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Posted on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Michigan football team trying to temper emotions heading into Ohio State game

By Kyle Meinke


Michigan's Kevin Koger (86) and Mike Martin (68) hold back the Wolverines in the Michigan Stadium tunnel before last Saturday's game against Nebraska. Seniors like Koger and Martin are working to keep the younger players' emotions in check heading into this weekend's rivalry game against Ohio State.

Jeff Sainlar |

Brady Hoke calls this "the greatest rivalry in sport."

The first-year Michigan football coach pounded a podium upon his hire in January, declaring this game to be the Most. (Pound.) Important. (Pound.) Game. (Pound.) On. (Pound.) That. (Pound.) Schedule.

And, now that the Ohio State game finally has arrived, Hoke says the Michigan football team must treat this week just like any other.

Good luck.

"I know one thing from being here before, for eight years: You didn't have to do a whole lot of coaching this week," Hoke said. "You didn't have to do a bunch of butt chewing, and getting a guy to run to the ball, getting a guy to take on a block. Not this week.

“(You have to) be consistent with how you’ve coached all year long. I may look at this different, but this is fun. Are you kidding me? This is going to be fun. It’s hard work, but it should be. Nothing you do comes easy. It’s fun.”

The Wolverines' recent struggles against Ohio State are well-documented. They have lost seven in a row to the rival Buckeyes, and have been outscored 218-108 during that streak. They lost 37-7 last season (a win Ohio State has since vacated).

The current group of players have never led against Ohio State -- but will have a very good chance of changing that this year when No. 17 Michigan faces the Buckeyes at noon Saturday on ABC.

Senior tight end Kevin Koger, who is 0-3 against Ohio State, said one thing he's learned in this game is the importance of players pacing themselves during the week; otherwise, they risk peaking too early.

That underscores Hoke's point about trying to retain an element of normalcy in a week that is anything but normal.

“Typically, with this game, guys get really emotional early in the week," Koger said. "We have to calm that down. I always say, ‘You don’t want to play the game before you get to the game.’

"You don’t want to get too high — then you’re drained when you do get to the game. We just have to calm everybody down while keeping the (normal) intensity. We do have to come out with intensity, we just can’t be over-the-top."

So far, they've done that admirably. The Wolverines are 9-2, with a shot to get to 10 or 11 wins for the first time since 2006. They also could land in a BCS game for the first time in five years.

That is a lot of external pressure on an already-frenetic matchup for Michigan. But, it also shows it has done something right to get to this point.

So, Hoke is trying to take some of that pressure off his players by emphasizing they carry on this week as they always do. Coming off a 45-17 rout of then-No. 17 Nebraska, their best performance of the year, it appears whatever they have been doing is working.

"It seems like we're a pretty grounded team right now," Hoke said. "And hopefully, we'll do a pretty good job as coaches of making sure that our guys worry about the things that matter — that's how you line up and compete on every play and how you execute on every play."

Yet, no matter how much Hoke tries to treat this week like any other, it can't help but be different, if for no other reason than it takes effort to make it not different.

There are the small things, such as Hoke restricting the players' tweeting this week, or not making players available to talk to the media after Monday. Practice on Thursday also was moved to the morning, to accommodate a 500-person Thanksgiving dinner with friends and families.

And then there are larger differences, such as the intensity of practices.

First-year offensive coordinator coordinator Al Borges, who coached in a big-time game in Auburn-Alabama but has never been a part of The Game, said he noticed a difference even during the team's short Sunday routine.

"It was off the charts," he said. "You can tell that there’s a little more pep in the step”

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

Just beat them and hear the crowd chant, "Bring on Urban...bring on Urban..." I do wonder why Hoke allowed Urban to visit one of their practices earlier this season?


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

Mick52, +10 Precisely my sentiments, too. At least, Urban and the Buckeyed Ohio College would be a perfect for each other. The problem is the NCAA has some "selective" corruption going on over there.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 3:02 a.m.

Mick...Are you saying Urban Meyer might have lied, and ohio might have lied? O-shoe?? I'm SHOCKED, I tell you...SHOCKED!


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:29 p.m.

He is working for ESPN. He did the MI/Ne game last weekend. And who cares if he goes to practice. Frank Beckman interviewed Chris Speilman yesterday on his radio show and asked him if he would tell osu about anything he saw in practice. Speilman, who I think shows a lot of class, said he wouldn't but they know everything anyway from all the film they watch. What ticks me off about Urban, or what will if he is named osu coach is that during the NE game, the play by play guy asked him outright about the osu job and he flatly denied being in consideration. Now if that was a lie I would say that osu just is not learning anything from the scandal they are still dealing with. I don't to hear any lies or mistruths about that program, even though candidates typically are kept under the carpet. osu needs to make sure everything is up front and honest even something like this. They need to restore their image and the next head coach lying is not going to help that.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

Who a year ago thought we had a chance of beating Ohio this year? Not me.

