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September 08, 2014 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-09-08

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2B September 8, 2014

SportsMonday

The Michigan Daily -michigandailycom

SPORTSMONDAY COLUMN
The quiet arrogance of a Michigan Man

icture this: It's Jan. 12,
2011, and you've just
been named Michigan's
new head football coach. You're
-standing
behind a
podium
at your
introductory
press
'conference,
and it's
time to field ALEJANDRO
'questions. Z NIGA
The
guy you're
replacing wasn't a Michigan
Man, but you are. You were
raised in the heart of the
Wolverines' biggest rivalry.
You were an assistant here. You
dropped everything and "would
have walked" to Ann Arbor if
that's what it took to accept
your dream job.
Because you're a Michigan
Man.
You're bold and arrogant,
and you can be, because you'll
win. You'll guard the new Fort
Schembechler, and few will
complain, because when you
win, there aren't too many
doubters.
So when a reporter asks
you about the state of the
program, which has become
a national punchline under
your predecessor, you reply
with a brash statement about
being elite and continuing to be
elite, because this is Michigan,
fergodssake, and now that
there's a Michigan Man in
charge, things will be right
again.
Brady, it's time to stop the
charade. It's not 2011 anymore.
The fanbase is turning on you,
people are calling for your head,
and it's your fault..
In case you were already
preparingthe post-game
speech to your team, here's

Brady, picture this: It's Sept.
6, 2014, and it's your fourth year
as Michigan's football coach.
Your team just entered the
history books by failingto score
a single point, snapping an all-
time NCAA record.
You're the last one to leave
the locker room, and you walk
out alone to the four officers
who are waiting to escort you
to the team bus. As you slip
by Gate A onto Notre Dame's
campus, a group of Michigan
fans spot you.
You turn away, perhaps
expecting vitriol, but instead,
the voices are positive.
"Good luck the rest of the
season, coach!" yells one, and
another shouts, "Beat Ohio
State - that's all I care about!"
So you slow down but don't
stop, and .you raise your hand
in acknowledgement of the
support that has become
increasingly rare since the 2011
Sugar Bowl.
Then you spot your wife, so
you give hera hug, then a kiss,
then a longer embrace. She's
been there for tough days since
your first head coaching job in
2003, so maybe she knows it's
best to stay quiet, and you don't
say anything, either.
But Brady, losses like
this aren't new to Michigan
anymore. And as convenient as
it may seem, silence is not the
answer.
Zihiga can be reached
at azs@umich.edu and on
Twitter @ByAZuniga.

A

PAULSduEMA/aily
Brady Hoketfaces a slew nf questions after the Michigan football team suffered its worst loss to Nntre Dame, and his snark answers aren't helping, writes Zdtiga.

how Saturday's embarrassment
ended:
With 1:20 left and Michigan
toiling through a meaningless
drive, the Notre Dame student
section began singing "Na Na
Hey Hey." Soon, the entire
stadium joined in the mocking
chorus.
In a futile effort at
retaliation, the Michigan
Marching Band blasted "The
Victors," 31-point deficit be
damned.
The fans chanted louder.
Time ran out. Game, set,
rivalry.
Twenty minutes later, Brady,
you walked through the bowels
of Notre Dame Stadium to your
press conference. You were
arrogant and terse, like you
were in 2011, but that attitude

doesn't cut it when you've just waited for the next question.
endured the most lopsided loss Then you offered similarly
Michigan has ever suffered to empty answers until we gave up
the Fighting Irish. asking and you returned to the
Brady, reporters asked, were locker room.
you surprised by the score? And Brady, that's not fair.
"Yeah," you The snide
replied, then answers
waited for the The snide answers aren't fair
next question. . to the fans,
Brady, your aren't fair to the who wanted
biggest road explanations
victory is at fans who wanted for Saturday's
Northwestern horror. Mostly,
last year. You explanations they're not
haven't won fair to you,
at Michigan because we
State, Ohio know how
State or Notre much you
Dame. care.
What does Michigan need to You might say you don't
get over the hump? mind what others think, but
"Winning," you replied, then you're kidding yourself, because

