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Published: Tuesday, 9/11/2007

Outsiders laughing at Wolverines

ANN ARBOR - One by one, the three University of Michigan football players walked to the podium in Crisler Arena yesterday to address the weekly media gathering. They all had the same thing to say.

"We're just a little disappointed that we haven't played the way we wanted," said the big offensive tackle, Jake Long.

"Nobody's moping around; we're all just a little disappointed how we're playing," said receiver Adrian Arrington.

"I wouldn't necessarily say we're frustrated, we're just a little disappointed," said Brandent Englemon, the free safety.

A little disappointed? A LITTLE DISAPPOINTED?

The Wolverines have been humiliated on two straight Saturdays in their own backyard, once by a Division I-AA team and once by maybe the fourth-best team in the Pac-10 Conference. They weren't just run over by Oregon; they were splattered all over the windshield. They were treated the way good teams treat an inferior, clueless opponent. They were the fifth-ranked team in the English-speaking world and a national championship contender before kickoff against Appalachian State on Sept. 1 and were sauted by halftime on Sept. 8.

The Big House? What better venue for a Big Fraud?

People are laughing at UM's expense, with particular gusto in places like East Lansing and Columbus, but with considerable giggles from coast to coast.

The victors valiant? The conquering heroes? Please. Michigan hasn't beaten anybody since early last November, and if you're charting defense, the

Wolverines have surrendered 177 points during what is now a four-game losing streak.

And UM's players are a little disappointed. Gee.

How about angry? How about mad as H-E-double hockey sticks? How about X$&%# off? How about frothing at the mouth and ready to knock the snot out of somebody? How about embarrassed?

"Embarrassed? We're not embarrassed at all," Englemon said. "We've showed spurts. It's been a play or two here and there. We're just a little disappointed."

OK, got it. A play or two here and there. That explains 10 plays of 20-plus yards by App State. It explains 39-7 and 624 yards of offense for the Oregon team. A little disappointed. Got it.

Well, there's good news for the Wolverines. Notre Dame is coming to the Big House on Saturday and there's no telling which team is in worse shape. UM and the Frightening Irish are both 0-2 for the first time ever. Michigan running back Mike Hart has "guaranteed" a victory and Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said he didn't blame him. The Irish haven't scored an offensive touchdown in two games, albeit two games against pretty good opponents. Both teams will apparently have true freshmen starting at quarterback.

And there's the thing. Michigan's defense should actually be able to identify this offense. The quarterback will be throwing the ball, the receivers will be catching it, and the backs will be running it. That guy there? He's a tight end. Notre Dame brings a good, old-fashioned, conventional, pro-style offense. No more of that damnable, deceptive, disruptive, cheatin' spread offense with a quarterback who's faster than a speeding bullet. They don't need any more of that stuff at the Big House. That stuff leaves 'em all a little disappointed.

Well, not everybody. There's one guy who's spittin' nails he's so mad. UM coach Lloyd Carr walked in yesterday and he was snarling and snippy and short with his answers. If looks could kill, Ann Arbor's funeral directors would have a windfall. If Lloyd didn't like a question, he just moved along to one he did like. And there were darn few of those. He was mad all right, although maybe at the wrong people.

Anyway, Carr talked about containment and ball leverage and pursuit and work ethic and focus. We media types wanted insight into his players' attitudes, the specifics on/severity of Chad Henne's injury, how in the world things ever got this bad and what he's doing to salve his team's battered psyche, how he was coping with all the criticism, how he reacted to hearing boos from the home fans. We got ball leverage and containment.

I think we were all a little disappointed.



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