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December 11, 1989 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-12-11

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Page 4 - The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday- December 11, 1989




Taylor's last chance for
glory comes in Pasadena

by Adam Benson
Daily Football Writer
Michael Taylor made the decision
to run the football.
He knew Michigan needed a
strong opening drive in the second
half to jump back into its game with
Notre Dame. The Irish already lead
the game at the half before Raghib
Ismail returned a kick for a
touchdown to put the Irish further
ahead, 14-6. On a third-and-eight
play, Taylor made his move to assert
himself and his team.
"It was a pass that was called. No
one was open, so I scrambled,"
Taylor remembers. "A lot of people
had told me 'you need to protect
yourself, you are the only
(quarterback) we have.' I usually try
to go around a guy or make a move
or do something to try and get as
dmany yards as I can. This time, I
tried to go down and dive on the
ground, thinking 'OK I'm down, I
won't get hit.'
"As I was diving, (Notre Dame
linebacker Ned Bolcar) hit me in the
back and I cracked three bones in my
Not knowing the extent of his
injury, Taylor prepared to lead
Michigan further down field.
"I rolled over, I was getting ready
to get up and I tried to move, but I
couldn't move," Taylor said. "So
when I got helped up and I went off I
said, 'Well maybe I just got hit in a
good spot' and I'd be back in next
series. On the sidelines, I tried to run
and I couldn't. I knew that I had
broken something. I've never felt a
pain like that before."
The injury would keep Taylor out
not only for the rest of the Notre
Dame game, but also the four
following games.
Injuries have always threatened
Taylor's career, even when it was
just beginning.
"The only time I tried to
dji courage him from playing
football is when he would play street
football," said Taylor's mother,
Shirley. "A friend of mine had a son
break his back. I tried to discourage
him, but he kept playing. My
brother told me about a little league
where the coaches would watch him;,

"He was always big, so he was
playing with older kids. I saw him
play, and the coaches would always
tell me how tough he was. So that
calmed me down some."
After convincing his mother of
his durability, he began a career
ripping through the Cincinnati
junior leagues and starring at
Cincinnati Princeton High School.
There, he developed a style of
football that would help Princeton to
a state title his junior year and make
him a top college recruit.
Even with all this praise, he
would be one of those players
applying the pain instead of taking
it, if he had fulfilled his dreams as a
14-year old.
"When I was in eighth grade, I
didn't want to play quarterback,"
Taylor said. "I wanted to be the one
that ran with the football. I was
playing running back and I really
loved defense more. I used to play
linebacker and running back and
outside linebacker."
His mother said: "(Michael) had
been playing football since the
second grade and he always loved to
play defensive tackle, like Mean Joe
Greene. He always wore Greene's
number, 75, and everything that he
bought he wanted 75 on it. Most of
the time he played defense and
offense, and he never did play
quarterback. He always liked playing
defense cause he liked doing the
hitting. He never cared much for
playing offense."
Fortunately for him, somebody
else made the decision.
"I was getting ready to start at
defensive end in the eighth grade, and

person who gets it, be the person the
initates the blow.' I've always done
that," Taylor said. "Trying to act in
a passive way out there on the
football field, I got hurt. I'm not
saying I'd try to run over 230-40
pound linebackers, but I can put
myself in a position where I don't
have to dive on the ground everytime
I see one. That's why I got hurt, and
that's why I won't do that again."
USC coach Larry Smith admires
Taylor's resilience: "He's a true
quarterback in every sense of the
word, I've been very impressed with
him. He was hurt pretty bad in that
Notre Dame game. I think when he
did comeback, Michigan began
offensively to score a lot of points
with him."
Once he returned, nothing was
going to make him leave..
"Against Illinois, on the game
winning drive, he was runningthe
option a lot," Wolverine tight end
Derrick Walker said. "I would look
down at his face as I would help him
up, and you could tell he was hurt,
but he got back up. He tried to hide
that he was hurt, but you could see
i right through it. He knew the game
was on the line and there was no
way you could take him out.
Everytime he looks hurt, he gets
back up."
Still, injuries have prevented
Taylor from facing some of the great
teams in college football. His back
injury sidelined him against UCLA
and Michigan State, while a broken
collarbone kept him out of last
season's Ohio State and Rose Bowl
games. But he never whined, cried,
or pouted; he just prayed his chance
would come.
Those prayers were simple: "I
don't ask to go out and play better
than everybody else, I just ask that 'I
can, with the talents you gave me,
just let me go out and play. It is my
faith in you that has kept me
This January 1st, his prayers will
be answered.
"It has been my goal for the
longest time, ever since last year
when we won last year's Rose Bowl,
I wanted to get a chance to play. I've
finally reached that point, now I just

