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January 05, 2012 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-01-05

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2C - Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

L .._ aStonum motivate
by Hemingway's
big Sugar Bowl

MAR 55A MCANDiy
Fifth-year senior David Molk got injured in pregame warm-ups and wasn't supposed to play. He missed three snaps.
Molk fights througinjury,
i e

By STEPHEN J. NESBITT
Daily Sports Editor
NEW ORLEANS - David Molk
only had one leg, but that couldn't
stop him.
Michigan's fifth-year senior
captain, All-American center and
Rimington Awad winner was held
out of the starting lineup after
sustaining a foot injury during
pregame warm-ups before the
Allstate Sugar Bowl.
"Something popped," said
Michigan Athletic Director Dave
Brandon.
"Freak little thing, it just
slipped out," Molk said.
Slip, pull, pop or twist, the
outcome was the same - the
Wolverines were forced to start
little-used redshirt junior backup
Rocko Khoury under center in the
biggest game in recent memory.
"I thought, 'Where's the Rim-
ington award winner guy?' " said
redshirt sophomore offensive
tackle Taylor Lewan. "Then I
found out he was hurt."
Molk's final bill of health from
the team trainers prior to the
game cast a sobering shadow over
the All-American's final game at
Michigan: "I wasn't a go."
"It was something where I had
to get the feelingback - I couldn't
move on it," Molk said.

Molk tried to get loose on the
sideline during Khoury's first
series, watching his replacement
send a pair of errant snaps back to
junior quarterback Denard Robin-
son. The offense went nowhere.
The coaches and trainers had
left the decision up to Molk. After
watching the first series, he made
his decision. He was back under
center for the second drive. He
didn't miss another snap.
"David is a warrior," said Mich-
igan coach Brady Hoke. "He's a
captain on this football team. He
has a lot of pride in Michigan, he
has a lot of pride in this offense.
It means a lot to see him come out
there and perform like he did."
The offense struggled from
start to finish. The dynamic rush-
ing attack of Robinson and red-
shirt sophomore running back
Fitzgerald Toussaint combined
for just 43 yards, by far their low-
est total of the season. But the
players couldn't deny the effect
Molk's return had on stabilizing
the offense early in the game. Rob-
inson found the ball in his hands
on every snap and had more time
in the pocket for his throws.
"I don't know if the offense
needed me, but obviously I wanted
to be out there and help my team,"
Molk said. "I knew I could be a
positive force no matter if I was

50 percent, 40 percent or 100 per-
cent.
"It's something that's within
me - I can't stay off the field, I
muscle through injuries."
It isn't the first time Molk
has battled injury. As a redshirt
sophomore, Molk started four
games before being knocked out
of a matchup against Eastern
Michigan with a foot injury. He
returned for the Penn State game
and suffered a season-ending knee
injury in the first series. This time,
in the Sugar Bowl, it was bearable.
And the team drew a clear line
between hurt and injured.
"We said unless we see bone,
we're not coming out," said fifth-
year senior defensive tackle Ryan
Van Bergen.
The trainers thought Molk was
injured. He decided he was just
hurt.
"Dave Molk has more heart
than I expected," Lewan said.
"At the end of the day, the kid
had a heart. Molk knew. He loves
this team, he loves this university,
and he's going to play for them no
matter what."
As Molk stepped away from
the crowd of teammates celebrat-
ing the overtime victory, he gazed
around the massive Mercedes-
Benz Superdome. It was worth it.
It was worth everything.

His career began inauspi-
ciously, with a historic upset loss
to Appalachian State at Michigan
Stadium. It ended gloriously, with
an overtime epic in New Orleans.
"How we came in and how my
first four seasons went, I thought
we were the stain on Michigan tra-
dition," Molk said, walking slowly
toward the winner's podium on
the turf. "But the reality is that we
came back from everything and
we're back to where Michigan is."
The stoic Molk couldn't wipe
the smile from his face. Michigan
strength and conditioning coach
Aaron Wellman swept his arms
around the fifth-year senior.
Molk only had one leg, but
that's all he needed.
His Michigan career came
to an end on Tuesday. His foot-
ball career is moving to the next
chapter - Molk will now begin
training for the NFL. The scope
of Molk's journey couldn't be cap-
tured better than his final words
after the Wolverines topped Ohio
State on Nov. 26.
"It's been a lot and it's been a
rollercoaster that for some reason
has seemed like it would never get
good," Molk said, his voice rising.
"But we kept fighting.
"It's just like the old saying
goes: Those who stay will be
champions."

