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November 11, 2013 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-11-11

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2B - November 11, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michiganclaily.com,

f a ar i oeAe COLUMN
Ifthere are answers, time to share them*

The questions were mostly
the same at Brady Hoke's
postgame press confer-
ence this week, but the buzz-
word had changed. Last week,
execution was
to blame for
29-6 loss to
State, for the J"
negative 48
rushing yards.
This week? ZACH
Hoke just hasZHELFAND
to do a better
job coaching
this football
team. How does everyone know
this? He said so himself. Seven
times in less than 13 minutes.
How do you explain all the
negative rushing yards, he was
Last week, he responded, "We
didn't execute as well as they
This week, "Well, it's hard to
explain, isn't it?" Hoke said. "I've
got to do a better job coaching
those guys."
How do you keep Devin's spir-
its up after seven sacks?
"His spirits will be up because
he's a competitor," Hoke said.
"He's goingto be sore, and that's
part of it. Again, I have to do a
better job coaching."
What kind of adjustments
were you hoping to make?
"There were a number of
things that we have to do a better
job coaching the kids on," Hoke
What did you think of Mary
Sue Coleman's speech, coach?
"I have to doa better job
coaching," Hoke said.
OK, that last one was fake. But
it poses an interesting question:
in a famously insular profession,
does a coach owe answers to
First, let's be clear about a few
things. One, this is an admirable,

back, too. For 19-to 22-year-olds,
that hurts.
"Whoever questions our
toughness, they can shove it,"
said redshirt junior quarterback
Devin Gardner on Saturday.
And good for him - question-
ing a team's toughness is a cheap
analysis, especially when it's
abundantly clear that Michigan
simply isn't as good as many of
its opponents. Try to find a team
that has won despite a bad offen-
sive line. It just doesn't happen.
But without any clear direc-
tion from Michigan's leader
- without acknowledgingthe
flaws and how to fix them - the
center falls apart. And the fans
take it upon themselves to offer
solutions. Now, Michigan has
lost three of its last four because
Hoke doesn't wear a headset.
Or because the team isn't tough
In his first two seasons, Hoke
answered these complaints on
the field. This year, that hasn't
So does Hoke owe anything
to the fan base? Maybe - it's
unrealistic for anyone to expect
results in Hoke's third year with
a bare cupboard at offensive line.
The self-deception goes both
But providing an honest -
assessment of his team is prob-
ably worth the trouble for Hoke.
That's possible without throwing
anyone under the bus.
At his press conference, Hoke
was finally asked where, specifi-
cally, he had to do a better job
coaching the team.
"Just - everything," he said.
Had that answer been broad-
cast over the Michigan Stadium
scoreboards, it's not hard to
imagine it would've drawn
cheers. And not the sincere kind.
-Helfand can be reached
at zhelfand@umich.edu or
on Twitter @zhelfand


Michigan coach Brady Hoke has admirably taken the blame for Saturday's 17-13 loss to Nebraska, but the Michigan football team's problems go deeper than that.

if frustrating, response from the
leader of a football team. Hoke is
asking to shoulder all the blame.
His porous offensive line is still
too young and hasn't progressed.
The defense missed an assign-
ment late, which allowed the
final touchdown. Nebraska's
players said they could predict
Michigan's plays before the snap.
Hoke wants responsibility for
it all.
And this isn't anything new.
Typically, football coaches are
about as forthcoming as a pile of
bricks, especially after a game.
On that spectrum, Hoke is like a
brick somewhere right above the
bottom of that pile. He'll prob-
ably be more willing to share at
his Monday press conference.

But without any answers
before the game, with no
answers on the field and very
few explanations afterward, the
customers were not happy. After
a stretch of near silence, Michi-
gan Stadium finally came alive
with a murmur Saturday. The
murmur began to crescendo, and
soon all corners of the stadium
were cheering, and then they
were standing for the first time
all game.
It was late in the first quarter,
and Michigan had just gained its
first first down of the game. The
112,204 in attendance - polite
Midwestern folk - had turned
sarcastic. The cheer, derisive.
By now, the rest is familiar.
Reality handed offensive coor-

dinator Al Borges a bunch of
lemons, and he continued to try
to turn them into hot chocolate
by running his backs into a wall
of defenders. The interior line
continued to look like what you'd
expect from a freshman, a red-
shirt freshman and a redshirt
sophomore. The defense cracked
on a late fourth down, and
Nebraska won ugly, 17-13.
Hoke heard the sarcastic
cheering, and he later heard a
smattering of boos.
"Well, that's you know, that's
the way things are," he said.
But he hasn't helped his case,
either. Consider the circum-
stances: those fans with the
sarcastic cheering- and later
with a smattering of boos - they

