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September 09, 1993 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-09-09

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The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition-Sports- Thursday, September 9, 1993 - Page3

Wheatley carries the day
as Blue handles Huskies
by John Niyo backfield. The dust cloud was a mere Heisman Trophy. And what was mosJ
Daily Football Writer speck of dust as he accelerated impressive was that he almost spent it
Theplaque sitsratherinnocently now, downfield. on the sidelines. The sophomore suf-
gleaming in the Californiasunlight, fill- Right according to plan, Jackson fered a painful injury on the Wolver-
ingtheemptyspacean anonymouscoach said. ines'second drive of the game. AWash-
pointed out to a fairly anonymous player "I told Ty two weeks ago that he had ington helmet to the back brought on


Wolverine wideout Derrick Alexander eludes a Hoosier defender in an Oct. 17 contest. Alexander went on to score
a touchdown on the play for one of his 14 scores on the season.
Gridders capture fifth straight
Big Ten crown, ut tie thrice

one afternoon last December.
On it is inscribed a young man's
name, Tyrone Wheatley, as well as what
hebecame:1993 RoseBowlMostValu-
able Player.
The plaque sits there now, nestled
not far from the great metropolis of Los
Angeles. There harking back to all of the
New Year's days, it remains affixed to
the outer wall of the Rose Bowl in
Pasadena, Calif., testifying to the fact
that Tyrone Wheatley - in helping
Michigan to a thrilling 38-31 victory
over Washington - did everything he
was told to do.
On Dec. 31, the day before the Rose
Bowl game against the Huskies,
Wheatley accompanied his mentor and
friend, Fred Jackson, the Wolverine
backfield coach, on a field trip of sorts.
They paused next to the quiet stadium
where over 100,000 spectators would
soon assemble after their New Year's
celebrations to witness the Grandaddy
of all the Bowls. They walked up to the
main stadium entrance, stood there and
looked up at the wall of fame, where
each of the Rose Bowl MVPs dating
back to 1902 has a plaque verifying his
place in history.
Jackson, an outspoken individual
who is part-father, part-friend and part-
coach to Wheatley, pointed out Leroy
Hoard's name on the wall. Hoard, a
running back now with the Cleveland
Browns, led Michigan to a 22-14 Rose
Bowl victory in 1989, rushing for 142
yards, including a game-breaking 61-
yard rumble.
Then Jackson pointed to the space
where the 1993 honoree would be en-
"Ty," he said, "that could be you
'I told Ty two weeks
ago that he had to gain
200 yards for us to win
the football game.'
-Fred Jackson
Michigan backfield coach
The rest, of course, is on videotape
somewhere. The exciting game. The big
runs. Itis all, basically,aformalityin this
modern day fairy tale, where the hero
did indeed fill his role.
"I thought (showing him the MVPs)
would get him focused," Jackson said
after the game, standing outside the
locker room, smiling like any proud
father would. "Leroy Hoard, the time he
got his name on thatplaque was because
of big runs. He won the game on the big
run. Ijust wanted Tyrone to get into the
mindset that big plays would win this
They did. Touchdown runs of 56,88
and 24 yards added up to a huge day for
Wheatley, who finished with 235 yards
on 15 carries. A whopping 15.7 yards
per carry. Three yards and a cloud of
dust. No more with Wheatley in the

to gain 200 yards for us to win the
football game."
He was dead right. Without
Wheatley'sheroics, thegamemighthave
gone the way so many others have gone
for Big TenschoolsinPasadenaover the
years.Itwasonly the seventh win in the
last 27 tries for the Big Ten.
It's that same disappointment that so
often leaves travelers from the Midwest
somber on New Year's night facing a
melancholy plane flightbackhome. For
a while at least, it looked like that lonely
journey awaited the Wolverines.
Husky quarterback Mark Brunnell
was unflappable, scrambling for first
downs and completing 18 of 30 passes
for 308 yards. And, late in the game, it
seemed as if Michigan, which came in
with three ties already on the season,
might be headed for a fourth.
But an Elvis Grbac completion to
tight end Tony McGee amounted to the
winning margin. McGee took the pass
and lunged into the endzone from the 2-
yard line midway through the fourth
quarter, capping a career-making game
and season for the senior.
Still, in the end, it was Wheatley's
day. His performance garnered respect
from the masses and helped make him a
serious preseason contender for the 1993

spasms that periodically caused sharp
pain to shootdown his left leg. Wheatley
sill was able to amass an incredible
amount of yards while being used only
sparingly in the fourth quarter.
"It just kept stabbing me from then
on and kept getting tighter and tighter,"
Wheatley said. "It feltlike someone had
just taken a muscle in my leg and tied it
in a knot."
"I was scared of falling. It's like my
leg wasn't even there."
One leg, apparently, was all he

