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September 08, 1977 - Image 23

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-09-08

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Page T'h res

Thursday, September 8, 1'977


Thursday, September 8, 1977 ~HE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Threi



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Top-notch runninMg game
should carry M to title
The year 1976 will be remembered with mixed feelings by
everyone who followed football at Michigan.
The early weeks of the season were nothing but joy, when
Michigan dominated both the AP and UPI polls as the undis-
puted number one team in the nation.
BUT ALL THAT SHATTERED on a dismal Saturday in
West Lafayette, Indiana when the Purdue Boilermakers un-
obligingly powered past allegedly indestructible Michigan, 16-14.
Two weeks later, however, the Wolverines were once again
the kings of Ann Arbor, as they devastated the dreaded Ohio
State Buckeyes 22-0-in Columbus, Ohio no less.
But the OSU victory, that was supposed to make the season
a success, was quickly forgotten on January 1, as the USC
Trojans sunk Michigan for good, 14-6 in the Rose Bowl.
SO THE OVERALL PICTURE of last season depends on
how particular you are. A victory over Ohio State would be
enough in most years, but last year was different. A number
one ranking infers near-perfection as the only goal.
And the 'team was far from perfect.
Once again the passing ability of quarterback Rick Leach,
or the lack of it, has come under fire from critics all around.
Head coach Bo Schembechler maintains that a team who de-
pends on the forward pass to win its games' will probably
not win many of its games anyway.
BUT THAT DOES LITTLE to satisfy those who witnessed
Southern California whip Michigan in the Rose Bowl. By virtue
of a balanced attack which included both running the football,
and passing it with enoughssuccess to keep the defense con-
stantly guessing, the Trojans were able to hold on to the ball
most of the game, and not allow Michigan's vaunted running
game get untracked.
Which brings up just as big a problem - Michigan's sec-
ondary.' Had Michigan been able to hold off USC's passing
game, Michigan's inadequacies in its own passing game
wouldn't have appeared as obvious. After all, if a passing team
can't score against your defense, doesn't that prove that it
isn't worthwhile to pass?
Against the Big Ten teams that philosophy4worked fine, and
Michigan had little problem, as usual, with the bulk of its
Big Ten schedule.'
BUT THE TROJANS WERE JUST one of the{passing teams
that Michigan faced last year. And as the only one that suc-
ceeded, gnly they will be remembered as a passing team. The
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Cover photo by
Christina Schneider
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all last year, but with Smith
passes come their way.

gone, they'll undoubtedly see more

Daily Photo by KEN FINK

AND TO TOP IT ALL OFF, the entire, starting offensive
line that gave Michigan an average of ,363 yards rushing per
gamelast year, will be returning. Most are-two-year starters
and all are seniors.
Although they get little publicity for their exploits, they
will be responsible for opening up the holes which make the
running game go. They are-tackles Mike Kenn and Bill Dufek,
guards Mark Donahue and Gerry Szara, and center Walt Down-
Don't expect any problems with the running game this fall.
ON THE DEFENSIVE SIDE OF the ledger, things don't
look as bright for the Wolverines. New defensive coordinator
Bill McCartney will have to build back up a defense which. lost
seven of its eleven starters from the year before.
Allowing the opponent an average of less than eight -points
per game last year, the defense was among the leaders in the
nation in points scored on, and also yardage against the rush.
But- gone are all but two players from the front seven men
who did so well against the running game last year. The duo
at end, seniors Dominic Tedesco and John Anderson are the
only returnees from -that group.
BUT THIS YEAR'S STARTERS at the other spots will still
have much experience from their second and third-string jobs
last year.
At the tackles, juniors Curtis Greer and Dale Keitz present-
ly have the edge for the starting spots, while junior Steve
Graves, who is coming off a great spring, 'has the nod at middle
At the linebacker position, Jerry Meter,.a junior, and sopho-
more Ron Simpkins will probably start. Simpkins will be the
first sophomore in eight years to start in one of the front seven
RETURNEES FROM LAST YEAR'S defensive backfield are
safety Dwight Hicks and halfback Jim Pickens, both seniors.
The two will be sorely needed to come up with big plays . if
Michigan is to recover from its secondary woes from last year.
The battle for the other two backfield spots will be be-
tween sophomores Mike Harden and Mike Jolly at halfback,
and at the wolf position will be either senior Derek Howard
or junior Bob Patek.
The kicking game may also present a problem. Consistent
Bob Wood graduated, and untested Gregg Willner and Nick
Labun will probably toe it out for the starting spot. Three-year
punter Anderson will once again assume that position.
SO THE OFFENSE APPEARS as strong as ever, probably
so strong though, that Bo will rarely have to resort to his
passing game, which may once again hurt in the close games.
If there are any, that is.
The defense is currently a question-mark. Many improve-
merts have to be made over the pass defense, which includes
rushing the passer as well as covering the receivers.
But in spite of all the problems, circle November 19 on your
calendar - Michigan and Ohio State will likely be battling
it out for the Big Ten championship that day in Michigan

