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Everything is new at
Northwestern this season. New
black uniforms, new coach Gary
Barnett and his offensive and
defensive schemes. But most
important might be a new
Barnett has brought optimism
to a program that won only 13
games over the last six seasons
under Francis Peay. Barnett was
part of the rebuilding process at
Colorado before coming to
"We're in better shape than
when I came to Colorado,"
Barnett said. "We have better
players, attitude and energy. We
can recruit better because of the
school and the proximity of the
Some of Barnett's changes
were aimed at recruiting - the
new uniforms and especially the
more glamorous passing attack.
However, with only spring ball to
implement it, Barnett is worried
about its effectiveness.
"It's a tough thing to come in
with only 15 days of spring
practice and teach a new offense
and defense," Barnett said.
"We've gone from a run-oriented
team to a passing team."
As evidenced in their season
opener against Notre Dame, the
Wildcats will play much of this
season with five receivers andsno
running backs. The Wildcats
moved the ball well at times, but
only scored seven points.
Senior quarterback Len
Williams will be the focal point of
this offense. Last season, Williams
was the third-rated passer in the
conference. Williams, a mobile
quarterback with a strong arm, has
grown to like the new system.
"It calls for more adept reading
of defenses and quicker
decisions," Williams said. "It
doesn't key on one receiver, but I
throw to multiple receivers. It's a
much more versatile offense."
While Barnett likes Williams
and his corps of receivers, this
offense should help the Wildcats'
Wisconsin has shown
improvement in its two years
under coach Barry Alvarez. After a
one-win season in 1990, the
Badgers came back last year to win
Even though, the Badgers need
to replace all-American cornerback
Troy Vincent and quarterback
Tony Lowery. Alvarez has
recruited well and the Badgers
return 17 starters from a young
squad last season.
"We've shown tremendous
improvement overethe last two
seasons," Alvarez said. "We have
to concentrate on filling Troy
Vincent's (spot), but basically the
defense is back intact."
Alvarez, who served as
defensive coordinator at Notre
Dame before coming to
Wisconsin, molded the third-best
poor pass protection.
"This should take a lot of
pressure off our offensive line,"
Williams said. "It calls for a lot of
quick hits. There are no more
seven-step drops, so hopefully
there will be fewer sacks."
The Wildcats will struggle
defensively despite the play of
lineman Frank Boudreaux and
linebackers Steve Ostrowski and
Jason Cunningham. Notre Dame
put up 42 points against the unit
in the season opener.
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In the basketball court, TJ's features 3 on 3
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are played there as well.
"Or," says owner Tim Jeffrey, "you can rent the
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arrange it." There's a batting cage, golf tees, a
putting green, and soon an indoor 'Putt-Putt'
style, odd angled basketball course. Ping
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When asked why he created this, Jeffrey said,
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- Josh Dubow
defense in the conference last
While Wisconsin should again
be able to prevent teams from
putting points on the board, the
offense may not be as adept at its
job. The Badgers were last in the
league in running and total offense
"The biggest question for us
will be offense," Alvarez said.
"Last year, we started eight
freshmen at times and that makes
it tough. "
One of those players is
sophomore quarterback Jay
Macias. Macias played in nine
games last season as a true
freshman while throwing for 585
yards. Alvarez said the team has
gained more confidence in Macias
after a successful spring practice.
Continued from page 18
yards last season.
Also, the Gophers do not have
a receiver returning who had more
than 10 receptions last season.
Defensively, Wacker also wants
to be more aggressive. He has
instituted an attacking four-man
front which shoots the gaps
instead of reading and reacting.
The leader of the defense will
be Andre Davis, who had 113
tackles last season. Davis liked
what he saw from the new defen-
sive scheme during spring ball.
"The defensive line came off
the ball well in spring practice,"
Davis said. "I like this defense
because it is attack-oriented. It's
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all present problems, but
Michigan returns the bulk of the
team that outscored its Big Ten
opponents last season, 316-91.
