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November 18, 1991 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-11-18

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The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - November 18, 1991 - Page 5









Michigan rushers
coming up Roses

by Matt Rennie
Daily Football Writer
CHAMPAIGN - While his-
tory may remember 1991 as the year
coach Gary Moeller and wide re-
ceiver Desmond Howard revolu-
tionized Michigan football, the
Wolverines still won their Big Ten
championship the old-fashioned
way. They ran for it.
Saturday, Moeller reverted to
the "three yards and a cloud of
dust" style that characterized
Michigan football under former
coach Bo Schembechler in the 1970s
and 80s. In his two years at the
helm, Moeller has employed a more
wide-open attack, throwing the ball
in traditional running situations.
But clinging to a narrow lead
against Illinois, he needed time-con-
suming drives.
The Wolverines pounded out 330
yards on the ground, led by sopho-
more Ricky Powers' 151-yard game.
Michigan ran the ball on 57 of its 77
offensive plays, holding the ball for
38:20 and keeping the Illini offense
off the field. In that respect, Powers
and company bolstered the stingy
Wolverine defense.

"When the offense possesses the
ball like that, it definitely helps,"
linebacker Erick Anderson said. "It
gave us a chance to rest, so that every
time we went in there, we were
While Powers was the game's
headliner, the Wolverines employed
the same tailback-by-committee
system that has been so potent this
year. Jesse Johnson rushed for 104
yards on 21 carries, and Tyrone
Wheatley had 49 yards on 6 carries.
Powers' big day got off to an
ominous start, after he fumbled
twice early in the game. He had not
lost a fumble this season.
"I couldn't believe it," Powers
said. "After the second time, I said
something's not right, so I took the
gloves off. I just started playing
without them and soon I didn't even
Michigan's offensive diversity
did not lead Illinois coach John
Mackovic to underestimate the
Wolverine rushing game.
"They could run the ball any-
time they wanted," Mackovic said.
"They just elected to mix it up a bit
more, but they could always run."

Player Att Yds Avg La
Feagin 3 17 5.6 11
Bell 4 17 4.3 16
Verduzco 8 9 1.1 10
Boyer 4 7 1.8 4
Arneson 1 -1 -1.0 -1
Totals 20 49 2.5 16
Player C-A Yds TD Int
Verduzco 22-37 207 0 1
Totals 22-37 207 0 1
Player No Yds La TD
Bell 6 53 13 0
Feagin 6 48 17 0
Wright 5 59 19 0
Koester 2 13 8 0
E. Turner 2 27 19 0
Dilger 1 7 7 0
Totals 22 207 1 9 0
Player Tac Ast Tot
Johnson 1 0 1
Cox 4 0 4
Primous 7 2 9
Hopkins 6 6 1 2
Crumpton 1 1 2
Samuels 2 0 2
Howard 15 9 24
Shelby 10 3 13
Brown 4 3 7
Gustafsson 2 2 4
Foggey 2 0 2
Streeter 1 2 3
Wall 1 1 2
Hasenstab 1 1 2
Zitnik 1 2 3
Poloskey 7 4 11
Conf. Overall
Michigan 7 0 9 1 0
Iowa 6 1 9 1 0
OhioState 52 8 2 0
Illinois 4 3 6 4 0
Indiana 4 3 5 4 1
Purdue 3 4 4 6 0
Northwestern 2 5 3 7 0
Michigan State 2 5 2 8 0
Wisconsin 1 6 4 6 0
Minnesota 1 6 2 8 0
Ohio State at Michigan
Illinois at Michigan State
Purdue at Indiana
Minnesota at Iowa
Northwestern at Wisconsin

Michigan tailback Ricky Powers carries the ball during Saturday's game against Illinois. Powers led the
Wolverines' rushing attack with 151 yards on 26 carries. Michigan totaled 330 rushing yards in the game.

Continued from page 1
out of the recruiting process.
"My mom took care of most of
the phone calls. She can talk more
than the recruiters, so some of them
stopped calling," he joked. "She
helped out a lot. But you sometimes
started thinking late at night and
wondering, 'If I go here... And what
if I could go here and here and here?
And what if I don't like it here?"'
Powers' final decision was
between Michigan and Florida
;State, and he chose Ann Arbor for
believe it or not - the climate.
"Florida State was just too
shot," he said. "I sat in the hotel
room during the visit and I was
sweating. I said, 'There's no way I
can survive here.' Plus, I didn't want
to miss the seasons.".
However, the apparently smooth
;recruiting process was not without
its controversy. Michigan State
reportedly had a good chance of
signing Powers, though Powers says
'he never seriously considered the
Spartans. The Michigan State
'coaches told Powers that, regardless
of where Ricky decided to go to
school, they were planning to sign
=his younger brother, Scott.
"I was very impressed with
;that," Ricky said. "I didn't want to
go to Michigan State, but I was
,happy to know that they would
still take my brother. My brother
has talent also, so he could make it
However, once Ricky signed
with Moeller and Michigan, the
folks in East Lansing changed their
"All of a sudden, they started
saying that his grades weren't good
enough, which they were," Ricky
said. "I guess it was just excuses not
to take him. They didn't hold up
their word. I don't respect that, and

