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November 19, 2010 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-11-19
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0

S

Trio of Badger backs present big
challenge for Wolverines' defense

ByTIMROHAN
Daily Sports Editor
He's built more like a refrigerator
than a normal human being. That's
how Wisconsin likes him. After all,
the Badgers didn't mind lining up
their 6-foot-1, 255-
pound behemoth
across from defenses WiScOnSin
287 times during his atjMichigan
sophomore season.
At the Big Ten W hsconsin9-1;
media days in Michigan 7-3
August, Wiscon-
sin running back When: at-
John Clay answered day at noon
repeated questions Where: Michi-
of whether he was gan Stadium
taking too much of TV/Radio:
a beating. Could he ESPN
wear down?
All of those carries weren't for
naught - the junior ran for more than
1,500 yards and scored 18 touchdowns
that year for the Badgers (9-1 overall,
5-1 Big Ten). He then spent time in the
offseason recovering from surgery on
both of his ankles.
Clay - the 2009 Big Ten Offensive
Player of the Year - is uncertain for
Saturday as he is still recovering from
a sprained knee suffered two weeks
ago.
He's still listed as the starter, but
he now has two young hot shots nip-
ping at his heels and vying for carries
in freshman James White and sopho-
more Montee Ball.
White could be described as the
speed to Clay's bruiser. And Ball is
somewhere between the two.
The sixth-ranked Badgers' plan
has always been simple: find the big-
gest, strongest offensive linemen, geta
great running back and pound the ball.
T-WOOLF
From Page 7
When I was in the zone, I took on
qualities that no longer paralleled the
qualities of the Troy character people
previously knew. I personally think
this other character is a little crazy.
For example, where do you think my
paws tattoos came from? I don't like
pain, so that was not my idea. He
clearly made that decision. I needed
to clear up the confusion so I decided
to give the person you see on the field
a name, and the name I chose was
T-Woolf. T-Woolf is only about two
years old now.
My senior year during fall camp

"It all starts with their running
game," Michigan coach Rich Rodri-
guez said on Monday. "They'll come
downhill at you. They're very big up
front. They've got big backs, big tight
ends. They'll pound you and do a great
job blocking on the perimeter with
their wideouts. So you've got to be able
to stop that. I think everything comes
off of that - their bootlegs, their play-
action passes and all that start when
they can run the ball effectively. When
they can do that, they've been good
against everybody they've played."
Wisconsin's offensive line is con-
sidered one of the best in the country,
anchored by a senior left side of tackle
Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt and Bill
Nagy, with Carimi the most heralded
of the group. He was an All-Big Ten
performer last year and was on every-
one's preseason All-American list in
2010.
"I love watching, when we're break-
ing down film, watching the Wiscon-
sin games," fifth-year senior guard
Steve Schilling said. "They've always
got greatoffensive linemen. If you ever
watch the other defenses go against
them, it helps me. Especially watch-
ing Carimi and Moffitt on the left side,
(they're) two of the best in the nation
at their positions. So I think I'm going
to watch them."
Last week against Indiana, that
line paved the way for a huge day.
The Badger offense scored on every
single offensive possession, notching
83 points. White and Ball combined to
run for more than 300 yards and five
touchdowns while Clay sat out with an
injury.
The Wolverines (7-3, 3-3) have been
gashed for 164 yards per game and
Clay, combined with Bell and Mon-
tee, could pose problems for the home
T-Woolf became as perfect as a play-
er as anyone could be. He was in the
best shape of his life - the fastest and
strongest he had ever been. It seemed
as if every day during camp he would
make a greatplay. Scouts were coming
to look at him and everything.
One day about a week and a half
into camp, T-Woolf was practicing like
every other day. It wasn't a two-a-day,
so we were in full pads and hitting.
Toward the end of practice, we were
simulating a two-minute drill to get
us accustomed to pressure situations.
The offense hiked the ball and the
tight end, Kevin Koger, caught it after
running an out pattern. T-Woolf saw
this and was coming down to deliver
a blow Kevin would most definitely

