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September 16, 1972 - Image 15

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1972-09-16
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Saturday, September. 16, 1972 Saturday, September 16,A972


! / T _ .
F i

Saturday, September. 16.~~ 192Sau.,.Speme.6,172TEMIHGN.AL



Of all the teams battling for
the coveted championship of the
Big Ten, only Illinois is rela-
tivelyeunfamiliar with the diz-
zying heights of the first divi-
sion. Not since 1963 have the
Fightin' Illini won a Big Ten
crown and not since the Gra-
bowski - Butkus era has any
Illinois team featured as many
standout players as this year's
Traditionally Illinois had had
one big football problem - the
lack of mature development by
key freshmen. The frosh would
laugh through an undefeated
season but either academic rig-
ors or general fatigue would'
doom the Illini varsity to a
poor finish.
The Illini, plagued by recruit-

ing scandals and coaching fias-
cos, last year brought Ivy
League genius Bob Blackman
from Dartmouth to nurse the
suffering football program and
Blackman responded just as
alumni., University officials, and
students hoped he would.
Though the green Illinois
squad bumbled off to an 0-6
start, the game Illini bounced
back to sweep the remaining
five league contests to finish
'with a highly respectable 5-6
season mark. In the process, the
youthful Illini seemed to cure
their maturational problems and
develop into a well polished
This year the Illini untouched
by the ravages of graduation
and in master of Blackman's
complex system imported from

ns Big
the Ivy League, seem quite
ready to repeat the joy of the
last half of last season. Though
their starting lineup is the equal
of any other Big Ten squad,
Blackman is fearful because, as
he puts it, "depth is our major
Illinois' offense seems quite
set and ready for the rough and
tumble Big Ten. Now that the
juniors and seniors have sur-
vived their test of fire in league
play, the offensive line should
be one of the best around.
Anchored by senior co-captain
Larry McCarren at center, the
Illinois front features junior tac-
kles Bruce Dobson and Gerry
Sullivan with guards John Gans







on State Street


Last year: 5-6, 5-3 in confer-
ence, 3rd place
Key Players: Mike Wells, qb;
Tab Bennet, de; Garvin Ro-
berson, oe.
Outlook: Tough schedule, lack
of winning tradition could
hide raw talent
and John Levanti. The youthful
experience of this unit should be
helpful in protecting All-Ameri-
ca candidate at quarterback
Mike Wells andopening gargan-
tuan holes for running sensa-
tions Mike Navarro and George
Wells, who completed 51 per-
cent of his passes last season as
well as rushing for 214 yards,
will be directing the multi-for-
mational attack of Illinois once
again this year. And with new
understanding of Blackman's
complex yet articulate spit, wing
slot-T formations, Wells could
well take the Illini to the Roses
in '72.
With his ability to place kick
Wells, a true triple threat man,
has already carved his name
into the scoring annals of Illinois
and his deftness in the last five
games against Big Ten oppo-
nents bodes well for the Illini
this year.
On the receiving end of what
could be the Big Ten's ver-
sion of the Beasley - Sullivan
passing combination will be split
end Garvin Robinson. Although
hampered last year by a dis-
located finger, Robinson snared
28 passes, good for fourth place
in Big Ten pass-catching ranks.
Tight end is the only position

MIKE WELLS (12), the Illini field general, takes desperately to
the air in last year's contest with Michigan, won by the Wolver-
ines 35-6. This year with Coach Blackman's system under his belt,
Wells will be flinging with more purpose and cool.

(Continued from Page 3)
uated Tom Beckman at the olh-
er tackle. Gallagher saw consid-
erable action last year as the
first replacement at tackle, and
should more than fill the bill.
Gallagher and Grambau will
be kept hopping, though, by the
presence of some excellent back-
up men. Senior Tony Smith will
be gunning for his third letter,
big junior Doug Troszak is ;eek-
ing his second, and Schembech-
ler also reports the presence of
some promising sophomores.
Michigan lost both of its de-
fensive ends by graduation, but
Schembechler is not worried
here, for he has a pair of sen-
iors who have been watching
and waiting for their chance at a
satrting berth and appear to be
ready to do an excellent job.
Both Don Eaton, a lanky 64,
194, and Clint Spearman are Ohio
boys who already have two let-
ters to their credit and should
guard the Blue flanks w e 11 .
Behind them are a pair of jun-
iors Don Coleman and Larry
Johnson, who appear to provide
sufficient depth.
The position of linebacker pro-
vides one solid plus and one big
question mark for the Wolver-
ines. The -plus is Tom Kee. Kee
was a starter last year, a n d
ranked second only to fellow line-
backer Mike Taylor in number of
The hard-hitting senior appears
to be ready to step in as one of
the premier linebackers in the
Big Ten this year. He will take
over from Taylor in calling the
defensive signals.
The question mark for Mich-
igan is the other linebacking
spot, for Taylor's shoes will not
be easy to fill. Right now, in-
juries have complicated the sit-
uation as to finding a replace-
ment( but currently there seems
to be a battle between junior
Craig Mutch and Steve Strinko, a
huge, 6-3, 235 pound sophomore.
Strinko appeared to have the
edge but a knee injury has him
temporarily out of action, and
has put the outcome in doubt.
who could play is the others fal-
concerned, however, about the
failure of a dominant candidate
to emerge as yet. "We don't
have another Mike Taylor," he
says, "but we have several good
The deep backfield is obviously
the biggest problem facing the
Wolverine coach. With safety
Tom Darden, wolf Frank Gusich.
and cornerman Bruce Elliot all
graduated, Schembechler is start-
ing almost from scratch.