pay an average of $230 per ticket,
according to Forbes. Those same
fans later go on message boards
proposing to fire the coach, the
offensive coordinator, the offen-
sive coordinator's secretary and,
hell, that secretary's great aunt
Sally, for good measure. This is
college football. What's sanity?
Those things trickle back to
the team, hurt recruiting and
begin to create a toxic atmo-
sphere. These things matter.
Rich Rodriguez's fatal flaw was
that he couldn't unite Michigan's
alumni and fan base, right?
When a high-profile ESPN
column (rather foolishly) calls
Michigan's quarterback and
freshman running back soft and
its left tackle lazy, that trickles


Soccer loses Big Bear Trophy

Daily Sports Writer
In a rivalry game, physical-
ity is a given and fouls aren't an
uncommon occurrence either.
But of all the things the Michi-
gan men's soccer team expected
to happen in a rivalry game,
playing a man down was prob-
ably not one of them.
With Michigan State's lead-
ing scorer, forward Tim Kreutz,
down the MICHIGAN 0
field on MSU 2
a break-
away in the 60th minute, Michi-
gan sophomore defender Jack
Brown came from behind, slide
tackled to get the ball and took
down Kreutz in the process.
Brown was handed a red card,
forcing the Wolverines to play a
man down.
After the red card, the Wol-
verines "clicked off," according
to senior goalie Adam Grinwis,
as they went down 1-0 before
conceding another goal one
minute later en route to a 2-0
loss. Not only did the Wolverines
(3-3 Big Ten, 8-6-3 overall) lose
the Big Bear Trophy, given to
the winner of the annual rivalry
game, but they also missed a
chance at securing an at-large
bid into the NCAA Tournament.
No one could have predicted
the outcome of the game after
Michigan dominated the first
half in a convincing fashion.
The Wolverines had 10 shots on
goal while not allowing the 18th-
ranked Spartans (3-2-1, 10-4-3)
to rattle off even one shot.
"We came out flying because
we knew what was stake," Grin-
wis said. "Not only was it a local
derby, but also had huge NCAA
and Big Ten Tournament impli-
Not being able to finish their
chances has been Michigan's
Achilles' heel all season, and it
was evident in the first half.
"When you go away to play
against an instate rival, clearly
dominate a half and have noth-
ing to show for it, it's very frus-
trating," Grinwis said.
In the 18th minute, redshirt
sophomore midfielder Colin
McAtee had the ball inside the


six-yard box. After weaving
around to look for a clear shot,
he found an opportunity and
took a crack at the ball. His low
shot from the right side went
across the goal mouth and to the
left side of the net, just missing
the target.
Michigan had its best chance
in the 23rd minute when
senior midfielder Fabio Pereira
received the ball on the left flank
and dribbled down the touch-
line. As a Michigan State defend-
er came to take away the ball,
Pereira weaved his way past the
defender before cutting inside
to the six-yard box. Zach Ben-
nett, the Spartans' goalkeeper,
came out to cut off the angle and
Pereira tried to chip it over Ben-
nett's head. Bennett got a hand
on the ball and barely stopped
the ball from going into the goal.
After the halftime break, it
was clear something said in the
Spartan locker room ignited
them, as they came out and pep-
pered Grinwis with six quick
shots. Meanwhile, the Wolver-
ines could only muster one in the
first 15 minutes.
"We couldn't come out play-
ing the same we were playing,
and credit to Michigan State
who really put us on the back
foot," Grinwis said.
The red card given in the
second half drastically changed

the game and tilted the posses-
sion battle toward the Spartans
as the Wolverines sat back to
Only a minute after the red
card, a cross sent in by Michigan
State midfielder Sean Conerty
found the head of midfielder
Kyle Rutz, who unleashed a
header 15 yards from the goal
into the back of the net.
Less than three minutes after
the first goal, a Michigan foul
inside the box led to a penalty
kick for the Spartans. Michigan
State midfielder Fatai Alashe
stepped up to take the kick and
placed it into the left corner of
the goal,just away from the hand
of Grinwis. It ended any hope for
a Wolverine comeback and put
Michigan's NCAA Tournament
hopes on hold for another week.
"We need a solid turnout in
the Big Ten Tournament next
week to make the NCAA Tour-
nament now," Grinwis said. "I
think we need to go into the
tournament definitely needing
to win the first game, and most
likely winning the semifinal
Note: Michigan fresh-
man defender Lars Eckenrode
received his fifth yellow card
of the season and is suspended
from the Wolverines' Big Ten
Tournament opener against
Indiana due to accumulation.


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