Page 6-The Michigan Daily - Rose Bowl Preview- December 10, 1992
Bruener's work pays dividends for Huskies
by Jay Maebori
The Washington Daily
Reaching the next level has al-
ways been a goal for Husky tight end
Mark Bruener. If he keeps reaching,
the next level could be the NFL.
But Bruener isn't worried about
that - yet.
The sophomore from Aberdeen,
Wash., has better things to spend his
time on - like filling his starting role
on the Pac-10 champion team.
"I want to continue to work as
hard as I can," Bruener says. "I'm
focusing on my ability to help the
During last year's 12-0 season,
the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder was one of
two true freshmen to see action in
The other was standout tailback
Like Kaufman, Bruenerhad a taste
of success in high school. In his se-
nioryear atWeatherwax High School,
Bruener grabbed 24 passes for 424
yards and six touchdowns.
His 4.7-second speed in the 40-
yard dash also helped him on defense.
As a linebacker, Bruener made 75
tackles, including 10 tackles.
In his senior year, Bruener earned
Player of the Year honors in the Black
Hills League and was an all-state
Following a decorated high school
career, Bruener was rated as one of
the West Coast's top prospects at
He garnered the attention of South-
em California, Stanford and Notre
Dame before choosing Washington.
"It was a combination of academ-
ics, the coaching staff and a winning
program," Bruener said of his deci-
sion. "I'm happy here."
But Bruener will be the first to tell
you that playing on a national con-
tender right out of high school was no
"It was a big shock," Bruener said.
"I never thought I was going to play.
Ninety-nine percent of freshmen
redshirt their first year.
"I guess they wanted me to come
Bruener did come along. In 1991,
he caught five passes for 57 yards as
a backup to Aaron Pierce.
Pierce was later a fourth-round
draft pick of the New York Giants.
The highlight of Bruener's fresh-
man year was a five-yard touchdown
catch in the Rose Bowl. The third-
quarter catch put the Huskies ahead,
21-7, against Michigan.
"That was aquite a thrill," Bruener
said of his first scoring reception.
"It was a broken play. We had two
receivers on the left side and I saw
Billy Joe (Hobert) scrambling,"
Bruener recalled. "He just found me
in the back of the end zone and I
looked to see if I was in-bounds."
"It was a dream come true."
After the catch against the Wol-
verines, Bruner can afford to keep
But instead of having his head in
the clouds, he has his eyes fixed on
"I've learned a lot from Aaron
(Pierce)," he said. "But not as much
as I wanted to. I really want to im-
prove in every phase of my game."
Washington tightend coach Myles
Corrigan sees a definite difference
between his star pupil of a year ago
and the rising talent he has in Bruener.
"He's a different type of guy than
Aaron," Corrigan said. "Aaron was a
speed receiver, and Mark is not that
type. He's more like (Cleveland
Brown) Mark Bavaro.
"But that doesn't mean he can't
develop that part of his game."
On the season, Bruener is second-
leading receiver on the team with 21
receptions for 210 yards.
As a tight end, Bruener not only
has to concern himself with pass-
catching but blocking some of the
best defensive lineman each week.
"Mark faces an important player
each week," Corrigan said. "He went
up against Travis Hill (Nebraska) then
against Willie McGinest (USC). He's
played real well."
Corrigan said Bruener's work ethic
is his biggest asset and is what makes
him so dangerous.
"It's a delight to coach him,"
Corrigan said. "He's persistent in his
work ethic. He just. keeps pushing
himself higher and higher."
In addition to his pass catching
and blocking, Bruener wants to im-
prove his speed, reduce mental errors
and become a "complete player."
"I just want to keep getting bet-
ter," Bruener said. "My future goal i.
to become a good athlete."
Both player and coach have estab-
lished even higher goals for Bruener.
They believe it's realistic for him to
become the best tight end in the Pac-
10 and eventually, the nation.
Fornow, Bruener is concentrating
on 1992. Pierce has moved on, and
Bruener is beginning to feel comfort-
able in a starting role.
However, he is quick to point out
that redshirt freshman Ernie Conwell
is keeping him on his toes.
"I don't feel nervous anymore, but
there's positive pressure to get the
job done," Bruener said.
While he continues to get the job
done on the field. Bruener also has
thoughts of how he'd like others to
treat him off the field.
He wants to be seen as a normal
student-not the stereotypical "dumb
"I want to be known for who I am
and not what I am," Bruener said. "I
like it when people don't treat me any
different. I'm an easy-going guy
who's a regular student."
While he may want to be known
as aregular student, he is not aregular
"He's made some tough catches,"
Washington coach Don James said.
"He blocks hard, and he'll get better.
I wish I had 20 more like him."
As thoughts of the NFL and im-
provement dance in his head, Bruener
is content to help his team capture
another Rose Bowl.