this is the school you love and
the program you love and the.
fanbase you love.
You told us that yourself
on Jan. 12, 2011, and then you
showed us that November when
you beat Ohio State, and again
the following fall when you beat
Michigan State.
If this were an elite program,
if your teams kept winning,
then Saturday's answers would
be fine. The criticism is quieter
when you're winning, after all.
But Brady, this isn't an elite
program, and it hasn't been
since Shawn Crable's late hit
against Troy Smith in 2006.
The Wolverines are still a joke.
Everybody else realizes it, and
so should you.
It's time to start acting like it.

4

4

NIGHTMARE
From Page lB
cornerbacks Raymon Taylor
and Jabrill Peppers injured,
Michigan's secondary looked
helpless.
By halftime, the Fighting
Irish led 21-0. Quarterback
Everett Golson completed 16 of
his 21 passes - Michigan's pass
rush nonexistent. He was the
.one who had the happy ending
on this night.
For Michigan coach Brady
Hoke, the ending came slowly.
:He stood on the sideline
through it all, alternating
between crossing his arms
and putting his hands on his
hips. When his team needed
encouragement, he lent them
a few claps. There was no
shortage of necessity.
Leading up to the game,
Hoke repeatedly said he had
a plan when it came to his
offensive line. It seemed he had
more plans than the coolest kid
on campus. But then Saturday,
the coolest kid on campus had
what had to have been one of
the worst nights of his coaching
life. It was brutal, it was
unrelenting.
Think of one of those
nights you've had in college,
the ones where the bad news
doesn't seem to end. When
your girlfriend dumps you at

dinner and then your fraternity
party is broken up by the cops.
Then when you go to Skeeps to
salvage the night, your fake ID
is taken.
Hoke must've felt even
worse than that after the game,
when he swore his team would
bounce back. He said he has
seen what they're capable of in
practice.
But nobody else has seen it.
His players showed little
at the end of this rivalry, a
game they all said they wanted
to win badly. We saw sacks,
hurries and pressures on
offense. We saw Notre Dame
defensive lineman Jarron Jones
throttling Michigan center
Jack Miller backwards, forcing
a Gardner fumble.
We saw a defense that looked
out of its league in the passing
game. We saw cornerback Blake
Countess get beat on a move
off the line of scrimmage by
receiver Will Fuller with 34
seconds left in the first half.
When Countess finally caught
up in the end zone, we saw
Fuller catch the touchdown
over his shoulder.
We saw wretched special
teams, too. We watched
Michigan kicker Matt Wile
miss two field goals that
seemed consequential at the
time. In the end, they weren't.
We saw the end of the
Wolverines' streak of not being

shut out. It was 365 games, now
it's back to zero. Sometimes
endings rip up the record
books.
Endings can be as cruel to
the body as they are to the
mind. Michigan's players exited
the stadium with chicken
sandwiches, the pheasant Hoke
compared Notre Dame to when
the Fighting Irish decided they
didn't want to play his team
anymore. Chickens in hand, the
Wolverines were badly bruised.
Taylor had a boot on his leg.
So too did star wide receiver
Devin Funchess. Defensive
end Frank Clark's right hand
was wrapped up. If you were
looking for smiles, the exit to
Notre Dame Stadium wasn't the
place.
On Michigan's last offensive
play from scrimmage, Gardner
threw an interception. All hope
was lost, but Gardner didn't
care. He chased after Elijah
Shumate while he sprinted
toward the end zone.
But then Gardner was
flattened in his pursuit, staying
on the ground while the clock
ticked toward zero. He won't
get another shot at Notre Dame
and neither will Michigan.
Instead, all they get is this
nightmare.
Cohen can be reached at
maxac@umich.edu and on
Twitter @MaxACohen.

