup to kickoff "We had a good laugh about
tomorrow at noon in West Lafay- that at the Big Ten meetings,"
ette, few seem to care about the Rodriguez said. "Joe and I had

been friends and have gone on that
apparel trip, his wife and my wife,
for five or six years and always had
a great time. We got a nice chuckle
out of that at the Big Ten meet-
ings."
In his weekly teleconference,
Rodriguez said he looks forward
to seeing Tiller tomorrow, but
doesn't expect snake oil or either
team's disappointing ° season to
come up in conversation. Instead,
he said they will likely talk about
their families.
If they were to talk about their
team's season, the conversation
wouldn't be very positive.
Michigan (1-3 Big Ten, 2-6 over-
all) ranks ninth in the Big Ten in
total defense, and Purdue (0-4,
2-6) is dead last that category. The
Boilermakers rank ninth in the
conference in total offense, and
the Wolverines are 11th of 11 teams
at moving the ball.
On paper, it's an even matchup,
and Michigan players are expect-
ing a tough game in what could be.

their best shot to pick up a win the
rest of this season.
"I look for Purdue to come
out fighting this game," senior
defensive end Tim Jamison said.
"They're a great, veteran team.
Our back is against the wall, we
come out.fighting."
Jamison said if Michigan finally
puts four quality quarters togeth-
er tomorrow and picks up a win,
it could be the launching pad the
team needs to run off four wins,
end the season at .500 and have an
outside shot at a bowl game. The
reality is, the Wolverines are likely
to be underdogs the rest of the way
through the schedule.
The struggles have been dif-
ficult for players and coaches all
season, but they may actually help
Rodriguez this recruiting season.
"One positive in recruiting
is that guys can see that, 'Hey,
maybe I can make an impact and
help them get it turned around,' "
Rodriguez said.
How's that for snake oil?

0

The battle for the basement of the Big Ten

By DAN FELDMAN ,.
and COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
Daily Sports Editors
MICHIGAN PASSING OFFENSE
VS. PURDUE PASSING DEFENSE:
After losing to Michigan State
last Saturday, offensive coordina-
tor Calvin Magee had the most
telling evaluation of Wolverine
redshirt freshman quarterback .
Steven Threet's play: "Inconsis-
tent, like it always is." Though
Threet's bruised elbow is no lon-
ger a factor, there's no reason you
should expect the offense to sud-
denly play as a cohesive unit in a a
road game.
The Boilermaker defense is
clutch against big teams. Pur- x
due's defense ranks last in the Big
Ten, but it allowed just 20 points
against No. 3 Penn State, far below
the Nittany Lions' average of 30.7
per game. And against No. 13 Ohio
State, Purdue allowed just 97 pass- Redshirtjunior Zoltan Meskofobl
ingyards. punter in csllege foatball.
Edge: Purdue the runninggame.
Edge: Purdue

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a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award for the best

pass defense. Freshman Boubacar
Cissoko could see the field with
sophomore Donovan Warren and
fifth-year senior Morgan Trent,
which could help close holes in
coverage.
Purdue's offensive line is weak,
and that should allow Michigan's
solid defensive line to get pressure
on the Boilermaker quarterback,
whoever that may be.
Edge: Push
SPECIAL TEAMS:
As has become typical this sea-
son, punter Zoltan Mesko is the
Wolverines' bright spot on special
teams. Mesko leads the Big Ten
in average punting yards and is a
semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award
for the best punter in college foot-
ball. Kick returns are always an
issue, but the Wolverines showed
improvement against Michigan
State.
The Spartans couldn't make a
field goal against the Wolverines
last week.
And against Minnesota a week
ago, Purdue kicker Carson Wiggs
missed a 41-yard field goal in the
fourth quarter of a close game.
Purdue also isn't strong in the
other special team areas.
Edge: Michigan
INTANGIBLES:
Neither team has played well
this year, but the Boilermakers are
at home. Michigan is winless on
the road. Purdue is 2-3 at Ross-Ade
Stadium, but its three losses came
to ranked teams. Tack on the Wol-
verines' youth, and the Boilermak-
ers have'a solid advantage.
Edge: Purdue
Prediction: Purdue will win
23-21

MICHIGAN RUSHING OFFENSE
VS. PURDUE RUSHING DEFENSE:
* Junior running back Brandon
Minor has been a high point for
the Michigan offense during the
last two games, scoring five con-
secutive touchdowns for the Wol-
verines starting against Toledo
and ending against the Spartans.
Freshman running back Sam
McGuffie is doubtful with a con-
cussion, so Minor will likely take
the bulk of the carries.
Purdue's defense has had key
sacks in recent games, and line-
backer Anthony Heygood ranks
third in the Big Ten in tackles. This
battle depends on whether Michi-
gan can build off Minor's momen-
tum and continue its progress in

PURDUE RUSHING OFFENSE VS.
MICHIGAN RUSHING DEFENSE:
Purdue running back Kory
Sheets has been the Boilermaker's
best offensive weapon, averaging
more than 100 yards per game. The
Wolverines' run defense has been
their strength. But neither Sheets
nor the Michigan front seven is
that good, which speaks to how
much these teams have struggled.
Purdue has struggled through
the air, which will allow Michigan
to load the box and slow the Boil-
ermaker running game.
Edge: Michigan
PURDUE PASSING OFFENSE VS.
MICHIGAN PASSING DEFENSE.

'the Boilermakers pass a lot
(seventh in the-nation in attempts)
but not efficiently (108th). With
a lackluster offensive line and
receiving corps, Purdue coach Joe
Tiller's spread offense has failed in
his final season.
Boilermaker quarterback Matt
Painter (separated shoulder) is
questionable. He's goingthrough a
disappointingseniorseason,which
actuallybeganwithHeismanhype,
and has never played well against
Michigan in his career.
Backup Justin Siller, was a run-
ning back earlier this season. Nei-
ther is likely to have much success
Saturday.
But for all of Purdue's passing
woes, Michigan's pass defense
'has struggled mightily. The Wol-
verines are 101st in the nation in

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