Page 10-The Michigan Daily- Thursday, October 10, 1991
With Hutch back,
State's pain is
by Matt Rennie
Daily Football Writer
Those numbers stick in the minds of every football
player who was wearing Maize and Blue on Oct. 13,
1990. It is the score by which Michigan lost to its
hated arch-rival, the Michigan State Spartans.
The image of the game that most people recall is the
controversial call on Michigan's failed last-minute,
two-point conversion attempt. However, what the
Wolverine defense remembers, the memory which still
stings today, is the way Michigan was unable to stop
the Spartans as they marched down the field for two
long touchdown drives late in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the player with arguably the best
chance to make a game-breaking play for the Wolverine
defense was watching the game on television. The
player who stopped the Spartans' drive at the end of the
first half with an interception watched. The player
who led the team in tackles for a loss watched. While
the Spartans tore holes through the porous Michigan
'I don't think there's anybody that
can keep Chris Hutchinson back
all afternoon without holding'
- Gary Moeller
Michigan football coach
defense, ripping through the line of scrimmage seem-
ingly at will, he watched it all on television.
No one could design a punishment more agonizing
for Chris Hutchinson.
"I felt like I let the whole defense down,"
Hutchinson said. "I think it would have been different
if I could have played."
The injury that kept Hutchinson in the, locker room
during last year's Michigan State game was a re-
currence of a back problemhe originally suffered in
high school. He describes the injury as "a crack in one
of the spines that sticks off from the vertebrate."
The facet of the injury that is both strange and
frustrating for Hutchinson is its randomness. It can
flare up at any time, regardless of contact. For exam-
ple, in that Michigan State game of a year ago, he didn't
experience pain immediately after returning the inter-
ception, as many had thought. Instead, he felt the ef-
fects as he was heading to the lockerroom at halftime.
"I got kind of twisted when I got tackled (after the
interception), but I didn't feel anything when I ran to
the bench," Hutchinson said. "But when I was running
into the tunnel at halftime, I got to the top of the tun-
nel, and my leg went numb."
Hutchinson missed the rest of the season, and head-
ing into pre-season practice this year, he thought he
would never play football again. During his only at-
tempt at running over the summer, his leg went numb
as it had during the State game. Wolverine coach Gary
Moeller felt that, because of the injury, he shouldn't
count on any contribution from Hutchinson this sea-
What made the injury so infuriating for Moeller
was that he knew the potential of a healthy
Hutchinson quickly learned that in order to succeed,
he had to close his eyes temporarily to much of thO
world, most notably his social life.
"During the season, there's only two things in my
life: football and academics, and I want to give both
100 percent," Hutchinson said. "It's definitely a bal-
As an academic all-Big Ten selection, Hutchinson is
performing the act quite well. A kinesiology major, he
has his eyes set on medical school. Over the summer, he
witnessed several surgeries at the University hospital,
and after returning to Texas, actually scrubbed up and
assisted in some surgical work.
"The funny thing was, one time it was a back
surgery," Hutchinson said. "And the doctor would
show me, 'Here's what's wrong with you."'
Although a senior academically, Hutchinson has an-
other year of eligibility, which he will use if his back
permits. However, while many college football play-
ers can't imagine life without the game, Hutchinson ac-
'I tell my friends back home about
the war protests on the Diag, and4
they really can't believe it.
Coming here has opened my eyes
to the rest of the world'
- Chris Hutchinson
Michigan defensive end
tually greets the possibility with open arms.
"I've really been looking forward to it," he said.
"It would be nice not to have to schedule 8 o'clock
just to get around practice. Plus, I could do m
homework during the afternoon and see my friends at
But for now, he has only one thing on his mind: tak-
ing care of last year's unfinished business. Hutchinson
and his teammates have shown steady improvement all
"At the beginning of the season, there were a lot of
people saying that we weren't getting enough sacks,"
Hutchinson said. "But after that, we hit (Florida State
quarterback Casey) Weldon and (Iowa's Mat@
Rodgers a lot, and we hit them hard."
Moeller attributes a large part of the front seven's
success to his left tackle.
"I don't think there's anybody that can keep Chris
Hutchinson back all afternoon without holding,".
With last year's game hanging over his head,
Hutchinson is hoping to have his biggest game yet
"(Defensive) Coach (Lloyd) Carr said to me, 'You
better not ever get hurt again in a Michigan Stat
game,"' Hutchinson said. "He said it jokingly, but I
still feel responsible. It's been one of my main focuses
For 365 days, Hutchinson has had to live with the
image of those numbers flashing on the bottom of a
This Saturday, Hutchinson is planning on a change in
Wolverine defensive lineman Chris Hutchinson chalks up a sack in last season's 38-15 victory over UCLA. The
redshirt-junior anxiously awaits Saturday's Michigan State game to avenge last year's one-point loss.
"When he's healthy, he's as good a defensive tackle
as there is in the Big Ten," Moeller said before the sea-
To Moeller's delight, Hutchinson survived pre-sea-
son drills and has started every game this season. Still,
the 6-foot-2, 260-pound senior must live with the pos-
sibility of injury hanging over his head.
"One day, it will be a little better, and the next day,
it will be little worse," Hutchinson said. "There's
nothing I can do about it. It's just one of those things I
have to deal with."
This constant day-to-day health status takes its toll
"It's definitely an emotional strain," he said. "I've
become hypersensitive to it because people are always
asking me, 'How's the back?"'
Hutchinson's outlook on life better equips him to
deal with the injury. Growing up in Texas, where foot-
ball is a religion, he was surrounded by people whose
lives were measured in four downs. Consequently, his
decision to leave the state for college did not go over
"A lot of people were disappointed when I left the
state," Hutchinson said. "They want to keep their tal-
ent at home."
When Hutchinson reflects on his days in the Lone
Star State, he is content with his decision to leave
"When I talk to some of my high school friends
who stayed at home, I wish they could experience life
in another state," he said. "I think the fact that foot-
ball is so intense down there really does a lot of dam-
Hutchinson decided to come to Michigan primarily
because his parents were originally from the area, but
once he arrived in Ann Arbor, he found the environ-
"In the Southwest Conference, there's only one
school that's outside of the state (of Texas),"
Hutchinson said. "Here, you're exposed to so much
more. I tell my friends back home about the war
protests on the Diag, and they really can't believe it.
"Coming here has opened my eyes to the rest of the
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Ohio State at Illinois
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Iowa at Wisconsin
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Va. Tech at Fla. State
Penn State at Miami
Toledo at Washington
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Texas(Dallas) at Okla.
Virginia at Clemson
Pitt at Notre Dame
E. Carolina at Syracuse
Rice at Baylor
Nebraska at Okla. St.
Auburn at Vanderbilt
Oregon at California
Tulane at Alabama
Maryland at Ga. Tech
Arizona at UCLA
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