ANN ARBOR - Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez has never shied away from offering stark and sometimes stunning revelations about his Wolverines.
The latest of these forays into just what is wrong with UM came yesterday during Rodriguez's first press conference leading up to Saturday's game against archrival Ohio State.
What got the first-year coach Rodriguez going was a question that referenced the following statistic: Wolverines coaches are 10-1-1 in their first games against the Buckeyes - a trend the oddsmakers have stated emphatically will not continue.
"You ever see the movie [The] Lion King?" Rodriguez began. "That monkey hits the lion over the head, and the monkey says what did you do that for? Doesn't matter, it's in the past."
"There was a time when [the Wolverines] put that winged hat [on], and you come out of the Big House, and that was probably worth 10 to 14 points right there," he said. "That ain't the case anymore."
The Wolverines' eight losses this year are a school record and there is no bowl game on the horizon for the first time in 34 years.
With out-of-town media in Ann Arbor yesterday because Ohio State week has arrived,
Rodriguez was predictably asked to rehash all that has gone wrong.
"Everybody wants to know when we're going to win more games?" he said. "When we deserve to win more games, we'll win more games. Simple as that."
"I'd like to go in there [Ohio State] and have, you know, four or five veteran receivers running 4.4s [40-yard dash times] and two or three tailbacks and experienced quarterbacks and a bunch of defensive guys to be first-round [draft] picks and all of that," Rodriguez said. "But, you know, we got guys that we can compete with."
And of the No. 10 Buckeyes?
"Do I get nervous when I watch the film? Sure I do," he said. "I watched last year's game.We [had] five NFL players on offense and we get less than 100 yards against them."
If there was ever a team in need of an identity-finding, players-and-coaches-unifying victory, it would be the 2008 Wolverines. And their last chance to get one of those is Saturday against bitter foe Ohio State - which has beaten UM four years in a row.
A win over the Buckeyes would, if only for a moment, help the Wolverines forget the darker moments of this long season.
"Some of it will be erased, but not all of it," quarterback Nick Sheridan said. "It's been a difficult season, and I don't think any of us will look back and say that it hasn't been. ... A win on Saturday would help us out and be a great entry into the
offseason for us."
Said senior defensive tackle Terrance Taylor: "This is one of the reasons I came back this year.You know, it would mean a lot.It wouldn't justify the season. But it would sure make it a little better."
NO HUDDLE: Sheridan will start for the third straight week in place of Steven Threet. But the extent of Threet's latest injury - a slightly separated shoulder suffered in the fourth quarter last week against Northwestern - is different than the knee or head injury Rodriguez thought Threet had immediately following that game. Rodriguez said Threet is doubtful to play against Ohio State. ... Running back Brandon Minor (shoulder, wrist, ribs) says he's playing Saturday after sitting out last week. ... Running back Sam McGuffie had a death in his family and is questionable for Saturday. ... Safety Brandon Harrison said he's moved back to strong safety after spending the last two weeks mostly playing linebacker.
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