Friday, September 10, 1993
Illini mount rare quarterback
Illinois has a question mark
While that predicament is
commonplace for the Detroit Li-
ons, it has not happened for the
Illini since Gary Moeller coached
there in the late 1970s. During
the 1980s alone, Illinois sentTony
Eason, Jack Trudeau and Jeff
George to the NFL.
While Jason Verduzco mo-
nopolized the last four years in
the orange and blue, his replace-
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still Blue at heart
en discussing Michigan football, there are three sacred
truths to be conscious of. One can count on these
dogmatic creeds as standard operating procedure for
any Wolverine squad. As fundamental as learning the words to "The
Victors." As reliable as an 100,000-plus turnout at Michigan Sta-
Please, lets recite them together. First...
* A Wolverine quarterback should never throw the ball more than
15 times a game.
What... what'sthatyou say? Okay, so thatfellow from Graceland
used to put a few passes in the air from time to time, but what about
this youngster from New England, that kid Collins? You don't say.
Fifteen completions in the first half last Saturday. Alright, so maybe
there are only two sacred truths. Which leads me to the next one ...
" The ultimate goal of every Wolverine season is to win the
conference title and play in the Rose Bowl.
Come on, you mean to tell me that last year's trip to Pasadena -
what was that the 83rd Big Ten championship in a row- wasn't the
highlight of every Wolverines' career? How can some mythical
national championship captivate the minds of the Maize and Blue
faithful more than the "Granddaddy of Them All?"
Well, at least there is the third and final truth.
* Every Wolverine team has a solid offensive line.
No, no, no. Questions about the line, too? How can this be? The
one year when Michigan seems to have everything going its way: a
surplus of running backs each capable of scoring as quickly as you
can spit out the words off-tackle, enough long distance receivers to
make AT+T jealous, and a defense that not only has great size and
instincts but now can boast of possessing college football's newest
necessity, speed. Why does this have to be the yearthat the offensive
line catches the feared disease known as inexperience?
Wait a second. Did you ever thinkyou were jumping to conclu-
sions? Maybethe line isn't as bad as you might be led to believe.
Sure, only Trezelle Jenkins returns as a starter and Marc Milia is
the lone senior. But seriously, when was the last time Michigan had
a poor offensive line? Does the Johnson Administration ring a bell?
Over the past 30 years, 19 different Wolverine linemen on 23
different occasions have been named All-America. In the past 10
years, 11 Michigan linemen have been drafted by professional
football teams. Just three years ago, the entire offensive line was
named Gator Bowl MVP, having created holes bigger than the state
of Rhode Island while helping the offense gain a team-record 715
yards. That's a pretty impressive list of accomplishments.
The main difference between the gentlemen who will line up
tomorrow against Notre Dame and their predecessors might be in
raw talent. There doesn't seem to be any one player that just
resonates with the aura of greatness. But, greatness is not neces-
sary. Solid, consistent effort and mental preparation are, and this
year's line is very capable of these things.
And it's not like the team's been hampered by a turnover on the
coaching staff. The same people who molded John "Jumbo" Elliott,
John Vitale and Greg Skrepenak are still around helping players
like Jon Runyan, Joe Marinaro, Mike Sullivan and Shawn Miller
learn proper blocking techniques and strategy. Offensive line coach
Les Miles has been with Michigan since 1987 and commands the
respect of his players, who understand that his teaching of the
fundamentals is priceless.
Did you ever think that all the hubbub over the line might be
merely because there isn't a whole lot else to complain about on this
Wolverine squad? True, last Saturday's debut against Washington
State left something to be desired, but with time and experience will
come the same level of play that has been witnessed in Ann Arbor
for the past few decades.
And by the way, the Wolverines did beat the Cougars, 41-14.
Remember, too, of the six players rotating between the five line
spots, four have at least two years of playing time left at Michigan.
Don't look now but the names Runyan, Marinaro, Jenkins and
Sullivan are going to be around for a while.
Yes, growing pains will persist and things might get worse before
they get better, but any inexperience will eventually give way to
Michigan's one real truth - every Wolverine team has a solid
offensive line. Time will show that the 1993 edition is no different.
ment, J.J. O'Laughlin' Johnny
Johnson, Scott Weaver, or Jeff
Hecklinski, will not have thrown
a live pass. Only O'Laughlin has
even seen game action. Punter
Forry Wells is the only current
Illini player who completed apass
"We have a grand tradition of
quarterback talent, and our
young players draw from that,"
Illinois coach Lou Tepper said.
