The Michigan Daily-Saturday, Sep
Page 2-Saturday, September 8, 1979-The Michigan Daily
The rites of autumn .
Offense must gel
early on in season
Bo pins hopes on
veteran 'M' defense
By BILLY SAHN
In collegiate sports, the process of
filling vacancies left by departing
seniors occurs every year. It's an
inherent and bothersome worry. for
college coaches. Nevertheless, some
years bring relatively little turnover,
whil others result in massive change.
In terms of offense for the 1979
Michigan football team, the latter' is
Ih .all, the Wolverines return to
Michigan Stadium today minus eight of
eleven offensive starters from last
year. The veterans have graduated
leaving major holes in the Blue offense
to be filled. When Michigan takes the
field against Northwestern, the offen-
sive line and backfield will have un-
dergone an extensive gridiron facelift
PERHAPS THE most hotly contested
spot on the whole Blue squad this year
has been that of field general-the
quarterback. The duties of calling the
signals have been almost solely those of
Rick Leach the past four years.
Replacing Leach and his expertise in
directing the option-oriented Michigan
offense will be the chief concern this
fall of Michigan coach Bo Schem-
Thecommon question for Schem-
bechler this summer has been, "Who
will be your quarterback?" The leading
candidate for the job has been B.J.
Dickey. The 6-0, 185 junior has been
Leach's backup the past two years.
Following spring practice Schem-
bechler said, "If the season were to
start tomorrow, B.J. would be my man.
He had a good spring practice and
knows the system."~
In limited action during the 1978
campaign, Dickey completed eight of 18
passes for a 42 per cent completion rate
and 115 yards, while throwing for two
See NEW BALLGAME, Page 7
By DAN PERRIN
While even the most ardent Wolverine
football fan may not recognize many of
the faces in the offensive lineup this
fall, the opposite will be true with the
All butsthree starters return today
from a squad that r~nked fourth
nationally in total defense and second in
scoring defense last season, holding op-
ponents to just eight points a game.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS Jerry
Meter and Tom Seabron constitute the
lone first stringers lost to graduation,
while wolfman Gene Bell has been
fighting academic ineligibility. No need
to worry though, because head coach
Bo Schembechler has found a trio of
very able replacements in senior Mel
Owens (linebacker) and juniors Ben
Needham (linebacker) and Stu -Harris
Schembechler has been especially
pleased with the progress his newly ap-
pointed linebackers have made and
foreseesino adjustment problems at
"The thing that's going to help us is
Owens and. Needham replacing Meter
and Seabron," said Schembechler.
"There's no falling off in effectiveness
BOTH OF THE two new backers ac-
tually have one game's experience as
starters under their belt. The 6-2, 230-
pound Owens, whose father is head
baseball coach at Northern Illinois in
DeKalb, Ill., was slated as a starter at
inside linebacker last season and
played well against Illinois (nine
tackles and an interception) before
being knocked out for the season again-
st Notre Dame with a pinched nerve in
Needham, a 6-4, 214-pounder from
Groveport, Ohio, filled in for an ailing
Seabron at Ohio State and passed the
test with flying colors. He broke up a
pass against the Buckeyes and finished
the season with 21 solo tackles and six
Outside of these three newcomers,
Schembechler and defensive * coor-
dinator Bill McCartney have a solid
base of skilled and scarred veterans to
out of the Blue
By Geoff Larcom
Continued from Page Iii.
one ranked OSU squad which had soundly beaten USC in the Rose Bowl the
After two alarming tie games in 1975, Missouri came into Ann Arbor un-
defeated and fifth-ranked. But the Wolverines geared up and spanked the
Tigers by a 31-7 count.
Other highly-ranked non-conference foes to fall to Michigan recently in-
clude Colorado, UCLA (twice), and Texas A&M (41-3).
No Bo, you don't choke, nor does your team. Dan Devine and Notre
Dame will attest to that. You spotted them a gift touchdown early in their
own place last year, then came back to win.
But then there is a game like the Rose Bowl of two years ago-third
quarter score-Washington 24, Michigan 0. A brutal choke, right? Wrong.
Along comes Rick Leach, throwing scoring strikes of 76 and 32 yards, then
just missing a third to Stanley Edwards to knot the score.
Granted, here Michigan lost to an inferior team. But those second half
heroics enabled the Wolverines to shake off the "gag" label.
Yet there remains one nagging question.
What about those five other bowl losses, one each coming to Stanford
and Oklahoma, and the other three to USC?
Suffice it to say that Oklahoma finished top ranked in the country the
year they played Michigan, while Southern California ended up no worse
than third the three years they successfully dueled the Wolverines. In ad-
dition, Michigan played the 1970 game with Bo hospitalized, recovering from
his heart attack.
Anybody attempting to build a case for Michigan blowing the big game
would start with the 13-12 loss to Stanford however. Despite losing, Michigan
was still ranked ahead of the Cardinals at the season's end. So why didn't
they win? That's one only the football gods can answer.
Still, in four of those five games Michigan simply played teams, with
superior talent. One telling statistic will always stand out in my mind from
the 1976 season, during which Bo had one of his finest teams. That summer
USC sent 14 players to pro training camps, while Michigan sent 6.
That was, incidentally, the final score of the Rose Bowl that year.
I n-Sahn-ity By Billy Sahn
Continued fr m m Page I
This year, the dominant figure standing over the center is absent from
the playing field. Also, the complicated offensive play-book developed over
Leach's four years must be revamped to accommodate the new situation.
Thus comes the true test for Schembechler and his staff. Their ability will be
tested to see just how far they get the young squad.
It's unfair to expect either B.J. Dickey, John Wangler, Rich Hewlett or
Steve O'Donnell to play and lead like their predecessor. Nevertheless, it's
unlikely to see a Schembechler team, no matter how young, not give the fans
a thrill and make a run for the roses.
In all, it will be an interesting if not exciting season in the Big Ten. What
was once called the "Big Two" is now expanded to the "Big Four" and
maybe even more.
The days of Michigan's and Ohio State's dominance are numbered.
Joining the Wolverines and the Buckeyes in the ranks of top contenders are
Purdue and Michigan State. (Actually, the Spartans shared the Big Ten
crown last year but could not reap the benefits due to NCAA probation,
which has since ended.) Yet even Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin all have
the ability to play the spoiler role.
The November 10th confrontation at West Lafayette, Indiana, may well
be the tell-tale game of the conference when the Boilermakers of Purdue at-
tempt to steamroll the Wolverines.
But until then, sit back and enjoy the time of your life, or at least your
college weekends this fall, in Michigan Stadium. It's history in the making.
.J . pSy.:.
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work with on defense. It will be these
players that the coaches will be coun-
ting on to hold down the fort while the
young and inexperienced offense
masters the Michigan system.
"THERE'S MORE pressure on the
defense to deliver this year," noted
Schembechler, "particularly early on
because there are a lot of new people on
offense, plus two key injuries to (guard
John) Powers and (tackle Bubba )
Paris, both predicted starters.
"The defense has to carry a bigger
load," continued the 11th year mentor.
"I think they realize that. You can't
lose an entire offensive backfield and
not feel it early in the season.
"But I feel secure the defense can
step in and get the ball back in good
field position,' Schembechler con-
AND IF PAST performance .is any
indication, Schembechler has every
right to feel secure with his defense.
Last season, the Wolverines led the Big
Ten in every major defensive category,
including rushing defense (113.2 yards
yielded per game), scoring defense (7.1
pts. per game), passing defense (99.9
yars per game) and total defense (213.1
yards per game).
See QUICK, Page 4
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