Michigan Football Preview 2013

2013 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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M James Ross III: No Room For Laziness Or Let-Ups In 2013 An 8-5 record in 2012 didn't sit well with anyone inside Schembechler Hall. Head coach Brady Hoke felt that, in some significant ways, he did not field a highly competitive squad. The message of how unacceptable that is has been sent and received, according to Hoke. It's obvious the Wolverines have taken it to heart, and taken it personally. James Ross III, a sophomore linebacker slated to play a big role in Michigan's fortunes this season, knows precisely what his coach is saying. When a team loses five games — including three by a touchdown or less — something could have been done differently. "It was very frustrating," Ross admitted. "We all put it on us. That's the result of maybe not going as hard as we could for one practice, or something like that. There's something we could have done in those practices that could have changed the outcome. That's how we feel as a team." As a defensive player, Ross feels a special sense of ownership, given Hoke's roots on that side of the ball. Michigan didn't score in the second half at Ohio State, and the U-M brain trust clearly knows it has issues to address with regard to that performance. At the same time, Hoke talks about the Wolverines' failures on defense down the stretch in that game, even though Michigan surrendered just six points over the final 30 minutes. "We turned the ball over," Hoke said. "They played better than we did. We couldn't get off the field defensively. Four minutes, 35 seconds, they take the ball at the end of the game, in a five-point game. We couldn't get off the field. Didn't do a good enough job tackling, didn't do a good enough job getting off of blocks." They also didn't put any points on the board, and Hoke understands that aspect. "We weren't able to score, we weren't able to make first downs," Hoke noted. "But still, when you've got a chance to play defense, you've got to be able to play defense. You've got to play defense, and we didn't do that." Ross appreciates and identifies with Hoke's dissatisfaction regarding his side of the football. "I love it. I love it," Ross said. "That's his biggest thing, defense. He feels like if we're up at the half, it's our job to get the win. If they don't score, they don't win. If they end up winning and we had the lead at the half, that's our fault. He puts that on us. "We accept that, and try to do something to make up for it, come out the next game on fire. I really like the fact that he's really in tune with the defensive side of the ball." Ross insists he's more in tune with everything this season, after performing in 13 games as a true freshman linebacker, including two starting assignments. The backer they call "Bigs" has some very sizable steps he's looking to take forward. "I definitely challenge myself," he said. "I've been challenging myself with goals my whole life. Each year, I seem to reach those goals. I pushed my goals this year. "My biggest goal this year is to just become more of a leader. Being a younger guy, it's kind of tough. You're looked at as the younger guy. But our coaches stress a lot that, just because you're young, that doesn't mean you can't lead. "I'm striving to become a leader — that's a leader on the field, in practice, doing everything I can possibly do to sell out for the team." Whatever it takes to turn 8-5 into a championship-type season, Ross insists he and the Wolverines are prepared to pursue it. "We're definitely ready," Ross said. "Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go through winter conditioning with the team last year, because I was still in high school. But from what our strength and condition10  ■  The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview Ross was clear about his biggest personal goal for the season, "I'm striving to become a leader." photo by lon horwedel ing coach tells us, Coach [Aaron] Wellman said this was probably the best year we've ever had in winter conditioning. "That's just effort on the seniors, because they really came out leading. Right after we were done with that Outback Bowl, they were stressing we didn't do our job last year. We failed, and this is a different year. We want to win." That means no slip-ups, and nothing left to chance in terms of preparation. "In order for us to do that, we all have to be on the same page," Ross said. "That's to get to that Big Ten championship. In order to do that, we've got to be working hard, every single day. No laziness is acceptable. They really got that across to all the guys." He's also internalizing the message, Ross vowed. "I feel very ready," he said. "Going through that last year, it's all about experience. Now I pretty much know what to expect, and I know what to work on in order to be better than what I was last year. Having all that is really going to help me get better for the season. I'm really excited about that."

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