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Published: Sunday, 11/2/2008

UM offense shines, but defense falls short

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Michigan's much-criticized offense and special teams did their parts yesterday.

Those two units made up the 42 in the Wolverines' 48-42 loss to Purdue. Not only did UM's defense give up 48 points, but it also allowed a season-high 522 yards.

The Wolverines' defenders did so despite using a 3-3-5 alignment designed to match up with Purdue's spread offense. Also, the Boilermakers quarterback was making his first-career start, and UM's defense is supposed to be the team's strength with eight players who started regularly last year.

So, were the schemes the problem? The players? The coaches?

"We win and lose as a team," Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez said. "I'm disappointed we lost. Let's not point fingers. We don't do that."

UM running back Brandon Minor rushed for a career-high 155 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Steven Threet threw for 123 yards and two scores, and Martavious Odoms returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown.

Boubacar Cissoko added four kick returns for 129 yards (including a 53-yarder), and Odoms contributed three kick returns for 45 yards.

In other words, what else could the Wolverines' offense and special teams have done?

"We could've put up another 14 points," Minor insisted.

UM's defense was hurt by Odoms' fumble on a punt return late in the first quarter that set up Purdue at the Wolverines' 14-yard line.

Quarterback Justin Siller capitalized by scoring on a 10-yard run that led to a 14-14 tie.

But the Boilermakers only had one other possession start in UM territory. They utilized two trick plays - a fake punt and hook and lateral - in the fourth quarter that basically won the game but were put in that position by their potent offense.

Or was it the Wolverines' struggling defense?

"I don't know," UM defensive end Tim Jamison said. "They had a great play at the end, that hook and lateral. The rest I'll have to look at the film, see what went wrong."

FIRSTS AND BESTS: As promised, freshman Cissoko started at corner in UM's 3-3-5 alignment along with Donovan Warren and Morgan Trent.

Cissoko set a career high with five tackles, and his kick-return yardage was also a career best.

Freshman receiver Darryl Stonum caught his first-career touchdown pass (a 51-yarder from Threet in the second quarter), and junior Laterryal Savoy's 11-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter was the first of his career.

Odoms' punt return for a score was his first touchdown of any kind. On that play, much-hyped freshman Justin Feagin was on the field.

Feagin, who made his UM debut yesterday, switched jersey numbers from No. 3 to No. 30 and will continue to play, Rodriguez said.

Also, former tight end Carson Butler made his first appearance at defensive end and was credited with three tackles.

NO HUDDLE: The 90 points scored by UM and Purdue were the most in series history, as were the Boilermakers' 48 points against the Wolverines. Threet was treated for an undisclosed injury following a tough hit he took on the game's last play.



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