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December 12, 1994 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-12-12

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, December 12, 1994 - 5

Bowl Preview


Colorado State presents formidable challenge for 'M'
No. 20 Wolverines look to salvage season with Holiday Bowl win over highly-ranked WAC champions

Daily Football Writer
The last thing the Michigan foot-
ball team needs in this seemingly
unsalvageable season is a remembrance
of the Rocky Mountain State. It was the
Colorado Buffaloes who sent Michi-
gan on a downward spiral Sept.24 with
their last-second Hail Mary.
After subsequent losses to Penn
State, Wisconsin and Ohio State, the
No. 20 Wolverines (5-3 Big Ten, 7-4
overall) now face a Holiday Bowl
matchup with No. 10 Colorado State
(7-1 WAC, 10-1).
Michigan's season has come full
The game will be held Dec. 30 in
San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium at 9
p.m. (EST).
"It seems like we're going to be
playing for pride," Michigan tight end
Jay Riemersma said. "Eight and four is
a lot better than 7-5."
To reach its identical 8-4 mark of
the 1993 season, Michigan will need to
stop an offense that averages 35 points
per game and a quarterback who passes
for an average of 232 yards each con-
Senior quarterback Anthoney Hill
has guided his team to its first 10-win
season in school history. A four-year
starter, Hill is also the Rams' career
leader in total offense.
The San Diego native passed for
326 yards in the Rams' last game Nov.
19, a44-42 show-stopperagainst Fresno
State. The victory ensured Colorado

State its first WAC championship; if
the Rams had lost, Utah would be in the
Holiday Bowl.
"He's an outstanding quarterback,"
Michigan defensive tackle Trent
Zenkewicz said of Hill.
Hill's favorite target, senior
wideout Eric Olsen, leads the team in
receptions (43) and receiving yards
(825) and grabs 75 passing yards per
Hill and Olsen should pose a wel-
come challenge for Michigan
cornerback Ty Law. Law, possibly
Michigan's best defensive player, was
snubbed for the Associated Press All-
America team after a fine junior cam-
Law is not the only Wolverine with
something to prove, as kicker Remy
Hamilton was the lone Michigan player
selected for any of the three AP teams.
Wolverine tailback Tyrone
Wheatley (118.2 rushing yards per
game), the preseason favorite for
the Heisman Trophy, was frustrated
nearly all-season long and looks to
exploit a defense that allows an av-
erage of 129.5 rushing yards per
Michigan quarterbackTodd Collins
will also try to air it out to wideouts
Amani Toomer (21.2 yards per catch)
and Mercury Hayes (33 receptions).
"They really pose a double threat
because of their running and passing
game," said Colorado State defensive
coordinator Larry Kerr. "In terms of
real balance, there's no one we've faced

who's just as good as Michigan."
These teams have never played
each other. In fact, the Rams have
never faced a Big Ten squad, while
Michigan is 2-1 against WAC teams.
In its only other Holiday Bowl ap-
pearance (1984), Michigan lost, 24-
17, to national champion Brigham
Young -the Wolverines' last WAC
In that season Michigan began with
a 22-14 win over top-ranked Miami
and had high hopes for the rest of the
year. The Wolverines faltered, though,
finishing with a 6-6 mark.
After upsetting then-No. 3 Notre
Dame in the second game this year,
Michigan also appeared golden. But
the Wolverines again find themselves
In some circles, however, Michi-
gan is highly regarded.
Inexplicably, the WAC champion
Rams are eight-point underdogs to a
team ranked 10slots behind them in the
Associated Press poll.
But Colorado State has anticipated
this game - its first in the postseason
since the 1990 Freedom Bowl.
"I thought Fresno State would
play very well, and they did. We
played hard. It wasn't easy," Ram
coach Sonny Lubick said following
his team's conference-clincher.
"People have been waiting a long
time for this to happen in Fort
Surely the same cannot be said for
those in Ann Arbor.

Tyrone Wheatley led Michigan in rushing this season with this third consecutive 1,000-yard season. The senior
tailback looks to salvage a somewhat disappointing season by beating Colorado State in the Holiday Bowl. Wheatley
has won most valuable player honors in Michigan's last two postseason games

