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September 09, 1988 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-09
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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

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8

'M' hopes to avoid

nightmare of '87

By Darren Jasey
Last season was a tough one for
Michigan linebackers.
Consider the plight of Neil
Simpson, who was forced to play
three games into his initial year. As
he recalls, his first starting assign-
ment against Wisconsin was no easy
Cam
LINEBAQKERS
task.
"I overran a play," he said. "I had
a one-on-one tackle at the guy. I just

overran him."
Unfortunately for Simpson, that
first contest was the easy part. "After
a while, I started losing confidence
in myself, because every team was
not like Wisconsin," he said.
Simpson was called upon early
last season because Wolverine de-
fenders were dropping like water
from a leaky faucet. In all, five
linebackers were lost to injury before
the Big Ten opener against the Bad-
gers.
The casualties included two fifth-
year seniors lost for the year -
Steve Thibert (knee) and Andree
McIntyre (Achilles tendon) - an-
other possible starter lost for the
season before it could start - Marc
Spencer (broken leg) - and two

players who later returned at less
than 100 percent - Keith Cooper
(knee) and Curtis Feaster (pancreas
infection).
The consensus among this year's
linebacking crew is that last season's
adversity will make things much
easier this time around.
"It brought us all a lot closer to-
gether going into this year," said
Spencer, a 6-5, 245-pounder.
This year head coach
Schembechler's best linebacker may
be J.J. Grant. The Liverpool, N.Y.,
native started seven contests last
season and finished second on the
team in tackles. As a redshirt junior,
he feels that the other players look
to him for support. "I'm going to
have to take charge," he said. "I'm

trying to lead by example and show
some good work ethics."
Grant is joined by John Milligan,
Scott Smykowski, Erick Anderson,
Simpson, and Spencer as the players
expected to see the most action at
the two inside linebacker spots.
Bobby Abrams, a 6-4, 221-pound
redshirt junior, has nine starts under
his belt after last season. He is the
favorite to start at one of the outside
linebacker positions. His backups
are Chris Bohn, Brian Townsend,
and Rusty Fichtner.
The other starting outside
linebacker will likely be redshirt
sophomore Curtis Feaster. Tim
Williams, Joe Holland, and Alex
Marshall will push Feaster for play-
ing time. a

PREVIEW
Continued from Page 3
Thompson's run still haunts the
dean of Big Ten coaches. "When as-
sessing this year's Gopher team,
Schembechler said, "I would not
want to slight Minnesota, especially
when the damn guy is back who ran
for 98 yards."
"When I was running down the side-
lines, I could hear him
(Schembechler) yelling," recalled
Michigan defensive tackle Mark
Messner of Thompson's run. "I'm
chasing Darrell; I could hear him
screaming. I just shook my head and
said, 'Uh, oh.'
"Whenever a big play like that
goes when it shouldn't, he gets very,
very upset because he knows that we
don't allow things like that to hap-
pen. We practice it. That's the whole
development of our defense - to
prevent things like that."
Messner, an All-Big Ten selec-
tion in each of his first three sea-
sons, returns for a fifth season to
anchor the Wolverines' deep defen-
sive front.
The linebacking unit, a crew dec-
imated by injuries last season, ap-
pears in good hands with veterans
J.J. Grant and Bobby Abrams. The
defensive secondary remains a ques-
tion mark with cornerback David

Year
1987
1986*
1985
1984
19823
1981*
19$o*
1979
1978*
1977*

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10 1
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9 3
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Bo's First 19 Years

Year
1976*
1975
1974*
1973*
1972*
.1971 *
1970
19 69*

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Totals^
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215 61
chmnpion

777777

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7

1987 Big Ten Star

'I'm going to have to
take charge. I'm trying
to lead by example and
show some good work
ethics.'
- senior J.J. Grant

Jefferson
Arnold the only returning starter.
"I am not here to say that for sure
this will be a vintage Michigan de-
fense," Schembechler said. "I can tell
you, and I think without reservation,
it will be better than a year ago."
WEEKEND
MAGAZINE
Fridays in The Daily
763-0379

Michigan
Iowa

State

Indiana
MICHIGAN
Ohio State
Minnesota
Purdue
Illinois
Northwestern
Wisconsin

w
7
6
6
5
4
3
3
2
2
1

Big Ten
L
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3
4
5
5
5
6
7

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BACKFIELD
Continued from Page 15
first extensive action. Boles has yet
to carry the ball in a regular-season
game. The Westland native topped
all rushers in the 1988 Spring Game
with 135 yards on 20 carries.
"None of us are going to be able
to replace Morris, but yet all of us
are capable of winning games and

putting points on the board," Jeffer-
son said.
Michigan has a pair of punishing
fullbacks in 6-2, 240-pound Jarrod
Bunch and 6-0, 220-pound Leroy
Hoard. Bunch is the team's top re-
turning rusher, gaining 402 yards a
year ago. He took over the starting
fullback job three games into the
season.
Hoard may also play some at
tailback.'U

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PAGE 6 WEEKEND/SEPTEMBER 9, 1988

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WEEKEND/SEPTEMBER 9; -l 988-.---
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WEEKEND/SEPTEMBER 9, 1988

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