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November 22, 2013 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, November 22, 2013 - 5

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Friday, November 22, 2013 - 5

In battle of wills,
Wolverines try to prove
toughness against Iowa

By LIZ VUKELICH
Daily Sports Editor
Iowa's Kinnick Stadium is
notorious for being a destination
of disarray for visiting teams.
For one, the away locker room
is painted pink,
intended to be Michigan
demeaning and
belittling to at Iowa
the Hawkeyes' Matchup:
opponents. Michigan 7-3;
Then there Iowa 6-4
are the fans, When: Satur-
whose seats day 12 P.M.
are so close Where: Kin-
to the field nick Stadium
that the play- TV/Radio:
ers can hear i d T :n
them shouting Network
not just their
names, but also
the names of their parents and
siblings, according to fifth-year
" senior left tackle Taylor Lewan.
To top it off, the forecast in
Iowa City calls for a cool 25
degrees on Saturday.
So it's not surprising the Wol-
verines (3-3 Big Ten, 7-3 overall)
keep throwing around the word
"tough," when describing the
challenge they face this week-
end, their penultimate game of
the regular season.
But Michigan plans to counter
Iowa's toughness with its own,

in a contest Lewan dubbed as a
battle of wills. And with redshirt
junior quarterback Devin Gard-
ner leading the way, Michigan
sees that as a very achievable
goal.
On Monday, Michigan coach
Brady Hoke called Gardner a
"fighter." Lewan said he was sur-
prised by the tenacity the quarter-
back showed last weekend against
Northwestern, especially the way
he rallied in the third overtime to
score the game-winning touch-
down and two-point conversion.
"I knew Devin was tough,"
Lewan said. "I didn'tknowhe was
that tough. Obviously we don't
want him to get sacked the rest of
the season, but if he does, I know
he's going to get up every time.
That speaks volumes about him
as a leader, as a quarterback, as a
person."
Against the Wildcats, Michi-
gan had to call a timeout when
Gardner temporarily lost feeling
in his left arm. Despite that, Gard-
ner says he's feeling the healthiest
he has in weeks.
"I always thought of myself
as a pretty tough guy," Gardner
said. "The competitive juice that I
have, that helps me fight through
some pain if I'm a little beat up."
Gardner's hits may not be
behind him, though. In fact, he
might well be staring them dead

in the face again come Saturday.
Hoke said that Iowa is much
improved from last season, espe-
cially on defense. Its linebackers
mostly consist of seniors now,
giving the Hawkeyes confidence
to blitz more frequently.
As for the rest the rest of their
offense, the Wolverines expect to
have a more established, balanced
ground game this weekend.
Fifth-year senior running back
Fitzgerald Toussaint didn't play
in last week's game, due to miss-
ing practices from a concussion.
In his place, freshmen Der-
rick Green and De'Veon Smith
handled most of the carries. But
with Toussaint slated to return,
Hoke said Wednesday that he
has divided the snaps in practice
into thirds.
Saturday is by no means a
marquee matchup, with both
teams in the bottom half of the
Legends Division. But in a year
where little else except a 10-win
season can be gained, Gardner is
anxious to prove that last week's
overtime win wasn't a fluke.
"I always knew I was the ulti-
mate competitor," Gardner said.
"That's what really drives me.
Becoming so close to my team-
mates, that really helps. You're
not only fighting for yourself, but
you're fighting for your team-
mates, your brothers."

Freshman running hack Derrick Green could wake his second consecutive start against Iowa on Saturday.
Breakdo wn: Iowa's
'D' will test backs

