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September 16, 2011 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-09-16

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, Semptember 16, 2011 - 9

Breakdown: EMU run game worrisome for 'M'

Daily Sports Editor
Eastern Michigan is 2-0 for
the first time since 1989. For-
mer Michigan football players
Kurt Anderson, Mike Hart and
Steve Morrison are now part of
the Eagles' coaching squad, and
long-time Michigan assistant
coach Ron English is now the
Eagles' head coach. Will the for-
mer Wolverines be able to work
up some old magic to help give
the Eagles their first-ever vic-
tory against Michigan? There's a
chance, but not a very good one.
Here's a breakdown of Saturday's
Michigan pass offense vs. East-
ern Michigan pass deferse
In victories against Howard
University and Alabama State,
the Eagles gave up an average 171
yards per game in the air. They're
not horrible numbers, but when
you consider the opponents East-
ern Michigan faced (both are
FCS schools), the numbers aren't
exactly eye-popping. Sophomore
defensive back Marlon Pollard, a
transfer from UCLA, has been a
nice addition for the Eagles and
has already snagged one inter-
ception. Senior defensive back
Latarrius Thomas, a transfer
who started as a true freshman at
Louisville, has also improved the
The Michigan offense has seen
some troubles of its own through
the air, as junior quarterback
Denard Robinson has completed
just over 50 percent of his passes
and has thrown'three intercep-
tions, often having trouble with
his footwork and accuracy. At

times, the receivers have shown
an inability to hang onto balls that
they should have caught. But you
can bet that the Eagles have never
faced a versatile quarterback quite
like Robinson (except for Rob-
inson himself in 2009), and he
should be successful as long as he
stays poised.
Edge: Michigan
Michigan rush offense vs. East-
ern Michigan rush defense
For the most part, the Michi-
gan running backs have strug-
gled so far this season. Redshirt
sophomore Fitzgerald Toussaint
appeared to have taken hold of the
starting job after his 80 yards and
two touchdowns against Western
Michigan, but a shoulder injury
kept him sidelined against Notre
Dame last weekend and his role on
Saturday is up in the air.
Senior Michael Shaw stalled in
the starting role last week, tallying
two carries for minus-three yards.
Sophomore Stephen Hopkins
didn't fare much better, with just
10 yards on five carries and one
fumble. Junior Vincent Smith has
shown flashes of potential, but it
appears he will be primarily used
as a third-down back.
The Eastern Michigan defense
excels against the rush. The
Eagles have given up an average
of just 41.5 yards per game on the
ground, including minus-13 yards
in their 14-7 victory over Ala-
bama State. Pollard and Thomas
received preseason All-MAC rec-
ognition, and senior defensive end
Brad Ohrman leads the MAC with
three sacks already this year. But
Michigan still has the most dan-
gerous rusher on the field in Rob-
inson, who is averaging 77 yards

per game and can break loose at
any point. That's enough to give
the Wolverines a slight edge.
Edge: Michigan
Eastern Michigan pass offense
vs. Michigan pass defense
The Eastern Michigan passing
game has been far from stellar
this year, but then again, so has
the Michigan pass defense. Eagles
quarterback Alex Gillett has com-
pleted just 47 percent of his passes
for 176 total yards, three touch-
downs and two interceptions.
His longest completion went
for just 25 yards. The Wolverine
defense has given up an average
of 249 yards per game in the air -
over a third more yards than Gil-
lett has passed for in two games.
But Michigan has forced three
interceptions so far, and Gillett is
a prime subject to toss up a few
Edge: Michigan
Eastern Michigan rush offense
vs. Michigan rush defense
The Eagle running backs have
proven to be a two-headed mon-
ster so far this season. Asa whole,
Eastern Michigan is averaging 331
yards on the ground in two games.
Redshirt junior Dominique Sherer
and sophomore Javonti Green
crossed the century mark in each
of the Eagles' first two games.
Green is averaging 133 yards per
game, and Sherrer is averaging
That could spell trouble for the
Wolverines, who are tenth in the
Big Ten in rush defense and have
given up an average of 147 yards
on the ground per game. Redshirt
junior safety Jordan Kovacs is tied

Senior defensive tackle Mike Martin and the rest of the defensive line will be tested Saturday against tastern Mich

with reds
Kenny De
(18), mean
ning back
through ti
and into tI
- someth
to avoid on
Edge: E
In seven
Eastern It
Jay Karut
inside the
and he's p
better pun
punter Ma
for suspen
Will Hage
at times,