By TIM ROHAN But it's fair to ask: what
Daily Sports Editor could've been? What if junior
quarterback Denard Robinson
NEW ORLEANS - His had Stonum, who is arguably one
teammates raced around the of the fastest receivers on the
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, team?
high-fiving fans, while he mean- Instead of Hemingway, it
dered behind. His roommate, could've been Stonum. But the
fifth-year senior wide receiver player Robinson calls "Big Play"
Junior Hemingway, was the Hemingway made two spectacu-
game's most outstanding player lar touchdown catches, saving
and had developed into the go- Michigan's Sugar Bowl chances,
to-deep threat he was supposed while Stonum watched from the
to be. sidelines in a sweatsuit.
But Darryl Stonum cracked a "He makes that play in prac-
smile. tice all the time," Stonum said.
The wide receiver didn't play "That's the plays he makes. I'm
a snap this season, in what was proud of him. I love him. I wish
supposed to be Stonum's senior him the best.
year. A drunk driving charge "I'm going to miss him when
- his second since coming to he's gone, but we're always going
Michigan - caused Michigan to be best friends. We'll always
coach Brady Hoke to suspend stayin contact - forever."
him for the season, which ended Stonum should return next
up being the Wolverines' best in year for a fifth year as one of
years. Michigan's top receivers and kick
So while his teammates returners. Gone are Hemingway
basked in their success, Stonum and seniors Kelvin Grady and
stood back. Martavious Odoms. But Roy
"It was a learning experience," Roundtree, Jeremy Gallon and
Stonum said, his voice lowering, Drew Dileo all return. At 6-foot-
just moments after Michigan 2, Stonum could fill in Heming-
finished off Virginia Tech in way's shoes as a bigger target
overtime, 23-20. "It was pretty Robinson can trust.
hard. But everything happens . It appears Hoke has a mature,
for a reason. I'm just glad coach humbled and motivated receiver
Hoke kept me around tobe a part to add to his lineup.
of this. And I'm back - I'm back "It just motivates me for next
now." year," Stonum said, watching his
Out of the limelight, he teammates celebrate.
became the best practice squad "They're going to see a
receiver he could be, his team- beast.""Just because a kid
mates said. During practices throws a couple of picks, pulling
in New Orleans, starting cur- him out of the game - I know a
nerback J.T. Floyd was beat on lot of guys who are quick trig-
more than one occasion by Sto- ger guys and they'll say, 'He's
num. not playing well, we'll get the
"He's embraced what hap- other guy in there,' " Borges
pened to him and has learned said. "We're never doing that.
from it," said senior tight end They can boo or do whatever....
Kevin Koger earlier this week. "A You want to stick with that guy,
lot of guys might get suspended and if you stick with him you
and then they'd just transfer. give him a chance to prove that
But he stuck it out. And he's like he's your leader and the team
a brother to me, so I'm proud of will believe in him. But if you go
what he has done. south on him, I just don't believe
"When he's been through that's a good way of doing it.
everything he's been through, "Now I've taken quarterbacks
and all the turmoil and all the out before, but that's usually
speculation, I'm just glad he because they've lost their confi-
stayed." dence."

Van Bergen's foot, and defense, bend but don't break

By KEVIN RAFTERY
Daily Sports Ediotr
NEW ORLEANS - Ryan Van
Bergen limped off the field, with
trainers under each arm helping
him make it to the sidelines.
He and the Michigan defense
had just made a critical third
down stop in overtime, forc-
ing Virginia Tech to settle for a
37-yard field goal, which Hokie
kicker Justin Myer would miss
wide right just moments later.
Van Bergen had been battling
a foot injury since the second
quarter, when he got caught up
awkwardly in a pile of players.
"My foot just feels like rub-
ber," Van Bergen said after the
game. "I couldn't plant on it or
anything like that.
"It actually went down, like
parallel to my chin when I was
in a pile.
"The next time I was tryingto
plant, I was trying to overcom-
pensate for it, and I put it the
other way and got chopped, so
my toe was coming up to like the
top of my ankle."
Van Bergen's foot was bent,
but it wasn't broken - just like
the Michigan defense in the
Wolverines' 23-20 overtime vic-
tory over Virginia Tech in the
Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night.
The Wolverines gave up sev-
eral key third-and-long plays on
the night. Third and 20. Third
and 12. Third and 8.
"Third-down defense, we
weren't very good at all," defen-
sive coordinator Greg Mattison
said. "A lot of it was missed tack-
les. We had the right defense, we
had guys in the right place, you
just had to get them down."
For most of the game, the
Hokies had little trouble mov-
ing the ball downfield. Yet, the
Michigan defense gave up just
one touchdown all game.