Leach pitches to Huckleby

fact that Michigan faced an average of 37 passes in its first five
games, all of which it won handily, is a forgotten fact.
Southern California, however, was the only national power
among the passing teams, and if Michigan" is to yerify its status
as one of those powers, it mint show that it can defense the
All too often, pass receivers would slip in front of Michi-
gan's pass defenders, who played to avoid the long pass while
sacrificing the short pass. This conservative tactic is the part of
coaching staff's philosophy, and don't expect to see anything
different this year.
cerning the running game to change either. Although he hired a
new coach, who specializes in passing, Michigan will still em-
ploy the same grind-it-out, ball-control style of offense that has
made it one of the winningest teams in college football for the
last eight years.
But in spite of all the pessimism exuded thus far, Michigan
will still probably roll over the remainder of the Big-Ten, set-
ting up another showdown against Ohio State in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines return nine of their eleven starters on an
offense which averaged 38.7 points per game in 1976. Gone will
be two good ones, though-all-purpose running back Rob Lytle,
and star receiver and punt returner Jim Smith.

tailback spot. Huckleby started as a sophomore the first part
of last season, until fullbdck Russell Davis, another junior run-
ning back won the fullback position, and Lytle subsequently
moved to tailback.
Huckleby still managed to gain 928 yards' last season,
though, second on the team to Lytle's 1405. And along with
Davis, the two represent a young, but experienced backfield,
with Davis being the strong, bruising fullback, and Huckleby
playing the role of a quick, elusive tailback.
Leach will again man the quarterback spot. A starter since
he's attended the school, two seasons ago, Leach has proven
himself a superb executer of the option-style offense which
Michigan employs, but his passing potential has yet to come out.
HE'S HAD A FEW SOLID passing games, but when the
forward pass has been mostly needed (Re: Purdue and USC)
he's failed to come through.
Smith's understudy at wingback, senior Max Richardson
will finally get his chance at the starting spot. Richardson has
seen little action in the past, and he'll be hard-pressed to fill the
shoes of Smith.
Seniors Rick White and Curt Stephenson will battle it out
for the split end position, and junior Gene Johnson will start.
at tight end. Between the three,,they oply caught eleven passes






If only Johnny Orr could combine the strengths of last
year's Big Ten championship team and this year's squad, he'd
have a pretty solid contender for The nationaltitle.
Not that his recent teams have done so badly-Michigan
was NCAA runnerup to Indiana two years ago and the pre-
season number one pick last year, The Wolverines won the Big
Ten and appeared to be headed for Atlanta until they met up
with UNC-Charlotte, the Cinderella team Michigan us'ed to be.
Fans came out of the woodwork last year. Crisler Arena was
sold out. More of the same is expected.
But this year's team has its work cut out for it. There
is no clear favorite in the Big Ten, and every team but
Northwestern strengthened its hand with outstanding re-
Two years ago, graduation claimed only 6-2 forward Way-'
man Britt. The "experts" said all that wash lacking was the
big center who would allow Phil Hubbard to play in the corner.
Co-captain John Robinson held down one forward spot, and the
backcourt was all set. In fact, guards Rickey Green, 'co-captain
Steve Grote and Dave Baxter may haye been the best three-
some in the country.
This year the coaches may have recruited the center, but
starters Robinson, Grote and Green are gone.


SCinderella no longer, risine


Robinson worked close to the basket and became Michigan's
all-time best percentage shooter with a mark of .5497. Rob is
now trying out with the Lakers.
Grote, as Curt Gowdy told you for four years, is the
hardnosed guard who could have played wolfnman for Bo
Schembechler. He went to the Cavs in the third .round of
June's NBA draft.
And Green, a consensus All-American, was a scoring ma-
chine and the quickest player ever to wear a Michigan uni-
form. Rickey went to Golden State in the first i'ound.
That's a lot of experience to replace.
Michigan plays a crowd-pleasing man-to-man defense, uses
the press to advantage and goes with a fast break. Although
the Wolverines won't be as quick without Green, the style of
play shouldn't change too drastically.
Orr will bank on co-captains,Hubbard and Baxter and hope
that others step up to fill the gaps.
Phil is clearly the Franchise. At this point, no one can
say for sure whether he will start at forward or at center.
That pretty much depends on newcomer Mike Robinson.
The younger brother of John Rob, Mike, stands 6-10 and
weighs 265 (down 35 pounds from a year ago). Mikes comes
to Michigan after a year at the College of DuPage in Glen
Ellyn, Illinois where he scored 22 points a game and set a
school record for rebounds.
Hubbard, at 6-7, 205 pounds, has started at center for two
years and is anxious to show his stuff at his natural position.
He is exceptionally quick and has a dependable 15 foot jumper
-which could be put to better use at forward.
The Olympian led last year's team in scoring and rebound-
ing while becoming the first player in Michigan basketball his-
. tory to score 1000 points before the end of his sophomore year.
His teammates voted him both Most Valuable and Most Im-
proved Player.
If Hubbard has a fault it is his penchant for foul trouble.
He has fouled out each and every time he has played Indiana
(including the NCAA finals in Philadelphia in 19/6) and was
whistled down 109 times last season.'It used to be that if Hub
fouled out you could just about kiss the game goodbye. Not
only is Hub fouling less these days, but Robinson should prove
to be at least a capable backup center.
If Orr chooses to keep Hubbard at center, there won't
be too many opponents who can give him trouble outside
of Minnesota's Michael Thompson and possibly Purdue's
Joe Barry Carroll. At forward, Hubbard would be nothing
short of sensational.
The forwards' output was somewhat unstable last season.
The snnt nnnncite Tnhn Rohinsnn gave Michigan fits all year.

