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April 05, 2011 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-04-05

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - 5

* After dismal 2010 for secondary,
Mattison excited with progress

Kim impresses
fans in Masters
practice round

By TIM ROHAN
Daily Sports Editor
If injuries to Troy Woolfolk
and J.T. Floyd last season were a
blessing in disguise, then it sure
was an ugly one.
Without its No.1 corner for the
entire season and its No. 2 for the
last half, the Michigan defense
allowed 262 yards per game
through the air, which topped the
Wolverines' own super-powered
offensive pace.
Woolfolk and Floyd haven't
completely recovered from their
respective ankle injuries, but new
defensive coordinator Greg Mat-
tison sees the experience the unit
gained - allowing 35 points per
game - as the means to create a
good-looking secondary this fall.
"It's difficult if we're playing
a game today," Mattison said of
missing his two starting corner-
backs this spring. "But I tend to
look at that as a positive, in a way,
if those guys are players, which
they have shown that they are
at times, you get a chance to get
some depth.
"And you get a chance to bring
these other guys along. And you
get a chance for those guys to
prove that they could be guys that
can help you."
At cornerback, Courtney Avery,
Cullen Christian and Terrence
Talbott were all thrown into the
fire as freshmen - especially
Avery, who started five games in
2010. During practice on March
29, Avery and fifth-year senior
Tony Anderson worked with the
first team defense in the first por-
tion of practice, while Floyd was
also seen running on the side-
lines.
Those getting reps this spring
will most likely be bumped by the
fifth-year senior Woolfolk and
redshirt junior Floyd when they
return.
Playing "time at the safety posi
tion- will be just as difficult to
come by, but not because of inju-
ries - the position just has solid
depth.
"I've been pleased for the most
part with that group, and maybe
because there's carryover there,
as far as what they're playing,"
Mattison said of the secondary. "I
think Carvin (Johnson) has had
some really good days for us. I
think he's a guy that's done well.
Thomas Gordon has done a good
job.

Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison will be charged with turning around a defense that allowed 35 points and more than
262 passing yards per game last season.

"And I hate to name guys,
because you're leaving somebody
out. But that position has done a
pretty good job."
With a logjam at the posi-
tion - brought on by the switch
of players who were playing in
Rich Rodriguez's hybrid-line-
backer position to safety - cur-
rent Michigan coach Brady Hoke
said earlier this spring that safety
would be a deep position, perfect
for the competitive environment
he's promoting.
There's the veteran redshirt
junior, Jordan Kovacs, as well as
a talented group of youngsters
who Mattison said he was excited
about, including Thomas Gordon,
Johnson and Marvin Robinson.
As a group, there are two
problems that Mattison is focus-
ing on curtailing as he molds his
defensive players: limit the big
plays and get off the field on third
down. The two are products of
each other - fatigue sets in the
longer the defense plays, which
helped Wisconsin and Michigan
State pound Michigan in the sec-
ond halves of those 2010 losses.
"It isn't how much of a rest you
get, it's the kind of defense you
play to give yourself the amount
of rest," Mattison said. "And that's
why, for us, third-down defense is
critical ... Because if you don't get
off the field on third down then

it's six plays. And if you don't get
off the field again, now you're at
nine plays. And that'son you. Your
job is (to) do what you're supposed
to do to get off the field."
In 2010, the Wolverines' oppo-
nents converted at a 43-percent
success rate on third downs -
that number climbed to more
than 51 percent in Michigan's six
losses and dipped as low as 36
percent in its seven wins.
Mattison said a big factor in his
plan for third down will be the
nickel package - the Wolverines
will add an extra defensive back
and take the strongside lineback-
er, currently Cam Gordon, off the
field.
"To be really good on third
down, you've got to be able to
have the best players on the field
that can cover people and blitz
and all of that," Mattison said. '
One player who could be in the
mix at both safety and nickel cor-
nerback is Thomas Gordon. He's
worked at both spots this spring,
and has practiced at both safety
positions - but Mattison said he
expected all of the safeties to be
able to playboth safety positions.
Johnson has "stood out and
made some plays," too, accord-
ing to Mattison. He broke onto
the scene when he started as a
true freshman last season as the
hybrid linebacker. But he was

