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The Michigan Daily - Friday, Sept
epth a problem at
By PAUL HELGREN
"To have a great defense," said Michigan coach
Bo Schembechler, who should be an authority on
the subject by now, "you've got to have great
Schembechler may line up some fine
linebackers this year. But the backers' backers
have the coaching staff concerned.
STARTING SENIORS Mike Mallory and
Rodney Lyles are returning, as well as some other
experienced players. But beyond the first string,
only question marks remain.
"We've always got the numbers," said assistant
head coach and defensive co-ordinator Gary
Moeller. "It's the quality of the depth you worry
about. Everybody's worried about our depth at
Of course question marks can sometimes turn
into fine players. Last season three linebackers
went down - Mike Boren, Tom Hassel and Mike
Reinhold - but the replacements did the job.
SECOND-TEAM All-Big Ten honoree Mallory
could blossom into a bonafide star. He only
stands 6-2, 217 pounds but he's a fierce scrapper.
He led the Wolverines with 119 tackles in 1983.
Lyles, who started all but two games for
Michigan last year, should be a mainstay at the
outside linebacker spot. He led the team with nine
tackles behind the line of scrimmage last
Senior Jim Scarcelli should hold down the other
outside position. The lean 6-6, 217-pound Scarcelli
suffered a pinched nerve in the spring but should
be in top form for the opener.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines there is
nobody with significant game experience behind
Lyles and Scarcelli. Sophomores Carlitos Bostic
and Tim Schulte figure to be next in line.
Depth is a problem on the inside, too. Mallory is
joined by dependable seniors Tim Anderson and
Jeff Akers. After that Bo will have to call on 6-1,
219-pound junior Andy Moeller, son of the
Wolverine assistant head coach, and 6-2, 215-
pound sophomore John Balourdos. Neither has
played when the game is on the line.
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Arbor a must. "We never pressured
them into anything."
Though not extraordinarily big, Al
chose football as his pastime. By the
time he reached high school he had
established a reputation as a gritty
lineman. He tried his hand at basketball
one year at St. Joseph's, but with the
frame of a 190-pound tree stump Al
was built for football.
"AL SINCICH was the only pulling
guard St. Joe's has ever had in basket-
ball," recalled Moran, who also serves
as the school's head basketball coach.
"He played basketball like he played
football-rough. Of course, if you ask
him he'll tell you he was a great
Moran laughed. He knows a
statement like that would be com-
pletely uncharacteristic of Sincich.
Reserved and well-mannered, Sincich
is somewhat uncomfortable talking
about his own exploits. He also doesn't
want to be lavished with praise for what
he has done on the football field. He
would prefer to be treated "just like
Said his father, "He tells me, like if
I'm going to talk to someone about
sports, he tells me, 'Don't say nothing
about me.' He don't want none of that."
His son's modesty didn't prevent Mr.
Sincich from distributing hundreds of
copies of this year's wallet-sized
Michigan football schedule, which
features a photograph of Al on the front.
"I gave one to everybody that
asked-and everybody that didn't."
"AL'S A sensitive kid," added
Moran. "We have a big blow-up picture
in the football office here of Al crying
after a loss. He's bloody and muddy."
Though Sincich now serves as the
picture of dejection at St. Joseph's,
during his playing days he was closer to
the picture of perfection. By his senior
year he made All-Ohio and attracted the
attention of some major college football
teams, despite his relative puniness.
One of those teams was Michigan.
Wolverine head coach Bo Schem-
bechler was probably less concerned
about Sincich's stature than most
major college coaches. After all, four
years earlier the Michigan general had
snagged a pint-sized St. Joe's
linebacker by the name of Andy Can-
navino who went on to have a great
"BO LIKES SMALL, quick people on
defense," Sincich noted. "If you look at
Michigan's defense in the past, there's
always been small, quick guys there."
Still, the coaching staff was less than
impressed with Sincich when he walked
into Michigan Stadium in August of his
"They had everybody in front of me,"
said Sincich. "When they (Michigan
recruiters) first came in they said they
didn't have no middle guard and when I
got here there were six guys ahead of
me. Kinda depressing, you know.
"THEY JUST KEPT putting people in
that was bigger than me, trying 'em out
and everything. It was the third week of
the season when Bo moved me to
second string...Three weeks later I was
Sincich's rookie year was no picnic,
however. Injuries had forced the
coaches to move Sincich, all 205 pounds
of him, into the line to fill the gap. He
took a terrible beating. "Now that I look
back on it," said Sincich with a laugh,
"it was amazing that I even survived
my freshman year."
Sincich survived that first year only
to return the following campaign and
find his job in jeopardy. The coaches
were still searching for a behemoth-
type to fill the middle. But they found
the best man for the job was still Al Sin-
. "YOU ALWAYS FIGURE someone's
going to beat him out," said Gary
Moeller, Michigan's assistant head
coach and defensive coordinator. "But
he's always there. He's one of those
tough little nuts that's not going to give
up his position."
Sincich doesn't have to worry about
keeping his position anymore. He is one
of the senior anchors on a defense that
should prove to be exceptional. Eight
starters return from last year's first-
ranked defense in the Big Ten. And no
position is more important than the
middle guard slot.
Though his weight has inched up near
the 230 mark, Sincich's forte is still his
quickness. He regularly scoots past
bewildered centers to meet running
backs at the line. And at a height of just
over six feet, he is able to use leverage
to bring down the big goons up front and
create tackling opportunities for
Michigan's talented linebacking corps.
HIS HARD WORK on the line may not
always earn tackles for himself, but it
has earned him the respect of his
teammates and coaches.
"He's highly respected because of the
position he plays," said Moeller.
"Al is a leader by example," added
defensive line coach Jerry Meter. "I
know a lot of people look up to him."
THOUGH THOSE around Sincich
seem impressed with his accomplish-
ments during his first three, years as a
starter, Sincich remains dissatisfied.
He said that last season he suffered
from "a mental block" that prevented
him from playing up to his expec-
"Maybe it's my mom," said brother
Randy about Al's difficulties. Though
he has nothing to be ashamed about (he
was All-Big Ten last year) this year will
be a different story. And though he
won't tell anybody-not even his
father-Sincich might just be
dedicating himself to a memory.
"I think he's playing for his mother
now, too," his father said. There's no
doubt his mother would have been very
September 29: at In
COACH: Bill Mallory (first season al
LAST YEAR'S RECORD: 3-8, 2-7 Big
LAST YEAR VS MICH: Michigan 43,
SERIES LEADER: Michigan. 32-8.
1983 OFFENSIVE RANKING: 7th.
DEFENSIVE RANKING: 7th.
1983 DEFENSIVE RANKING: 8th.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Steve
Bradley (QB), Len Kennebrew (WR),
Chris Sigler (FS), Joe Fitzgerald (LB),
Nate Borders (CB).
When three different head coaches
hold the reigns at a school in three
years, the recruiting effort will
usually be left in disarray.
Bill Mallory moved into the foot-
ball office at Indiana last spring,
following Sam Wyche who now
heads up the Cincinnati Bengals,
and Lee-Corso, who was fired in 1982
after 10 years of coaching the
Hoosiers. Not surprisingly, Mallory
found a lack of talent on the field.
INDIANA RETURNS 15 starters,
but a year ago the Cream and Crim-
son was last in the Big Ten in total
defense and averaged less than 100
yards per game on the ground. Both
of these areas will have to improve if
Indiana is to n
in the standin
after a good
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