8A - Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
'1' looks to improve,
tries 3-3-5 formation
'M' learns from last season's
first-round loss to Air Force
By NICOLE AUERBACH
Michigan coach Rich Rodri-
guez's name is often associated
with college football's evolving
spread offense. It's no secret his
offensive strategy was one of the
main reasons he was brought to
And through the past two bowl-
less seasons, glimpses of offensive
development and a potentially
electric running game provided
some positive moments for the
The defense, on the other hand,
provided some of the scariest and
This spring, it's up to defensive
coordinator Greg Robinson and
his coaching staff to prevent those
defensive lapses and breakdowns
from happening again.
For the first time in four years,
the Wolverines' defensive coordi-
nator isn't coming in and starting
from scratch. And at the very least,
that means his players understand
Robinson and his coaching style.
"It's just more of a comfort level
of being able to trust him," senior
cornerback Troy Woolfolk said
Tuesday. "When he first came, I
didn't know too much about him.
I like his way of coaching, and I
believe in what he says."
Trusting the coaching staff's
guidance is important for a unit
that was the worst scoring defense
in the Big Ten last year. The 2009
defense gave up 33.2 points per
game, nearly two points more than
the second-worst defense in the
Woolfolk said he's noticed the
defensive coaching staff taking a
different approach this spring.
"The coaches are taking it really
step by step this year to kind of
change the problems we had last
year, the blown coverages, missed
assignments," Woolfolk said.
Another change this spring is
the increased use of a 3-3-5 forma-
Bemidji State brings
style of play similar
to last year's
By MICHAEL FLOREK
Daily Sports Writer
On March 27, 2009, the Michi-
gan hockey team took the ice in its
NCAA regional game against Air
Force, with coach Frank Serratore
standing behind the Falcons' bench.
A year after the first-round loss,
the Wolverines will take the ice in
their NCAA regional game against
a team also coached by Serratore.
Welcome to the Twilight Zone.
There are some obvious differ-
ences. This time, Serratore's first
name is Tom (Frank's brother), the
team is Bemidji State and Michigan
will don the road blues, since they
are the lower seed.
But the teams do have their
similarities. The Beavers have a top
line that contributes most of their
offense, just like Air Force's line led
by Jacques Lamoureux. They also
have an under-the-radar goalie, in
the form of Dan Bakala, similar to
the Falcons' Andrew Volkening.
"Bemidji has a line that has as
many goals as any of our lines and
Air Force did too," Michigancoach
Red Berenson said. "I think they're
similar. I think they've got more
experience. They've been in the
tournament more. They've beaten
some really good teams."
Last year's Wolverine team was
riding high headed into their tour-
nament, after winning 10 out of the
last 12 games and were riding an
unlikely goalie into the playoffs.
None of that mattered a year ago,
when Michigan launched every-
thing on net and dominated in
every way except the scoreboard,
getting shutout2-0. Despite being a
No.1 seed, the Wolverines returned
to Ann Arbor the same way they left
it, without any hardware.
"Some people say just to forget
about it, but I think that's a great
learning process," junior Louie
Caporusso said. "Number one,
don't underestimate our opponent,
even though I think we did outplay
them. Number two, we need a col-
lective effort from every single per-
son on the team.
"It's the NCAA Tournament,
everyone's got to show up. You
can't have a handful of guys and
say these are the guys that showed
up, these arerthe guys that didn't.
You're not goingto go far like that."
As Michigan's 2009-10 cam-
paign got started, the stink from
the Air Force game that ended last
season seemed to stay with it. It
didn't get any puck luck against the
Falcons despite outshooting them
43-13. Then-sophomore Matt Rust
hit the post. Former Wolverine for-
ward Brandon Naurato whiffed on
a wide open net. By the time the
buzzer sounded, Volkening had
shut out the nation's fifth-ranked
Seven months later, the Wolver-
ines were looking at a 4-7 record to
start this season and the goals still
weren't going in. They had outshot
their opponents by more than 60
shots in the first 11 games but still
endured a five-game losing streak,
their longest in 21 years.
But luck has seemed to turn
around in the postseason. Both of
freshman Kevin Lynch's goals over
Miami (Ohio) on Friday resulted
from passes by junior Carl Hagelin
- that were intended for Rust.
"There are times when the puck
goes in for you, but most of the time
you have to pay a price to score,"
Berenson said. "On the flip side, the
puck doesn't always go in. This is
the time of year you want to make
your chances count but if they're
not going in, you better be play-
ing your absolute best without the
Saturday will mark 365 days
since Michigan lost to Air Force
and the loss still lingers over the
heads of the Wolverines. The only
way to remove it would be a win by
the same team that finished sev-
enth in the conference and barely
scraped its way into the NCAA
Can Michigan really keep the
run going? In the Twilight Zone,
weirder things have happened.
Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson struggled last season, as Michigan
finished as the worst scoring defense in the lig Ten, allowing 33.2 points per game.
tion, a defense that typically show-
cases speed and puts pressure on
its secondary. Woolfolk, who said
he's never played in that kind of a
defense before, thinks it could be
one of the best defenses for the
type of athletes Michigan current-
ly has on its roster.