in which the Illini seemed stock-
ed with any sort of comfortable
depth. Here Jim Rucks and Tom
Mullin challenge starter John
Bedalow for the right to begin
each game.
Blackman is troubled by his
backfield. Although he has Na-
varro, who averaged 4.7 yards
per carry in games he has
started, and late blossomer
Uremovich at full and half back
respectively, Blackman has no
known quantities to replace them
now that soph sensation John
Wilson has been banished by
scholastic problems.
Led by Tab Bennett, an odds
on favorite forhAll-America at
defensive end, the frontline is as
sturdy as any collegiate front
in America. Bennett, whose per-
sonal combination of massive-
ness and quickness, earned him
kudos across the conference, is
joined in the trenches by David


Wright, who actually made
more tackles than the well pub-
licized Bennett last year, was
termed by his line coach, Gary
Golden, as the perfect example
of defensive tackle.
Scholastic ineptitude has hit
the secondary but last year's
Big Ten leader should be pro-
ficient as ever in pass preven-
tion. Willie Osley who lead the
Big Ten in interceptions with
6 pigskins, failed to make the
required a v e r a g e. Sum-
mer courses may help but pre-
sently soph Bobby Johnson owns
the spot. Two year lettermen
Larry Huisinga and John Gra-
ham, second team Big Ten se-
lection, round out the last line
of defense.
A schedule w i t h features
Washington, Southern Cal, and
Penn State has caused shock
waves in Champaign, but the
lilini have come a long way
from those dog days of a few
years back.

The already worrisome vitaa-
tion was further complicated
when Geoff Steger, a junior who
was slated to start at wolf this
year, discovered that the arm he
broke during spring practice had
notkhealed properly, and that hO
would be forced to undergo ano-
ther operation which will put him
out of commission for the year
Steger's loss means that t h e
only returning starter Michigan
has in the defensive backfield
will have to be switched to a new
position. Randy Logan was a
starter at the cornerback p o s t
last year, but the senior from
Detroit will now be the starting
Logan's 6-2, 192 size makes him
ideal for the heavy work the
wolf must undergo, but his loss
at halfback leaves yet another
To fill the other deep spots,
Schemzechler is going to his
younger players. Junior Dave
Elliot will take his older broth-
er's spat at one corner, while
another junior, Tom Drake, will
man Logan's old -position. Both
hal at least enough playing time
last year to earn a letter.
However, at safety the Wol-
verines will be going with a man
without any varsity experience,
sophomore Dave Brown. Schem-
bechler admits that "following
safeties like (Tom) Curtis, (Jim)
Betts, and (Tom) Darden is no
easy chore for a young kid," but
he thinks that Brown can get
the job done.
Actually, Brown will have to
or the Wolverines may be in a
bit of trouble, for Michigan has
little or no depth in its second-
ary. "We can't afford any injur-
ies at all in our defensive back-
field," Schembechler says, and
he means it.

Generally, the outlook for the
Wolverine defense is pleasing.
With the wealth of talent and ex-
perience along the line and line-
backing, the Blue defense should
be just as fearsome against the
rush as ever.
Whether Michigan will be any
more vulnerable to the pass is
still in doubt. But should a can-

BUSTING THROUGH and over is linebacking great Tom K
(37). Kee, who will call the defensive signals for the Wolverin
this campaign, is mentioned highly as an All-America prospect

didate solidly establish himself
quickly at middle linebacker,
should Brown mature as quickly
as his coaches think he will at
safety, and should the Wolver-
ines be lucky enough to avoid
serious injury to any more mem-
bers of their secondary, the Mich-
igan defense could very well
maintain its spot as one of the
best in the nation.






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