by Josh Dubow
Daily Football Writer
The 1992 Michigan football team won the Big Ten
championship - the fifth straight time the Wolverines have
accomplished that feat.
Michigan - the leader in conference rushing for the
second straight year -ran over, around and through its Big
Ten opponents with relative ease.
Yet, the 1992 football season was anything but run of the
While the Wolverines made another trip to Pasadena to
,,dace Washington, this time they left the Rose Bowl victori-
Even though Michigan had the No.1 rushing offense in
the country,it was the big play-not three yards and a cloud
of dust - that propelled the Wolverine offense throughout
the season.
Unlike past editions of the Michigan defense, which
* practiced the bend-but-don't-break philosophy, last year's
-defense played faster and with increased aggressiveness.
And despite going undefeated for the first time since
1973, the Wolverines tied three games.
Like most trips for the Wolverines to Notre Dame, last
season's opener against the Irish was anything but ordinary.
:or the second straight trip to South Bend, Michigan blew a.
V10-pointlead. However, the Wolverines stillhad theirchances
,wto win.
Michigan easily marched down the field in the final
m)nutes. Wolverine quarterback Elvis Grbac then threw an
ill-advised pass, which fell into the waiting hands of Irish
safety Jeff Burris at the Irish 11-yard line, all butending the
: "I had very high expectations coming into today," said a
dejectedMichigan coach Gary Moellerafter the game. "In no
way did I expect to lose, and in no way am Ihappy with the
Going into the final two games, Michigan still held
national championship aspirations. But after suffering ties in
each of those contests - with Illinois and Ohio State
respectively - the Wolverines were lucky to return to
Pasadena. Those ties ended Michigan's Big Ten record 19-
game conference winning streak.
In the home finale against Illinois, Michigan fumbled 11
-times - losing four - before mounting a game-tying drive
in the final minutes. Kicker Peter Elezovic clinched the Big
Ten title with a 39-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining.
"You can look at it and say, 'You know it's great. We
-clinched the Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl,"'
Michigantri-captainanddefensivestalwartChris Hutchinson
said. Hutchinson anchored the defense all season with 63
*-tackles and 11 sacks from both the defensive line and
linebacker positions. "But then again, a tie is just kind of..."
Disappointing. And that is how the Wolverines felt the
;next week after tying Ohio State, 13-13, in the season finale

in Columbus.
But the bulk of the season was not as disappointing as
those three games. In between the ties, the Wolverine offense
and defense shined.
The 1992 Wolverines had the most potent offense in the
history of Michigan football. The team set records in total
offense, offense per game, yards per play and touchdowns.
Michigan also scored touchdowns 29 times on plays cover-
ing more than 20 yards.
Grbac, tailback Tyrone Wheatley and receiver Derrick
Alexander paced the Wolverine offense.
Grbac, who owns most of Michigan's career passing
records, led the nation in passing efficiency for the second
straight year.
"It's a great accomplishment for myself, but I couldn't
have done it without a lot of help from other players," said
Grbac, after setting Michigan's career yardage record against
Minnesota. "I.get the credit, but it's not an individual
One of the players most involved in Grbac's achieve-
ments last year was Alexander. After losing Heisman Trophy
winner Desmond Howard to the NFL, Moeller needed to find
areplacement. Before the season, Moeller felt that Howard's
loss would be accounted for by avariety of players. However,
Alexander made up for the bulk of that loss.
The junior receiver caught 50 passes for 740 yards and
scored 14 touchdowns after missing the final 11 games of the

'I had very high expectations comini
into today. In no way did I expect to
lose, and in no way am I happy with
a tie.'
-Gary Moelle
Michigan football coac


EVAN PERt Iiaiiy
Michigan quarterback Elvis Grbac lets one rip against Purdue in a victory
Oct. 31. Grbac became the all-time passing leader in Michigan history.

1991 season with a knee injury.
"Alexander the Great was Alexander the Great," Minne-
sota coach Jim Wacker said after Alexander caught a Michi-
gan-record four touchdown passes against the Gophers. "I'd
vote for him for emperor of Greece, Rome or anywhere. He
was just great."
Another Wolverine who was just great was Wheatley.
After rushing for only 72 yards in the first three games
because of an injury, he finished the season with 1,357 yards
rushing and 17 touchdowns.
"Wheatley is an outstanding back," Indiana coacb*Bill
Mallory said after Wheatley ran for 134 yards and a touch-
down, and caught a 26-yard TD pass against the Hoosiers. "I
haven't seen anyone better yet. He's 225 pounds with track
speed. And now he's developed some niftiness."
The Wolverines return the bulk of their defense and most
of their skilled position players for the 1993 season. Behind
Wheatley's power, Michigan will look to extend its 21-game
Big Ten unbeaten streak.

fttness cntre
.......................................................................ME.ULIYE UTM N




* call 665~-I894 I
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