Monday, October 31, 2011
Wolverines don't overthink pink
By Chantel Jennings WolverineNation
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In 1985 with Michigan ranked second in the country, the Wolverines headed to Iowa City to take on the nation's top-ranked team.
Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, knowing Iowa coach Hayden Fry had the opposing team's locker room painted pink, asked football manager Jon Falk to arrive early and cover every single piece of pink with white paper so his team wouldn't be subject to Fry's mental games.
Senior Ryan Van Bergen is manly enough to call Iowa's pink visitors' locker room soothing.
The Wolverines lost, 12-10, and Schembechler decided never to have the walls covered again. This weekend the Wolverines head to Iowa, and a few of the players couldn't be happier about the pink decoration.
"I think it gives it a nice décor," senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen said. "The feng shui really feels good before a game as you get in there and see the pink. It warms you up. It's very welcoming.
"I think more teams should go with pink. I have no problem with it. I think it's a great touch. It's better than the off-white, jail cell look."
Senior tight end Kevin Koger said it's not the color but the size of the locker room that makes him excited to return to Iowa City.
"It's bigger than a lot of the opposing locker rooms that we do get dressed in, but it really doesn't make a difference," Koger said. "It's just a locker room."
Van Bergen has said that senior defensive tackle Mike Martin is aggressive, forceful and strong -- and Van Bergen hopes that also describes the Michigan defense. Against Purdue, Martin registered the Wolverines' only safety this year, which was a momentum changer for Michigan, according to coach Brady Hoke.
On Saturday, Martin will face off against junior center James Ferentz, the son of Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz, who should have his hands full.
"Good luck to the guard that has to block him one on one," Van Bergen said. "I'm confident that there's not one guy in the Big Ten that can block Mike Martin one on one, in run blocking or pass blocking. He's too strong, too quick, has too many tools."
There is one guy in the conference who says he can handle Martin on the line -- teammate David Molk.
"I say he's the best and I think he always says I'm one of the best he's played," Molk said. "And going against each other, that's kind of how we've built to where we are."
Respect for Hawkeyes
Hoke says Iowa will be the most physical team the Wolverines haved face. The coach said some glowing things about the Hawkeyes.
"I've always loved, as a coach, watching Iowa," Hoke said. "It's a great challenge. Being a defensive line coach, you watch their offensive line and how they're coached and their fundamentals, their techniques, the attitude they play with, I mean that's awesome. It gets you excited."
Hoke said he was pleased Saturday with sophomore punter Will Hagerup's first punt, a 49-yarder, but that Hagerup's second punt -- just 32 yards -- showed his inconsistency.
Last season, Hagerup averaged 43.6 yards per punt, with a long of 72. This season he's averaging only 41.3 yards per punt.
Hagerup has started since his four-game suspension at the beginning of this season. Freshman kicker Matt Wile handled the punting in the early season and averaged 41.1 yards per punt. Hoke said Wile, who has only been taking kickoffs, is still practicing his punting. Hoke will continue to evaluate who is best for the spot.
"We've got good competition," Hoke said. "We'll compete there just like we do every other position."
Hoke said redshirt junior safety Jordan Kovacs, who missed Saturday's game due to a knee injury, ran in practice on Sunday but his status will continue to be day to day. ... Junior running back Vincent Smith has an ankle injury. Hoke said Smith got only six carries Saturday because they were trying to "protect him a little bit." ... Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Taylor Lewan, who was helped off the field Saturday because of ankle and knee injuries, will practice this week. Hoke said the team doesn't have the luxury to give him practice days off, though he will take a rep off here and there. ... Junior offensive lineman Ricky Barnum, who has been dealing with an ankle injury throughout the season, is now day to day after injuring his opposite ankle, according to Hoke.
Chantel Jennings covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or or on Twitter @chanteljennings.