Offensive players are praising
the 3-3-5, too.
"I like it," senior offensive guard
Steve Schilling said. "There's a lot
of things they can do out of it. I
think it's good for us as an offen-
sive line to go against it every day
in practice. We see more of a 4-3
look in games a lot of times, and
you usually see the odd (set, like
3-3-5) in long-distance situations.
"To be able to go against that
and work our run game against
that defense, which we don't see
that often, is going to be good for
us when it comes time to game-
plan for those other teams."
Rodriguez feels that his
defense needs to be versatile
enough to challenge a variety
of offenses this fall, and he also
knows something must change
from last season.
"I think it was a combination of
things defensively that we didn't
play as well as we like (last year),"
Rodriguez said. "We certainly
didn't have the depth and didn't
have the experience that we want-
ed or needed to have, and it seemed
like we played good for two or
three plays in a row then gave up a
big one. Or played good for a quar-
ter, then let a team go up and down
the field on us."
Michigan fans remember those
mements, particularly opponents'
gains on third downs. But Rodri-
guez seems confident that the new
defensive formation, as well as a
new focus in practice, will help
right the defensive ship.
"I think the defensive staff has
a good plan," Rodriguez said. "I
think we've made a few moves, as
I mentioned, to try and help us and
frankly we just have to be better
technique-wise. I think we have
to play better fundamentally, play
more physical, and get more guys
to the football. And I think we'll do
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After starting the season slow, junior center Louie Caporusso has been a star for the Wolverines lately. He scored both of
Michigan's goals in its CCHA Championship win over Northern Michigan and was named to the All-CCHA Tournament team.
Wolverinefans should take
their allegiance to Fort Wayne
Don't take anything for
That's sound advice
to live by. The Michigan hockey
team sure learned it this season
when it went
from a pre- TIM
season top-five ROHAN
team to being
on the brink On Ice Hockey
of missing the
ment for the first time in 20 years.
Junior forward Louie Caporus-
so said that in his first two years
he just expected to make the tour-
nament, but not this time around.
The Wolverines had to work for it,
obviously, by winning the CCHA
The marathon Michigan
sprinted to make the tournament
was lined with maize and blue
supporters passing out paper cups
of water alongthe way. The Wol-
verine faithful have been fantastic
throughout the team's improbable
Don't stop now. Get to Fort
Wayne, Ind. this Saturday no mat-
ter what it takes.
I know it's expensive, espe-
cially for poor college students, to
travel more than two hours and
stay overnight in Indiana to sup-
port the Michigan hockey team.
But it will be worth it, I promise.
The waves of fans who lined
the rafters of Joe Louis Arena last
weekend know what it was like
to sing "The Victors" and watch
junior goaltender Shawn Hunwick
get mobbed by his ecstatic team-
mates. The group of optimistic
fans who traveled to Munn Ice
Arena in the CCHA quarterfinals
against Michigan State - turn-
ing the venue into a virtual have
atmosphere for Michigan - were
rewarded with a sweep over the
It's a two-way street: the fans
see great hockey and the players
feed off of the fans.
Michigan coach Red Berenson
was sincere when he told all of Joe
Louis Arena and reporters alike
that the Wolverines wouldn't have
gotten as far as they have without
Don't get me wrong, the play on
the ice has improved from what
fans have seen in Yost Ice Arena
for most of the season. But the
fans are factoring into Michigan's
run, and this weekend is do or die
once again for the Wolverines.
You maybe asking yourself,
who the hell is Bemidji State? But
the Beavers shocked the hockey
world last postseason, defeating
Notre Dame and Cornell on their
way to the Frozen Four. This isn't
going to be a walk in the park. You
should take the line that Berenson
and his players have taken since
the matchup was announced on
Sunday - they're not looking past
Bemidji. They're not taking any-
thing, or anyone, for granted.
Seniors, with the state of the
remaining Michigan sports, this
might be the last time that you
can see an actual NCAA tourna-
ment game featuring the Wol-
verines. And for the rest of the
student body, this could be history
in the making. If the Michigan
hockey team hasn't taught you
enough in the past three weeks,
then listen to me. This team is
in the middle of accomplishing
something special - but it needs
You've been there all along.
Don't let anything get in the way
of possibly witnessing this year's
saving grace for Michigan sports.
And if you're one of those people
saying, "Well I'll just wait until
they get to Ford Field," guess
what, you probably haven't been
paying attention to me or the Wol-
Nothing is guaranteed. There
is only one game that is absolutely
going to happen and that's the one
Michigan is playing this Saturday
Every Wolverine knows the
impact of the fans on the game
and throughout the run. They've
all had nothing but positive things
to say about the support.
"We have the best fans in the
world," Caporusso said. "I love
Michigan fans, they get me up
for every game. Without them, I
don't think I'd be the player, or I
don't think that we'd be the team
that we can be. I can't thank them
enough. It would mean so much
for us to have them in Fort Wayne
with us. I feel like, even when
they chant my name sometimes,
even when I'm not playing my
best, itstill shows their support in
me, and the team - and I just love
How could you not go to Fort
Wayne after Louie said that? Are
you buying your tickets yet?