"An added plus
for them is the
training of a
tor like (offen-
Landry's arrival has sparked
much off-season speculation re-
garding the pro-styled offensive
attack he will try to bring to
Graduation sacked the rest
of the backfield as well. Starting
fullback Darrin Boyer and tail-
back Steve Feagin combined for
1,030 ofvIllinois 1,449 rushing
yards. However, tailback Kevin
Jackson returns with 481 yards
worth of experience from last sea-
son. Jackson will likely be joined
by incoming freshman Ty
Douthard at fullback.
The blocking corps lost its left
side, but with juniors Derek Allen
at left guard and Mike Suarez at
left tackle joining the line, it will
be an experienced group. Senior
center Greg Engel has lettere
three times and is All-America
candidate. Junior Jon Kerr wil
be returning to right guard with
senior Randy Bierman at righ
The wide receiving corps also
lost some spunk. John Wrigh
played his way into the top 10 o
most career receiving statistic
before using up his eligibility
Junior Jim Klein leads the re
turners with 24 catches for 29'
yards and will start at flanker
Jasper Strong, with 10 catche
for 133 yards, should start a
split end. The myriad of reserve
includes Gary Voelker, Martir
Jones, Brandon Harrison an
Shane Fisher among others.
However, there are no painfu
losses for Illinois at tight end
The trio ofjunior Ken Dilger, an
seniors Dave Olson and Krai
Koester, have, eight varsity let
ters between them. Dilger is th
returning starter but any of th
three can startin the Illini's stror
gest offensive position. Olson pu
up the best numbers last season
with 25 catches for 234 yards an
Before crying for Tepper an
his offensive woes, just look e
his returning players on defer
sive. He is 10-for-li.
The linebacking corps is the
biggest strength of the team any
arguably the best in the Big Ten
A first team All-Big Ten sele
tion last season as a sophomor
The Synchilla® Snap T-Ned
Illinois Sports Intor ation
Dana Howard's size and speed make him a valuable weapon for Illinois.
Wacker, Golden Gophers still
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Ask Minnesota coach Jim
Wacker if he expected to win his
season opener against Penn State
he would probably respond "yes."
Still, before the season started
when he was asked about put-
ting the conference's best foot for-
ward in Penn State's first ever
Big Ten's game he responded:
"I don't think the Big Ten
wants Minnesota carrying it on
Wacker made the statement
in jest, but the fact remains Min-
nesota has not been to a bowl
1986 or rep-
BigTen in the
sota career leaving Wacker with
a decision at quarterback. Wacker
is leaning towards his own
nephew Tim Schade, a transfer
from Texas Christian, to replace
Fleetwood. Schade is familiar
with Wacker's pass-oriented of-
Omar Douglas, honorable
mention All-Big Ten last season,
will be a frequent target for
Schade. Minnesota's leading re-
ceiver a year ago, he hauled in
r missing pieces
669 yards on 61 receptions -
good for almost 11 yard a catch.
The offensive line sports re-
turning starters at center, Neil
Fredenburg; left guard, Rob
Rogers; and left tackle, Chris
Fowlkes. Rogers, a team captain,
will anchor this unit.
Returning starter Steve
Cambrice will also give added
blocking support to Carter at the
tight end position.
Dennis Cappella is the most
decorated defensive Gopher. This
season's other captain, the de-
fensive end garnered a second
team All-Big Ten award last sea-
son along with Minnesota's de-
fensive MVP award.
Cappella's defensive line re-
turns everyone. Tackles Doyle
Cockrell, Ed Hawthorne and
right end Andy Kratochvil round
out a Gopher stronghold.
The kicking game could pose a
large problem for Minnesota.
Four-year starting punter Dean
Kaufman is gone, as is place-
kicker Aaron Piepkorn. Mike
Brown, Ron Holty and Mike
Kimbell all are competing for the
starting spot at punter. Mike
Chalberg has the inside track on
the placekicking position.
- Andy De Korte
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Furthermore, Minnesota lost
Saturday's game, 36-20, to Penn
However, the Golden Gophers
are not without talent. Tailback
Antonio Carter has led the squad
in rushing each of the past two
seasons with 660 and 593 yards,
respectively. For his career, he
has tallied-1,387 yards through
Carter's three-year teammate
- quarterback Marquis
Fleetwood -finished his Minne-
803 N. Ma