:hirt junior linebacker punt.
mens for most tackles Eastern Michigan sophomore
ing the opposing run- kicker Kody Fulkerson, who sur-
s have often made it prisingly snagged the job away
he initial line of defense from redshirt junior and for-
he Wolverine secondary mer starter Sean Graham at the
ing Michigan will hope beginning of this season, has
Saturday. been solid so far, going 7-for-7 on
astern Michigan extra points and 2-of-3 on field
goal attempts.
Special Teams The Wolverine field goal kick-
ers have yet to attempt a field
n attempts last Saturday, goal. Michigan would probably
dichigan junior punter like to keep it that way. Its kick-
z pinned Alabama State ers finished 4-for-13 on field
20-yard line five times, goals last year - good for last in
roven to be one of the the nation.
ters in the MAC. But you've got to believe the
an freshman kicker/ Wolverines will have to attempta
att Wile, who took over field goal eventually, and there's
nded sophomore punter a good chance it won't be pretty.
rup, has looked decent Edge: Eastern Michigan
averaging 39 yards per

Coming off an incredible 35-31
comeback win over Notre Dame
last Saturday night, Michigan's
biggest concern could be avoid-
ing a letdown against Eastern
Michigan in an ordinary noon
game. But Michigan coach
Brady Hoke has stressed many
times that he will not let his
team take the Eagles lightly,
and he'll have the Wolverines
ready. Redshirt sophomore Tay-
lor Lewan echoed Hoke's com-
ments and tabbed Saturday's
game as another opportunity for
Michigan to improve its record.
In -Hoke's 100th career game as
a head coach, the Wolverines
won't let him down.
Final Score: Michigan 38,
Eastern Michigan 14

Rosen plans to open up offense for Dannemiller

Freshman setter
finding her groove
entering last
preseason tourney
Daily Sports Writer
Mark Rosen may not be work-
ing at Baskin Robbins, but he is
hard at work adding new flavors
to his offense for freshman set-
ter Lexi Dannemiller.
"We are still running a very
vanilla offense," said Rosen, the
Michigan volleyball coach. "It's
starting to get a little chocolate
swirl, but we need to get to the
point where it's got whipped
cream and a cherry and the
whole bit. We are a long way
from that, but we're getting
"We are confident that we
can probably be successful
this weekend with the stuff
we're running, but we are
going to need to have more
tricks in our bag to compete
in two weeks at the Big Ten
While Rosen's metaphors
may be strange and may bring
about a hankering for some-
thing sweet, his logic holds
Dannemiller's ability to
spread the offense has been
a cornerstone to Michigan's
success this year. Rosen sim-
ply knows that Dannemiller is
going to have to become more
creative with her sets to com-
pete in the upcoming weeks.
His veteran women's volley-
ball team has proven that it is
capable of executing complex
offenses under three-time All
American Lexi Zimmerman.
Big Ten Athlete of the Week
Dannemiller will have to step
up the flavor of this Wolver-
ine sundae. But for now, as
Rosen often says, "It's a work
in progress."
Coming off their Dayton
Flyers Classic victory, the
18th-ranked Wolverines are
preparing for the Michigan/
Adidas Invitational in Ann
Arbor this weekend. Michigan
will face Toledo and Xavier
on Friday, and Texas A&M on
Each team will bring its
own unique challenges. Xavi-

er plays a fast game that may
prove difficult to contain. Texas
A&M is the only other team in
the tournament with an unde-
feated record.
And Toledo has shown an
aptitude for kills despite its los-
ing record, which indicates that
the Rockets are capable of going
on major runs.
Toledo was also one of the
few teams to beat Michigan last
As the last tournament of the
preseason, the Wolverines will
look to make the final adjust-
ments to Dannemiller's game,
specifically how she weaves
middle blockers sophomore Jen-
nifer Cross and senior Courtney
Fletcher into the offense.
The job of the middle blocker
is multi-faceted and is integral
to both the offensive and defen-
sive sides of the net.
The main responsibility,

though, is in the name - block-
ing, a skill Michigan has been
looking to improve since the
start of the season.
"Jen and I take a lot of pride
in our blocking," Fletcher said.
"It's definitely not our best skill,
it never has been. But before
every match we look at each
other and say, 'We are going to
go block some balls.' We also
just adopted swing blocking,
and while it was a little rough
in the beginning of the season,
I thought last weekend was the
best it's been so far, and it will
continue to get better."
Added Cross: "No one wants
to be a middle blocker. We're
constantly going from pin to
pin. It's a hard job, but some-
body's got to do it."
Cross and Fletcher also share
the same favorite kill spot - a
complex set they call an "A."
It's a set in which the setter

fakes to the outside, getting the
blockers in motion, before set-
ting it behind her head for the
middle blocker to, as Cross says,
"Take that ball to pound town."
Both middle blockers are

waiting for Dannemiller to per-
fect this play, but they are confi-
dent it will come in time. No one
can be sure what this is all going
to amount to, but it is clear that
Rosen has a definitive picture in

his mind.
For now, it would appear that
he has astrong base and all the
toppings to make this a delicious
season, though only time will

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participating in U-M
study abroad programs.
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