Lorain Steelmen

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 8:01 p.m.

Larry, I also will be bummed out if I see lots of 'red' in the student seats. It will send a message to this team, that they are 'visitors' in ther own stadium. I can tell it definitely would NOT have happend, when I was a student here from '65 to '72. But there is also something else to remember...and thiat is,that ohio fans are 'front-runners'. They are loud when they are ahead, but they are non-existent when they are losing. And I have a hunch, the osu fans that DO show up saturday, will be headed back to ohio, BEFORE the final gun. DRob needs to stay healthy, and the offense needs to get off to a quick start. So here's to, 'The team, the team, the team!' 'The strength of the wolf, is the pack!.....the strength of the pack, is the wolf! Go Blue!

Larry Weisenthal

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.

On paper, of course 'M' should win. But I'll never forget '69, when tOSU had what people back then were calling the greatest college team ever assembled and where 'M' had already suffered two blow out losses. But we know how that one turned out. If LSU played Iowa State 10 times, they'd win 9. But they lost. If 'M' played tOSU 10 times this year, they'd win 4 of 5 home games and win 3 of 5 in Columbus. So that's 7 wins in 10 games. 75% chance of victory on Saturday. I'd make it 80%, were it held the weekend before TG, rather than during TG weekend. I'm worried about the 'M' students, who've gone home for TG, selling their tickets to too many people from Ohio. Michigan 13 Ohio 3 - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

Larry Weisenthal

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

>>If *LSU played Iowa State 10 times, they'd win 9.<< *Make that OSU (Oklahoma State) Brain freeze, relating to OSU v tOSU


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

I really like Borges. He says all the right things. Just what I want to hear. I think I can safely speak for all the other Michigan Men here by saying that, it really turns me on .


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

As much as the team needs to get 'up' for The Game and needs to moderate its passion to play intelligently there is something else that is equally important... If anyone knows of or is a student at A2 - tell that entire group to get their butts in the seats BEFORE the National Anthem! Need the whole gang into this one - none of this "we'll arrive fashionably late" nonsense... not for this one.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

I'll tell you whose emotions are going to be tempered on Saturday afternoon. Every single Ohio coach, player and fan ... after the beat down we put on them. UM 38 Ohio 14 (and it will be even more dominating than the score will indicate)


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 5:03 p.m.

First an foremost: I'm a grateful man because I live in Ann Arbor, I helped raise our daughter here and I'll be picking her up this afternoon at the airport. This is Thanksgiving Week: time to be grateful for all the good things in our lives and for the chance to experience and do more good things. Of course: those good things include being a Michigan Wolverine fan and part of my own Michigan family. I hope that Michigan's coaches and players are all grateful this week for the opportunity they will have on Saturday. Go Blue! Michigan Forever! Thanks for being Michigan!

Lorain Steelmen

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:45 p.m.

Actually this game can go two ways. If osu fails to knock DRob out of the game, and he finishes, ohio is toast...UM 31- THEosu 14. If ohio DOES manage to knock him out of the game, then ohio has a real shot at this one...THEosu 21- UM 17. One way for DRob stay alive, is to distribute the ball. There WILL be open receivers, if the ohio defense commits to stopping #16. ......AND...Fitz Toussaint runs HARD. Ok, O-line, make a statement saturday. Show the country that you CAN handle that osu D-line.....


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

This is the time for classical music....time too relax, take that deep breath. Big Blue coaching staff has been ill-prepared for two games this yr. This game is not the time too over coach. Every year, each game is just a prelude too the game of games. I don't care if either team is Oh-furr...this game is IT. Blue needs win the game up front. Score and score often....

jeff blue

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:20 p.m.

You are exactly correct. But, OSU does have a good defense. It will be tough to score early. I have to believe that OSU has watched a lot of tape this week (particularly on how to stop the UM Offense -- probably watching the MSU defensive tactics, so this will be rock-em sock-em). Football is won in the trenches, and OSU will tire as this game progresses!!!!!

jeff blue

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

Intense emotion can be a good thing. Though, I can think of two recent examples of "over the top emotion" in football: 1. Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football this season. 2. Michigan at Michigan State in 2011. In both cases the team with the greater emotion committed a lot more penalties, hurt their cause with out of control play, made stupid mistakes, but easily won the home football game. I am sure that we could play that way on Saturday against OSU (and win easily), but I would rather not do it that way. I would rather that we do this: Play with controlled emotion, controlled aggression, and intelligence. Don't commit penalties or make stupid mistakes. Do a workman like job and just grind down the Bucks all day with superior talent and intelligence. It is very hard to be sky-high emotionally and still play smart controlled style of football, but UM can do this. Now is the time. What do you think? JEFF


