The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, October 31, 1994 - 5
Wolverines appear to be on
way to repeat of last season
Player C-A Yds TD
Collins 14-25172 1
J. Carr 1-3 8 0
Totals 15-28 180 1
By RACHEL BACHMAN
Daily Football Writer
Walter Smith's exuberant entrance
onto the Michigan Stadium turf was
largely ironic. The injured captain
pumped his fists and bobbed his head
as he strutted under the "Go Blue"
banner - the first time this year with-
Little did Smith, who scored the
first touchdown in the 1992 Rose
Bowl, know that Saturday's game
would squelch any remaining hopes
of his team returning to Pasadena.
The Wolverines' 31-19 loss to
Wisconsin still left them tied for sec-
ond place in the Big Ten standings.
However, with a 3-2 conference
record, Michigan is out of the race for
the Rose Bowl.
But for a school whose fans used
to make New Year's Day reservations
at California hotels around St.
Patrick's Day, Saturday's game was
hauntingly familiar. It hearkened
memories of last year, when the Wol-
verines went 8-4, finished fourth in
the Big Ten and ended up in the Hall
of Fame Bowl.
In 1993, Michigan rebounded from
an early-season loss to Michigan State
with an emotional victory at confer-
ence newcomer Penn State.
The next week, though, the Wol-
verines were edged out by Illinois. A
loss to Wisconsin sealed what would
be remembered as the season to for-
All that after beginning the season
with national title aspirations.
There were no such thoughts at the
start of the 1994 campaign, just a
desire to reclaim the conference title.
But once again, early-season losses
- to Penn State, and now to Wiscon-
sin - have derailed Michigan's drive
to recapture past dominance.
It was apparent in the postgame
press conference that the Wolverines
knew the ramifications of this game,
evident in defensive tackle Trent
Zenkewicz's Freudian slip.
"For us to be successful next year,"
he said, then corrected himself, "next
week, we're going to have to look
ourselves in the mirror and realize we
didn't play the best."
In reality, the season isn't over.
Michigan still is
almost certain to
it just won't be in
the.Rose Bowl. If
finish second in
they'll head to the
Citrus Bowl in
Zenkewicz Orlando. A third-
place result means
a Holiday Bowl berth and a trip to San
Diego. And fourth place?
The Wolverines might even be
headed back to Tampa and the Hall of
Many Division I teams would jump
at the chance to participate in any
postseason game. But according to
the players and coaches, Michigan is
not like many teams.
"It's disappointing right now, the
way we've played," captain Steve
'It's disappointing right
now, the way we've
played. We lost to
Penn State, then we
put it together and
beat Illinois. Then we
-- Steve Morrison
Morrison said. "We lost to Penn State,
then we put it together and beat Illi-
nois. Then we do this.
"You can't sit around and mope
about it. You've gotta regroup."
So, if the Wolverines are not play-
ing for the Big Ten title, which coach
Gary Moeller has repeatedly called
the point of the season, what motiva-
tion is there to play hard?
"To not lose again," quarterback
Todd Collins said.
Tailback Tyrone Wheatley, who
passed on the NFL to play for Michi-
gan one last year, perhaps has lost the
most in Michigan's season of medioc-
rity. He declined invitations to sec-
ond-guess his decision.
"My goals are farther and bigger
than for just this season," Wheatley
said. "I want things for the whole
team. If the younger guys don't get a
ring ... that's where my cares are."
For those surrounding the Michi-
gan football team, that's where theirs
Continued from page 1
Therein lies the problem. In the past
Michigan may have simply been able to
intimidate whomever wore the light-
colored jerseys just by being the home
team. Those days have disappeared.
The Wolverines' winning profi-
ciency makes them a target for every
opposition. A win over Michigan can
equal success in a struggling team's
season, such as it did for Illinois' last
year, and now for the Badgers in 1994.
At least the Wolverines can say they
are gracious hosts.
"It's tougher to play any place you
lose," Wisconsin's Joe Rudolph said.
Inexplicably that would be Michigan
Stadium for the Wolverines. Michigan
must be the only teamthat actually looks
forward to road trips.
The Wolverines must see "@ Ohio
State, Nov. 22" on the schedule and
celebrate with a big, "Yessss!"
Michigan plays in the largest sta-
dium in the United States. This is one
case where bigger is certainly not better.
"The Big House?" Big deal.
Player Aft Yds Avg
Wheatley20 132 6.6
Davis 6 24 4.0
Collins 9 (-)1(-).1
Totals 35155 4.4
9.9 21 1
19.7 40 0
13.5 18 0
12.0 12 0
3.0 3 0
12.0 40 1
No. Yds Avg Lg
4152 38.0 49
tackles wide receiver Amani Toomer during Saturday's 31-19 Michigan loss
passes for 27 yards, well below his per-game average of 103.7 yards which
aturday's game. Toomer was not the only Michigan receiver to struggle;
is roar past Buckeyes;
ai gives Perles a chance
Purdue's 22-yard line until the fourth
quarter and overcame a 13-0 deficit to
take the lead on a 1-yard run by Kent
Kahl, a 38-yard run by Jefferson Bates
and a 39-yard run by Sedrick Shaw.
The Boilermakers (2-1-2, 4-2-2)
tided to go for the winning field
goal in the closing seconds after tak-
ing over on Iowa's 42-yard line.
