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September 24, 2014 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-09-24

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i1 F l


The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Former player not pleased

TheMichigan men's cross country team's coach and captains have changed this season, but its expectations have not.
Wolverines cap tains not
sowilng with new coach

Daily Sports Editor
On Twitter over the last
four days, 2,000 people have
used #FireHoke and another
1,100 have used the words
'fire' and 'Hoke' in the same
sentence. The cry for change in
the Michigan
football NOTEBOOK
program has
gotten louder. Former players
are now speaking out following
last week's loss to Utah.
Former quarterback Michael
Taylor, who played for the
Wolverines from 1986-1990,
took to the airwaves Tuesday
morning on Detroit's 105.1FM to
share his thoughts on the state
of the program.
"Actions speak louder than
words," Taylor said. "What
we've become is a propaganda
football team, telling people
how great we are when we're
mediocre. When, in your last 12
games, you've only got victories
over Northwestern, App State,
Indiana and Miami (Ohio) that
is not good. That is not good.
"We're mediocre right now.
Will it stay that way? I don't
know. I don't work there. I don't
have the say-so. But I do know
this: I know a few hundred
players who are not happy with
what is going on and definitely
think changes need to be made."
Taylor, who led the
Wolverines to back-to-back Big
Ten championships in 1988 and
1989, also spoke out regarding

Athletic Director Dave Brandon.
"All I do know is Dave Brandon
should not be let to make another
dgion at Michigaii. Period,"
he said. "Regardless (of) what
they do (with Brandon), there
needs to be change."
Furrent players are starting
to take notice of the uproar from
fans everywhere.
,I took that to heart this
morning," said junior wide
receiver Dennis Norfleet. "They
were really talking down on.
coach Hoke saying that his time
is coming. Coach Hoke did a lot
for me and the team.
"There's more than football.
In life he's a good coach. And
right now, I don't feel, and the
team doesn't feel, that that's
SION: After telling the media
on Monday that a starting quar-
terback decision would be made
Tuesday, Michigan coach Brady
Hoke quickly changed his tune.
"We've got some ideas with
what we're going to do, but
we're still going to evaluate
it," Hoke said during the Big
Ten teleconference Tuesday
afternoon. "We'll probably end
up (deciding) later in the week.
"Any personnel decisions that
we make this week, we want to
make sure we're right and we
don't want to mislead (the media)
at all, we want to make sure we're
doing it the right way."
But when asked when the
decision would finally be made,
Hoke replied, "On Saturday, it

definitely will, be hammered
So rest easy Michigan fans, a
-quarterback will start Saturday.
season, Michigan entered
Big Ten games at 4-0, but
barely squeaked by against
Akron and Connecticut. Once
the Wolverines entered into
conference play, the season
unraveled and Michigan
finished just 7-6.
This season, with two losses
entering conference play, the
rest of the season feels eerily
familiar. But 'Team 135' main-
tains it will end its season dif-
"Speaking defensively, I
believe our defense is way better
than it was last year," said senior
defensive end Frank Clark.
"We're doing some great things
on defense."
But with the Wolverines'
struggles taking full hold during
conference season last year, this
team wants to change last year's
"The biggest thing is learn-
ing from your mistakes," Clark
said. "If (your team) can learn
from the mistakes they've cre-
ated your possibilities are limit-
less. You can go places with that.
... When you learn from those
things you grow as a team, you
grow asa player."
But as Michigan has main-
tained after both losses, its goal
of winning aBig Ten champion-
ship is still out there.


Daily Sports Editor
Mason Ferlic was in Ann
Arbor. Ben Flanagan was in
Canada.:And James Yau was in
So of Michigan's three
current cross country captains,
only one was even in the United
States when the program
announced in June that head
coach Alex Gibby wouldn't be
But they were named
captains by their team last
week for a reason. Gibby may
have been gone, but the now-
captains weren't about to let his
old program falter.
Ferlic - who also traveled
to Sacramento, California and
Kamloops, British Columbia
for postseason track and field
competitions in the summer
- sent an email to the whole
team. He reminded the
Wolverines that none of their
expectations for the summer
and the following season had
"I guess (I) maybe just
reassured the guys," Ferlic
said. "Everyone runs to panic
scenarios about who the new
coach is going to be and how
everything's going to change.
Once you get over the jitters
that we're moving forward as
a program, everyone got back
into training."
What Ferlic said worked.
When the team got word of
Gibby's departure, Flanagan
drove back to Ann Arbor from
Kitchener, Ontario to be with
the team for a while. Assistant
coach Dusty Lopez helped
keep the team's training plan
in place. Michigan stuck to its

