The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
November 8, 2010 - 3B
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom November 8, 2010 - 3B
Young players step up on defense
Time of Poss
an ege "
M I C H I G A N
By JOE STAPLETON
Throughout this football
season, Michigan coach Rich
Rodriguez has said over and
over again that
his extremely NOTEBOOK
would have to grow up quickly if
the Michigan football team was
going to be successful. But for
weeks, the progress of the young
players, especially in the second-
ary, has been painfully slow.
On Saturday, in Michigan's
67-65 triple-overtime victory over
Illinois, they finally grew up.
The Wolverine defense got
major contributions from many
underclassmen, especially from
redshirt sophomore linebacker
Demens, who took over the
starting role from senior lineback-
er Obi Ezeh against Iowa, made
some huge plays against the Illini,
most crucially when the defense
was playing on a short field
because the Michigan offense
turned it over, which happened
four times on the day. in the game, Vinopal teamed up
"I want to be the guy who takes with redshirt freshman Cameron
the stress off my teammates' Gordon to charge in from the
shoulders," Demens said after the backfield and stop Illinois run-
game. "I want to be that guy, and ning back Mikel Leshoure for no
I feel like just doing my role to my gain to force a punt.
ability, I can really do that." "Ray, he played a great game,"
But it's been the secondary that redshirt sophomore safety Jordan
has experienced the most trouble Kovacs said after the game. "That
this season, and it was two of the was a huge stop for us. I was just
youngest defensive backs who so proud of the way he played, and
made some of the biggest plays. Courtney. All those other young
Freshman cornerback Court- guys played well."
ney Avery, who made his first start FIVE TURNOVERS AND A VIC-
against Illinois, has been preyed TORY: It's very unusual for a team
on by opposing quarterbacks to turn the ball over five times
all season. But early in the third on offense and come away with a
quarter, he hunted some prey of win.
his own, making a terrific open- But very little about Saturday's
field tackle on Illini freshman game could be considered usual.
quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase Michigan's five turnovers
on third down to force a field goal, included back-to-back inter-
which was missed. ceptions in the first quarter by
"There are three true freshmen sophomore quarterback Denard
in the secondary, and redshirt Robinson and a fumble on sopho-
freshmen underneath," Rodri- more Tate Forcier's first play of
guez said. "They battled. They the game.
learned some lessons." "My hands were moist when I
Another freshman, safety Ray was out there," Forcier said after
Vinopal, made a few plays of his the game, adding that he had
own. With just over a minute left redshirt junior wideout Junior
Hemingway open for a touch-
"That's what made me mad," he
The turnovers often put the
defense into tough spots, but the
unit came through with flying col-
ors, especially after the two picks.
The defense forced a fumble after
the first interception and after the
second held the Illini to a field
And while the offense made up
for these lapses later in the game,
players on the defensive side took
pride having the offense's back
for once, and not the other way
"It was amazing," sophomore
defensive end Craig Roh said. "I
felt like we were finally paying
them back a little bit."
But even though it all worked
out on Saturday, the coaches know
Michigan can't expect to make
that many mistakes and win.
"We can't turn the ball over,"
quarterbacks coach Rod Smith
said. "I preach it everyday. Our
coaching staff preaches it every-
day. We cannot turn the ball over
and win on a consistent basis. It's
not going to happen, and that's
going to be corrected."
INJURY REPORT: Robinson
was not made available to the
media after the game, but when he
was injured at the end of the third
quarter, speculation turned from
a hand injury to a concussion.
After the game, Rodriguez said
the coaches decided to keep Rob-
inson out of the game because he
did show concussive symptoms.
"Denard got hit somewhere on
that last drive. I don't know if it
was the helmet-to-helmet - that's
probably where it was," Rodri-
guez said. "He was dizzy, had
a little headache. He had those
symptoms so certainly for his
safety, you're not going to put him
There is no official policy on
when Robinson would be allowed
to return if he did indeed suffer a
concussion. That decision will be
up to the Michigan medical staff.
Sophomore running back Teric
Jones was carted off the field very
early in the game and didn't play
the rest of the day.
FG Pt Lg XP Pts
1.2 s0.0 3s 8 11
1- 50.0 3s 8 11
From Page 1B
man, he had a real good game
Fellow wideout Darryl Sto-
num said Roundtree's perfor-
mance opened the field up for a
lot of other guys in the second
half - Hemingway especially.
With Illinois up by a touch-
down in the game's do-or-die
second overtime, sophomore
quarterback Tate Forcier's
third-down throw hit off an
Illinois linebacker's helmet and
bounced into Hemingway's
hands as he ran into the end-
"I was lucky," Hemingway
said. "He got in front. I wasn't
expecting the ball to get bat-
ted in the air because he swung
down. It just popped in the air
and I stayed with the ball and
just caught it."
The catch put the Wolver-
ines in triple overtime, where
they clinched the game on a
two-point conversion throw-
and-catch from Forcier to
It was a fitting way to end
career days for Roundtree,
Hemingway and the entire
"I'm very proud of them,"
Magee said. "Earlier, when we
were doing a lot of running in
the season, they were just doing
their jobs blocking. ... I always
knew they had those capabilities
and we wanted to start getting
them the ball."
No. Yds Avg Lg TD
1 14 14.0 14 0
1 14 140 14 0
2 . 1
From Page 1B
Treais, who had 13 points last
season, hadn't recorded a point
in nine games this season coming
into Saturday, but responded at a
time when the Wolverines needed
him. He played well defensively,
finishing plus-3, and scored three
"It's just interesting how hock-
ey works that usually when you
have a good game, you're working
away from the puck, especially
the center because the center has
to do a lot of work down low in the
defensive zone," Michigan assis-
tant coach Billy Powers said. "It
was a good solid effort all around
for A.J., and I think it started with
his work ethic without the puck
and big things happened with it."
