“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens

Sophomore Garrett Rivas utters this Bible verse —
Philippians 4:13 — every time Michigan coach Lloyd Carr calls
his number.

“I like kinda being on my own and getting a little focused
(before attempting a field goal),” Rivas said. “I
always do the same ritual before every kick, try and keep
everything consistent. I do the sign of the cross and then I say
the Bible verse. Then I say, ‘Head down, straight through the
ball, let’s go.’ ”

Rivas’ pre-kick ritual was effective during the
Wolverines’ 28-20 loss to Notre Dame, as the sophomore
converted all four of his attempts, including a 47-yarder, which
tied his career long.

“I would certainly rather have been hitting extra points
than field goals,” Rivas said. “It just didn’t
work out that way.”

Carr praised his kicker and the entire kicking team for their
services Saturday.

“Garrett Rivas was outstanding; I thought he had a great
day,” Carr said. “Of course, that has something to do
with the guys that helped him. He had great protection on a rush
that we had not seen Notre Dame give. The snapping was excellent.
The holding — some of the things that we had problems with
last week obviously we corrected.”

In his first game of the season, Rivas’ day was much
different, as he shanked two extra point attempts.

“I just didn’t have solid contact on them and
certain technical things didn’t go right,” Rivas said.
“(Against Notre Dame) I had better focus and I was more into
the game and able to play a lot better.”

Rivas recognizes that having an isolated meltdown is part of
being a kicker. Two weeks ago, Northwestern’s Brian Huffman
and Oregon State’s Alexis Serna made national news in dubious
fashion, missing five field goals and three extra points,
respectively. Both players were blamed for their teams’
losses, and Rivas felt for them.

“I’ve been there before — you just have an off
day,” Rivas said. “The most important thing is to have
the strength to come back stronger. You have to feel bad for
(Serna) because you know what he’s going through, you know
what it’s like to see the ball miss the uprights. It’s
just a part of the game.”

But it’s a part of the game that Rivas wishes to avoid.
The Tampa, Fla., native said that seeing Serna’s miscues
“absolutely” made him take extra reps at practice.

Last season, Rivas was billed a Michigan’s saving grace
after a couple of years of horrendous placekicking. He started as a
true freshman, going nine-for-12 in field goal attempts and
50-for-51 in extra points. Rivas had a spotty spring practice, but
entered the season fully confident.

“I was pretty pleased (with spring practice),” Rivas
said. “I had a little bit of a problem in the middle of camp,
but I was able to come back; studying film a little extra, taking
some extra reps. I ended up camp being just where I wanted to

This year, Rivas is much more comfortable handling
Michigan’s placekicking duties.

“I know a little bit more about what to expect,”
Rivas said. “I feel like I am a little more into the game now
and I understand more about the game. I just feel like I have been
there before.”

The 19-year-old has also made physical strides and says that
he’s made a 55-yarder while practicing on his own.

“I’ve definitely gotten a little bit stronger since
last year — more height and more consistency,” Rivas

Rivas has taken to his new special teams coach, Mike DeBord,
stating that DeBord runs “a more organized practice”
than Jim Boccher did last year.

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