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October 13, 1967 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1967-10-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

AY, OCTOBER 13, 1967



"Wolverines' Johnson, Phillips
Among Possible All-Americans


Ron Johnson's 270-yard rushing total against Navy is not an
all-time Michigan record after all.On Saturday, November 3, 1917
Michigan defeated Kalamazoo College by a 62-0 score. The following
paragraph is from the November 4 Daily:
"Weston, Michigan's mightiest, littlest quarterback was the out-
standing star of the game. Never did the Soo boy fail to gain when
he took the ball, and in all his gains totaled more than 300 yards of
opponents' territory. His longest run came at the close of the game
and was 65 yards in lenght. His other smashes netted merely 20 or
30 yards apiece ..."
This is only one instance of a player gaining over 300 yards. It
is probable that several other players also eclipsed Weston's total,
A especially in the early years of the century when the Wolverines
consistently rolled up scores of 60-70 points per game. In 1904 the
Wolverines defeated West Virginia 130-0 and although no statistics
are available for that game it seems likely that one or more of the
stars of that team could have easily surpassed the totals of both
Johnston and Weston. The 1902 team averaged 58.6 points per game
in 11 games, and again the probability is extremely high that some-
one ran more than 300 yards in a single game.
Of course, game conditions and rules differed considerably in
those days and the calibre of the opposing teams was highly question-
able. Nonetheless, it is correct to consider Johnson's total a Michigan
record only for the so-called "modern era" approximately 1930 to
the present.
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When Ron Johnson was 10 years
old, everything in his life was
baseball. Until he was 15, he
didn't even know what a football
looked like.
"You know, all my life baseball
was shoved down my throat,"
Michigan's stellar halfback said.
"It was the first game in which
I really accomplished anything."
But when he was 15, his brother,
Alex Johnson, now a member of
the world champion St. Louis
Cardinals, signed to play profes-
sionally and Ron started to drift
away from the game.
"With my brother playing base-
ball, a lot of the scouts came
around to talk to me but it was
just a whole bunch of stuff and i
got tired of it. I started playing
organized football then and I got
really interested in that. After I
was 15, I didn't do anything else,"
he noted.
While that wasn't exactly true,
as Johnson played outfield and
captained the Detroit Northwest-
ern High School baseball team,
'0his favorite sport was now foot-
ball. He even refused to play base-
ball for a local team last summer.
"I was just tired of it," he said.
And Michigan fans are elated
that Johnson decided to cast his
lot with Saturday's heroes.
For last Saturday, while his
parents were watching the Cardi-
nals defeat the Boston Red Sox
in the third game of the World
Series in St. Louis with brother
Alex sitting on the bench, Ron
Johnson single handedly tore
the Navy defense apart piling up
y 270 yards, rushing, scoring two
Michigan touchdowns and setting
up the third.
His touchdown runs of 62 and
72 yards electrified a crowd of
72,000 which was later silenced
when the Middies scored late in
the game to score a 26-21 upset
Vvictory over the Wolverines.
Johnson was named Associated
Press back of the week for his
heroics and while it was his big-
gest personal thrill, he noted "it
really didn't seem right because
we lost. I had kind of .a hollow
feeling inside. If I had my choice,
I would have rather won the game
and not made the yardage."
The play that Johnson ran so
effectively against the Middies
was "basically the off tackle play,"
he reported. "We ran it to the left
side with the outside guard pull-
The business administration
major gave much of the credit
for his phenomenal success to that
line. "(Ray) Phillips, (Bob) Pen-
ksa and (Jim) Mandich blocks
made quite a difference. And Gar-
vie Craw playing wingback next;
to Mandich won the blocking
What makes Johnson's 270 yard
total so impressive is the fact
that Navy coach Bill Elias ad-
mitted after the game that his
team was keying against the jun-
ior. Elias exclaimed after the
game, "What would have happen-
ed if we concentrated on Warren
The junior halfback feels his
greatest asset is following his
blockers and against the Middies
he was doing it to perfection.
"Navy had their safeties up tight
trying to stop the running game,
but if you get to the hole quick
enough and follow your blocking,
you just run until someone
catches you."
And the Middies had trouble
catching up to Johnson all after-
noon. While he isn't an elusive
open field runner, he does have
fine speed, with a 9.9 clocking for
100 yards.


