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October 08, 2010 - Image 11

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KICKER ment. It's not something to be taken
Page SBlightly. I thought I was committing to
From Pg5Bsomething that sounded attainable."
His dre t was looking rther, nd
kid. If anyone was going to get it, I further away. And over the course of
wante hins to." the summer, he began to lose contact
So clack, along with the rest of the with the co ches. They didn't return
kickers, all convened at Schembechler any e-mails or phone calls, he said,
Hall that Monday, waiting to hear and it became clear to him that this
their fortunes. Nervously, he set up a might be a sign.
meeting with Gibson, and soon after, "They forgot about me," lie says,
he was sitting in his office, across
from the coach who held his football
fatein his hands. Clack finally got ahold of the team
Gibson started by telling Clack how in September and scheduled a tryout
much the coaches loved his power, for the week before the Massachu-
which was competitive with the rest setts game.
of the team's kicking prospects. He So in the week before Rodriguez's
had potential, Gibson told him, and comments following the Massachu-
it was too bad he had hurt his quad setts wme, soon after Gibbons's
early on, they really wanted him on rough outing against Notre Dame,
the team. Clack made his way back to the field.
"Where do I stand here?" Clack Could someone really walk on and
asked his coach. become Michigan's kicker? He had
"Well, if we were going to cut you," watched the Wolverines struggle in
Clack recalls Gibson saying, "We their first two games. He thought he
would've done it by now. We really could do it, and a private tryout was
want you to be on the team.' the perfect way to show the coaches
His spirits lifted. he should have been there all along.
"But we have these number caps. But it wasn't a private tryout. The
You can only have so many people tryout was public, campus-wide, and
going to practices and workouts dur- Clack stood in front of a host of new
ing ihe summer. You're not going to be wannabe kickers.
able to participate in those." Clack let the emotions get to him.
And then crashed. And when the coaches called over
He was off the team, but according the preferred players to kick extra
to Clack, Gibson said he should expect field goals, Clack wasn't one of thes.
a call at the end of the summer for a He ran over to Rodriguez and asked
re-evaluation. He still had a chance, for a chance. The coach remembered
but now he was conflicted. him and gave him an extra shot, but it
"I was trying to figure out what the wouldn't be enough.
hell to do," Clack say. s. "I have to work "So here I am, a guy that was legiti-
out, I have to kick, but at the sae mately on the team from March till
time, I should be doing an intern- the end of April, they all knew me by
ship. I really should be focusing on my first and last name. They called aen
career, but I decided to live this dream 'Click, Clack,' as a nickname. These
of football. I had to give stuff up. It's guys knew who I was, they knew my
an investment. It's a real time invest- face, they knew I was a good guy."

Breakdown: Wolverines should expect
toughest game yet against in-state rivals

Troy Clack and redshirt freshman kicker Brendan Gibbons look on at Michigan's spring game in April,

"They didn't even call me. I had to
show up at the front door of Schem-
bechler Hall, and there was a list of
the people being asked to come back.
It was like high school."
Needless to say, Clack's name
wasn't on the list. And a few days later,
he saxv Rodriguez's call for kickers.
When Clack read the quote on his
friend's Blackberry that night, he
shook his head. Was it even possible
to walk on and be the guy? He didn't
know, and he probably never would.
Today, he's back in the swing of
being a normal student. Last week, he
spent time at engineering career fairs,
which he says would have never been
a possibility if he were on the football
team .

"It was kind of like chasing a
dream," Clack says. "I dreamed my
whole life of playing for the Michi-
gan Wolverines. But at the end of
the day, I'm here for school. But you
know, I wouldn't trade that moment:
the spring game, the players, being on
the team, I wouldn't trade that for the
world ... All thins come to an end I
guess. At the end of the day... maybe
this happened for a reason."
Clack would be one of many to try
for that revolving door at the kicker
position.
Mark Rulkowski, a trombonist in
the marching band, spent all his high
school days playing soccer and only
started kicking footballs during the
band's touch football league. He tried
out at Clack's most recent tryout and
didn't make the cut.

Adam Mael, a senior from Potomac,
Maryland and another prospective
kicker, was pretty sure he'd never
make the team, but that didn't stop
hint from trying out at every tryout
since Rodriguez's first in the spring
of Mael's freshman year. They were
all faces in a fairly large crowd now,
ordinary guys with an extraordinary
experience.
Mael's efforts were rewarded when
Rodriguez approached hint at the
team's most recent tryout. The coach
told him that he had "seen (him)
around here before" and that his "leg
is definitelygetting stronger."
"It's been one of if not the best
experience I've had in my four years
here," Mael said. "It's an opportunity
to be a part of Michigan football ..
how could you possibly pass that up?"
For Mael and Rulkowski, it was
abouta love for the game, for theart
of kicking and for Michigan football
that kept them coming back.
For Clack, it was those moments:
touching the banner, kicking in front
of his friends at the spring gante, that
made everything worth it, despite
the heartbreaking fiale.
Broekhuizen may very well kick
the rest of the season, and the Wol-
verines will surely need someone as
Big Ten season gets into fullswing
"There's going to come a point in
time where we have to snake field
goals," Rodriguez said. "And it's
probably going to come down to a
game or two where we have to make
one to win it."
But until then, walk-ons like Jke
Matelic, who made the final roster,
wait for their shot at kicking inside
the Big House.
You'd think that if ever there was
a time to get on the team, it's right
now," Clack says. "But it's not as easy
as it sounds.
"But I gave it hell, and I wouldn't
trade it for the world."

