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September 09, 1994 - Image 38

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-09-09
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6 - The _gan Daily - Kickoff 94-Friday, September 9,191

--

0

The Michigan Daily - Ki

Play speaks loudly for efficient Collins

Fighting illini boast nation's bes

On most teams the quarterback gets
the most attention. He is the star. He
gets theglory. Alookatalistof Heisman
Trophy winners proves that the quarter-
back dominates the limelight.
However, quarterbacks at Michi-
gan often take a backseat to other
offensive stars. Ron Johnson ran all
over the place in the late 1960s. An-
thony Carter and Desmond Howard
did everything in their respective time
with the Wolverines. Now, Tyrone
Wheatley makes the highlight films
with his feats.
Recently Michigan signal callers
have been in the spotlight a little more.
During his time, former Wolver-
ine Elvis Grbac rewrote Michigan
passing records. And beginning with

last season Todd Collins has contin-
ued much of that record setting.
Collins played some in 1992 as
Grbac's backup before assuming the
starting role in 1993. The Walpole,
Mass., native threw for 2,509 yards a
season ago, the second best in Michi-
gan history, setting season records for
pass attempts (296) and completions
(189) in the process. After his perfor-
mance against Boston College in
which he threw for over 250 yards,
Collins is on pace to become the first
Michigan quarterback to throw for
3,000 yards in a season.
However, this will only occur if
coach Gary Moeller abandons the run-
ning game. So don't count on seeing
Collins' name atop that record category.

Don't count on his name being
brought up when the top quarterbacks
are mentioned either. Georgia's Eric
Zeier, Southern Cal's Rob Johnson
and Stanford's Steve Stenstrom get
included in Heisman talk and pre-
season All-America teams.
Collins receives few headlines. He
is just efficient (a category in which
Collins was second in the Big Ten last
year).
"Michigan isn't renowned as a
passing school," Collins says. "I think
everybody wants to be listed among
the top quarterbacks in the nation. My
measure is wins. If we win the Rose
Bowl, then I'll consider myself one of
the best."
A 6-foot-5, 229-pound senior,

Collins brings poise and an accurate
arm to the offense. He can go deep, as
evinced by his 90-yard touchdown to
Derrick Alexander against Illinois
last year (the longest passing play in
Michigan history). He can swing the
ball to one of the running backs out of

The award going to the best col-
lege linebacker honors the greatest to
play the position - Dick Butkus. Not
only did he destroy players who came
into his territory while playing with
the Bears but did so while at Illinois
Dana Howard seeks to bring the
trophy to its rightful place in 1994.
"The Butkus was one of the key
reasons why I came back," Howard
says. "I wanted to bring it back to
Illinois, where it belongs."
If the senior All-American does
not tote the award back to Memorial
Stadium, then one of his fellow line-
backers may.
The quartet of Howard, John
Holecek, Simeon Rice and Kevin
Hardy make up what Fighting Illini

coach Lou Tepper calls, "the finest
collection of linebackers I have ever
been around."
The foursome remains the heart
on an Illinois defense that returns all
11 starters from a 5-6 campaign last
season. Rice, Howard and Holecek
earned spots on the all-conference
first team in 1993 while Howard was
named co-defensive player of the year
(with Ohio State's Dan Wilkinson).
Although Penn State has been
dubbed, "Linebacker U.," for the
many great players who played the
position for the Nittany Lions, that
title moves from State College to
Champaign, at least for 1994.
The quartet helped the Illini de-
fense limit opponents to just under

310 yards per game, good enou
14th nationally in overall de
Yet defensive success does n
ways produce victories.
For thelIllini to get into the po
son, the offense must be more c
tent. In its six losses last year, Il
scored 52 points compared wit
in its wins. The up-and-dowr
can be traced to erratic but tal
quarterback Johnny Johnson.
Johnson led the Illini to vict
five of his eight starts but comp
just 47 percent of his passes (13
287) and threw 10 intercep
Johnson proves troublesome wh
roams outside the pocket.
He scrambles more than ev
cause of an average offensive

Carr

a

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TUESDAY
SEPTEMBER 13, 1994-
4:00 P.M*
RACKHAM
AMPHITHEATRE
PANEL DISCUSSION AND
RECEPTION TO FOLLOW.
PANEL TO BE
ANNOUNCED.
PRESENTED BY
THE OFFICE OF
THE VICE PRESIDENT
FOR RESEARCH
THE UNIVEsRyY
OF MICHIGAN

the backfield with touch. See his
game-clinching touchdown passes to
Ch6 Foster against Penn State and
Ohio State.
Despite his fine skills as a passer,
Collins remains a pure pocket quarter-
back. He moves well behind the offen-
sive line but once outside containment,
he lacks the nimble feet of Colorado's
Kordell Stewart or Illinois' Johnny
Johnson, but so do many.
Much of the success for this year's
team depends on Collins' durability.
The Wolverines possess plenty of
other quarterbacks but none of them
can match the senior's leadership or
experience on the field.
"I'm more relaxed and in more
command this year," Collins reveals.
"This year I'm trying to elevate ev-
eryone else's play."
Jason Carr, despite having
thrown only six passes in his career
before this season, begins the year as
the No. 2 signal caller.
"I've always been told it's a lot
harder to be the backup than starting,"
Carr says. "You just don't have as
much experience."
Scott Loeffler offers plenty of
ability at the third spot on the depth
chart. He did not see any game action
as a freshman in 1993 but may see
some this year as Moeller looks for a
quarterback to replace Collins in 1995.
Freshman Scott Dreisbach,
ranked No. 16 in the country by
SuperPrep Illustrated as a senior at
Penn High School in Mishawaka,Ind.,
and sophomore Brian Griese round
out the quarterback list.
- Chad A. Safran

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