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September 14, 1974 - Image 21

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1974-09-14

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

Saturday, September 14, 1974

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Thirteen

OFFENSE STILL SHAKY
Illinois relying on
lop-notch defense ~

By ANDY GLAZER
It's getting to be the "in"
thing these days to call theBig
Ten the "Big 2-8." Michigan
and Ohio State have been rolling
over their in-conference foes for
so long now that the sarcastic
line has a ring of truth to it. In
fact, only one of the "little
eight" ever gave the Wolverines
or Buckeyes a real fight. That
team was Illinois.
The Illini were the only team
to hold an advantage over Mich-
igan during a game until Ohio
State. They were also the only
team to stay within three points
of OSU at the half until the
Bucks faced USC in the Rose
Bowl.
But they also managed to lose
to West Virginia, Stanford, Min-
nesota and Northwestern. So
which was the real Illinois
team? More importantly, which
is going to be the real Illinois
team this year? The answer de-
pends on if you look at the
roster or if you consult the team
doctor; the Illini look to have a
fine team, but they're not even
out of fall practice and have
suffered some key injuries.
The offense is where Coach
Bob Blackman hoped to make
his greatest improvements this
year; unfortunately, this is
where graduation and injuries
have hit the hardest. George
Uremovich was the best
known of the Illini backs last
year, and he is gone, and with
him left all-Big Ten receiver
Garvin Roberson, fullback Ed-
die Jenkins, and the entire
offensive line with the excep-
tion of center Joe Hatfield.
Still the Illinois offense might
have been improved this year
(seniors or not, the above play-
ers just didn't put enough points
on the board) under the leader-
Illini scalps
S. 14 Indiana
S. 21 at Stanford
S. 28 Washington State
0. $ California
0. 12 at Purdue
0. 19 Michigan State
0. 26 at Iowa
N. 2 at Ohio State
N. 9 MICHIGAN
N. 16 at Minnesota
N. 23 Northwestern
ship of Junior Jim Kopatz at
quarterback. Kopatz outplayed
last year's starter, Jeff Hollen-
back, in spring practice, but fell
victim to the injury jinx that
plagued the Illini last year when
he suffered a ligament strain
in his left knee. Even though
he will be out until just about
the season opener with Indiana
on Sept. 14, the time missed
could throw off Illini timing in
their first few games.
Another more serious injury
suffered in practice was to the
only returning starting back for
Illinois, halfback Lonnie Perrin.
He tore ligaments in his left
knee and will be out for the
year.
The replacements for Black-
man's backfield are for the most
part inexperienced. Fullback
Steve Greene carried the ball
77 times last year, which gives
him at least 46 more carries
than any of the other replace-
ments. The man who was closest
to him in experience, halfback
Roger Coleman, is presently out
with a hip pointer. So much for
an experienced backfield.
But defense was the reason
the Illini posted a 4-4 Big
Ten record last year. They
were the stingiest in the con-
ference in yards yielded per
play (take dit, Big Two).
One reason for that was that
they didn't give up many long
passes-the Illini ranked sixth
in the nation in pass defense
last year, and their three deep
secondary returns intact. Left

halfback Mike Gow led the
nation in pass interceptions,
but Blackman likes the steady

play of right halfback Bruce
Beaman and safety Bill Kleck-
ner just as much.
The linebacking is solid. Three
seniors will start, and two of
them, defensive captain Ty Mc-
Millin and 6-3, 235 Tom Hicks,
should be post-season honor can-
didates. Roy Robinson, a fine
pass defender, should be the
other starter.
The defensive line faces the
most change. Three replace-
ments have to be found, includ-
ing one for all-Big Ten end
Octavus Morgan.
Everyone In the Big Ten
found out about sophomore
placekicker Dan Beaver last
year when the Illini won two
consecutive games while scor-
ing on nothing but Beaver
field goals (15-13 over Purdue
and 6-3 over Michigan State).
In all, the Illini tend to remind
one of the Minnesota Vikings
circa 1970; a fine defense, a
good field goal kicker, and at
best a fair offense that is going
to have to rely on Beaver more
than it would like. Their de-
fense should keep them in most
ball games. But it should be
another couple of years before
they're ready to crack the Big
Two.

Daiv Photo ny Y
A LARGE PORTION of the Illinois defense buries a Michigan runner in a shot froi
game. Defense will again be the strong suit of the Illini this year.

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