Here we go again. Another loss to the Spartans, another second
half full of questions. Let's be honest, Michigan State was the
best team the Wolverines played. Michigan hasn't shown much
so far this season, and with Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State loom-
ing, wins are becoming more precious than ever. At the begin-
ning of the year this week looked like a win. After Purdue lost to
Rice in Week 2, it was a guarantee. Now, the Boilermakers are
coming off an upset of Illinois and appear to have settled on a
quarterback. Now is the time to start holding your breath.
Michael Florek, Stephen J. Nesbitt, Kevin Raftery, Tim Rohan
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ADVANCE: Michigan's perimeter
defense needs to show improvement
against the upstart Boilermakers
4THE STRONGEST MUSCLE: The
dichotomy of Michigan's fifth-year
senior center Dave Molk
Cover illustration by Marissa McClain
Western Michigan (Sept. 3): Good thing the
rain came. And the blitzes, too. Looked like Greg
Robinson was coaching until the second quarter.
Notre Dame (Sept. 10): Nothing to see here.
Michigan rallied with a 28-point fourth quarter
to stun the Fighting Irish and get the victory.
Eastern Michigan (Sept. 17): After struggling
early, Michigan relied on the legs of Denard
Robinson and Vincent Smith for the 31-3 win.
San Diego State (Sept. 24): Denard Robinson's
200 yards rushing outshone his lousy day pass-
ing, while Michigan bullied the Aztecs up front.
Minnesota (Oct. 1): The Gophers and the 58-0
score were a pleasant distraction from the real-
ity of Big Ten play.
Northwestern (Oct. 8): Dan Persa almost got it
done. Then Michigan put him on his back for the
entire second half and came away with a victory.
Michigan State (Oct. 15): It wasn't as bad as
the previous three years, but in a way that made
it worse. Seniors, you're leaving having never
beaten the Spartans.
Purdue (Oct. 29): Guard your ACLs! The knee
injury has plagued Purdue the past two seasons.
Quarterback Rob Henry was the latest victim.
Iowa (Nov. 5): The faces change, but it always
seems like Kirk Ferentz finds the same types of
players. This is just another solid Iowa team.
Illinois (Nov. 12): Nathan Scheelhaase-to-A.J.
Jenkins and Jason Ford is the whole offense.
Consider Scheelhaase a poor man's Denard.
Nebraska (Nov. 19): The legendary blackshirts
make their debut at the Big House. By the time
Jared Crick and Co. leave, it may get ugly for 'M.'
Ohio State (Nov. 26): No Tressell? No Pryor?
Ohio State's still deeper than Michigan, but a lot
could change by Thanksgiving.
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IT'S GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL
weight room and bolted up a flight of stairs to find Dave.
"Hey, Dave, you got an offer," Tom said, pausing to catch
Tom had just hung up after a phone call from a North-
western coach in Evanston. Northwestern - just 40 miles
away from Lemont - had extended to Dave his first offer to
play college football.
Dave turned to his father. He knew he wasn't done play-
"Don't worry, Dad, there will be more," Dave said.
It was the first breakthrough in a long, rollercoaster
recruiting journey for Dave. Until that point, he and the
coaches had been forced to plead with schools to take a look
at his tape.
But the tape was pretty convincing.
"I can still remember when Dave and Coach Coneset
were putting together highlight film," Lemont head coach
Eric Michaelson said. "Itwas like the Ten Commandments,
it was taking so much time.
"Finally (Coneset) said, 'Hey, come here.' Whoa. I'd be
following the play and then all of the sudden you see Dave
just beatin' the dogstuffing out of a kid."
Before Northwestern offered, Dave didn't start to get-
ting any attention from college programs until he accept-
ed an invitation to a recruiting combine in Iowa City. His
Scout.com recruiting profile listed size as his only disad-
"That was the only thing anyone ever said to me," Dave
"Dave doesn't have a problem with his size," Tom added.
"It's just the media that has a problem with his size. Every-
one else has a size problem."