This, combined with a
Washington team favored to
repeat in the Pac-10, means this
year's Rose Bowl matchup could
be, in theimmortal insight of Yogi
Berra, "deja vu all over again."
Thoughts of last season beg the
question: Just how good are the
Wolverines? The Washington
Huskies delivered the blunt
answer on New Years' Day: "Not
The 34-14 thrashing was even
more lopsided than the score
indicated, and it exposed a
fundamental truth - Michigan
was not the best team in the
country. A close game could have
left everyone thinking that
Michigan was a break or two away
from being national champions,
but there was nothing close about
The blowout left Michigan
questioning themselves, but in the
end, it established a mission. And
Moeller annually worries over
who will lead the team
unabashedly known as the
"leaders and best." This year, he
looked up and found the answer in
his 6-foot-5 quarterback, Elvis
"Coach (Cam) Cameron, the
father figure, kind of took over,"
Grbac said. "He called me in one
day, and showed a videotape of
the game, just certain cuts of me
dropping my head or pulling my
chinstrap off during the game.
"I sat there, and he asked me if
that was the kind of quarterback I
was during the season. That kind
of hit home really hard. Ever since
then I've directed myself toward
being the leader on this team and
always having the poise we had
last year when the chips were
Grbac is a third-year starter
who played extensively in his first
year. He is on course to shatter
every Michigan passing record he
doesn't already hold. He has been
around so long that the local
media has almost completely
given up on the jokes about his
first name. Almost.
This year, Grbac is doing more
than throwing the ball and reading
the defenses. He's talking. Never
one to seek the spotlight, Grbac
has become a more vocal leader on
the field for the Wolverines. He's
taking charge of an offense which
abounds in youthful talent at the
"Elvis is kind of a quiet guy,"
tight end Tony McGee said. "But
he's talking a lot more this year. A
Grbac gives them the orders.
Then, he gives them the ball.
Remember Grbac's post-Rose
Bowl vow: he is not the
quarterback people watched in
Pasadena. If anyone is committed
to taking this team to next level,
"(The quarterback) is always
going to be a natural place to look
for leadership," Moeller said.
"He's the guy in the front of the
room that everyone's listening to."
Last season taught Michigan
that the program is on the bubble
between greatness and the truly
elite. No one would label a 10-2
season anything less than a
success. Still, players and coaches
alike were nagged by the notion
that they still had one more step to
No one understands this better
than Gary Moeller.
Picture the scene:
It's early January. In a smoke-
filled room, the film projector rattles
off frame afterframe of the Rose Bowl
drubbing. The coaching staff looks on.
Aloeller turns toward one of his
assistants and, looking like Tom
Cruise in Top Gun, says: "Ifeel the
need for speed"
Moeller saw how Washington's
defensive speed demons rendered
his Desmond Howard-led offense
virtually impotent. He saw the
need for change, and nobody
implements change better.
Some coaches revolutionize
their programs, installing new
systems and leaving the old ones
on the scrap heap. Moeller is
much more subtle. He fine-tunes
his team, tinkering a little here
and adjusting a little there. The
Rose Bowl exposed a squeaky
Moeller reached for the WD-
Following a recruiting class
billed by most experts as the
fastest in the school's history,
Moeller has looked to incorporate
more speed into every aspect of
the Wolverine lineup. In terms of
sheer athleticism, the offense is
Michigan is faster than it's ever
The Wolverines hope to utilize
this new-found speed by playing a
more aggressive brand of defense.
New defensive line coach Greg
Mattison has made several
adjustments to accentuate the
speed of the outside rushers.
Moeller is particularly pleased
with the progress of his outside
linebacker trio of Martin Davis,
Matt Dyson, and Greg
McThomas. Madison's system of
to the i
it's a b
Michigan has one of the nation's most talented backfields led by Ricky
Powers, Tyrone Wheatley and Jesse Johnson (above).
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STHEY RANK MICHIGAN
Michigan football's ranking in a variety of national polls:
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Michigan coach Gary Moeller is hoping to le
Big Ten title in his three years as head coac