want to get out there and play."
He has attracted the attention of
USC which knows his excellent
decision-making ability.
"I think Taylor is a little more
dangerous than (Notre Dame's) Tony
Rice," said Trojan defensive back
Mark Carrier. "With the receivers,
like McMurtry and Calloway, he can
move the football. He's also a good
runner. You want to try and contain
him as much as possible."
But Taylor hasn't limited himself
to just performing well, on the
football field. He will graduate after
the winter term from Michigan's
business school.
"When I think about combining
athletics with the business school
curriculum, its real tough. My major
setback in school is that I have to
play football. I'm not able to study
as much as I would like to or like
most students are, but with the time
I do have, I can't complain.
"When I started to do well (on the
football field), people would ask me
'what was my grade point like before
I got into the business school?' The
business school saw that not only
was I an athlete, but that I could do
as well as a regular student. That's
why they could accept me.
Taylor, who always planned to
attend the School of Engineering,
moved to the B-school becuase he
enjoyed the analytical work. And
don't ask him if he gets any special
attention because he could lead the
Wolverine football team to a second
straight Rose Bowl title.
"I don't ask people to give me
grades because I am an athlete,"
Taylor said. "I think whatever grade I
get, I deserve based on my effort and
how well I did on my tests. There
are universities where (athletes) can
take a light load and get a job from
alumni, but I wanted something that
was going to be challenging."
Taylor could use a difficult task,
but even in the business school he
seems to be making the right
decisions. Working through the
business school and playing for the
football team would seem like a
tough load to tackle, but Taylor has
handled himself in a way that would
make Mean Joe Greene proud.
Even if he is a quarterback.

Injuries have hindered quarterback Michael Taylor throughout his
career, but he will be healthy for this year's Rose Bowl against USC.

we had no quarterback," Taylor said.
"I could always throw the football
and I had the strongest arm of most
of the kids around. I ran the ball a
lot more, I ran for 17, 18
touchdowns in eight games. I had
practiced at quarterback for a week or
two, but it was nothing major. Then
when I was finally out there playing
quarterback, it was easy."
So easy that he became
successful. He graduated as an All-
American at quarterback, but he
received many offers to move back
to the defense as a cornerback or
safety. After two years of stardom,
Taylor had grown accustomed to
being the field general.
"I thought that I might be a
little bit too short (to play
quarterback in college)," Taylor said.
"Then, because I ran the ball so
much, I thought they would try to
move me to defensive back. There
really weren't that many Black

consider myself one of the fortunate
few. I didn't want to play another
He got lucky because the school
that wanted him to play quarterback
also had been one of his favorite
teams. This made his college
decision very easy.
"I just always liked when
(Michigan) ran out of the tunnel. At
first I thought the banner was
probably 10 feet tall. Then you run
out there and it's not really that
high. I fell in love with 'The
Victors' and how they played the
song, even though I'm from Ohio.
There were only two fight songs I
ever liked. That and the Ohio State
fight song, where they dotted the 'i'.
But I liked Michigan's football team
a lot better."
Michigan's coaches were
discouraged, however, with the style
of play that had made him a star.
"When I was little, I had a coach
who always told me 'never be the


Michigan vs. USC Matchups byAdam Benson
Offense--- - -- -- --- -
WIDE RECEIVER Greg McMurtry and Chris Calloway make the best wide receiver set in
the nation. John Jackson, an academic All-American, gets some help from Gary
Wellman, but they are not as dangerous as the Wolverine pair.
TIGHT END Derrick Walker was an All-Big Ten selection this year, but he can't bench
press 400 pounds; two-time all-Pac 10 Trojan Scott Galbraith can.
OFFENSIVE LINE The Trojans start three seniors and two juniors. One of the lines'
'youngsters', guard Mark Tucker, is a consensus All-American. All-Big Ten guard Dean
Dingman leads Michigan's front which lacks the Trojans' experience.
QUARTERBACK USC redshirtfrosh Todd Marinovich has graced the front pages of
newspapers across the nation, but he can't handle defensive pressure. Michael Taylor
makes blitzers crazy with his scrambling. Marinovich's weakness is Taylor's strength.
RUNNING BACKS Leroy Hoard ran wild in last year's Rose Bowl. Without injured Tony
Boles, USC will key on Hoard and fullback Jarrod Bunch. USC relies on springing 5-
fo'ot-8 Ricky Ervins, the Pac 10's leading rusher and fullback Leroy Holt.
DEFENSIVE LINE Tim Ryan is possibly the best defensive lineman in America and Dan
Owens will start his 48th consecutive game for the Trojans. Michigan's Chris
Hutchinson was named The Sporting News' top first-year lineman in the nation.
LINEBACKERS Bobby Abrhams, Alex Marshall, J.J. Grant and Erick Anderson may be
the nation's best set of linebackers. SC's set is far from lacking, with two all-Pac 10
players, Junior Seau and Scott Ross.
DEFENSIVE BACKS Tripp Welborne and Vada Murray can only find one set of safeties
that could claim to be their equals, USC's Mark Carrier and Cleveland Colter. Claim.
Special Teams-
PLACE KICKING Quin Rodriguez is consistent inside 40 yards, but he is not J.D. Carlson.
Carlson set a Michigan record with12 consecutive field goals this season.
PUNTING USC punter Ron Dale won't make any coach envoius, except for Michigan
coach Bo Schembechler who settles for Chris Stapleton and Eduardo Azcona.
COACHING Bo taught Larry, Bo's got a better record than Larry, Bo beat Larry last year,
Bo even has a better bowl record than Larry. Enough said.