Gardner reverts to old self

Quarterback's
night ends in
stadium turf
By GREG GARNO
ManagingSports Editor
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Devin
Gardner went for it when it was
too late.
He didn't need to'drop back
and scan the field, not with seven
seconds left. He didn't need to
make the pass, not then.
He was past achance to salvage
the game; two interceptions
and one fumble too late to do
anything. And he didn't learn the
lessons his coach and teammates
said he did.
He didn't see it all come down
until he looked into the black
pellets of a new turf field.
The fifth-year senior, with
his helmet buried in the hard,
rough turf, lay alone on the
43-yard line, with only himself
to reside in and only himself to
get off the field.
The Notre Dame football
team raced to the end zone and
Michigan chased after, watching
a horrific game come to a horrific
end. And there
in the middle
ofthe field was
Gardner on "A lot of
his stomach,
who had come happened
from a perfect
6-for-6 startto we cou.
this moment.
He had done b
felt this
pain before,-
during a
2013 season filled with pain and
disappointment, and now he was
backinafamiliar position.Within
hours, his 13-of-14 performance
against Appalachian State was
forgotten.
"When the game gets out
of hand, you have to try to
do as much as you can," the
quarterback said.
His line was a 19-of-32
showing with three interceptions
and one fumble. It looked as if he
were a version of his former self,

4

PAUL sHERMAN/Daily
Devin Gardner threw tour interceptions, and Michigan was held scoreless.

UGLY was depleted by injuries and played.
From Page 1B torn to pieces by Golson. Senior Finally, Michigan coach
cornerback Raymon Taylor Brady Hoke deserves some
went down early and never blame for an ugly game, in
the game. Sometimes he held returned, and his replacement which he failed to make use of
on to the ball too long. Other sophomore Jourdan Lewis was sophomore tight end Jake Butt,
times, not enough. called for two pass interference find a way to stop the Fighting
He didn'tstayonthe fieldvery penalties. Freshman defensive Irish's passing attack or even
long, leaving a secondary that back Jabrill Peppers never score.
DAYS SINCE MIAMI (OHIO) LAST WON A FOOTBALL
GAME: 681
DAYS SINCE MICHIGAN FOOTBALL LAST GOT SHUT
OUT: 2

the one who tried to run away
from defenders seeping through
a porous line. Or the same one
that tried to sling the ball across
the middle.
At first, Gardner showed a
fleeting moment, staying in the
pocket just
long enough
to watch
f things sophomore slot
receiver Dennis
I we wish Norfleet break
free. That move
Id have paid off in afirst
down.
etter." But he didn't
replicate after
- that.
Even with a
new offensive coordinator set to
save his offense, Gardner ran out
of the pocket after he held onto
the ball too long, absorbing each
hit from the Fighting Irish. His
fumble on the second down was
the result of scrambling into the
heart of defenders.
"We held the ball a little too
long," Gardner said. "A lot of
things happened we wish we
could have done better."
The chance to make a play
wasn't during the final seven

seconds. It was on a third-and-
seven at the start of the third
quarter when a touchdown
brings the game within reach.
Or when the drive starts at the
20-yard line.
But those momentsended with
interceptions where the defender
saw ittcoming.
"Onewasamiscommunication,
I know for sure," Gardner said.
"Another one might have 'been
tryingto do too much.
"They brought pressure when
we didn't expect it. When we
did expect it, they didn't bring it.
They had a good game plan, and
they executed."
By the time he got up there
was a crowd there and no one
clapping for reassurance. His
team was headed off the field
without him, each hanging head
more despondent than the next
filingout.
"He's a quarterback," said
Michigan coach Brady Hoke.
"We're going to play some other
really big games on the road
this year, and for him to keep
improving, he needs to play
quarterback."
But he'll have to do it with his
head out of the turf.

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