Michigan and Washington will square off in the Granddaddy of them all JanA i
Elvis Irbac seems to have
regained his touch. After suffering
through a rocky first month, the
senior came back to lead the nation
in passing efficiency for the second
Tyrone Wheatley has emerged as
a 1,000-yard rusher and the team's
No. 1 threat. Jesse Johnson and
Ricky Powers are more than
capable backups. Burnie Legette
is a solid blocker.
Derrick Alexander drops a ball
here and there, but he is still one of
the most talented in the country.
Plus, Michigan goes five-deep in
wideouts. Tight end Tony McGee
is having a great senior year.
The Wolverines have a little more
experience on the line, with four
seniors and a redshirt freshman.
But the term 'underachievers'
always seems to follow them
Chris Hutchinson is having a
great year, but most of his sacks
came when he lined up at outside
linebacker. Buster Stanley and
Tony Henderson just get the job
Steve Morrison is Michigan's
leading tackler, and fellow inside
'backer Marcus Walker is also
strong. But there are some
question marks outside.
Michigan's depth will continue to
be tested with starting corners Alfie
Burch and Coleman Wallace
expected to sit this game out with
injuries. The rest of the secondary
has filled in admirably.
Pete Elezovic and Chris
Stapleton showed some signs
toward the end of the season, but
they haven't been interpreted yet.
Alexander and Wheatley are top
I Te Huskies used to boast a
formidable two-headed QB, but
Billy Joe Hobert has turned pro or
something. That leaves '91 Rose
Bowl MVP Mark Brunell, a good
scrambler, in charge of the offense.
Speedster Napoleon Kaufman,
the Huskies' fastest player, rushed
for 1,087 yards this season. Last
year's starter, Beno Bryant, has
been benched because of an injury
much like Michigan's Powers.
Remarkably, only three catches
total separate both teams. But
Washington doesn't have a main
option like Alexander. The Huskies
spread the wealth among eight
receivers between 13 and 33 grabs.
The Huskies' line boasts 6-foot-7,
325-pound Lincoln Kennedy,
who is expected to be a top-five
selection in next April's NFL Draft.
Alongside Kennedy, U-W starts
three juniors and a sophomore.
The Washington line returned only
one starter from last year, and the
unit has played well. But the
Huskies have allowed over twice as
many yards rushing as Michigan.
Teams: Michigan (8-0-3) vs.
Rankings: Michigan (No. 7)
Washington (No. 9)
Series: Michigan leads, 5-4
Last meeting: On Jan. 1,
1992, the Huskies beat
Michigan, 34-14, to capture
the 1992 Rose Bowl.
Continued from page 1
miserahly.'This season, Moeller knew
he needed to match speed.
le also impleimnted a more ag-
gressivedefense. All of these changes
to match up with Washington. Michi-
gan will take its test New Year's Day.
And after a year of st udying, the Wol-
verines are ready.
"All along I've said I wanted to go
out there to heat Washington and to
beat up on them," Brown said. "I
didn't want to see anyone else there.
So we need todo what we should have
done last year."
Brown wasn't the only Wolverine
who pointed to this potential rematch.
Avenging last year's loss wassopreva-
Date: Jan. 1, 1993
Time: 5 p.m. (EST)
lent in Michigan's thinking that evei'
the freshman have revenge on their
"Froin the beginning of the sea-'
son, the focus was on winning thc
Rose Bowl," freshman cornerback-
Ly I aw said earlier this year."Ivury
thing that goes on in our program is to
get to Pasadena. And when we gel
there, we have to win because the last',,
two times they went out there, they
weren't victorious. And we want
Washington again. We're gonna make
it a point this year to prove something
While Michigan faltered at the
finish line with two ties, Washington:
finish was even more disappointing.
Place: Pasadena, Calif.
Dave Hoffmann is one of the best
linebackers in the country. The all-
American pace$ Washington with
91 stops.The Huskies' next two
leading tacklers are also
Advantage: Washington linebackers.
Player Att Yd s
Johnson 155 792
Davis 52 339
Powers 61 293
Legette 38 143
Foster 14 112
Smith 5 110
Alexander 5 60
Riemersma 2 9
Buff 4 6
Hayes 1 5
Collins 10 -3.4
Totals 531 2909
Player -Q-A Ys
Collins 66-101 693
Riemersma 3-3 43
arr 1-2 10
Totals 182-275 2211
The Huskies have size, speed and
experience in their secondary.
Corner Walter Bailey has been
burned several times this year, but
the athleticism of his backfield
mates can compensate.
Travis Hanson does not quite
have the leg of older brother
Jason, but he is still a great kicker.
The Huskies' punter, John Werdel,
has only been average. Kaufman
averages 14.2 yards/punt return.
Don James is the dean of Pac-1O
Gary Moeller has had a great first
- EN k ) M-R