For Gibby, McGuire, awards
represent stages of success

ByMAk BULTMAN Gibby said. "He's been a great'
For the Daily resource for me in terms of get-
tingto know Michigan, itshistory,
Not all awards are created the mechanics of the department,
equal - even when they bear the you name it."
same title. McGuire even went to school at
During a meeting Monday, Michigan, running for the cross
Michigan men's cross country country team from 1976-79. That's
coach Alex Gibby opened an when he learned to covet what all
e-mail from one of his runner's Wolverines coaches come to covet
parents. He clicked the link inside - Big Ten Championships.
the message and read the list of "We've done really well at the
regional accolades posted on the national level," he said. "But I was
United States Track and Field raised on the importance of Big
and Cross Country Coaches Asso- Ten titles. Those mean as much as
ciation website before turning anything."
to women's cross country coach But as critical as McGuire has
Mike McGuire. been to the program, and to the
"Hey, you're Coach of the school's trophy case, his impact
Year," Gibby told McGuire, while on his runners has exceeded it.
also noticing his own name in the "It's actually kind of funny, his
matching column on the men's personality has been coming out
side. more and more each year," said
It's only fitting that Gibby and senior Brook Handler. "He's tell-
McGuire won men's and women's ing us stories he never would have
Great Lakes Regional Coach of told us my freshman year. Getting
the Year awards just days after to know him better as a person
they coached their respective has been really fun this year. We
teams to regional championships make jokes about him being like
-the first time in program history our dad sometimes."
the men and women have won in As for the coach in the office
the same year. next door,
In fact, the Gibby is still
coaches share building his
many simi- "Hey, you're Coach legacy at
larities. Their Michigan.
~ offices are right of the Year." He came to
next door to the Univer-
each other, they sity after an
both preach extremely suc-
the importance of hard work and cessful stint at William & Mary,
preparation over wins and losses where he led the Tribe to four
and they both instill a sense of straighttop-16 NCAAfinishes and
pride in their runners. But even won three Southeast Regional
though they were both honored Coach of the Year awards.
Monday, the awards acknowl- But when he got to Michigan
edge the journeys of two coaches just four years ago, Gibby joined a
of very different programs at two program that had failed to qualify
very different stages. for the NCAA Championships the
McGuire is the elder states- year before. The previous coach,
man of Michigan cross coun- Ron Warhurst, had been the boss
try. His women's team has been for 36 years. He coached McGuire
a juggernaut for years, with a when the women's coach was
fifth-place finish at the NCAA still a student-athlete. Warhurst
Championships last season and shaped Michigan cross country.
! five top-six finishes in the past 10 There was going to be a transi-
years. They've won three straight tion period.
regional titles, and McGuire has "When I first got here, the
been named Great Lakes Coach of women were leaps and bounds
the Year eight times, including the ahead of us," Gibby said. "So we're
past three seasons. He's coached excited for own progress. We're
Olympians, All-Americans and excited that we're living up to the
led his teams to nine Big Ten standard our women's team has
titles. It's safe to say McGuire's established. We're excited to join
legacy is cemented. the club, if you will."
"I'm really thankful for hav- This year, all of the runners
ing Mike in the office next to me," on Gibby's roster have only ever

"run for him. And appropriately,
it was this year that Gibby and
the Wolverines finally dethroned
Wisconsin at regionals, where
the Badgers had won 11 straight
championships.
"We've been progressing the
whole time since he got here," said
senior Mark Beams. "The way
Gibby's coaching works is that it's
a rather developmental program.
Once you have a few years of
investment, you can start to really
see the payout."
After the Wolverines took
home their first outright regional
title since 1997, the celebration
period was brief. Gibby praised
his runners and talked about how
pleased he was with the program.
With nationals a week away, one
could hardly blame him for quick-
ly turning his thoughts to Terre
Haute, Ind., where his team is
poised for its best finish in years.
But his excitement didn't seem
to match the accomplishment.
That's because Gibby is a Michi-
gan coach, and the Wolverines
didn't win the Big Ten this year.
"We measure our success by
three championships,"Gibby said.
"The Big Ten, the regional and the
NCAA meet, they're all pretty
equal. But the regional is definite-
ly third on the list of three."
Gibby values the regional title.
He knows it's a barometer for the
team's progress. He knows that, at
that meet, he beat Indiana - the
only team that kept the Wolver-
ines from the Big Ten title - and
perennial powerhouse Wiscon-
sin. But he certainly doesn't hold
being a Great Lakes Regional
champion in as high regard as he
does being a Big Ten or National
champion.
"We like to think we have
bigger and better things in our
future," Gibby said. "And I think
we have the personnel to accom-
plish that."
On Saturday, both teams will
eagerly wait behind a white chalk
line in Terre Haute. Both coaches
will step off their respective buses
with the title "Great Lakes Coach
of the Year" attached to their
names. Their expectations will
be high; they will both emphasize
the process more than the result.
Then the gun will sound.
In the coaching race for Michi-
gan, McGuire has an 18-year lead.
But he shouldn't look back, Gibby
isn't far off the pace.