ARIEL BOND/Daily
Junior defensive tackle Mike Martin and the Michigan defense will have their hands full with the Wisconsin running game.

team's defense. But the team is coming
off of its best defensive performance
of the season, a 27-16 win over Purdue
last Saturday in West Lafayette.
Michigan held its opponent to fewer
than 20 points for the second time this
season while playing without two of
their best defensive players: junior
nose guard Mike Martin (ankles) and
senior linebacker Jonas Mouton (chest
muscle). Martin fully participated in
practice on Wednesday and Mouton
was limited. Rodriguez said he was
"hopeful" they would return against
Wisconsin and both players were list-
ed as "probable" on Thursday's injury
report.
Martin and Mouton sure would
remember. Right before the point of
explosion, another offensive player
hit T-Woolf from the side with just
enough force to knock him off balance,
causing him to fall to his side. Before
T-Woolf was hit, he planted his right
foot into the ground to help explode
off after expecting to hit the ball carri-
er. As T-Woolf's body tumbled over to
the side, his foot was still planted into
the ground. His foot couldn't move
with the body, and it couldn't take
the pressure. This caused his ankle
to violently come out of socket, tear-
ing the tendons inside. If that wasn't
bad enough, he found out later he also
broke his leg.
T-Woolf was in tremendous pain,
but it didn't stop there. It was vital to

help in defending the run. It will be
key for Michigan to get off blocks and
make tackles on the Badger's running
backs - the Wolverines will have to
match Wisconsin's physical play.
"If they want to come out and play
hard-nosed football and run up the
middle, we're just going to have to man
up and just play with them," senior
cornerback James Rogers said.
In recent weeks, the Wolverines
have swarmed to the football and
stopped opponents quickly, even if the
runner broke the initial tackle. Young-
er players have stepped into starting
roles and shown energy, too. Junior
linebacker J.B. Fitzgerald, redshirt
sophomore linebacker Kenny Demens
get the ankle back in socket, because
the longer it is out, the more danger it
can do to the leg. The trainers prepped
T-Woolf for the painful procedure
they were about to performright there
on the field to put the ankle back in
place. The trainer said, "on the count.
to three, I am going to pull.1 ... 2 ... 3."
He then violently pulled T-Woolf's
foot. T-Woolf was in extreme agony
but you couldn't tell by looking at his
face. You could only tell by looking at
the insanely tight grip he had on two
people who were holding his hands for
support. From their grimacing faces,
you would think T-Woolf's friends
were in more pain than T-Woolf.
It took the trainer two more
attempts, and on the third, T-Woolf

and freshman safety Ray Vinopal
haven't been afraid to stick their noses
around the ball.
But tackling Clay isn't fun for any-
one.
He has rushed for 929 yards and 13
touchdowns this season. White has
scored 11 touchdowns and averages
nearly seven yards per carry. And Bell
has more than 500 yards and nine
touchdowns, despite being listed as
the third running back on the depth
chart.
Rogers was confident that the
defense was up for the challenge of
Clay and the Wisconsin offense.
"He ain't bigger than Ron Dayne,"
he said.
could no longer hide the pain. He let
out a yell. Then he started to laugh
between screams of pain. The trainer
pulled and pulled, and all of a sudden
a "pop" was heard, and his ankle was
back in place.
He doesn't know at this point that
he also has a broken bone, so T-Woolf's
first words were, "Thanks, OK now
let me finish practice." But since the
paramedics were on their way, he had
to go to the hospital.
The paramedics came and put him
on the stretcher and carted him off to
the hospital. T-Woolf has not been seen
since, but his return will be better than
ever. All the receivers acrossthe nation
dread the day T-Woolf steps back onto
the field.

8 FootballSaturday, November 20, 2010

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