Offensive shootout to be expected when u
Mihgn ashook up in San Diego Na

Daily Football Writer
If the Michigan football team
was told at the beginning of the
season it would be playing in the
>Holiday Bowl, the players would
have chuckled. Tell them the game
would be against Colorado State
and there would have been a laugh
Now that the Wolverines must
contend with the Rams on Dec. 30,
they are not laughing. Here is how
No. 20 Michigan matches up with
No. 10 Colorado State:
0 Michigan rushing offense vs.
Colorado State rushing defense
While the Holiday Bowl is not
the traditional postseason game for
the Wolverines, they will keep the
old Michigan staple of rushing the
football alive to win against the
The Wolverines ran for an aver-
age of 207 yards per game this sea-
yson, including two efforts of more
than 300 yards.
This game provides Tyrone
Wheatley with an opportunity to
put a final stamp on his record-

breaking college career. There is no
reason to think he won't gain big
yards. In the past two bowl games
the senior tailback has earned con-
secutive Most Valuable Player hon-
Four times this season the Rams
allowed opponents more than 150
ground yards, including three occa-
sions on which they surrendered at
least 200.
"Our starting point will be trying
to stop the run," Colorado State de-
fensive coordinator Larry Kerr
said. "They run block better than
anyone we've played."
The Wolverines will have their
hands full with linebackers Kenya
Ragsdale and also Kareem Ingram,
who was a teammate of Michigan
defensive lineman Trent
Zenkewicz in high school (Cleve-
land St. Ignatius). Ragsdale led the
Rams in tackles for the second con-
secutive season. Both he and Ingram
are undersized as far as linebackers
go (5-foot-11, under 225 pounds)
but overcome that with their ag-

Michigan passing offense vs.
Colorado State passing defense
Quarterback Todd Collins did
post some fine numbers this year
with 2,366 yards and only eight in-
terceptions in 272 attempts. How-
ever, he threw only 11 touchdowns,
down from 17 scoring tosses in 1993.
He must contend with what is
arguably the nation's best second-
ary. Free safety Greg Myers was a
finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award as
the best defensive back in the coun-
try. But Kerr does not even consider
him to be the Rams' top player.
"Andre Strode is probably our
best all-around player," said Kerr of
his first-team all-conference
cornerback. "He's probably our best
For all his ability, Strode, at 5-
foot-8, lacks the height to match up
with any of Michigan's receivers.
Strode will have trouble with the
Wolverines' Amani Toomer (6-

foot-3), whom Kerr compares fa-
vorably to former San Diego State
and current Cincinnati Bengal
wideout Darnay Scott.
Colorado State uses a base 4-3
defense. Michigan struggled up front
against the two other teams which
used four defensive linemen-Penn
State and Ohio State.
Sean Moran (seven sacks) and
Steve Hodge (six sacks) provide
the push up front for a Ram defense
which registered 34 sacks.
Colorado State rushing
offense vs. Michigan rushing
Offensive balance is the key for
the Rams, and it begins with a ground
game which averaged 190 yards per
game. Behind running backs E.J.
Watson, Leonice Brown and Van
Ward, Colorado State has topped
200 yards rushing six times.
Watson gained 665 yards on 160
carries, an average of 4.2 yards per
attempt, but missed three games with
injuries. Brown handled the ball just
73 times, but ran for an average of
seven yards per carry. Ward hit pay
dirt on 10 occasions.
All three are smaller than typical
fullbacks. None are taller than 5
feet 11 or weigh more than 215
pounds. Brown tips the scale at a
mere 174 pounds.
But a bigger concern for Michi-
gan may be the Rams' offensive
"They're very fast and have a lot
of strength and mobility,"
Zenkewicz said. "They're the most
mobile offensive line we've faced."
That could mean problems for
Michigan's outside linebackers who
have had difficulties all season stop-
ping the run to the outside.
The Wolverines held five oppo-
nents to under 100 yards rushing,
ending the regular season by limit-
ing the Buckeyes to just 85 yards on
45 attempts. Led by linebackers
Steve Morrison and Jarrett Irons,
Michigan limits its opposition to
131 ground yards per game.

Wide receiver Amani Toomer has a chance to set the Michigan single-
season record for receiving yards with a big game against Colorado State

93 times, second-best on the team.
The Wolverines gave up 233
passing yards a game and 21 touch-
down tosses during the regular sea-
son and must now face a team gain-
ing 242 yards through the air.
The Wolverine secondary finally
appeared to jell in the loss to Ohio
State, surrendering a season-low 125
yards. But from the first play of the
season the defensive backs have
failed to show any consistency. The
same holds true of the defensive
line which notched only 24 sacks.
Special teams
Remy Hamilton already holds
the single-season record for field
goals. The second-team Associated
Press All-American knocked home
24 of 29 attempts, including 13-for-
13 from 30-39 yards.
If the game comes down to an
important field goal, Michigan
coach Gary Moeller won't be afraid
to rely on his junior kicker.
Hamilton's biggest problem has

The Wolverines are left playing
for pride. A big question is how
fired up will they be to play a Colo-
rado State team playing in its first
bowl game under coach Sonny
Michigan does have the game
breakers in Wheatley and Toomer.
If they can open the game up with
their blend of size and speed, the
Wolverines will win.
However, over a dozen Ram
players come from the San Diego
area, giving them a definite home
field advantage.
Lubick will use his experience
with Miami to motivate his troops
for the biggest game in Colorado
State football history.
The Holiday Bowl is usually the
most exritinL of all the nostseaon

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