<
>

Bunyan Trophy spot sits empty

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In the place where Paul Bunyan's Trophy once stood in the Michigan football museum sits a note that reads: "The Paul Bunyan Trophy is temporarily located in East Lansing but will return next year."

It has been three years since the trophy has rested in that spot. At least the Wolverines have their own Paul Bunyan look-alike: fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen.

"I've drawn comparisons to the Paul Bunyan Trophy. I think I might have to shave my beard or something," Van Bergen said. "And I have to stop carrying my ax around."

And fellow Wolverines were more than willing to give their thoughts on how the two might be very similar.

"The statue is ugly and Ryan Van Bergen isn't all that good-looking either," senior tight end Kevin Koger said. "So I guess they resemble each other a little bit."

Fifth-year senior center David Molk, when asked about the resemblance, said, "Oh God, don't feed his ego."

But all jokes aside, Michigan coach Brady Hoke sat the team down Sunday to tell the players about the history behind the trophy, just like he did before the Brown Jug rivalry game against Minnesota.

And while the Brown Jug has remained in Ann Arbor, it has been harder for the Wolverines to keep the Paul Bunyan Trophy. Van Bergen says those losses reflect poorly on the players' legacies.

"Your legacy is left by Big Ten championships, Rose Bowls, and how you did against your rivals," he said. "Right now the legacy for the seniors in my class, we're going to have to come back and say, 'We lost to Michigan State three years in a row. None of us has beaten Ohio State.'

"That's our legacy. But luckily we have this year to change some of that."

An unhappy Hoke

Even though No. 11 Michigan is 6-0, Hoke doesn't like how his team has played.

"We can't be satisfied with anything," he said. "After every game I tell them, 'It's great to win,' but there's always a 'but.' ... We'd like to get perfection."

Hoke explained that every aspect of the team needs to improve in order for Michigan to beat Michigan State. He said everything from the players to the coaches to the trainers' ankle taping had to get better.

During the season Hoke has preached physicality, but he wants to see an improved physical effort against the Spartans. Historically, this rivalry has been the most physical of the season for both teams.

"It was always going to be a dog fight," Hoke said. "It was always going to be guys playing their best football and playing as tough and physical as they could."

Koger pointed to special teams needing to step up as Michigan gets deeper into the conference schedule, explaining that kickoff coverage and returns haven't looked good for the Wolverines. He also talked about the team needing to take better care of the ball.

"If we turn the ball over, we're not going to win," Koger said. "It's just that simple."

Extra points

Hoke mentioned that fifth-year senior cornerback Troy Woolfolk is banged up a little bit but his hand is slowly getting better. ... Redshirt junior offensive lineman Ricky Barnum ran through practice Sunday, but Hoke wasn't sure whether he would suit up for the Michigan State game. ... Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Taylor Lewan, who many people thought was injured after he quickly exited the game Saturday, is fine. He was told by an official to "get out" after blocking a player on Northwestern's sideline. The official meant for Lewan to get off the sideline, but Lewan took it to mean that he needed to get out of the game. ... Redshirt sophomore Cam Gordon, who has yet to play a snap in the 2011 season, is still listed at the strongside linebacker starting position over redshirt freshman Jake Ryan.

Chantel Jennings covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. She can be reached at jenningsespn@gmail.com or on Twitter at @chanteljennings.