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December 01, 2014 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-12-01

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2B - December 1, 2014

The Michigan Daily -- michigandaily.com

Despite letdown season, hope springs eternal

f ' the Michigan football
team's season can be.
captured in a single
moment, it's the one that
occurred
with 30
seconds left
in Saturday's
loss to Ohio r
State.
Cardale
Jonesthe
third-string .
quarterback ALEJANDRO
who had ZUNIGA
somehow
engineered
a game-sealing drive with his
legs against the Wolverines'
top-10 rush defense, lined
up in the victory formation.
Meanwhile, the video board at
Ohio Stadium panned to Brady
Hoke, arms folded across a
Michigan polo with a manila
envelope shoved into the back
right pocket of his khakis.
And here's the fuhny thing:
Instead of booing or jeering,
as Buckeye fans had done all
afternoon, they laughed. They
laughed and they pointed and
they clapped sarcastically.
Minutes later, quarterback
Devin Gardner sat in the media
room near the outskirts of the
stadium and put words to a
moment Michigan fans have
been expecting for months:
"It's the end."
Isn't it a relief to hear that?
But here's another funny
thing: Even in a season
of embarrassment and
disappointment, Michigan
gave us a reason to believe in
something truly special.
Maybe it began in the first
quarter Saturday, when the
Wolverines finally targeted
Devin Funchess deep. The pass
gained 45 yards, and Gardner
found Jake Butt on the next
play for a touchdown.

5-7 feels a lot better when you
think of it as a comedy. It's just
another season, after all.
But as you place this painful
season in the past, don't be
afraid to believe in the future.
Remember 2011, when
maybe you didn't believe in
Hoke, but he still won the
Sugar Bowl. Remember 2006,
when maybe you didn't believe
in Lloyd Carr, but his team
started 11-0 and reached the
Rose Bowl. Remember 1997,
when maybe four consecutive
four-loss seasons had worried
you, but then Michigan won a
national title.
The 2014 campaign has
ended, which means you
can start counting down the
months, days and hours until
Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, when
Michigan kicks off against
Utah.
Maybe things will be
different than they were this
fall,
The Wolverines will be
undefeated when.they travel
to Salt Lake City. They'll have
an inexperienced quarterback,
but veterans at nearly every
other position. They'll have
either new coaches or a
supporting staff with two-plus
years together on the job.
Until there's reason to feel
otherwise, why not believe?
Zdeiga can be reached
at azs@umich.edu and on
Twitter @ByAZuniga.

I
I

PAUL SHERMAN/Daily
Redshirt sophomore running back Drake Johnson was one of many bright spots for the Wolverines this fall, giving fans reasons for optimism for the 2015 season.

Maybe it started during
Michigan's following
possession, a 95-yard
touchdown drive, or when
it answered an Ohio State
touchdown with another of its
own in the third quarter.
Maybe it took until J.T.
Barrett fractured his ankle
in the fourth quarter and the
Buckeyes punted. Suddenly,
the Wolverines only trailed by
seven with plenty of time to
mount a comeback.
You believed, didn't you? It
was futile, and you probably
knew that, but deep down, you
thought maybe there was a
chance.
Even though you had sat

through the brutal losses permanent athletic director or
to rivals Notre Dame and how many recruits decommit.
Michigan State, or the Hope is the beauty of sports
bewildering and collegiate
defeats to athletics in
Maryland and particular,
Rutgers, or M ichigan gave where
waited out the there's so
two-hour rain us a reason much annual
delay against turnover.
Utah, you to believe in Hope
somehow still will come
had hope. something truly from Drake
And you'll Johnson,
have it again special. the redshirt
during the sophomore
offseason, running back
regardless who played
of whether Hoke is fired or like an elusive battering ram
Jim Hackett becomes the against the Buckeyes. It will

come from Mason Cole, the
true freshman left tackle who
held his own against Big Ten
defensive linemen. It will come
from Jabrill Peppers and Ty
Isaac, five-star recruits with
untapped potential.
Hope springs eternal, even
when it shouldn't, even when
you know Michigan might
have further to fall before it
rises again. Hope gives us a
reason to keep caring. Even
in something as relatively
insignificant as football, it
helps us believe that a once-
great program can rise again.
Ohio State fans saw Hoke
and laughed. Let them laugh.
Better yet, join them, because

10

GOOD, BAD
From Page lB
chance to tie the game.
The ugly:
On his first pass attempt,
Gardner lofted an interception
into the arms of Ohio State
safety Vonn Bell. The errant
pass led to the Buckeyes' first
score of the game.