While tiis mark doesn't rate
with the 9.4 recorded by Southern
California's junior college sensa-
tion O. J. Simpson, Johnson does
have speed enough to rank sev-
enth in the country in rushing.
The junior halfback has gained
405 yards for a 6.23 average in
three games. All the other run-
ners in the top ten in the country
have played four games this year.
The big difference for Johnson
this year is that he knows he is
playing with the first team. "I was
quite sure before I came to Mich-
igan that I could play in the Big
Ten but I also knew I wouldn't
beat out (Carl) Ward or (Jim)
Detwiler last year.
"Still, I thought it would be
better to go to a school where
there would be more competition
because it would make me a bet-
ter ball player. And I'll be satis-
fied to start two years here com-
pared to going to a relatively
weaker school and starting all
three years."
When asked about the impor-
tance of the impending Michigan
State contest tomorrow, Johnson's
face lit up. "It's a brand new sea-
son tomorrow and there's a lot of
enthusiasm on the squad. Every-
body is really hustling and it
should be a hard hitting game.
"The coaches are emphasizing
how the game is, but, really, they
don't have to talk that much
about it because everybody knows
how important it is. And for me,
it would be a bigger thrill to beat
State than to run 270 yards and
be named back of the week.",
Against Michigan State, John-
son said, "the offense will be run-
ning from the I formation be-
cause everyone else in the coun-
try has had good success with it.
It is more of a power series."
"For the game tomorrow, I'll be
playing left halfback instead of
right half while Ernie (Sharpe)
will be playing flanker."
Since Johnson wants the Mich-
igan State game so badly, the
natural question was why didn't
he go to State. He grinned and
said emphatically, "I wanted to
go to a school where I get an
education. All they do at State
is play football."

Fortunately for Bump Elliott,
Senior Ray Phillips is a far better
football player than he is a
A frustrated wrestler since
high school days in Evanston, Ill.,
'Phillips brags of his match with
teammate, and ace wrestler, Dave
"I was tough for about five
seconds - he couldn't catch me.
After that, I was pinned."
This is one of the few times
when Phillips jokes about losing.
Football games do not come under
this heading. He never thinks
about losing during a game:
"After all, I'm out there to win,"
he states frankly. "After last
year's State game I was sick
mentally and physically."
This Saturday Phillips is bound
to bear physical beating. But this
time he wants to feel good about
Phillips is a fierce competitor
with a winning attitude. "We
very seldom lost in high school,
and I've never been able to get
used to it," said the Evanston
What he is looking for now is a
victory over Michigan State. Al-
though he is not a native of Mich-
igan, he needs no prodding to get
'up' for State. "It's something
that's built in; you can't help but
feel it when you come here. Be-
sides, they've beaten us the last
two years, and I'd really like to
beat them before I leave."
Phillips confirms the oft-repeat-
ed adage that the State game is
like a different season: "When we
get in this game, the season rec-
ord up to the game means noth-
ing. The pressure of the game
may toughen you up or scare the
hell out of you, but one it starts
you forget everything. It's always
the hardest hitting game of the
"Against Navy, our offensive
line played the best ball they have
this season," said offensive line
coach Tony Mason. Possibly the
strongest link in the offensive
line is versatile Ray Phillips.
Phillips has moved over to left
guard from tackle to fill a void
created by an injury to Dick
Yanz. Phillips agrees that last
week's game was the season's best
effort so far, but he is sure that
both he and the team can do far
Phillips is a cool competitor
with alot of pride. He is light-
hearted and talkative, but he is
serious when he tells you that de-
spite their poor pre-Big Ten rec-
ord, Michigan can make the trip
to Pasadena.
Phillips has enjoyed many a
tough Saturday trying to protect
Michigan quarterback, but no
matter how frustrating a day he
has had, he can always look back
on it quite lightheartedly.
During last year's State game
he was fortunate enough to have
to block massive Bubba Smith
only twice.
"Once he stepped on my head,
and once I knocked him down,"
recalls Phillips. "Well really, I
didn't knock him down, I fell and
he tripped over me."
The big, tough, math major,
who would like to graduate with
a communications-science degree,
is extremely interested in playing
pro ball. His chances are good. He
has been mentioned on some pre-
season All-American teams, and
pro scouts are more than aware
of his ability.
Pre-season a c c 1 a i m bothers
Phillips. "I'd much rather finsh
the season and then be named
All-American than to have to play
up to clippings," he quite sensibly
Phillips says that the transi-
tion from his familiar tackle po-

sition to guard, where he shall
probably finish the season, has
come easily.
Phillips almost never got to the
University of Michigan. "I was
all set to go to Wisconsin, but I
came here for a visit. . ." For-
tunately he changed his mind.
Phillips' life is far more than
football. As his major implies, he

has done quite a bit of work in
the field of mathematics, and
while he may not be a Dr. Frank
Ryan, he has a future in it if he
He is also very interested in
world politics. He is quite willing
to talk about many of the world's
nagging problems, and more than
that, he is honestly concerned
about them.
Phillips has seldom had to ad-
mit failure. It's something he has
never learned to do.
Watch out Dave Porter

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