injured in the first half in the sea-
son opener against Connecticut,
and spent the rest of the year as a
part-time starter.
And Robinson, who has missed
one spring practice per week due
to a conflict with class, drew Cam
Gordon-esque praise from Matti-
son last week.
"He's got the range and he's
got the ability to run and he hits,"
Mattison said of the sophomore.
"So now, it's going to be a matter
of getting him (in) the defenses
that we need and make sure he
knows what's going on. I was
really excited about him - good-
looking athlete that plays hard
and will hit you - I like those
kind of guys."
The depth seems to be building
itself through competition this
spring for the Wolverines.
As for preventing those big
plays?
Mattison is working on it.
"They've just picked up the
scheme," Mattison said. "When
I say I'm happy with them - I'm
never happy when a big play
occurs, and we've had some big
plays and they know that and we
can't allow that.
"I am happy with them, in that
they've picked up what we want
to try to do. Now they have to
execute to do it better, with more
consistency."

By KEVIN RAFTERY
Daily Sports Writer
AUGUSTA, Ga. - As Michi-
gan golfer Lion Kim walked up
to the 16th tee during Monday's
practice round at the Masters,
the senior heard a familiar shout
from the crowd.
"I'm
always proud KEVIN
to be a Michi- RAFTERY
gan student,"
Kim said.
"But espe- At the Masters
cially today,
I probably heard people say
'Go Blue!' a thousand times. It
just shows you how everybody
knows the block 'M' and what it
stands for. It's very cool."
Just as he did throughout his
entire round on a blistery but
warm Monday in Augusta, Kim
looked up into the 16th-hole
grandstands and gave his fans a
smile and a thumbs up. He even
stopped to take a quick picture
with a few fans standing near
the tee box.
And just moments later, Kim
gave everybody a reason to
shout. After hitting his tee shot
on the par-3, 170-yard 16th to
about 10 feet from the hole, he
paused and looked into his bag.
"I grabbed a four iron, but
(caddie Louis Lawrence) goes,
'You should take a five or a six,'
" Kim said. "So I was like, 'I'll go
with a five.' "
It seemed like an odd choice
for someone who was on his way
to the green. But after walking
about 20 yards, Kim stopped
short of the pond that extends
about 120 yards out from the
green.
He threw down a new ball
just short of the pond, aid thex
crowd exploded with cheers '
they knew what he was about to
do.
"It's a Masters tradition," Kim
said. "Every time in a practice
round (at number 16), they want
you to hit a shot where it skips
over the pond and tryto see how
close you can get to the hole."
Kim took a short backswing
as if he was chipping, and the
ball jumped offhis club and onto
the pond, making the surface
look more like ice than water. It
skipped several times and had
just enough gas to make it over
the pond.
The ball hopped onto the

green and settled about 15 feet
from the pin - Kim smiled,
took off his Michigan visor and
bowed to the crowd.
"Ihad never done that before,"
Kim said. "I just basically told
(Laurence), 'I don't want to
embarrass myself and just leave
it in the water' But it turned out
to be a really good shot."
It was a special day for Kim
and the Michigan community as
a whole, as Michigan polos and
hats could be found around the
course.
Kim started the day on the
front nine with 2007 Masters
champion and friend Zach John-
son. As he walked up to the first
tee, thousands of people lined
the fairways.
"It was amazing," Kim said.
"It was my first time playing in
front of a crowd. But to tell you
the truth, I wasn't nervous at all.
And that's partially because I
was with my good buddy (John-
son)."
Kim said Johnson helped him
get to know the ins and outs of
the course, but that he talked
to him about other stuff, too.
The two shared several laughs
throughout the round.
"We can joke around and have
fun," Kim said. "That's what's
exciting. For the first couple
practice rounds, you're not too
serious. You're just getting used
to the course and to the layout.
"I was very pleased that a guy
of his caliber still keeps up with
a friend like me, and just tries to
check up on me."
After Kim and Johnson fin-
ished the front nine around 1
p.m., the two shook hands and
parted ways. Kim took a lunch
break and returned to the back
nine'at4:15. -I
He had to end the round early
in order to make it to the tradi-
tional Amateur Dinner on the
night after the first practice
round. But as he made his way
off the 16th green and into a cart
that took him to the clubhouse,
he made sure he saved time to
talk to a few more fans.
"That's what's special about
practice rounds," Kim said. "A
lot of kids come in and they just
want autographs. It doesn't mat-
ter if you're Tiger Woods or just
an amateur - they want auto-
graphs. And that's what's fun
and unique about this tourna-
ment."

