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September 10, 1993 - Image 24

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-09-10

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 10, 1993

He can play the game, but can he talk the game?
Notre Dame quarterback McDougal has to prove he can be a leader for the Fighting Irish offense

*

By GEORGE DOHRMANN
THE NOTRE DAME OBSERVER
Kevin McDougal was unsureofhim-
self for thefirst time this fat. With Notre
Dame trailing Northwestern, 12-7, the
senior quarterback stepped into the
huddle wondering what his teammates
must be thinking.
He had fumbled the snap on the
opening play of the second half, which
Jed to a go-ahead touchdown by the
Wildcats:Whatever confidence they had
in him was dwindling.
1 told Kevin not to look
over his shoulder, just to
play the game, and if he
makes mistakes shake
them off.'
- Lou Holtz
Notre Dame head coach
The slim Irish lead was a memory.
The fans were getting hostile, and
head coach Lou Holtz was question-
Ing his decision to stick with

McDougal. Junior Paul Failla waited
on the sidelines. He had pushed
McDougal all fall, but according to
coaches McDougal held a slightedge.
That lead was also a memory.
"Not vocal, notastrong leader," was
always theknockonhim. ButMcDougal
knew it had to be different this time. He
had to say something. Something to get
the offense going and the confidence
back.
"It's time to go now," All-American
offensive lineman Aaron Taylor said
the minute McDougal entered the
huddle. "That's enough," McDougal
thought. "It's time to go? That's
enough." He put his head down, won-
dering. Quickly his eyes drew back to
his teammates.
"I'll meet you at the goal line."
Seven plays and 63 yards later,
McDougal and the Irish had their go-
ahead touchdown and possibly their
starting quarterback. Never before had
the senior quarterback led the team on
such a scoring drive and it was the first
time the offense gave McDougal credit
for leading them there.
"I've never been a vocal guy. I try

and lead by example," the 6'2", 194-
pound Florida native said. "But at that
moment, after fumbling the drive ear-
lier, it felt like the right thing to say."
Players and fans have been search-
ing for the right thing to say about the
Notre Dame quarterback situation this
fall. A strong spring pushed McDougal

fault.
"I have always thought of myself
as the starting quarterback,"
McDougal said at the practice fol-
lowing the Powlus injury. "I have
confidence in myself."
Whether or not Notre Dame coach
Lou Holtz has that confidence in
McDougal is questionable. He drilled
both Failla and McDougal in the prac-
tices after Powlus' injury, working
closer with the two than he had in the
past.
"Coach Holtz expects a lot of his
playersandespecially his quarterbacks,"
McDougal said. "He isjust trying to get
some things straight. I think he has a lot
of confidence in me. I just have to keep
getting better."
Make that a lot better, if last week's
27-12 win over is any indication of
McDougal's output for the rest of the
season.
Against the Wildcats last Saturday
he completed six of eight passes for 135
yards and no interceptions. It was an
adequate performance by NotreDame's
run-oriented offense but the Irish
couldn't maintain possession and
seemed out of sync.
"We have a lot of work to do on
offense," Holtz said. "Right now we are
not a good offensive football team, and
I don't know if we can be."
Holtz does have some faith in
McDougal's abilities. He could have
gone to Failla when the Irish offense
was sputtering but instead he stuck with
his starter.

"I told Kevin not to look over his
shoulder,justtoplay the game, and ifhe
makes mistakes shake them off," Holtz
siad.
The softspoken McDougal must
also gain the confidence he once had
with his fellow Irish. One of the more
popular players on the team,

"Lead" is the word in question with
McDougal. He has the abilities. Coaches
compare him to former Irish signal-
caller Tony Rice, but say McDougal is
a better passer. But what Rice lacked in
ability his teammates made up for, be-
cause when Rice entered the huddle,
everyone listened and everyone per-

01

'Coach Holtz expects a lot of his players and especially
his quarterbacks. He is just trying to get some things
straight. I think he has a lot of confidence in me. I just
have to keep getting better.'
-Kevin McDougal
Notre Dame quarterback

McDougal

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SEPTEMBER SPECIAlS-

ahead of Failla coming into fall drills,
but 1992fHigh School Playerof theYear
Ron Powlus stunned the coaching staff
by coming in and pushing for the start-
ing job.
After the secondscrimmage Powlus
had pulled ahead of Failla and
McDougal, but two weeks before the
start of the season a broken collarbone
sidelined him for two months and
McDougal earned the position by de-
I- A
PRINTING
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LOW PRICES
1002 PONTIAC TR.
994-1367

McDougal was the choice of his team-
mates when Failla was up for the
starting job this spring, but Powlus
awed teammates with his poise and
skill. After the injury the faith the
team once had in McDougal shifted.
They were now settling for a lesser
quarterback.
"I have confidence in Kevin and
Paul but he (Powlus) was just special
coming in," said Holtz. "I feel terrible
for the team to lose him."
To McDougal it doesn't matter
how he got the job, but he is the
starting quarterback and that is what
counts.
"I know what I am capable of,"
McDougal said. "I feel I can lead this
team to the national title."

formed.
"We really have a problem trying to
ascertain who is the leader of this foot-
ball team," Holtz said.
Against Michigan this Saturday,
McDougal will start, but Holtz has said
thatFailla will probably play in the first
half.
All McDougal hopes for is the
chance, because no matter what they
say, he's sure he'll get the job done.
"In the scoring drive against North-
western we had the will to go down and
score and we did," added McDougal.
"You could see our confidence building
with every play. We showed what we
were capable of."
But is McDougal capable of leading
Notre Dame?

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FOOTBALL
Continued from page 1
fiedby the facttheNotreDame'sdefen-
sive front fourof Brian Hamilton, Bryant
Young, OliverGibson andJim Flanigan
averages 275 pounds and is the best unit
on the entire team.
"Notre Dame probably has the big-
gest front line (on defense) in the coun-
try,"Michigan coach Gary Moeller said.
"Wehavetobemoreconsistentin block-
ing those big guys."
"It's going to be very difficult to run
against them," Collins said. "We have a

0'

young offensive line and it's going to be
tough to contain them."
With this said, much of the offensive
load will rest on Collins' right arm.
While making an impressive debut last
week as the Wolverines' No.1 quarter-
back, the pressure of playing Notre
Dame will beamore difficult test for the
junior.
"You need to keep on playing with
the same intensity at the end of the game
as you did at the start of it," Collins said.
"The added pressure makes you go out
at a higher level. I try to stay consistent
and not get too high."
If Collins thinks that he's underpres-

UNIVERSITY
SPIRIT"
1205 S. UNIVERSITY, ANN ARBOR, MI 48104 (313)761-2100

sure, he should trade places with Notre
Dame quarterback Kevin McDougal.
Playing the position for the Irish faithful
is hard enough. Replacing a talent like
Mirer makes it all the worse.
The senior went 6-for-8 for in his
first-everstartforNotreDame, but threw
for only 125 yards. With junior Paul
Failla looking over his shoulder,
McDougal is trying his best to deal with
the situation.
"I'm trying to let being quarterback
at Notre Dame not get to me because it
can getoutofhand," McDougal said. "I
try to keep it low key. Ijust have to learn
how to handle it."
Regardless of who you are or what
team you play for, tomorrow's game in
and of itself will create enough pressure
to last at least another year.
"I'm nervous like every other coach
would be," Moeller said. "I think it's
going to be a whale of a ball game.
"It's Notre Dame. I think it's special
for everybody."
But it's a must win for Michigan.

U a

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