Mike Alstott, who rushed for 138
yards on 25 carries, had runs of 19
yards, six yards and one yard, bring-
ing the ball to the Iowa 13.
Purdue had a third-and-three with
three timeouts remaining when it let
the clock run down to set up Bobich's
Illinois 28, Northwestern 7
Johnny Johnson passed for two
touchdowns and Simeon Rice domi-
nated defensively as Illinois survived
Northwestern's successful Hail Mary
pass to beat the Wildcats, 28-7.
Northwestern (2-3, 3-4-1) has
hoped to use the game as a spring-
board to its second-ever bowl bid but
now needs to win its three remaining
games, including its finale at No. 1
Penn State, to qualify.
The Fighting Illini (3-2, 5-3) re-
mained very much in the running for a
major bowl game. They entered the
game as Big Ten leaders in every
defensive category. And except for
Steve Schnur's 64-yard completion to
Chris Gamble as the first half ended,
they manhandled the Wildcats.
Schnur replaced Tim Hughes just
in time to throw the desperation pass
that cut Northwestern's deficit to 14-
7 but couldn't lead a second-half come-
Player No. Yds Avg Lg TD
Toomer 2 (-)3(-)1.5 3 0
Totals 2 (-)3(-)1.5 3 0
Smith 2 125
Hayes 2 28
Floyd 1 10
Totals 5 163
Michigan at Purdue
Michigan State at Northwestern
Penn State at Indiana
Wisconsin at Ohio State
Illinois at Minnesota
tinued from page 1.
ith wideout Amani Toomer on a 14-
yard touchdown pass.
But 1993 saw him attempt just
eight passes all year. And with Collins
back as the top man this season,
Riemersma's prospects for starting at
quarterback for more than just his se-
nior campaign were slim.
Thus, after he injured the rotator
cuff in his right shoulder early last
son and coach Gary Moeller made
an overture before 1994 spring prac-
tice, the junior did not hesitate for
long. Moeller, noticing a void at tight
end following the departure of 1993
starter Marc Burkholder, asked
Riemersma if he might like to make a
change in positions.
Riemersma mulled over the deci-
sion for a few weeks, consulted his
ents and gave a nod.
"We all kind of laughed at first,"
says Riemersma's roommate, tight end
Rob Vander Leest. "But everybody
was kind of surprised (at how well he
It could not have been a simple
His outstanding play at the new
position has not only altered his status
on the team, but also radically changed
his relationship with one-time rival
Collins. The older Collins already had
the inside track at succeeding Grbac at
quarterback. But that did not deter
Riemersma from competing for the
job when Grbac graduated after the
Due to their combative relation-
ship on the field, Collins and
Riemersma rarely had spare words for
each other away from practice.
"Then I was just so conscious of
getting enough snaps in practice to get
a shot at Todd," Riemersma recalls.
"We would make sure to keep one up
on each other."
It didn't help that the two had few
shared experiences. "We never played
in a game together," Collins is quick
to point out.
This season, though, Riemersma
has emerged as one of Collins' most
trustworthy set of hands. Instead of
trying to outperform the starting quar-
terback in practice, Riemersma now
plays an active role in Michigan's
Saturday game plan.
Most importantly, Riemersma is
constantly on the receiving end of
clutch passes. On the winning drive at
Notre Dame Sept. 10, he slipped into
the secondary and caught a 26-yard
strike up the middle of the field that
kept Michigan marching. The game
against the Irish was just his second at
"The knowledge I'm able to carry
over from the quarterback position
has put me over the top," he says. "A
lot of times I'll look up at the line and
know what the coverage is and who
should get the ball. At Notre Dame I
knew the ball was coming to me."
To be sure, Riemersma is leaps
and bounds beyond where anyone
would have predicted at the start of
"He's a step ahead, 10 steps ahead
of where most people would be."
Moeller said. "Everybody says, 'Well,
he was a quarterback so he's a smart
player, so he can go do that.'
"No. He was a smart quarterback
who came over there, and because of
his smartness, he carried on."
He has room to improve, though.
Blocking, admittedly the toughest
coaching staff to run the ball to his
side of the line.
With Michigan down 17-3 in the
third quarter to Penn State, Wolverine
tailback Tyrone Wheatley took a pitch
to the right side of the field. A routine
play became a 67-yard touchdown
romp after Riemersma flattened his
man and Wheatley ran past.
After seeing physically pounding
plays like that, it is difficult to imag-
ine this tight end was once a step away
from the starting quarterback job. But,
in fact, Riemersma still has the most
experience at quarterback behind
Collins. It is clear, though, that his
priorities have changed with the switch
When asked what he values more.
his one touchdown pass or the block
that set Wheatley free, Riemersma
"That's a tough question," he
muses. "They're comparable. You
wouldn't think they would be, but
they are. You always pride yourself
with blocking being a lineman."
Thank heaven for simple pleasures.
It would be a mistake, though, to
consider him one-dimensional. As is
evinced on the basketball court,
His future, though, should prove
to be basketball-free.
A look at Riemersma's football
career begs yet another question: How
does a backup college quarterback
become an NFL prospect at tight end
in one short season?
With another year under his belt at
tight end, Riemersma should only
improve. If he keeps on his current
pace, he should be fighting for a spot
on an NFL roster two years from now.
Notre Dame 26-24
MICHIGAN ST. 40-20
PENN ST. 24-31