The key? Red-zone defense.
"We didn't play our best game
defensively," Mattison said, "but
we played our best game as far
as keeping them out when you
had to."
No play exemplifies that more
than one that came early in the
second quarter.
After having driven 72 yards
to the Michigan 4-yard line,
the Hokies were faced with a
fourth-and-1.
The Wolverines had already
given up a couple big plays on
the drive, including a 16-yard
completion on third-and-8 and
a 32-yard rush by running back
David Wilson.
Feeling confident, Virginia
Tech coach Frank Beamer elect-
ed to go for it. The Michigan
defense had already bent hard
on the drive.
But as the Hokies lined up,
Van Bergen and fellow lineman
Mike Martin saw something
they recognized. And it paid off.
"Me and Mike called that
play, because we had seen it on
film," Van Bergen said.
"I don't know who ended up
making the play because we just
dove down, but we were ready
for that."
Bend, don't break. The Michi-
gan defenders swallowed up
Virginia Tech quarterback
Logan Thomas, stopping him
just a few inches short of the
first down marker.
"We had to adjust real quick,
last thing," said redshirt junior
linebacker Kenny Demens. "We
just came through. Those guys,
those front four players, they do
a great job."
And on the Wolverines' ensu-
ing offensive drive, they scored
their first touchdown of the
night on a miraculous pass from
junior quarterback Denard Rob-
inson to fifth-year senior receiv-

(Left) Fifth-year senior Ryan Van Bergen was on crutches after the game.
(Right) Freshman Desmond Morgan helped keep the Hokies in check.

er Junior Hemingway.
Early in the third quarter, it
was another defensive play that
helped spark the offense.
On first-and-10 from the Vir-
ginia Tech 49, Thomas dropped
back out of the shotgun and
looked left.
He didn't see freshman defen-
sive end Frank Clark.
Clark read it the whole way.
"I saw the quarterback pull
out and try to scramble," Clark
said. "He threw the hitch, and I
jumped up and caught it."
For the defense, it was the
first and only interception of the
night. For the offense, it was just
what the doctor ordered.
"When Frank intercepted
that ball, that was a shot in the
arm for us offensively," said
Michigan offensive coordinator
Al Borges.
The interception gave Michi-
gan the ball at the Virginia Tech
35-yard line and set up the Wol-
verines second touchdown of
the game to give them a 17-6
lead.
But the Hokies continued to

push the Michigan defense to its
breaking point.
Midway through the fourth
quarter, Virginia Tech was faced
with a fourth-and-11 at the Wol-
verines' 35-yard line and elected
to go for it. A stop and Michigan
would be in the driver's seat.
Thomas had other plans.
Noticing that most of his receiv-
ers were covered downfield,
he scrambled left, gaining just
enough yards for the first down.
Moments later, Thomas con-
nected with Marcus Davis for
the score. After the Hokies con-
verted on a two-point attempt, it
was a tie ball game.
But the Wolverines remained
poised.
"We knew it was gonna be a
back and forth game," Martin
said. "We knew they were gonna
step up and make plays, but we
knew that we were gonna step
up and make plays, too."
And make plays they did.
With Virginia Tech driving
and down by three with the
clock winding down, Michigan
had to at least hold the Hokies

The Michigan defense struggled early, but tightened in the redzone, forcing the
Hokies to three field goals and keeping the Wolverines in the game.

to a field goal.
On third-and-7 from the
Michigan 13, the Wolverines
allowed Thomas to complete
another pass - but only for five
yards.
Bend, don't break.
Virginia Tech hit the field
goal and sent it to overtime.
But it didn't matter. When it
needed to most, the Michigan

defense got it done, forcing a
Hokies' three-and-out on their
only overtime possession.
And as Michigan kicker
Brendan Gibbons hit the game
winner, Van Bergen no longer
needed trainers to help him get
on the field to celebrate with his
teammates.
Suddenly, that once-bent foot
felt a whole lot better.

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