goals over the summer, putting
itself in position for a top-
25 ranking in the preseason
poll. Former Michigan runner
Kevin Sullivan replaced Gibby
and kept the program's basic
philosophy largely in place.
"I think it went very well in
terms of our mindset coming
into it, just accepting what
happened and knowing that
we've got to do whatever it
takes to push this program
forward," Yau said. "The
Athletic Department made
the decision that they thought.
was best for us, and going with
the flow helped us move into a
really smooth transition."
Then, days before his team
won the Big Ten Preview
in Iowa City, Iowa over the
weekend, Sullivan announced
that the team had electedFerlic,
Flanagan and Yau as captains
for the season. Together, the
trio helped ease any worries
about the coaching transition.
"The fear would be that with
the new coaching transition,
people feel like there's no
authority figure left in place,"
Ferlic said. "Nothing is changing
in terms of what we're trying to
accomplish as a team."
Yau, a fifth-year senior from
Troy, Michigan, is the oldest
member of the current squad.
Flanagan, just a sophomore,
was a ' second-team All-Big
Ten honoree last season. And
Ferlic, a -redshirt junior from
St. Paul, Minnesota, is another
experienced runner with a
strong track background.
The captains said the rest of
the team is a motivated group
on its own, though.
"I would like to ideally think
that I would act the same

regardless, but now that there's
a captain behind it, people look
up to you more," Flanagan said.
"The main thing is leading by
That leading started with the
unexpected news in June. Each
captain had only ever run for
Gibby, who took the program
from eighth in the Big Ten,
to tied for third, to second, to
second again in four seasons.
"When I came in four years
ago, the team was kind of
disoriented, and it took four
years for Gibby to build us up
to where we are now," Yau said.
"Having that solid foundation
that was built before Sullivan
came here definitely helped the
transition and allows us to take
the next step forward."
Though Gibby's cross
country program was on the
rise, the Wolverines didn't earn
enough points in long-distance
events in track to satisfy
So the cross country team's
concern over the summer was
valid, but as it turned out,
Sullivan didn't reshape very
much at all.
"To give credit to Gibby, he
didn't leave the program in
shambles," Ferlic said. "We
had talent developing, 'and
we already had talent there.
.We had the makings of a good
program, so when (Sullivan)
stepped in, he didn't really have
-to reorder everything.
'"When he saw the program
and observed it and got to
know us, he realized things
were there and he didn't have
to overhaul anything. He could
make the tweaks he wanted to.
He was left with a good basket
of eggs."


Junior wide receiver Devin Funchess wont care who's throwing to him, as long as the ball is put somewhere he can get it.
Whether it's Gardner or
Morris, players stl1 eiv


the d
and s
will st
one o
later i
that h
as cap
he we

By MAX COHEN quarterback, we jus
Daily Sports Editor him call the play."
Gardner has been
Devin Funchess about starter for the firstf
ifferences between fifth- this season and
senior Devin Gardner position for all of l
ophomore Shane Morris Morris started again
they are enveloped in a State in the BuffaloV
erback competition and he Bowl last season in
:ate the obvious. for Michigan.
se of them is right-handed, Despite the resu
f them is left-handed," the game, Funchess t
r wide receiver said. experience was
chigan coach Brady Hoke to Morris's develop
hasn't made a decision handling the expect
who will be his team's may come with being
erback Saturday against Wolverines'
esota and said he'll do so starter.
n the week. Hoke has said "When
e views both quarterbacks you're a "0
able of being the starter. ballplayer,
nchess and Gardner, the there's no ri
hander, have displayed a pressure,"
icant rapport so far this Funchess On
n, but the wide receiver said said. "He
ruld feel just as confident started a le
Morris, the left-hander, bowl game,
ing the ball his way. so he's used
nchess has 20 receptions for to it."

t listen to Funchess said. "You've got to
try to hide it and just be ateam
the team's player."
four games Hoke agreed, saying Monday
held the that he believed Gardner would
ast season. still be able to lead the team even
nst Kansas as the backup.
Vild Wings Senior defensive end Frank
a 31-14 loss Clark said Gardner has remained
positive despite the turmoil at
ilt of that his position. Though he said he
hinks the knows Morris could do a good
important job, Clark was unequivocal in his
nment and belief in Gardner.
ations that "Devin has always been a guy,
named the when you know you mess up,
that separates the
great players from
the good players,"
ne of them is Clark said. "And
he knows he did
ght-handed, a bad job and he
knows he messed
1e of them is up. But then
again, he came
t-handed." out in practice
today and had a
great practice. He
was on point with
ess believes his throws, on point with his
le to handle option plays.
. When he "When you're a guy like that,
rris in the you can only respect that. That's
Saturday's a guy I want to play next to,
wing two that's a guy I can trust."
dner was While Michigan fans wait
t too down to see which quarterback Hoke
names starter, his players
, Gardner believe, at least publicly, either
w upon his one could get the job done. But
up former only one will get the opportunity
d Robinson to help the Wolverines rebound
from their 2-2 start. At least he
up, you're knows he will have Funchess to
frustrated," throw to.


284 yards and three touchdowns,;
all from Gardner, in three games
this season. He sat out against
Miami (Ohio) with a leg injury
sustained late against Notre
Dame and said Tuesday that he's
still not at100 percent. He said he
expects tobe in some pain for the
rest of the season.
Despite his effectiveness
with Gardner, Funchess says he
would do nothing differently if
Morris were to start.
"We just listen to the
quarterback," Funchess
said. "Whoever's playing

Conversely, Funch
Gardner would be abl
a possible demotion
was pulled for Moi
fourth quarter of
game after throe
interceptions, Garc
disappointed, but no
on himself.
If he's benched
will be able to drav
experiences backing
quarterbacks Denarc
and Tate Forcier.
"When you mess
always going to be f


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