Though Gardner. improved
drastically after the interception,
things became ugly once again in
the fourth quarter. With 3:58 left
in the game, Gardner was sacked
by Ohio State defensive end
Joey Bosa and fumbled the ball.
Buckeye linebacker Darron Lee
scooped it up and ran 33 yards to
the end zone to give Ohio State a
42-21 lead.
With the loss, this year's
Michigan team will be the third
in the last 40. years of program
history to not makea bowl.

Kile sparking Michigan offense

@FAUXPELINI FOR
HEISMAN

With 30 goals in its
last six games, 'M'
finally above .500
for the first time
By ZACH SHAW
Daily Sports Writer
Ever since its bye week,
the Michigan hockey team
has finally started to look
comfortable on offense.
So has Alex Kile.
The sudden emergence of the
sophomore forward is one of the
many things going right for the
Wolverines, who have scored
30 goals in their last six games.
They have emerged as the No. 3
offense in the country.
That offense was on display
for the third weekend in a row
Saturday. After scoring11and 10
goals in series against American
International and Penn State,
respectively, five Wolverines
combined for six goals in a
shutout win.
"I thought we got better as
the weekend went on, not only
because we scored some goals,
but we just played better," said
Michigan coach Red Berenson.
"We got out of our own zone
more cleanly and started to play
the right way."
The thought of a high-
powered scoring attack was
laughable less than a month
ago. After putting up just
three goals in a series sweep to
Michigan Tech on Oct. 31 and
Nov. 1, Michigan was averaging
fewer than three goals per game
through seven games, putting
them at the bottom of the barrel
in the national landscape.
"We have a lot of guys that
haven't scored yet, and they're
fighting the puck," Berenson
said immediately after being
swept by Michigan Tech.
"We've got to be better with the
puck and without the puck."
To say the least, things have
been different since then.
Last year's top scorers
- sophomore forward JT
Compher and junior forward
Andrew Copp - have been a

0
a
q

JAMES COLLER/Daily
Sophomoreforward Alex Kile has been a consistent offensive force for Michigan. He leads the team with seven goals.

part of the improvements with "Alex is used to being a goal-
recent goals. So has junior scorer," Berenson said. "He's
forward Boo Nieves, who has used to putting up points and
already surpassed last season's creating offense, and last year
goal total of three. it never came together for him.
Kile has been there all year We saw glimpses, but I knew
to create plays, but now - if that the real Alex Kile was yet
the past six games are any tobe seen."
indication - he'll have help According to Berenson, Kile's
around him. strength has come not from his
"I think this game did a numbers, but his consistency.
lot," said While his
sophomore goal Saturday
forward Tyler was drowned
Motte, who "I knew that out by star
has added five performances
goals himself, the real Alex from other
"We found a Wolverines,
way to win Kile was yet to his six other
last night, goals came at
turned that be seen. times when
momentum the rest of the
into a good team had gone
victory again quiet.
tonight. It's kind of a building "He's gotten off to a great
block that we can use for the start to this year," Berenson
rest of the season, as well as the said. "He's connected well
near future." with Dylan (Larkin) and Zach
But the leader of the pack is (Hyman).
Kile. The sharp-shooting left- "That's the only line that's
winger paces the team with been intact since day one. Alex
seven goals and is starting to has been a real catalyst on that
realize the potential Berenson line, whether he's making plays
always knew existed. or finishing plays."

6
Goals this year injust12games,
surpassing last year's season totalof
fourtallies in28games.

+7
Plus-minus, second onthelteam behind
Zach Werenski. Kile hasplayed onthe
second and third lines.

0

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