By JOE STAPLETON
Daily SportsEditor
The Michigan football team kicked
off its Big Ten slate last weekend with
a 42-35 win over Indiana in Bloom-
ington. This week, the Wolverines
come back to Michigan Stadium to
take on their in-state rivals from just
up I-94.
Though Michigan emerged from
Bloomington with the victory, the
game only accentuated the Wol-
verines' struggles on defense. The
Michigan secondary allowed Indiana
quarterback Ben Chappell to throw
for 480 yards and three touchdowns,
and Michigan only squeaked outa win
because of a sensational last-minute
drive orchestrated by sophomore
quarterback Denard Robinson.
This weekend's game against Mich-
igan State will be Michigan's first true
test of the season.
MICHIGAN RUN OFFENSE VS.
MICHIGAN STATE RUN DEFENSE
Michigan will go into this game
down at least one running back, pos-
sibly two. Fitzgerald Toussaint is still
out with the shoulder injury he sus-
tained against Bowling Green, and
Mike Shaw is listed as probable with
his knee still bothering him.
Even with those two out, the Wol-
verines' run game should be tough
to stop. Michigan coach Rich Rodri-
guez has been talking about spreading
around the playing time, so expect to
catch some glimpses of some younger
ballcarriers.
And of course, there's No. 16. The
nation's leading rusher will surely
carry the ball at least a few times on
Saturday.
But even with all of those weapons,
the Spartans still have a chance of
containing the run game. Their line-
backers are very, very good, especially
senior Greg Jones, who was voted the
preseason Big Ten defensive player of
the year.
The jury is still out on whether it's
even possible to gameplan around
Robinson, but if Michigan State is able
to do it, you can bet Jones will play a
big role.
EDGE: MICHIGAN
MICHIGAN PASS OFFENSE VS.
MICHIGAN STATE PASS DEFENSE
The Michigan pass offense came
alive last weekend in Bloomington as
the Wolverines racked up 277 yards
through the air. Redshirt junior wide-
out Junior Hemingway joined redshirt

sophomore Roy Roundtree and junior
Darryl Stonum as a legitimate down-
field threat, grabbing three catches for
129 yards and a touchdown.
Robinson has been great throwing
the ball this season and he should be
able to continue that against Michigan
State. The Spartans rank third to last
in the Big Ten in passing yards allowed
(Michigan is last). The weak spot on
the Spartan defense is undoubtedly its
secondary, and the Wolverines should
be able to take advantage of it during
the game on Saturday.
EDGE: MICHIGAN
MICHIGAN STATE RUN OFFENSE
VS. MICHIGAN RUN DEFENSE
Michigan State ranks fourth in the
Big Ten in rushing and sports a talent-
ed backfield, led by sophomore Edwin
Baker and spectacular freshman
Le'Veon Bell. Bell rushed for 114 yards
in the Spartans' overtime victory over
Notre Dame, and he ran for 75 yards
against Wisconsin.
The Wolverines have suffered from
inconsistent play at the linebacker
spot this season.
Seniors Jonas Mouton and Obi
Ezeh have had their strong showings
but have also had very weak games,
such as the narrow win over Mas-
sachusetts in which the Minutemen
running backs gained 217 yards on the
ground.
EDGE: MICHIGAN STATE
MICHIGAN STATE PASS OFFENSE
VS. MICHIGAN PASS DEFENSE

Sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson leads the nation in rushing yards through five games this season.

Michigan's secondary has been
nearly non-existent this season, and
the stats back it up. The Wolverines
have allowed 1,539 yards of passing
this year, good for dead last in the con-
ference by almost 300 yards. Many
Michigan fans have resigned them-
selves to the fact that the Wolverines
will have to outscore opponents to
win, and this looks to be true against
Michigan State.
The Spartans boast a premier pass-
er in junior Kirk Cousins. The quarter-
back has completed almost 68 percent
of his passes for 1,132 yards and nine
touchdowns this season. Cousins has
plenty of weapons around him, the
most prominent being senior Mark
Dell. Dell leads the team in receiving
yards with 263 and is a proven deep
threat.
The young Michigan secondary
will certainly have its hands full with
an experienced quarterback and solid
playmakers for the Spartans. This

weekend's game against Michigan
State will be Michigan's first true test
of the season.
EDGE: MICHIGAN STATE
SPECIAL TEAMS
Michigan and Michigan State
appear to be on opposite ends of the
spectrum when it comes to special
teams play this year.
Michigan still doesn't know what
will happen when it needs to kick a
field goal.
In fact, the Wolverines don't even
know who will run out onto the field
in that situation.
The Spartans have an experienced
kicker in sophomore Dan Conroy.
Conroy leads the Big Ten in field goal
percentage at 100 percent, going7-of-
7 on the year.
Not to mention Michigan State has
a Ray Guy award candidate at punter
in senior Aaron Bates. The Spartans
rank second in the Big Ten punting
yard average. And well, Will Hag-
erup could be better.
EDGE: MICHIGAN STATE

i
t

INTANGIBLES
Michigan State may seem to have
the intangibles on its side. The Spar-
tans have a chance to come to Ann
Arbor and beat Michigan for the third
time in a row since Mike Hart's famous
"little brother" comment. They also
will be playing for coach Mark Dan-
tonio, who recently suffered a heart
attack and experienced complications
involving a blood clot in his leg.
Butno one wants togetbeat athome
by their in-state rival, and Michigan is

no different. The Wolverines will have
to win this game in order to prove to
the doubters that this team isn't last
year's team.
As always, expect a dogfight. These
two schools are full of in-state kids
who have been playing against each
other since they were in sixth grade.
There is definitely no shortage of bad
blood.
EDGE: PUSH
FINAL SCORE: MICHIGAN 35,
MICHIGAN STATE 31

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