Caddy calming influence for Kim

By KEVIN RAFTERY
Daily Sports Writer
AUGUSTA, Ga. - After win-
ning the US Amateur Public
Links Tournament in July, his
ticket was punched and his
dream was about to become real-
ity - but Michigan golfer Lion
Kim was still
missing an KEVIN
essential com- RAFTERY
ponent that
every success-
ful golfer must At the Masters
have.
He was
missing the Robin to his Bat-
man, the Shaggy to his Scooby
Doo, the Tails to his Sonic - Kim
needed a caddy.
So in early February, when
Kim traveled to Augusta for
practice, he went searching for
one. He tried out four different
caddies, hoping to find the per-
fect fit for his game.
Each caddy went out with
him on the course, exchang-
ing conversations with Kim and
encouraging him as he navigated
his way through the pristine fair-
ways of Augusta National.
And by the end of the trip,
Kim had found his caddy - Louis
Laurence, a 62-year-old former
pro who has caddied at Augusta
since 1988.
"His knowledge of the golf
V course and just the way he
approaches shots is what set him
apart," Kim said. "He keeps it
pretty simple. He just says the
right things at the right time. He
keeps me loose and gives me con-
fidence."

Laur
twice i
tour pr
and 20
the op
Kim.
"Wh
he was
it was
Lauren
this is:
that I'v
that pla
"T

ence, who has caddied According to Laurence, Kim
n the Masters for former has all the physical tools, but
o Tommy Aaron (in 2002 will need to focus on the mental
03), was delighted to have aspect of the game - that could
portunity to caddy for make or break his experience in
Augusta.
en I caddied for (Aaron), "He gets very down on him-
at the end of his career, so self when he hits bad shots,"
more or less a formality," Laurence said. "You can't do
ce said. "It was fun, but that. Everybody hits bad shots,
the first legitimate chance even the best. You've got to have
e had to caddy for anybody amnesia when you hit a bad
ays as well as Lion does." shot."
It may be true that in the past
Kim would get down on himself
too easily.
to l'vim _'All But when Kim steps on the

course for the first round on
Thursday, he will have an extra
edge that he hasn't had in previ-
ous tournaments he's played in
his collegiate career.
He'll have Laurence stand-
ing next to him, reminding him
to move on to the next shot no
matter what has just happened -
and if he can get over that mental
barrier, there's no telling how far
Kim could go this weekend.
"I told him, 'You could be on
the brink of history,' " Laurence
said. "If you win this tournament
... I don't know how you could top
that."

Senior Lion Kim will compete in the Masters this week in Augusta. Ga.

you have to do is
put blinders on
and play golf."'
Laurence praised Kim's game
several times, saying he's got "all
the tools" to be successful at the
Masters.
"He's got a wonderful short
game," Laurence said. "Amazing
short game, and that's what he
does so well, and that's what you
gotta do here.
"I told him, 'All you have to do
is put blinders on and play golf.
Because this week, this place is
going to take on a transforma-
tion that people are not ready
for, especially amateurs ... It's a
daunting experience."
Though he met Kim less than
two months ago, Laurence has
worked hard to make sure he
knows Kim's game as best he can.

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