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Published: Tuesday, 9/20/2005

Ready for hardball: Michigan gearing up to stop Badgers' runs

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Lloyd Carr was pleased with Michigan s efforts against
Eastern, but Wisconsin has the Big Ten s No. 2 offense.
Lloyd Carr was pleased with Michigan s efforts against Eastern, but Wisconsin has the Big Ten s No. 2 offense.
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ANN ARBOR - No one is off in a dark and formerly smoke-filled room someplace, trying to concoct the trickery or gadgetry necessary to win Saturday's Big Ten Conference opener between Michigan and Wisconsin.

They'll just line up, and slug it out.

"We know what they're going to do, and we know exactly what we'll need to do to stop them or slow them down," Michigan senior defensive tackle Pat Massey said. "It's no big secret that Wisconsin likes to run the ball, and we pride ourselves on being tough against the run. It's really our strength against their strength."

Michigan's first road game of 2005 places the No. 1 defense in the Big Ten against the conference's No. 2 rushing attack. It is the league's stingiest defense in terms of points allowed against the second-highest scoring team in the Big Ten.

In wins over North Carolina, Bowling Green and Temple, the Badgers have run the football 168 times, and thrown it just 58. In his final season as head coach at Wisconsin, Barry Alvarez has not deviated from the script that has brought him three Big Ten titles and three Rose Bowl victories in 15 seasons in Madison.

"It's Barry Alvarez hardball football" that his team will see Saturday night, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said.

"He wants to line up and knock people off the line of scrimmage. This is a typical Wisconsin football team."

The Badgers have used the legs of junior Brian Calhoun to do most of the damage - he has 471 yards in three games and has scored eight touchdowns. A Wisconsin native who played two years at Colorado before transferring back to his home state, Calhoun averages better than five yards per carry and 157 yards per game.

"What I saw was that Brian Calhoun, in the heat down there in North Carolina, I think he only came out for a couple of plays," Carr said. "He played almost every down, which speaks to how tough he is and how strong he is, and how well-conditioned he is."

Michigan defensive end Rondell Biggs said the Wolverines will prepare for Wisconsin's power rushing attack by facing their own first offensive unit in practice this week.

"To an extent, we're known as a running team, so we go up against them every day," Biggs said.

"We know we're in for a tough time, because Wisconsin has a good line and a great running back. It's all gonna be in the trenches - that's where the war is won. We have to stop them there."

Massey said that when Wisconsin's running game butts heads with Michigan's run defense, something has to give. He sees the outcome of that impending collision essentially deciding the winner of the game, the first at Wisconsin's lively Camp Randall Stadium for any of the current Michigan players.

"It all starts with the run," Massey said. "They're a running team, and they don't want to pass it. You have to stop the run, if you want to be successful against them."

Contact Matt Markey at:

mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.

MUNDY OUT: UM safety Ryan Mundy is expected to miss the rest of the season with a nerve injury. Carr would only call the problem a "nerve injury."



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