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September 09, 1994 - Image 35

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-09-09
Note:
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26 - Michigan Daily-r Kicko#94 - Friday, September9994

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Weak defense means launching of
Air Wacker for Golden Gophers

M-Owl zi=rrruIt uruj

1

Since Jim Wacker took over as
Minnesota's coach, the Golden Go-
phers have become one of the most
exciting teams in the Big Ten. The
conference, traditionally known as a
bastion of power football, has never
seen anything quite like Minnesota's
"Air Wacker" offense.
The Gophers averaged a confer-
ence-best 297.9 yards passing in 1993,
and set several school records. One
can only imagine how many points
Minnesota's offense would score if it
competed against the Gopher defense,
an awful unit which finished last in
scoring defense and total defense.
How bad was Minnesota's de-
fense? Last year Minnesota scored 59
points ... and won by a field goal.
"We scored enough points," says
Wacker of the 1993 squad. "The
trouble is we put our defense in a
terrible position. "
The defense in 1994 didn't look
much improved last week against Penn
State, when the Nittany Lions racked
up almost 700 yards and scored 56
points against Minnesota.
One of the reasons for such poor

defense is an inexperienced linebacking
crew, which lost the team's top two
tacklers from a year ago. Craig Sauer
will have to step up his play if Minne-
sota is going to stop anyone.
Generating a pass rush will be a
struggle. The Gophers have a bunch
of defensive linemen who will see
serious playing time -- Ed
Hawthorne, Ralph Gree, Darell
Cunningham, Lamanzer Williams,
Trevor Walker, Tony Aitkin among
them. But don't bother remembering
the names. None of them figures to
garner too many postseason awards.
The defensive backs are the best
defensive unit for Minnesota, possi-
bly because it's so easy to run on
Minnesota few teams bother to pass.
Juan Hunter and Justin Consemius
lead the secondary.
But on Wacker's teams the de-
fense is just the group of players that
lets up points while the offense takes
a breather. And the offense, as al-
ways, will be explosive.
Quarterbacks Tim Schade and
Scott Eckers will alternate at quarter-
back. (When you pass this much one

quarterback isn't enough.)
"Which ever quarterback is in there
we're comfortable playing behind,"
running back Chris Darkins says.
"Both have different strengths. Schade
has the stronger arm."
The pair combined for over 3,000
yards and 22 touchdowns but 27 in-
terceptions. Those numbers may equal
excitement but don't add up to wins
The two solid performers have a
host of receivers who can haul in the
deep ball. Former walk-on Aaron
Osterman, Lewis Garrison, Tony
Levine and Rishon Early all caught at
least 14 passes last season, and they
should catch more this season with
the graduation of Omar Douglas.
Darkins, the team's leading
ground gainer a year ago with 610
yards, carries most of the running
load. He's a tough agile runner with
breakaway speed who should keep
defenses honest, opening up the skies
for "Air Wacker."
- Michael Rosenberg
10 e r WV'~ AVJr!

~1'I

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Team Preview

4

After a disappointing finish a year ago, Gary Moeller's
squad has its sights set on another Big Ten title and a
return to national prominence. By CHAD A. SAFRAN

Forrest Fires

5

Don't expect too much from this team. But don't
underestimate the Wolverines, either. They figure to be
a typical Michigan squad. By BRETT FORREST

I- U

Position previews

6

Running back and wide receiver are the strengths of
Michigan's offense, and the defense features perhaps
the best group of linebackers in the country. Those
units are just part of a solid Michigan football team.

Player feature

16

The PRX by TISSOT: the sportive, robust
Swiss watch with a quartz movement, sapphire crystal,
and a steel or leather strap. Water resistant

down to 100

metres. Also available as a chronograph,
TISSOT
Swiss Quality Time
Jer
* - __

MICIGAN
Take a Reality Break.
Visit Sanctuary, a
medieval town where
brave knights and
powefl
sorcerors r
battle cruel
tyrants and evil
necromancers and YOU
can be any of the above.
Call (10) 795-1409
2e a 4lt/a* YouCAtio
"Be all that.''ou Can't Be"

Matt Dyson is known for being one of the best
linebackers in the country. But this Wolverine is more
than just a football player. By RACHEL BACHMAN
Opponent previews 18
The Big Ten once again figures to be one of the
toughest conferences in the country, with several teams
ranked among the nation's top 25. The Wolverines also
don't get a break in the nonconference schedule - they
face national powers Notre Dame and Colorado.
KC F 2A

Football writers
Rachel Bachman
Brett Forrest
Michael Rosenberg
Chad A. Safran

Editor-in-chief
Jessie Halladay
Business Manager
Harris Winters
Special Sections Coordinator
Jen Cowan

Tyrone Wheatley runs against North
Carolina State in the Hall of Fame
Bowl. Wheatley would prefer to
make his next New Year's
appearance in Pasadena.

-n

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