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August 16, 2004 - Image 15

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2004-08-16

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Mondav Auast 16. 9004 - The Michigan Dailv .- 15

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RedHawks set to make opening tilt a tough task
aiy Sport Editor The Miami defense centers around a strong set of linebackers, Terry Hoeppner implements his three-plays-and-out rotation to
featuring two outside linebackers - Tema Nande and John Busing keep his backs fresh.
known to be fast and hard-hitting. That said, the Michigan's linebackers are the deepest unit on the defense and
Conventional wisdom would tell you that superior size and talent of the Wolverines should feature All-Big Ten performer Pierre Woods on the outside. The
Michigan's first test will come on September win out in the end. defensive line is very talented and centers around two 300-pound
l1th when it travels to South Bend to take on Advantage: Michigan. tackles in Gabe Watson and Larry Harrsion. Against a revamped
Notre Dame. But upon closer inspection, the offensive line, expect those two to plug up the middle and let Mich-
Wolverine's opener against Miami (Ohio) - a igan's playmakers run to the ball.
team that has been overlooked ever since quar- MICHIGAN PASSING DEFENSE VS. MIAMI PASS- Advantage: Michigan.
terback Ben Roethlisberger took his services to ING OFFENSE: Miami returns virtually all of its
the NFL - will provide a good challenge. ,$ talented group of receivers, but question arise

The first reason this game won't be a laugher
is that Michigan will be breaking in a new quar-
terback and running back after losing Chris
Perry and John Navarre. The second is that the
RedHawks return 17 starters from a team that
went 13-1 last season. :;
ING DEFENSE: The good news for Miami is that nine defensive
starters return, including all four defensive backs. The bad news
is that Michigan may boast the best receiving corps in all the land.
Although Miami's secondary is good, Braylon Edwards, Jason
Avant and Steve Breaston will find openings in any defense. The
fact is these receivers are in a different league than the RedHawk's
defensive backs (and not just because they play in the MAC).
The potential problem for the Wolverine's passing game is that
their quarterback will be making his first collegiate start. Matt
Gutierrez, the likely starter, will probably experience some grow-
ing pains in the opener, but not enough to prevent him from finding
his talented targets. In addition, Miami must replace two starters on
the defensive line, giving the Michigan offensive line the advantage
in pass protection.
Advantage: Michigan." ,
Wolverines will have new starters at center and right tackle, as well
asa new starting tailback in David Underwood. However, Michigan
might get off to a slow start with all the new faces in the running
attack, but they should get on track before too long.

as to who will get them the ball now that Big
Ben is gone. The answer, RedHawk fans hope,
is junior Josh Betts. Last year, Miami dominated
in the air, scoring 40 touchdowns through the air
and averaging 43 points per game. The offensive
line must replace three starters, so protecting the
newcomer Betts will be key to Miami moving
Guiterrez the ball down the field.
Michigan's pass defense only surrendered
five passing touchdowns before being torched
for four more by USC. The Wolverines look to
improve on last year's performance as Marhn #
Jackson returns to corner after a year at safety.
Marlin should return to form as a smothering
lock-down corner, which will only help the Wol-
verines bring more heat on Betts. Add return-
ing starters Markus Curry at corner and Ernest
Shazor at safety and Michigan should prevent
the Redhawk receivers from busting loose for
big plays. Look for Miami to pass underneath,
rather than go deep.
Advantage: Michigan. -S
ING OFFENSE: If you thought Miami was a one-dimensional
offense, think again. Mike Smith leads the rushing attack for the
RedHawks after racking up 802 yards and 17 touchdowns in his
junior season when he split time with two other backs. He should
get the bulk of the carries but don't be surprised if head coach

SPECIAL TEAMS: Michigan returns placekicker Garret Rivas and
punter Adam Finley, giving the kicking game a measure of stabil-
ity. All-world punt-returner Steve Breaston will be breaking ankles
again this season.
Miami returns its steady placekicker Jared Parseghian and punter
Mike Wafzig. Return-man Ryne Robinson turned in a 235, two-
touchdown performance against lowly Buffalo last year - the sec-
ond best day for a punt returner in NCAA history.
Advantage: Even.
INTANGIBLES: Michigan is ranked in top ten is both
polls, while Miami barely cracked the top-50 in either the
media or coaches poll. But with their returning talent, an
upset isn't totally out of the question. It isn't exactly likely
either. Miami might catch the Wolverines looking ahead
to their September-11th meeting with Notre Dame.
Michigan is notoriously tough at Michigan Stadium
and has never lost to a MAC team. Coach Carr will keep
his team focused on the task at hand. Michigan has not
lost their season opener since 1998. Following the nation-
al championship the Wolverines dropped their first two
Carr games to Notre Dame and Syracuse.
Advantage: Michigan.

Continued from Page 14
only returning starter, will book end the
line with Woodley.
"Pat Massey, I think, is doing an
exceptional job and stepping into a role
as a leader," Carr said. "Massey is 6-
foot-7, 6-foot-8, he's a big guy and has
now grown into his body and he's much
stronger than he was a year ago."
Juniors Gabe Watson and Larry Har-
rison are set to take over the inside and
replace Bowman and Heuer. Both were
a big part of the defensive line's rotation
last year, but with alack of experienced
backups, they will be relied on to plug
up the middle. Carr will also rely on
Harrison and Watson to stay healthy.
"We've got some younger, inexperi-
enced guys, but the biggest concern I
have is that we've got to stay healthy."
The rest of the rotation will include
junior Rondell Biggs and senior Alex
Ofili, both of whom were mentioned by
Carr as keys to the success of the defen-
sive line. Behind Biggs and Ofili are a
slew of inexperienced underclassmen,
including sophomore Will Paul, fresh-
men Marques Walton, Alan Branch and
Will Johnson. The younger players will
be expected to contribute in back up
roles and in goal-line situations.
This year's defense boasts tremen-
dous speed, which will put a lot of
pressure on the defensive line, espe-
cially the tackles, to free up Michigan's
playmakers to pursue the ball.
"(Defensive line) coach Sheridan
is always telling us that you can't
'get ;stne'lbdI;ed'P'Massey said. "If

you're getting single-blocked that
means someone else is getting double-
teamed. You have to be the one to get
to the quarterback. We always have
the mindset where we have to beat that
single block and that goes for every-
one on the defensive line."
For the ends, there is a renewed
emphasis on getting to the quarterback
- part of an overall defensive scheme
that puts a premium on attacking and
disrupting the opposing offense.
"Coach Hermann told us he is going
to put our best 11 players on the field
and that's what he's done. He has ath-
letes in the secondary, the front seven
and all the way around. He's definitely
devised some schemes that can take
advantage of our speed," Massey said.

"There are cornerbacks, safeties, line-
backers, linemen - everybody has an
opportunity to get to the quarterback.
It's fun to play on a defense that's fly-
ing around and doing different things.
I'm never just going straight ahead.
It's definitely a lot of fun to play in that
kind of scheme."
The competition over the spring and
summer has not only been between
players on the line, but since they
practice against each other every day,
it has also been between the lines
"Going up against them every day is a
task in itself," Branch said. "Those guys
are huge, they have great footwork and
they are hard competitors. Everybody is
here to make everybody better."


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