Treais's effort in the sec-
ond game was needed, because
though Michigan had a different
cast, with senior goaltender Bryan
Hogan playing both games due to
senior Shawn Hunwick having
a stomach bug, the game wasn't
any different from their previous
series openers. The Wolverines
(4-1-1-0 CCHA, 5-2-3 overall)
have now lost three straight Fri-
day night games and won three
straight Saturday games.
On Friday, the same
mistakes plagued Michi-
gan as in its previous two
weekends, as it could not
generate a lot of shots and
gave up an early goal.
In game one, No. 15 Alaska's
Cody Kunyk beat senior defense-
man Chad Langlais to the puck on
the backdoor after it deflected off
a skate and put it into the open net.
The goal came midway through a
first period in which the Nanooks
(3-2-1-1, 6-3-1) controlled the play
from the opening faceoff, out-
shooting the Wolverines 12-5, but
could only muster one goal.
"They got us on our heels
early," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said after Friday's game.
"Whether it was the penalties or
the turnovers, the first period the
chances were something like 12-2
(for Alaska). We were lucky to sur-
vive the first period."
That goal was all the Nanooks
needed, as their defensive style,
which had Alaska second in the
nation in goals against, suffo-
cated Michigan in the neutral
zone. Their style, combined with
a key 5-on-3 penalty kill midway
through the second and a few
unlucky post shots for the Wol-
verines, shut out Michigan for the
first time in 35 games.
As unlucky as Friday was with
hitting the posts, Michigan had
two goals, including Treais's, go in
off deflections on Saturday. Mich-
igan is now 1-2-1 on Friday nights
and 4-0-2on Saturday.
"I know it's been a little bit
of a trend on Friday, but this is a
unique deal," Powers said. "Com-
ing out on Friday, they just had
more jump and we didn't have our
legs. As the Friday game wore on
we were getting better and better
and I think it was just kind of get-
ting the travel fatigue or whatever
you want to call it out of your sys-
Yds TD Int
211 3 0
35 0 0
246 3 0
No. Yds Avg Lg
6 282 47.0 62
6 282 47.0 62
FG Pct. Lg XP Pts
3-4 75.0 44 6 15
3.4 75.0 44 6 1s5
No. Yds Avg Lg TD
21 210 2,o o
21 21.0 21 0
with an exclamation point
HEROES on a 75-yard touchdown pass
From Page 1 B to redshirt sophomore wide
receiver Roy Roundtree.
Who would've thought The two connected for two
that the defense could be more big plays in the second
a hero when the halftime quarter: first on a 33-yard
score (31-31) and the yardage touchdown pass that came
looked more like those of a on a crucial fourth-and-long
whole game? and later on another 75-yard
But the Wolverines forced bomb that brought the ball
Illinois to punt five times inside the five-yard line.
in the second half and gave Roundtree set a Michigan
Forcier that chance to win it record for receiving yards in
in regulation. The spotlight a game, finishing with nine
shifted again to the unit that catches for 246 yards and
entered the game 106th in two touchdowns.
total defense in Division-I "We saw some things on
FBS football. film we thought we could try
Now, with the ball placed them vertically," Magee said.
on the three-yard line for a "Nobody had really done that
two-point conversion that so we wanted to challenge
same defense blitzed seven them down the field and see
defenders and had Illinois how they play the deep ball.
quarterback Nathan Scheel- And our boys performed and
haase caught dead-to-rights, executed that pretty good."
scrambling for hope. He Robinson overcame his
desperately tossed the ball own mistakes to set a Michi-
underhanded toward no one gan record for passing yards
in particular and the celebra- in a half with 262. He threw
tion ensued. interceptions on consecutive
"We called a man blitz," drives after that first pass to
redshirt sophomore line- Roundtree, and Michigan
backer Kenny Demens said. finished the game with five
"Throughout the whole turnovers.
game, we were just having "That's how (the offense
fun ... I have no idea (how is) supposed to look, minus
many guys were blitzing). It the turnovers," Magee said
was an all-out free blitz." of his unit, which outgained
Added junior defensive Illinois in yards, 676 to 561,
tackle Mike Martin: "I knew on Saturday.
we had to make the play, Then there was Heming-
and I don't think anyone on way, who caught a miracle
the defense heard a word. It touchdown in the second
was just silent for all of us, overtime off a ball that was
because we were all in the tipped by a Fighting Illini
zone. And when we made the defender on third down. And
play we were like, 'Wow, we the Wolverines' running
just won.' backs, who have acted more
Michigan won its sixth like sidekicks to Robinson's
game of the season, ended starring role in the running
a three-game losing streak game, picked up the slack
and became bowl eligible as Robinson finished with a
all in one fell swoop. There season-low 62 yards rush-
were plenty of reasons the ing. Junior running back
Michigan sideline looked as Mike Shaw rushed for three
if it had won the Super Bowl touchdowns, including two
when Scheelhaase's pass fell in overtime, and sophomore
incomplete. running back Vincent Smith
"Everybody was screaming, ran for 73 yards on 13 carries.
'Back to the bowl, back to the Against Illinois, these
bowl,"' fifth-year senior guard weren't your father's or even
Steve Schilling said. "To have your grandfather's Wol-
it my senior year and to know verines on the field - this
we're goingback and be able to game was different, and the
go out not havingto watch the heroes were as unlikely as
games on TV, it's huge." the result.
Of course, other charac- "It's a great game," Schil-
ters played a role in this epic. ling said. "Just kinda breathe
Robinson started the game a sigh of relief."
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