For the seniors on the Michigan football team, this Saturday”s game against Ohio State will be their last at Michigan Stadium. Added to the significance of playing in one of college football”s greatest rivalries is the possibility that a Big Ten title and BCS berth could be on the line against the Buckeyes.
But in typical Michigan fashion, at yesterday”s media luncheon the seniors made it clear that they don”t view the game much differently than any other.
“We understand that you can”t get too excited, too motivated because sometimes that hurts,” senior tight end Shawn Thompson said.
Try as they might, the seniors could not avoid the emotions of playing their last game in Michigan Stadium.
“You just try to cherish the moment, but at the same time, realize that I have to concentrate on what has to be done this week,” said senior offensive lineman Jonathan Goodwin. “I am just going to try and go out and save my best for last.”
For many of Michigan”s seniors it will be the routine of practice watching film, a Friday practice at Michigan stadium, staying in the hotel that they will miss the most.
“It seems like I have a clock on my left shoulder and I turn around to look at it and it keeps ticking down,” senior offensive lineman Kurt Anderson said. “There are a lot of things that will be the last time I will be doing them. Every single one of those things is going to be emotional.”
By contrast, some Wolverines will be playing in their first game against Ohio State. If they don”t know the meaning of the rivalry, they will find out quickly.
Junior linebacker Victor Hobson remembers his first play in the rivalry.
“I mean as players, even if it is your first game, and you”re playing against Ohio State, if you didn”t know it was a big rivalry, after that first play you pretty much know,” Hobson said. “It is just a great game to play in. It”s just an intensity that you have to get ready for.”
Navarre-ending story: For the second consecutive game, quarterback John Navarre had a tough passing day. He completed just 11-of-24 passes for 58 yards against Wisconsin and 12-of-22 passes for 144 yards against Minnesota.
Not coincidentally, freshman Jermaine Gonzales has played in more than just garbage time in each of the two games.
According to Navarre”s teammates, his demeanor has not changed in the adversity.
“He seems the same to me. I haven”t seen him down or worried about anything,” Goodwin said. “Even on the sidelines he was still trying to get guys motivated and get guys going, but to me he is still the same John. I have not seen any changes in him personally. If he”s down I wouldn”t know it.”
Navarre will face one of his toughest tests this weekend against the Buckeyes” aggressive secondary, led by safety Mike Doss. Ohio State is second in the Big Ten in scoring defense and pass defense.
“This might be the most aggressive secondary we face all year,” wide receiver Marquise Walker said.
No trash-talkin” stinkbags: While Ohio State”s Terry Glenn and David Boston have given Michigan bulletin board material in the past few years, the Wolverines have strayed away from any possibility of doing the same for the Buckeyes.
Yesterday was no different.
When asked what Michigan coach Lloyd Carr would do if he predicted a victory, Goodwin just laughed.
“I don”t know, but I don”t want to be that guy,” Goodwin said.