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

The coaching staff has done a tremedous job preparing this team for each game this season. The results are evident. I am sure Coach Hoke and staff will keep the calmness the rest of week, game day and during the game. The Maize and Blue players will be ready for the best shot ohio has to give. If we execute the way we did against NE, Wolverine Nation will be proud and smile from ear to ear. The fans will have Michigan Stadium rockin on Saturday. That will only add more excitment to the Maize and Blue team. There is such a thing of being too fired up for a game and I have confidence Coach Hoke will prevent his players from getting too cocky or hyped. GO BLUE!!!


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

Happy Thanksgiving!!! Three things I'm thankful for... I'm thankful I'm a Buckeye I'm thankful I'm not a Wolverine I'm thankful I can watch Saturday's game on TV in a warm living room and not need to put up with all those annoying BLUE fans.

Nic schweigert

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

Yet we have to put up with you obnoxious loud-mouthed suck eye fans on a michigan website. Be prepared to lose three in a row Saturday and be ready to usher in a new era of Michigan dominate over those Ohio cheaters


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

So are we Michigan fans glad we can watch the game sans your presence. Go Blue.

Lorain Steelmen

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

MRunner. The problem with going to a game in Columbus is that you have a better than even chance of getting mugged down there. It happened to me in 2002. (I was about 55 at the time.) Can't get my wife to go there anymore, and that is a shame, when you are to talking about collegiate athletics. As a UM student, I used to hang out in the bars, down there on friday, then saturday after the game, and it was wild. Now it has just become 'sick'. Since my brother went there I have been able to go to all of the games except one, at UM, since '65....and probably a half of games, in Columbus since '66. It used to be a lot of fun down there, during the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's. Not anymore. The 'fans' down there have lost any sense of the 'colligate rivalry'. It has become much more than that to them. osu has gained a reputation throughout the league as being the worst place to travel and see a game. It's one thing to be supportive of your team, but quite another when you become violent. I've been to 'the game' everywhere in the league, except Minnesota, and now Nebraska, and have never felt threatened anywhere else. The administration at osu is aware of the problem but have turned a blind eye to it. Maybe that's why I go nuts when I see UM students selling home tickets to these people....just disgraceful.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

If this year's game was in your stadium, I would agree with you on the annoying Wolverine fans but Ohio fans come up here in droves. The gridlock starts around 6 AM. I know there could be 100,000 ohio fans in Ann Arbor Saturday so many of them will flood our pubs and sports bars if they cannot get into the stadium. Talk about annoying. I only wish, 100,000 Wolverine fans would flood Columbus and your stadium next time. I'll start working on that now so we'll be organized and ready to go in 2012.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

Hey I just wanted to remind you guys that you actually won the game last year...good job! Blow out-are you kidding me? We are still the most physical team and that is what "The Game" is all about. Buckeyes continue the streak and Urban Meyer comes to town next year to continue our dominance! Buckeyes are down but we won't be for long...Go Bucks!


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:30 p.m.

That's what Nebraska said.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

Michigan did not win the game last year. Ohio vacated their win, but we didn't count it as win. Our records still show a 37-7 loss. I agree that people expecting Michigan to win in a blowout are getting carried away. Ohio is a decent team and there is no question that they will come to play. I'd give Michigan a slight advantage, but one bad break could result in an Ohio win. Of course, I felt that way about the Nebraska game and look what happened. I won't complain if Michigan manages to surprise me again with another blowout win. Go Blue!


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

Roll those scumbags!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO BLUE!!!! PREDICTION: Denard 200 rushing, 200 passing

Dr. Vag

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:49 p.m.

Are Those Buckeyes? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.

Man saturday can't get here soon enough. All my family and friends (buckeye Fans) are getting sick of me telling them about the beat down Ohio is gonna get. I agree with RJ that it is gonna be a blow out. 45-10. Go Blue, Stomp OSU!


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:18 p.m.

Dang I do hope it is a big whoopin but even if we do beat them, that loss to Michigan State is going to stick in my craw for a long time.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

I cannot wait until Saturday. This has been a fantastic year under the new coaching staff, and what better way for Hoke and Co. to make a statement by starting off 1-0 against OSU. I know its THE GAME, but I would be far from surprised to see UM run away with this one. UM-31 OHIO-10


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:29 p.m.

It's been a while since I've been really excited about The Game. We have had little to no chance of winning the past three years, let alone LLoyd's last year. My, have things changed! We have a team that is playing Meeeeeeechigan football again that is expected to win! And how the mighty have fallen (O$U)! Go Blue! Beat Ohio!