Saturday, 1 p.m.
Matt Mann Pool
The Michigan Daily
Thursday, November 14, 1985
By BRAD MORGAN
Rickey Foggie, Rickey Foggie,
When people talk about the
resurgence of the Minnesota Golden
gophers this year, the only reason
tiost people cite is Rickey Foggie,
, rinnesota's sensational sophomore
quarterback. What people fail to
realize is that Minnesota's defense
,as risen from ninth to second in the
conference, due in large part to the
play of inside linebacker Peter
NAJARIAN, a 6-1, 208-pound senior
out of Minneapolis, has been named to
"'the second All-Big Ten team for each
of the last two years and is having a
..banner season again this year. The
four-year starter is second on the
Team with 100 tackles, including 43
unassisted and three for losses. After
three years of losing, this year is par-
ticularly satisfying for Najarian.
"I don't think the defense has been
overlooked too much," he said.
"We've been getting more publicity
Itlis year than in the past, but we
Ilidn't deserve it then.
"I'm not at all surprised that we're
doing so well (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten). Our
young guys have had a chance to
-mature. We're still pretty young, but
last year it was a lot of freshmen who
were smaller and not as strong. This
.xear there's more strength and things
~hve picked up."
SINCE COACH Lou Holtz and his
staff took over two years ago, Min-
,esota has adopted a new defensive
style, switching from a man-to-man
-.defense to a zone. Through it all,
Najarian has remained a defensive
leader who knows his role in the
"The biggest thing is that we really
attack an offense. We don't sit back
mend read it, we attack it," he said.
" "My job is to roam and make the
ctackles, and it's the lineman's job to
Minnesota linebacker Najarian
plugs Gopher defensive holes
Minneapolis, Najarian was All-State games, he always has a hoarse voice
his senior year and led his team to the afterwards."i4
keep the guys off of me so I can do
that. That's why Bruce (right defen-
sive end Bruce Holmes) and I have so
EVEN MORE important than his
tackling ability is the leadership
Najarian provides. One of only four
starters back on defense this year,
Najarian has served as a role model
for the younger players.
"There's not strictly one leader on
our team," said defensive coordinator
John Gutekunst, "but he's the
steadiest, the one the players look to.
"When things were so bad when we
came here two years ago, he was the
one rock we could look to."
A SMALL ROCK, though. At only
208 pounds, Najarian is not going to
overwhelm anyone with his size. To
compensate, he has worked on
developing his other defensive skills.
"My biggest strength is that I read
offenses really quick," said Najarian.
"I'm certainly not bigger than anyone
else who plays the position, and I'm
not real quick, but I read the play and
get to the ball fast."
Gutekunst agreed with Najarian's
"HE ALWAYS ends up around the
ball, even though he's not excep-
tionally big and not overly fast," said
Najarian's lighter weight is com-
pounded by what he considers to be
his one weakness - an inability to
keep the pounds on. Eating as much
as he can helps, but last week against
Wisconsin, he still lost a startling 13
pounds in one game. Najarian blames
it on playing in the Metrodome.
"Playing in the Dome is bad - it
gets really hot in there, and I think it
gets worse because we're really
packing the people in there."
A LOT OF the people packing into
the Metrodome are fans who have
seen Najarian play for years. A
graduate of Central High School in
Minneapolis football championship
that year. While football has always
been "a fun way to spend an after-
noon," Najarian's studies hold the key
to his future.
A pre-med student, the senior has
been a member of the Academic All-
Big Ten team for the past two years
and is a good bet to repeat this season.
The strong academics and interest in
football both come from his father,
who once played football at Califor-
nia-Berkeley and is currently a heart
"He was a good football player
there," said the younger Najarian of
his father. "He really gets into these
GAMES, HOWEVER, are not the
Gopher linebacker's main concern.
"(Najarian) is very serious about
med school," said Gutekunst. "He
won't give it up no matter what he
decides to do in football. That's
basically his career."
"I don't really have time to enjoy
anything during the season," com-
mented Najarian. "I come home from
practice, and all I have time to do is
Study two things: textbooks and op-
'The biggest thing is
that we really attack an
offense. We don't sit
back and read it, we at-
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