THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, x:965
THE MICHIGAN DAILY
THURSDA,SEPTEBER.2..196 THE MCHIGA DAIL
Hard Work Gets Gabler Coveted Job
By CHUCK VETZNER
' Wallace F. Gabler III is a1
Michigan quarterback who came
from nowhere unless you consider
Royal Oak, Mich., the New Mexico
Military Institute, and the depths
of the Michigan bench somewhere.
And most people don't.
He ' is the unsung hero, the
proof that Horatio Alger still lives,
and the man without a full schol-'
arship in the age of the big give
Mr. Gabler III likes being called
Wally which is most understand.
able. Wally also likes to play foot-
ball, a most understandable at-
titude- for a Michigan football
Where's the Action?
The catch is that until this year
he didn't play much football, at
least not in the games when it
counted. Last season, he was in
the Rose Bowl for five minutes
and tacked on another five dur-
ing the regular games.
This inactive period of Gabler's
career ended abruptly last Satur-
day when he ran for a 31-yard
touchdown on his first play of the
Such a debut would make one
4 think that Gabler is headed in the
direction of stardom. In fact, he
is still in search of startingdom.
Dick Vidmer -and Gabler are pres-
ently alternating at the quarter-
back spot .and neither has been
able to outshine the other.
But Gabler is certainly in a
better position than he was last
year. "There's a twoword reason
why I didn't play 'last season,
Gabler explains. "Bob Timberlake.
He was just tremendous, and no
quarterback could hope to beat
This autumn, however, Timber-
lake was no more, and the Wol-
verines were searching fo a suc-
cessor. During the drills of last
spring head coach Bump Elliott
rated Vidmer his top quarterback
with Gabler just a shade behind.
~ Passed By
4 Nevertheless, the football ex-
perts decided to ignore Gabler.
Preseason predictions praised Vid-
mer and relegated Gabler to the
list of other possibilities.
Actually the" prognosticators
could not be blmed. Vidmer had
not ooked particularly effective,
and Mlliott claimed he was off in
timing after sitting out the season
with a broken leg. If a rusty Vid-
mer a better than a healthy
Gabl4., the future starter appear-
ed ob7 ious.
Still the Underdog
When fall rolled around Vidmer
was back in shape, but in Elliott's
words, he remained "just a bit
better than Gabler." The days
went by and Gabler was a degree
behind, almost as good, just about
equal, and thei dead even.,
"That was my biggest thrill in
football when I made the Blue
(first) team," says Gabler.
So how did he do it?
Well, Gabler may have been
physically sound last spring, but
he was just starting to learn Mich-
igan's style of play complete with
roll out options.
Previously, Gabler' operated a
pro type offense of drop back
passing with running taken care of
by the other backs.
After graduating from high
school in Royal Oak, Gabler ap-
plied and was admitted to Michi-
gan, the school he wanted to go
to since he was a youngster. Much
to his dismay he did not get an
athletic scholarship, but he did
plan to go out for the team.
Then during the summer, when
his name tag was just about up
on his future quad room, the Naval
Academy took a liking to him and
urged him to become a midship-
man instead of a Wolverine.
The idea sounded fine to Gab-
ler, and he dropped anchor at a
New Mexico junior college for his
freshman year with the thought
of going to Annapolis the follow-
This was a common route for
Annapolis men. In fact another
fellow named Roger Staubach had
been at the junior college two
But Gabler did Jolly Roger one
better. Actually three better. Gab-
ler broke three of Staubach's rec-
ords at the school (most touch-
down passes in one game, and
best completion percentage) and
was a junir college All-American.
Navy was hopping up and down
in anxiety, but he never arrived.
Gabler was no longer so fond of
military life and decided he would
rather teach or become a lawyer.
He returned to Michigan even
though he lost a year of eligibility.
During the first year back in Ann
Arbor, Gabler worked with the
freshman team and paid his own
I As a junior, he warmed the
bench with only a tuition scholar-
ship. He is getting the same schol-
arship deal presently, which makes
him one of the best bargains in
Michigan football history.
Between this year and last,
Gabler improved, but not with any
dramatic flair. There was no time
when he saw his kid brother pitch
little league and suddenly realize
he was throwing the football
wrong, and there was no gimmick
he picked up from watching films
of Johnny Unitas.
As Elliott simply explains,
"Wally just did it with hard work."
In the spring, offensive coach
Hank Fonde helped him; in early
summer, he went to. summer
school andworked with Bob Tim-
berlake; at the end of June,' he
went home and ,threw to high
school and college teammate
Craig Kirby and Wolverine and
pro star Ron Kramer.
Question of Experience
"It was all a question of ex-
perience," Gabler explains. "I had
to learn the patterns and the
backfield action. I really didn't
make any progress until the
Of course Gabler tried extra
hard because this was his last
chance. "I'm a senior and I know
this is the last year I'll ever play
football. If I don't make it now,
I'll never make it.
"When Vid (Vidmer) got all
the publicity, it didn't bother me;
it only made me want to succeed
In the current situation with
both quarterbacks ,equal, Gabler
and Vidmer are friendly rivals.
Although Gabler is a strong passer,
his edge on Vidmer is running
Not Fast, But Fakey
Gabler readily admits he is no
speedster,, and Elliott calls him
deceptively fast at best. But he
manages to avoid tacklers the
way the Viet Cong avoid marines.
Wally describes his opening day
touchdown run as a piece of good
fortune. "I got a couple of good
blocks, managed to evade one man,
and then staggered into the end
Actually his footwork is fancier
than the description, and it is a
talent that he has acquired since
arriving at Michigan. Understand-
ably, he says that he is beginning
to like the roll out options as much
as drop back passing.
Naturally, Gabler would like to
start, but he says not knowing
until just before the game causes
no special problems.
"Of course, it would be nice to
start, but winning is the main
thing. At least this year I know
I'll be able to play."
Speakers: CARL OGLESBY
President of Students For
A Democratic Society
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WALLY GABLER PICKS UP extra yardage in a recent Wolverine
scrimmage. Gabler gained 44 yards in eight attempts in last
week's victory over North Carolina, including a 33-yard touch-
down run on his first play from scrimmage. He also completed,
two of three passes for 35 yards.
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