good outside shooter when he has room. It remains to be seen
how he will handle the additional pressure from opposing de-
fenses bound to come his way now that Green is gone.
The other returning guard is Mark Lozier, who played
briefly as Michigan's only freshman last year. He made a
lot of fans with a gutty performance against Marquette in
the last game of the regular season. Guarding Steve Grote
in practice every day, Lozier took a lot of punishment,
learned to dish it out and improved quickly. Lozier lacks the
quickness of some other contenders, but left AnnArbor last
spring vowing to earn a starting spot.
Again, there are any number of possibilities for the start-
ing lineup. Orr, Bill Frieder and Jim Boyce suplemented the
talent at hand with a well-above-average group of recruits.
While it is well-known that recent Michigan teams have
lacked size, it is also true that they have lacked a pure shooter.
There have been great scorers, notably Green, and players
who could sink the key shots, such as Grote. What Michigan has
not had is a player who could shoot the lights out at Crisler,
a pure shooter like Mike Woodson of Indiana or Terry Furlow,
formerly of Michigan State. The coaches may have found such
,i player in Mike McGee from Omaha.
A 6-5, 195 pound swingman, McGee averaged nearly 40
points, 15 rebounds and five assists a game his senior year
while breaking nearly every scoring record in Nebraska.
McGee, who models himself after Adrian Dantley, works
the baseline and rebounds well in addition -to his soft touch
outside. In the Michigan Roundball Classic in Detroit last May
McGee made 16 of 30 shots in a 36 point performance and
hauled down 19 rebounds. He's a strong contender at forward.
Another sharpshooter is 6-4, 200 pound guard Johnny John-
son from Buffalo. As a senior Johnson averaged 31.6 points, 15
rebounds and six assists per game while shooting at a 60 per
cent clip. Johnson is considered to be a very talented player, but
one who must be motivated.
Identical twins Mark and Marty Bodnar round out the
field at guard. The twins, 6-2, 180 pounds, played on an out-
standing Barberton (Ohio) High School team that included
Carter Scott, now a freshman at Ohio State.
Mark, a southpaw, averaged 16 points a game while shoot-
ing 54 per cent from the floor. Marty, a righthander, averaged
15 points and hit 57 per cent on field goals. Mark and Marty
finished second and third respectively on the all-time Barber-
ton scoring list.
The twins are reminiscent of Grote with their hustling style
of play. They are probably better shooters than Steve 'but may
not be quite as strong defensively.
While recruiting the Rndnars. the cnaches sntted Paul

Joel Thompsdn underwent knee surgery last spring but 'is
fully recovered. A part-time starter last season, Joel is not as
aggressive as other contenders. He is capable of adding offen-
sive punch, but his :shooting is erratic. Thompson is easily the
best leaper on the team -his dunks bring even complacent
Crisler Arena fans to their feet.
Alan Hardy, a 6-6 junior forward, .hs as much talent
as anyone on the team but has yet to pit it all together.
Hardy can jump, rebound and block shots extrenly well.
He is capable of getting a hot hand but must regain his
confidence. Alan showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman
but became discouraged last season. He could settle down
with playing time.
As a backup center for the past two seasons, 6-9 sepior Tom
Bergen lacks Hubbard's stamina and defensive ski but has
a good shooting touch.
Bobby Jones, a 6-6 forward from Gulfport, Mississippi,
was highly recruited out of high school but has not lived up
to his billing at Michigan. At the time of publication it was
not known if Bobby would return to Ann Arbor in the fall. As
a junior, his future at Michigan appears limited.
Senior Len Lillard, 6-7, has inever played much but is valu-
able in practice sessions on scout teams. Len improved sig-
nificantly last year, but is not quite equal to Big Ten play.

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