At 6-foot-2, 265 pounds, few expected Dave
to survive at an elite college program. But the
same recruiting profile also listed Dave's "nasty
streak" asa positive.
In Iowa City, the size issue took a backseat
while the nasty streak did the talking. And one
defensive tackle in particular paid the price in
"This kid, he was just running a train on
everyone that was at that combine," Dave said.
So instead of following the regular rotation,
Dave stepped out and picked his opponent -
the biggest, strongest lineman there.
"Hey, give me the kid with the dreads," Dave "'o
Man to man: you versus me. Dave plowed
right through him.
"The next time he came up, he was obviously
pissed that I beat him," Dave said. "He goes,
'Hey, I want the boy with the fade.' And I beat
Size really didn't matter. Dave could play.
As Dave expected, the offers started rolling in
from across the country.
The father-son duo traveled to 19 universi-
ties during the recruiting process. Make no
mistake, this much attention on a football play-
er was unusual for a middling football town like
Interestingly enough, Dave was looking for
a strength and conditioning coach more than
anything. He found one he liked in Mike Bar-
wis at West Virginia.
"His sales pitch is the best in the country,
and I heard them all," Dave said. "One of the
things that he did in the recruiting visit was he
ran up to this big yoga ball and jumps on it. He
just stood there and talked to me and my dad Dave Mol
for 10 minutes, standing on the ball.
"I saw what he did and figured, if he does what he does,
he can make me do what he does."
But West Virginia was dealt one swift stroke of bad for-
tune. While the Molks were in the car en route to Morgan-
town, W. Va., Dave got a call from Michigan - his final
Ann Arbor became the last of 19 stops on the recruiting
trail. Michigan fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan Van
Bergen - Molk's roommate - still teases Molk about his
"Dave Molk is the one guy in the history of all official
visits to request to go to the weight room on his visit to lift,"
Van Bergen said, laughing. "How meat-headed is that?"
The moment he got back into the car to head home, Dave
told his father he was going to become a Wolverine, select-
ing Michigan over front-runners Wisconsin and Iowa.
Tom felt the fit, too. It just took one step onto the Michi-
gan Stadium turf. He admits that he shed a few tears that
day at Michigan.
Dave remembers his father saying, "If Gail would have
seen you walk into that empty stadium at Michigan ..."
In seventh grade, when Dave Molk glanced over his
shoulder in the opening strains of The Star-Spangled Ban-
ner, he saw something he never wanted to forget.
He saw his mother and father settling into lawn chairs
on the hill. She was bracing herself against the cold wind.
Her hair was gone. What he saw was just fine. It was Mom.
He relives that memory, that scene, every football Sat-
"It's kind of something I've never told anyone before,"
Dave said, stopping to clear his throat.
"But at a certain point in the national anthem, I turned
around, looked up and saw her. And at that same point
every game I've ever played, I look up into the flag and say,
'I love you, Mom.
"And every time I start to tear up and then I get really
pissed off. That's part of the reason I head-butt Jack so
The toughest center in the nation promised to never
use his mother's death as a crutch. But he's taken her with
him from the Lemont High School football field to the Big
House and every stadium in between.
He won't let himself forget her. She was the side of Dave
Molk that rarely shows itself, the side that almost nobody
"I got my heart from her, no doubt about it," Dave said.
It's been nearly 10 years since Dave's mother passed
away. Dave hasn't scored another touchdown - he doesn't
want to. His one and only touchdown was for her.
The ball he gave her still sits on display in the Molk
"It's always hard, for any kid doing anything - it doesn't
have to be football," Dave said. "She didn't see me graduate
high school. She didn't see me come to Michigan. She's not
going to see me graduate college. She's not going to see me
play in college.
"There's a lot of stuff that she's not going to see. But I
know in some way, shape or form, she saw them."
His mother has been gone for a decade of his life, but
Dave knows she hasn't missed a snap.
k is joined by fellow seniors Kevin Koger and Ryan Van Bergen in hoisting the Little Brown Jug after Michigan's 58-0 victory over Minnesota.
2 1 FootballSaturday - October 29, 2011
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