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September 09, 1994 - Image 37

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-09-09
This is a tabloid page

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Badgers need Moss, Fletcher running past others for repeat title

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When Barry Alvarez took over the
Wisconsin football program in 1990,
the program was in shambles. His
predecessor, Don Morton, led the
Badgers to a dismal 4-33 mark during
his three-year tenure. .
In four years under the former
Notre Dame defensive coordinator,
Wisconsin has improved from worst
to first in the Big Ten. Last season
concluded with the Badgers' first-

ever Rose Bowl victory, a 21-16 tri-
umph over UCLA.
Unlike last year, however, Wis-
consin will not be sneaking up on
anybody. After all, expectations for
excellence and not just a winning
season exist in Madison.
"We don't worry about that,"
Alvarez says. "You can't worry about
expectations. All I can emphasize is
being in control."

On the field, the Badgers certainly
reflect Alvarez's desire to be in control
with one of the more conservative, but
effective, attacks in college football.
But when a team has Brett Moss and
Terrell Fletcher, the ground game cer-
tainly remains the best choice.
Moss, the Big Ten and Rose Bowl
MVP, led the conference in rushing
with 1,637 yards and 16 touchdowns.
After such a fine year, speculation sur-

rounded Moss concerning ajump to the
NFL, but the senior tailback decided to
remain a Badger for one more year.
"I knew I wasn't ready to make the
next step," Moss says. "The scouts
said they haven't seen my hands,
catching passes. They said I wasn't
going in the first two rounds."
Moss was not the only Wisconsin
runner to put up gaudy numbers. The
other part of the dynamic duo, full-
back Terrell Fletcher, came close to
giving the Badgers two 1,000-yard
backs, coming upjust four yards short.
Fletcher contributed 10 touchdowns
to Wisconsin's potent attack.
Much of the pair's success can be
attributed to the nation's best offen-
sive line. Four of five starters return
- including Outland and Lombardi
candidate Cory Raymer - from the
group that helped the Badgers to the
eighth-best rushing total in the coun-
,try in 1993.
Yet the one loss on the front five is
the biggest loss for the whole team.
Right tackle Joe Panos, a walk-on
who became an All-America player,
graduated, thus removing the Bad-
gers' heart and soul. Replacing Panos
will be 6-foot-6, 315-pound sopho-
more Jerry Wunsch.
While the offense remains a
strength, the defense is questionable
despite the presence of all-confer-
ence defensive back Jeff Messenger,
who moves back to safety after steal-
ing seven passes at cornerback, in-
cluding a key one against Michigan.
The Badgers ranked sixth in the

Big Ten in total defense, givingi
358.6 yards per game. While the ru
ning defense was mediocre, the se
ondary was anything but that go
surrendering 228 yards passing p
game (eighth in Big Ten), and will n
get better in 1994 with the departur
of Reggie Holt and Scott Nelson.
The Badgers do not have the b
efit of a weak schedule in 1994 as thl
did last season. Instead of playi
nonconference weaklings Nevad
Southern Methodist and Iowa Sta
Wisconsin must play at Colora
Additionally, the Badgers face bac
to-back conference road gam(
against Michigan and Ohio State, lea
ing the Badgers no place to hide.
- Chad A. Safr


Tshimanga Biakabatuka (above) and Ed Davis replaced an injured Tyrone Wheatley against Boston College.

1217 PROSPECT, ANN ARBOR 665-1771
FF with this ad.
Don't Ignore the Signs.

es ines will get another test in the form
av- of No. 7 Colorado.
"As soon as I saw the schedule I
an realized why I came to Michigan -
to play the best," defensive lineman
Damon Denson says. "We're never
going to have a soft schedule."
After the nonconference sched-
ule, more trouble awaits. Following
Iowa Oct. 1, the Wolverines face
Michigan State, Penn State, Illinois
and Wisconsin in consecutive weeks.
A difficult stretch indeed. The only
saving grace is that three of those four
are at home.
A brief respite against Purdue and
Minnesota in November leads to the
regular season's conclusion at Ohio
State. The Wolverines ripped the
Buckeyes 28-0 in last year's finale,
keeping Ohio State from earning a
Rose Bowl bid.
The defense shut down Ohio State
in that one as it did the Boilermakers,
Golden Gophers and Wolfpack. It al-
lowed just 24 points in Michigan's
four final contests. The Wolverines

led the conference in scoring defense,
holding opponents to an average of
13.3 points per game.
Michigan's offense gets most of
the headlines; there are the highlight
makers like Wheatley as well as the
injured stars like Walter Smith and
Joe Marinaro. But as coaches like to
say, "Defense wins football games."
The cliche is as old as the game itself
but it rings true. >
The Wolverines' defense has a
chance to be one of the best in the
nation and looks forward to the op-
portunity to do so. After the 1991
season, which saw speedy teams like
Florida State and Washington blow
by Michigan, Moeller decided to get
some defenders who could keep up
with the opposition's quickness. The
recruiting focus on speed and
athleticism is starting to pay off.
While last year's defense per-
formed well at times, slowing players
like Ohio State's Joey Galloway and
Wisconsin's Lee DeRamus, it did not
truly show itself until the end. The

final quartet of games hinted at the
ability of the Wolverines. Yet the
defense remains in the shadow of the
touchdown makers.
"If we play as a team and win,
we'll get enough recognition," Win-
ters says.
Plenty of Michigan players are up
for postseason awards. Cornerback
Ty Law will contend for the Jim
Thorpe Award as the nation's top
defensive back. Linebackers Dyson,
Irons and Morrison are among 48
players up for the Butkus Award.
Wheatley could contend for the
Heisman. Collins is mentioned for
the Davey O'Brien Award, the top
quarterback honor.
Regardless of individual awards,
the no. 1 goal is a trip to Pasadena. No
Michigan players desire a repeat ap-
pearance in the Hall of Fame Bowl.
Instead, the 1994 Wolverines want
to hoist familiar hardware - the Big
Ten and Rose Bowl Trophies. Only
then Michigan can say it has returned
to glory.

Expct 1
from th
very year it's the sa
Each fall the eyebr
And every Septer
After a while, you w
football team dashes ho
a 1993: Talk of conte
air prior to the matchup
real quarterback. Well, t
Michigan Stadium and d
1992: Michigan appe
minutes of the game in 1
darned if Elvis Grbac di
1991: The team final
from Desmond Howard.
Florida State rolled into
beating third-ranked Mi
And those are only tl
* 1948.
That marks the last t
championship. And it's
opportunities since then
Bo Schembechler's 1
shutting out a third of it
State in the final game.
perfection in 1972 and I
In 1990 Gary Moelle
games by a total of six p
Michigan had its firs
However, the Wolverin
But here it is again -
"We learned we hav
receiver Amani Toomer
"We've worked all s
Deon Johnson.
"To have a losing se
linebacker Jarrett Irons.
Coming off the 8-4 dis
the light, that this year is c
"College football is t
you're no good anymor
Michigan is accustor
top, but just not quite.
Since 1978, the Wol
and have won only once
Yet, they have won or
campaigns and continue t<
Don't let the eyebr<
will be good - but not
With an unbelievably
improving Big Ten conf
And with an injury-ridd
the team may need mor
Tyrone Wheatley ma
capture the Jim Thorpe
But there will be no
The linebacking cor
tight ends also have alm
Quarterback Todd Colli
games single-handedly.
Michigan will provic
great teams do not alloy
home turf.
After all, this is Micd
discover new and strang
the other side.
And 1994's team wil

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