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October 30, 2014 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-10-30

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6A - Thursday, October 30, 2014T c a h o

The Michigan Daily -- michigandaily.com 0

FOOTBALL
Passing game seeks
remedy in practice

With LeVert Spike, 'M'in good hands

By GREG GARNO
ManagingSports Editor
The Michigan football team
passed for 503 yards in a,63-47
victory over Indianalast year. The
Wolverines haven't reached that
many yards in their past three
games combined.
Last year, Michigan passed for
more than 200 yards in nine of
its 13 games, including seven of
its first eight. This year, it hasn't
recorded a single game with more
than 200 passing yards.
Most importantly, the
Wolverines passed for 21
touchdowns last year, including
13 through eight games. This year,
they've recorded just six.
It's in large part why they've
been scoring less and explains in
partthestrugglesofapoorseason.
The passing game hasn't played
at a level to win games, and with
just four contests left, the chances
to improve its aerial attack are
looking less likely by the day.
"I don't think it's anyone
individually that's caused that
problem," said sophomore tight
end Jake Butt. "We left a lot out on
the field. I think that'sjust more of
a need to execute."
The Wolverines have failed to
execute in nearly every aspect of
the passing attack, though, from
the catching to the blocking.
Fifth-year senior quarterback
Devin Gardner has proven
inconsistent enough to be
benched, or more recently against
Michigan State, pulled for a
play. Last week, he threw two
interceptions..
Other times, he has missed an
open receiver like Butt, instead
opting to air it out to junior wide
receiver Devin Funchess. He
targeted Funchess 17 times in the
past three games and 41 times

on the season - the most of any
receiver.
But his offensive line hasn't
blocked long enough to let him
set his feet and pass. If Gardner
wasn't being hit by the Spartans
ashe threw,he was scrambling for
room after they hurried him four
times and sacked him twice.
And when he did get the ball
out, his wide receivers couldn't
hang onto it. Michigan receivers
droppedsevenpasses on Saturday,
a rarity this season.
"In the passing game, routes
being cut short, routes not being
exactly what we want.," said
Michigan coch Brady Hoke.
"Again, we've got to do a good job
of catching the football. There's
multiple reasons (for struggling in
the passing game)."
Often, the passing game will
be dependent on the running
game for its success, which has
become tougher after the loss of
sophomore running back Derrick
Green to a season-ending injury.
The Wolverines, under offensive
coordinator Doug Nussmeier, ran
just under a dozen pass plays out
of play action Saturday, including
three in the fourth quarter when
they had yet to score a touchdown.
This week, practice has pitted
first-team defensive players
against first-team offensive
players, as opposed to playing
against a scout team, for the sake
of simulating game speed and
intensity. But that might be the
only difference.
"We still do the same stuff.
If not, in similar forms," said
redshirt junior Justice Hayes.
"We're very confident in our
schemes and gameplan."
If they won't change their
offense, than they'll need to
be near perfect in execution to
succeed through the air.

T wo Thursdays ago,
Spike Albrecht and
Canis Levert had job
interviews.
They'd both been preparing
for this day for years, but neither
thought
it would
actually
come. The -
two under-
recruited
high school
players
stood in the SIMON
shadows of KAFMAN
the other
members of
the Fresh Five recruiting class.
But now, with just two of the
original five remaining, it's up
to Spike and LeVert to accept a
promotion.
Instead of a single
interviewer, a handful of
reporters surrounded the
juniorguards and started firing
questions. The interviewee's
goal wasn't a new job as much as
it was to prove he was worthy of
the one he already had.
The job description? Leading
a team that includes six true
freshmen deep into the NCAA
Tournament.
Spike and LeVert answered
one question clearly, Despite
losing five players from last
year's team, the Wolverines are
in good hands.
Compared to last year, the
roles aren't as clearly defined
this season. But one thing is -
the first tier of leaders will be
Spike and LeVert.
Early in his interview,
Spike starts hearing questions
about that night. The one that
transformed the under-recruited
5-foot-11 guard from a nobody to
a guy whom nobody forgets.
The reporter finishes his
question, and Spike turns to
another who says he won't be

Juniors Carls LeVert and Spike Albrecht have a new role in their junior years - leading the Michigan bask

asking about that game or that
tweet. Spike is relieved. He
doesn't mind reminiscing about
that night or that tweet, but he'd
rather talk about this season.
That night is just one line
on his lengthy resume which
also features a team-best 4.6
assist-to-turnover ratio from
last season. That night doesn't
showcase his selflessness.
That night is in the past. He
has been there, done that, and
wants to do it again.
That's why the self-
admittedly shy guy will be one
of Michigan's most vocal leaders
this year. He has to be.
LeVertsits on the other side
of the table taking his own
questions. He's asked about
his body. The one that came
onto campus as a scrawny 170-

pound brace-faced freshman
and is listed now at 200 pounds
after long days spent in the
gym. The one whose owner
has demonstrated a gym-rat
work ethic and already has
people talking about a potential
promotion to the NBA.
In his seat at media day, he
thinks about each question,
hesitatesbriefly and gives quick,
quiet responses. You wouldn't
know that when the suit comes
off and the jersey goes on,
he's capable of crossing over
defenders and attacking the rim
or spotting up behind the arc to
knock down 3-pointers.
College coaches looking to
employ his talents sure didn't
know it. And now, LeVert, who
was named to the Preseason All-
Big Ten team, is ready to live up
to the expectations.

"This year, (my role) is alot
more clear, so I'm definitely
more prepared for my role,"
he said. "(My role) is to be the
leader of the team. One of the
captains, hopefully me and Spike
can really take on that role."
As the interview comesto an
end, the two get up from their
seats. The dayisn't over yet.
LeVert has a photo shoot with
ESPN, and Spike has a radio
interview with SiriusXM.
Spike and LeVert don't need a
letter of acceptance to know that
they aced the interview and have
the job already.
Now it's time to make the
money.
Kaufman can be reached
at sjkauf@umich.edu or
on Twitter: @sjkauf.

B Make a plan. Find a time you can go to the polls.
Find transportation if you need it. Invite a friend to
join you. For polling locations and hours go
here: michigan.gov/vote
B Know Your Rights. ID is not required, but youwillbe
asked for it, and bringing it will help make the voting
process go more quickly. If you do not have an ID,
you will sign an affidavit that you do not have ID or
don't have it on you and vote a ballot that will be
counted on ElectionDay.
0 Consider the entire ballot. Look at all the candidates

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