Blonder's Ponders

i H IN't
Mw A

Since last April, one hot topic of conversation has
been, "Will Michigan's football team win a national
championship, too?"
The quick answer is no, thanks to some screwy
polling. How else can you explain idle Alabama jump-
ing Michigan two weeks ago, and then idle Miami ac-
complishing the same in the last poll before the Bowl
Even if Michigan had beaten Notre Dame in the first
game of the season, they probably would not be the No.
1 team in the nation.
The rationale behind the polling involves jockeying
teams in the final-season rankings so that only two
bowl games are needed to decide the "mythical" national
champion. And the Rose Bowl is not one of them.
But that doesn't mean the season is a wash for
Back in August, Bo Schembechler kept reminding
everyone that his team's goal was to win the Big Ten,
and then claim its second consecutive Rose Bowl vic-
The team is halfway there, and is certainly in a good
position to win its second Pasadena appearance of the

Rose Bowl win means
more than nat'l 'myth'
anybody. We're not a bad football team."
And he's not kidding.
What Michigan has done this season is impressive.
Since 1966, no other Big Ten team has won outright
back-to-back conference championships.
And the Wolverines did it without ever getting a
chance to play hapless Northwestern.
But unfortunately some football know-it-alls will
call this season a failure and for what?
Because Michigan will not win a national champi-
onship despite having a football powerhouse. Because
Schembechler, college football's winningest active
coach, will not be able to get his team over that one
elusive hump.14
And because of that, some will call Schembechler a
I think not.
This team has come a long way since a sloppy per-
formance to open the season. The team has rebounded
from the loss of a quarterback, the defensive captain, of-
fensive linemen, and starting backfield.
Not exactly easy tasks.
Schembechler pushed all the right buttons, particu-
larly those involving a timetable for quarterback
Michael Taylor's return.4
The team gelled when it counted and Michigan stood
up to the rest of the country. The Wolverines showed
they are not yet ready to relinquish their position as one
of the Big Ten's powers.
Right now, the Wolverines would have a shot at
beating any team in the country.
But they only have one shot - against USC.
And beating the Trojans is all that matters. If
Michigan does that, it comes out smelling like a Rose.

That means more to Schembechler than a "mythical"
championship, which I guess Michigan still has some
remote mathematical chance of winning.
The Wolverines played hard this year in the big
games, and even a couple of the not-so-big ones as
well. Having a single blemish on its record, which
would not be there if Notre Dame came here in Novem-
ber, and in spite of playing key games on the road, is
certainly a testament as to how good Michigan is.
Schembechler said, "I think we can play against


Independence Bowl, December 16:
Tulsa vs. Oregon
Ah, yes. Freedom rings true as Tulsa
and Oregon face off in yet another
Independence Bowl. Rumor has it that
both teams will meet at the 50-yard line
and recreate the signing of the
Declaration of Independence in
commemoration. Problem is getting
enough players willing to throw away
their macho image and don white wigs
and ruffled pants.
Aloha Bowl, December 25: Michigan

one. The "best" Big Ten team will be
playing miles and miles away just one
week later. And we all know who the
"best" team is, right George?
All-American Bowl, December 28:
Duke vs. Texas Tech
This could be the last game as a Blue
Devil for Duke coach Steve Spurrier. For
some strange reason, Spurrier's name has
popped up all over the place in cities
with NFL coaching vacancies. Texas
Tech. Interesting. Southern engineers.
We wonder how that might sound:

We know


by Richard Eisen and Adam Schrager

Ireland. Supposedly, it was the first time
the Irish got a glimpse of anyone from
New Jersey. Rumor has it that a massive
stench filled the air and a chant of "What
exit are you from?" reverberated
throughout the stands.
Freedom Bowl, December 30:
Florida vs. Washington
Rumor has it that Los Angeles Rams
owner Georgia Frontierre and California
Angels owner Gene Autry are vying for
the services of Heisman finalist/Gator
running- hn Emmit Smith in this

sure that he'll be gunning for Ole Miss,
looking for revenge in this Memphis,
Tenn. contest. Supposedly, Dowis flew
an F-14 into the backyard at Graceland
mansion. Elvis' brother, Bobby Joe

the citizens actually think Paterno is "a
little bit rock and roll."
John Hancock Bowl, December 30:
Pittsburgh vs. Texas A&M
What hanened to the Sun Bowl? Has

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