The Michigan Daily -Sports Wednesday- January 6, 1993 - Page 3
Clean slate signals
new Michigan era
PASADENA - When Gary Moeller walked
off the Rose Bowl field last Friday, he had
achieved in three seasons what it took his prede-
cessor Bo Schembechler 12 seasons and six
trips to Pasadena to accomplish - a Rose Bowl
Now, Moeller can set his sites on a jewel
Schembechler never found - a national champ-
ionship. Schembechler's Wolverines threatened
for the title a few times during his 21 seasons
in Ann Arbor, but never won the mythical
Schembechler's best team never threatened
for the title. The 1980 team - his first Rose
Bowl championship team - suffered two early-
season losses to Notre Dame (29-27) and to
South Carolina (17-14) which ended the
Wolverines' title chances. Except for a couple
of breaks, Schem-bechler might have won the
elusive national championship in 1980.
Moeller's first Rose Bowl championship
team also would have made a run for the title if
a few balls had bounced the Wolverines' way.
While Schembechler's teams never made a seri-
ous run at the title after his first Rose Bowl
win, Moeller's team might be poised for a
championship run in the next two years.
In Moeller's first season, narrow losses to
Notre Dame, Michigan State and Iowa spoiled
an otherwise spectacular start to his Michigan
coaching career. The Wolverines' primary goal
in 1991 was to avenge those three defeats and
earn a trip to Pasadena.
Michigan did get revenge, breaking a four-
game losing streak to Notre Dame and streaking
through the Big Ten season undefeated. But
Moeller's second season was tarnished by a pair
of 20-point losses to Florida State and Wash-
After the Wolverines walked off the Rose
Bowl field last New Year's Day, their attention
was again focused on one thing - revenge.
Revenge for the 34-14 thrashing at the hands
of the Washington Huskies. The Michigan
players did not celebrate after each victory on
their road to Pasadena this season. Each win
brought the Wolverines one step closer to re-
demption. Last Friday, they achieved it.
"I couldn't be happier," Moeller said. "The
one thing Michigan wanted to do is that we
wanted to sing 'The Victors' in Pasadena."
Now there is one jewel for Moeller to chase.
He has three Big Ten championships. He has a
21-game unbeaten streak in the Big Ten. He has
beaten Notre Dame. He has won the Rose
Bowl. He has accomplished everything at
Michigan except for the national championship.
The Wolverines are one of the deepest and
most talented teams in the nation. In Tyrone
Wheatley, Michigan has perhaps the most ex-
plosive back in the nation. Throw in former all-
Big Ten running back Ricky Powers, Ed Davis,
Jesse Johnson and Chi Foster and that's proba-
bly the deepest backfield in the country.
Michigan's entire corps of talented receivers
led by Derrick Alexander returns. Seven of the
11 defensive starters from the Rose Bowl will
return. Former starting cornerbacks Alfie Burch
and Coleman Wallace will return from injuries
to anchor the defensive backfield, which strug-
gled against Washington.
Michigan has also had back-to-back top five
recruiting classes in 1991 and 1992 and should
have another top class this year.
There are two things which could stop
Michigan's championship drive next season -
a letdown and the loss of senior leadership on
the offense. The Wolverines kept their focus all
season because they kept their sights on getting
to Pasadena and winning the Rose Bowl.
"I know it's a silly statement sometimes,
but after something so great is over, sometimes 2
you have the greatest letdown and you walk
away - it's not lost, but the emotion and ex-
citement is gone," Moeller said.
The Wolverines also will need to replace
seven starters from their offense. The biggest
loss will be at the offensive line where Moeller
must replace four starters from one of the top
lines in the country.
This will put immense pressure on quarter-
back Todd Collins, who must fill the shoes of
three-year starter Elvis Grbac. Collins filled in
admirably in two starts earlier this season, set-
ting Michigan records for completions and
touchdown passes. But next year, Collins won't
have the same offensive line in front of him.
Collins has not yet shown the poise and
leadership that Grbac displayed on the game-
winning drive against Washington. Grbac
moved the Wolverines down the field without
his tpp running back and receiver. He did so
without making any mistakes.
But if Collins can fill Grbac's shoes, and the
offensive line can continue clearing holes for
the Michigan running backs, Moeller and the
Wolverines won't have to be satisfied with just
a Rose Bowl championship.
Wolverine coach Gary Moeller achieved in only three years what it
took his predecessor Bo Schembechler 12 to do - win a Rose Bowl.
Continued from page 1
linebackers close to the line of
scrimmage in an effort to bottle up
the opposition's running attack and
to put pressure on the quarterback.
The strategy worked well last
year against Michigan in Pasadena,
but Saturday's game showed that it
does have its drawbacks. Once an
opening is hit, there is little but
green between a player and the end
Wheatley ran untouched on his
first two scores. What went through
his head when he saw open country?
"Not to get tackled," he said with
The Wolverines went
10-0-1 during the 1973
season, tying for the
Big Ten championship
with Ohio State. Ohio
State went to the Rose
Bowl, and Michigan
a smile. "To score the touchdown,
that was basically it. First of all you
go for a first down, and then after
the first down you're thinking the
Wheatley hit a grand slam. And
then he hit another one. And another
one. All this from a young man still
learning the art of rushing.
"From the beginning of the sea-
son to the end, Tyrone Wheatley has
gone a long way in learning how to
carry a football," Jackson said. "He
was a quarterback (in high school).
You look at the things he did today,
that was the true sign of a running
Following such a stunning cap to
an already fabulous season -
Wheatley was voted the Big Ten's
offensive player of the year - the
Heisman talk was inevitable. So was
speculation about turning pro.
Wheatley remained open about
the first subject, but put Michigan
fans' minds at ease concerning the
second. He said he plans to he in
Ann Arbor for two more years. And
when a reporter persisted, Wheatley
gave his reason.
"I don't know if you've ever
been in Schembechler Hall, but
there's a sign that says 'Those who
stay will be champions,'" he said.
"And I want to be a champion."
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