I don't respect them for that."
Scott Powers now starts at
defensive back for Baldwin-
Wallace, the top-ranked team in
Division III. Nevertheless, Ricky
took special pleasure in Michigan's
45-28 rout of Michigan State last
Though Powers grew up amid
constant adulation, he has never been
comfortable as a prominent player
on the social scene.
"His mom used to complain that
he was always around the house,"
Flossy said. "I used to tell her to
just keep him there."
Powers never felt the need to do
a lot of partying.
"My parents always ask me,
'How come you never go out? Your
brother always goes out,"' he said.
"I say, 'My brother goes out enough
for both of us.'

relaxed moments are spent after he
is done with his homework, when he
can "just sit back and watch my fish
This unglamorous life is typical
of Powers, who has never let his
fame affect him personally.
Throughout high school, some of his
best friends were the younger kids
who lived on his street, who looked
up to him. Not just because he was a
football player, but because he had
the best toys in town.
"If they don't have anything to
do, they always come knock on my
door," Powers said. "I have toys and
all that stuff that I don't play with
anymore, so I just give them away.
And I show them games to play and
all that. They play school
sometimes, when they make up the
game and I just play the teacher."
An education major, Powers
'1 got to come to this
university and start
playing as a freshman
at a top university.
That's anyone's
dream right there.
Now I'm starting for
them, and that's even
- Ricky Powers

living away from home for the first
time and to a new, rigorous academic
environment. And with former
Wolverine Jon Vaughn setting the
world on fire at Powers' position,
the rookie couldn't even take solace
in football.
"When he got 200 yards against
Notre Dame and then the following
week almost got 300, I thought I'd
never play," Powers said.
He did work his way into the
tailback rotation, receiving more
carries with every game, and when
an ankle injury sidelined Vaughn,
Moeller called on Powers to start.
"I've got to be the luckiest man
in the world," Powers said. "I got
to come to this university and start
playing as a freshman at a top
university. That's anyone's dream
right there. Now I'm starting for
them, and that's even better."
Powers capitalized on the
opportunity, rushing for 100 yards
in each of the last four games of the
year, including the Wolverines' 35-3
victory over Ole Miss in the Gator
This season, he has been a
mainstay in the Wolverine
backfield. Although both Jesse
Johnson and Tyrone Wheatley have
had big games at tailback, Powers
has been Michigan's starter and
most consistent performer all year
long. When Moeller needs a
workhorse, Powers is there, as he
was against Notre Dame, when he
had 38 carries. At the same time,
when one of the other backs is
playing well, Powers accepts his
limited role.
"It's something that any back
has to deal with. If you've got all
that talent, you have to let them
play," Powers said. "It bothers me,
but in another sense, it helps the
team because if I get hurt, these guys
can come in and never miss a beat.

Personally, it hurts sometimes, but
they're good guys."
Powers' teammates have
acknowledged his ability to deal
with his changing role.
"He's the type of person, like
any good back, who wants to carry
the ball as many times as he can,"
Skrepenak said "He's also the kind
of person who sees that there are
other guys who can do a good job
"It just goes to show the kind of
person he is. He handles himself so
While Powers is an unassuming
hero for the Michigan offense, many
believe that he won't be able to hide
in the shadows for long.
"I'm a big believer in what goes
around, comes around," Skrepenak
said. "Ricky Powers will have his
day before all is said and done."
In fact, no one would be shocked
if two years from now, Powers was
in the running for a Heisman Trophy
of his own.
It would sure look good next to
the fish tank.

"I'm just that type of person. I
don't go out much."
Even today, Powers remains
unchanged by the social pressures
that accompany college life. After a
big victory, Powers usually declines
his teammates' invitations to go out
partying. He finds more relaxation
in being by himself or with a small
group of friends than with huge
crowds of people. Some of his most

hopes to put this neighborhood
experience to use as an elementary
school teacher.
However, Powers was not
always this pillar of maturity. In
fact, not that long ago, he was as
lost as some of the children who
knock on his door. His first year at
the University was no different
from other students' - a year of
transition. He had to adjust to

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