'l The cga Uaily - Kickoff -riay, beptember , '%
The Michiga'n baily
Law enforces 'no fly' rule in Blue secondary
When Boston College quarterback
Mark Hartsell took the first snap in
Saturday's game, the Michigan sec-
ondary was prepared to make a strong
statement that would carry it through
But Eagle split end Greg Grice
hauled in Hartsell's pass at the Michi-
gan 25 yard line over the outstretched
hands of free safety Chuck Winters
and ran in for a 74-yard score.
This was not what Wolverine de-
fensive backs had in mind.
"You cannot let people throw be-
hind you," Michigan coach Gary
Moeller said after the game.
That would be the point of having
players such as junior All-America
candidate Ty Law at the cornerback
position. Law earned Sports
Illustrated's Defensive Player of the
Week honors after his two-intercep-
tion performance against Ohio State
"We're playing against five All-
American (receivers) this year," Law
says. "It's a way to gain respect for
the Michigan secondary. It's a chance
to show the talent we have back there."
Joining Law on the other corner is
senior Deon Johnson, replacing the
departed Alfie Burch. Sophomores
Woody Hankins and Tyrone Noble
provide backup for Johnson.
Winters, who started every game
in '93, will be spelled by sophomore
Clarence Thompson at free safety.
Sophomore Deollo Anderson
starts at strong safety and will be
backed up by redshirt freshman Ear-
Law is head and shoulders above
his fellow Wolverine defensive backs.
He stands as one of the top cornerbacks
in the nation and a preseason favorite
for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to
college football's best defensive back.
"I look forward to (defensive co-
ordinatorLloyd) Carr telling me, 'You
got him,"'Law says, betraying his lust
for one-on-one coverage.
However, beyond Law and the rest
of the starters, few Michigan defensive
backs have the experience to be shoved
into single coverage confrontations.
- Brett Forrest
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basketball player," Baker says. "I
said, 'If you want to drive to
community college or to a Division
II or III school, you can do that. But
if you want to fly out of here, it's
going to be for football."
In a play during the last game of
Dyson's junior year, he offered
evidence to Baker's argument. "He
came across the field and I thought
he killed the kid," Baker says. "The
kid's helmet came off, his shoes
popped up straight in the air.
"At that point, he realized, 'Ooh,
I like doing that."'
The scouts liked it, too. Dyson
was pursued by Alabama, North
Carolina, Ohio State, Miami,
Michigan State and Notre Dame. But
Dyson, a Catholic, snubbed the Irish.
"Basically, (Notre Dame coach
Lou) Holtz just lied to me," he says.
Dyson says Holtz told him the team
had only four outside linebackers,
two of whom were seniors, so he'd
be able to play early in college.
"I went there (to visit)," Dyson
says, "and I was hanging out with the
guys. One of the linebackers (and I),
we were talking, and I said, 'So what
do you guys do in practice?' And he
was like, 'Well, the 10 of us go over
and...' and I was like 'The 10 of
He could be angry; he isn't.
Instead, he's reclining on his couch,
chewing, sloth-like, on a piece of
pizza. He tells the Notre Dame story
in the same chuckling tone that he
tells the one about his first day on
Several pounds heavier and a few
steps slower, Dyson took two laps
around the field and threw up. It
happened, in part, because three
bowls of cereal sloshed in his
lactose-sensitive stomach. But even
Dyson acknowledges he had to
elevate his game when he arrived in
And he has.
In Saturday's game, Dyson
impressed his coaches and
teammates alike on the first play of
"The (Boston College) receiver
caught the ball at the 20 or 25-yard
line," says middle guard Tony
Henderson, who roomed with Dyson
their first year at school. "By the time
that guy got to the end zone, Dyson
was at the five, right behind him. He
trucked 250 pounds a good 45, 50
yards on the fly past two 180-pound
defensive backs (Chuck Winters and
Ty Law), trying to stop a guy from
scoring on us.
"That's how much he cares about
Henderson said Dyson stressed to
the defense how important this year
is to him. He also showed it last
"Last year, coaches emphasized
that he was too heavy, and that may
be why he was getting hurt," says
linebacker coach Bobby Morrison.
Dyson lost a dozen pounds between
the '93 season and this one, so that
doesn't explain why he injured his
The injury means he will sit out
his last-ever matchup with ... Notre
Dame. That hurt stings more than the
surgery he endured to repair his foot.
It also means his list of ills grows
longer. As of now, it includes three
arthroscopic surgeries on his knee, a
torn calf muscle, and a shoulder
injury that forced him into redshirt
status his freshman year.
Missing one of college football's
great grudge matches will not ruin
him; it means he will be a coach to
Kerwin Waldroup and Trevor Pryce
- who will replace him - instead
of a player. But even if it did, you
wouldn't hear it from the man.
Expressing his feelings is a
"My biggest flaw is that I don't
demonstrate to people that I care
about them enough," Dyson says.
Alison Glendening, his girlfriend
of four years, says he just doesn't
want to burden people with his
"You've got to ask a specific
question to get something out of
him," says the Michigan alumnae,
now a first-year medical student at
Indiana. "He can talk your ear off
and you won't get an idea of what
Just as he likes celebrating other
people's birthdays but not his own,
Dyson prefers showing to telling.
He was smiling and laughing
during two-a-day August football
practices, which involve the kind of
workouts you'd decline in favor of
elaborate dental work. His giddiness
elicited grunts of "Why are you
always so damn happy?" from his
He is happy because he knows he
has a good thing at Michigan.
Growing up, he and his two brothers
and two sisters shared a three-
bedroom rental house. His father
Matt Sr., now retired, for 32 years
was an explosives tester for the
Navy; his mother Barbara cleans
Dyson does not name the
numerous things he went without as
a child. It was not hard, he asserts, to
get by with shoes one size when his
feet needed another. A pair a year
had to suffice.
Dyson does not speak in detail
about his childhood, preferring to tell
how in high school, sports pulled him
out of a shy silence. They also gave
him confidence he took to Ann
His first year in college, Dyson
and his current roommate, Jaison
Smith, were in a South Quad lounge
with two friends. Smith says the
discussion turned to past
accomplishments, and Dyson
proclaimed there was nothing he
couldn't do if he put his mind to it.
Skeptical, one of the women in the
group ventured that he couldn't
throw her out the window.
"So," Smith says, grinning
devilishly, "Matt proceeded to hang
this 6-foot-3 woman (a former
Michigan basketball player) outside,
the fifth floor lounge.
"She stopped daring him to do
Dyson has mellowed since then.
After games, he chooses babying his
because they're on TV ... bute
person's a role model because
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conscience would make him pause.
"Everybody's a role model," he
says. "Athletes seem to be more so
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