By MATT SLOVIN Overall, Iowa has the coun-
ManagingEditor try's ninth-best defense. But
last weekend marked the return
The Michigan football team of the Michigan ground game,
hasn't won in Iowa City since though fifth-year senior running
2005, but that's exactly what it'll back Fitzgerald Toussaint sat
need to do in order to keep its with a concussion.
revised goal of a 10-win season Freshmen Derrick Green and
in play. De'Veon Smith turned on the jets
While the defense impressed against the Wildcats, and though
last weekend against Northwest- Hoke has insisted Toussaint is
ern, allowing just 19 points in still his go-to out of the back-
regulation and three overtimes, field, he also said there is a role in
the offense didn't come to life the offense for all three running
until fifth-year senior kicker backs.
Brendan Gibbons knocked a last- This week in practice, the
second field goal through the carriesnwere divided in thirds,
uprights to force overtime, according to Hoke.
The Hawkeyes and Wolverines It's crucial that the Wolver-
are jockeying for bowl position ines set the tone early for a big
after Iowa became bowl-eligible, day running the ball. If not, the
steamrolling Purdue two weeks Wolverines could well be stuck
ago. with yet another stagnant offen-
sive outing.
Michigan pass offense vs. Iowa Edge: Iowa
pass defense
Had Northwestern capitalized Iowa pass offense vs. Michigan
on even one of Michigan redshirt pass defense
junior quarterback Devin Gard- The Hawkeyes' aerial attack
ner's four near-interceptions is not going to turn many heads.
last weekend, Gibbons prob- Jake Rudock starts at quarter-
ably wouldn't have even gotten back, leading a pro-style offense.
the chance to send the game He has thrown nine intercep-
into overtime. Chances are, the tions this season.
Hawkeyes won't be so forgiving Meanwhile, Michigan contin-
of any Gardner miscues. ues to rotate its safeties, giving
Iowa's defensivelinehasbegun time to redshirt junior Josh Fur-
to look more like the strong units man and senior Courtney Avery.
of years past, and it just might Those two have been more of a
dominate that young, struggling liability than an asset.
Michigan interior line. The Wol- Expect senior safety Thomas
verines have allowed 19 sacks Gordon to play most of the snaps
in the past three games, and it after looking very strong last
seems likely that the Hawkeyes weekend, securing the game-
will be able to pressure Gardner winning interception.
into at least one mistake. Edge: Michigan
Edge: Iowa
Iowa rush offense vs. Michigan
Michigan rush offense vs. Iowa rush defense
rush defense This is where the Hawkeyes

have the potential to do some
damage. Iowa won't hurt you
through the air, but junior run-
ning back Mark Weisman has
shown he is capable of carrying
the offense. Damon Bullock is the
other running back the Hawk-
eyes use, though he gets fewer
carries.
Michigan is 12th in the coun-
try against the run this season,
giving up 111 yards per game.
The linebackers were key in last
weekend's win and will need to
be again in Iowa City on Satur-
day.
Edge: Michigan
Special teams
It's safe to say Gibbons is
back on track, recovering nice-
ly at Northwestern after some
unsteadiness in recent weeks.
Iowa kicker Mike Meyer hasn't
missed in the month of Novem-
ber.
The Hawkeyes are not a good
return team, especially on kick-
offs where they average just 18
yards per attempt.
In a game that could eas-
ily come down to special teams,
Michigan should have a slight
edge.
Edge: Michigan
Intangibles
Michigan seems to be at least a
little rejuvenated after snapping
its mini-slump, but playing on
the road is always an adventure
for Hoke's teams.
It's senior day for Iowa, and
the Hawkeyes will want to finish
on a high note at home. Their four
losses have all come against com-
petition that is, at least, decent.
Edge: Iowa
Prediction: Michigan 17, Iowa 14

I

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