The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, November 14, 1994 - 5
Disappointed fans find solace in
dramatic second-half spectacle
Watching Saturday's game
was like attending a
naughty child's birthday
There were times this year
when the Wolverines were very
bad boys: the three home losses,
including one to Wisconsin.
'urely, they knew that type of
bhavior was not tolerated in this
house - the Big House.
Yes, Michigan did wrong. And
for that, the team was banished to
the most damning state in fans'
minds: obscurity. Many will
remember the past two seasons as
"the ones when we went to the
crappy bowl games."
But there it was, the last home
game of the season. And there
they were, in their shiny yellow
pants: the seniors leaping to
smack the "Go Blue" banner one
last time, the rest cutting and
running and blocking and
wrapping up running backs as if
nothing had happened.
Saturday, it looked as if
Minnesota would be the next team
to spank the Wolverines at home.
With eight minutes left in the
first half, the Wolverines were
down, 15-7. It was second down
with nine yards to go when Todd
Collins' pass sailed over Amani
It was third and nine when
Collins hit Jay Riemersma for a
seven-yard gain. And it was fourth
and two when Michigan called a
The fans were yelling at coach
Gary Moeller to go for it. They
wanted to see Tyrone Wheatley
pump through the line. They
wanted a reason to yell.
But in came Kraig Baker to
punt, and the boo's rose and filled
the stAdium like steam.
The billows of frustration had
been building up. Wheatley had
fumbled on his first carry. Collins
had been sacked two plays in a row.
And Minnesota's Crawford Jordan
had intercepted a Collins pass just
as Michigan was marching down to
build on its 7-3 lead.
It looked like Michigan was
headed for reprimand, the likes of
which it had never seen. A trip to
bed without dinner? Paddling?
Another trip to the Hall of Fame
Bowl? Much too mild for this
But a punishment wasn't
necessary. Those Wolverines
pulled it out in the end. And
somehow, like a kid with a
sheepish grin, they coaxed
forgiveness from their faithful
Wheatley broke Michigan's
all-time points record; a first-
quarter touchdown gave him 318
total. His high-stepping
flamboyance will not soon be
forgotten - nor will his decision
to stay at Michigan.
Several mythical million
dollars and no Rose Bowl later,
Wheatley was still stomping and
shouting in the Wolverine
endzone. The wave of bowing
students made it known: He will
Collins threw for 352 yards,
breaking Jim Harbaugh's single-
game record by 42 yards. If
anyone was underrated on this
team, it was Collins. His passing
efficiency, low pickoff ratio, and
quiet guttiness are responsible for
much of the team's success.
The Notre Dame game -
when his third-down pass to Seth
Smith kept the Wolverines alive
- would have been lost without
him. Collins' drive was the
sweetest moment of the season.
There were other things that
made Saturday's game, and the
season, salvageable: the inspiring
limp of Walter Smith, and his
two-yard gain. The tumbling body
of Amani Toomer, ball in hand.
And the barreling, 54-yard run of
Chris Floyd, the hope of the
In the end, the fans just
couldn't stay mad at the Michigan
After the game, Moeller said
something that could apply to the
whole season: "As bad as things
were in the first half, there were
some good things in there."
He's right. No matter how
many times you foul up, there's
good in everyone.
Even those in the Big House.
Player No. Yds
Totals 30 394
The Wolverine running game suffered in the first half as it had one positive rushing yard on 18 carries. Michigan
tailback Tyrone Wheatley's first quarter fumble set up a Minnesota field goal.
Player No. Yds Avg
Heath 1 3 3.0
Totals 1 3 3.0
Captain Smith comes back
Receiver returns from injury for final home game
1 KICKOFF RETI
Player No. Yds
By MICHAEL ROSENBERG
Daily Football Writer
Way back in the first week of Sep-
@mber, Michigan wide receiver Walter
Smith knew what he wanted. Less than
two weeks earlier, he had torn his ante-
rior cruciate ligament. He was on
crutches. He was expected to be out
until January or February, at least.
"I want to be on the field for just one
play," Smith said.
He couldn't walk.
"I want to catch one pass ... then
" be happy. My season will be com-
Right. And if Charlie Brown could
just kick one field goal ... i
But there was Walter Smith, with
just over a minute to go in the final
home game of his career, standing on
the Minnesota 11-yard line, listening to
the crowd chanting his name, waiting
for the ball to be hiked.
The ball was snapped. Michigan.
ickupquarterback Jason Carr stopped,
pivoted, and threw a screen to Smith,
who was tackled after a gain of two
After he was hit, Smith got up,
pumped his fist in the air and screamed.
The crowd roared.
The game was, by all accounts, de-
Continued from page 1
He broke former kicker Mike Gillette's
mark on a two-yard plunge midway
through the first stanza.
The senior's performance led Min-
nesota coach Jim Wacker to extremes.
"Wheatley," Wackersaid, "the kid's
a Heisman winner -just watch."
cided already. But Smith's catch will
likely be remembered long after the rest
of the game is forgotten.
Smith has made a remarkable re-
covery since injuring his knee. While
still not completely healthy, the senior
can now run just three months after
Well, he can jog, anyway.
"I told him he looked like a girl
running," starting quarterback Todd
Collins said. "He looked like a smurf. I
actually would have liked to have thrown
him the pass."
Smith has been manic in rehabilitat-
ing the knee, surpassing even the hopes
of team doctors. Once he was able to
walk without crutches, he worked on
getting into a game. He wore full pads
to Michigan's game against Wisconsin
even though the coaches told him there
was no way he would play.
Smith desperately wanted to see
game action, but coach Gary Moeller
was still concerned about the receiver's
"I did not want Walter Smith run-
ning," he said. "I told Walter before the
game, 'If there is a chance at the end of
the game I will have you go to the
sidelines and stand there, and we will
throw the ball over your head."'
Smith, whom Moeller has called the
toughest player heevercoached, wanted
to do more than his coach asked.
"Now, Walter - did he lose yard-
age?" the coach asked reporters.
No, Moeller was told, Smith did not
lose yardage. He gained two yards.
"Well, he was supposed to back
up," Moeller said, "so they couldn't
intercept it, grab the ball and fall out of
at him if he gained a damn inch."
But falling out of bounds has never
been an option in Walter Smith's mind,
bum knee or not. The senior co-captain
has often said he prefers hitting to scor-
ing and catching.
And so when he caught the pass,
Smith went straight ahead and collided
with a defensive back.
Despite Smith's insistence on being
hit, Moeller was happy with the play.
"I wasn't trying to do that for any
reason other than to show how much
this team loves Walter Smith," Moeller
said. "That was a nice moment."
It was a fitting conclusion to Walter
Smith's career as a Wolverine.
Of course, that may not be the con-
clusion. You never know when Walter
Smith will try to sneak into another
Senior flanker Walter Smith celebrates his first reception of the season.
Perhaps one can take a few pointers
on that from Minnesota's secondary.
About all the Gophers could do against
Toomer was watch. The junior entered
the game as the Big Ten leader in recep-
tions and receiving yards and hauled in
six catches for 147 yards.
"We had great coverage time after
time," Wacker said. "You can't cover
(Toomer) any better than that."
Indeed, Toomer dazzled on several
deep pass plays.
The second snap of the fourth quar-
ter catapulted Toomer down the right
side of the field and into double cover-
age. He leaped into the air, caught a
Collins bomb at the three yard line and
waltzed into the end zone. The two
Gopher defensive backs lay prone on
the ground as Toomer celebrated.
"He's leading theBig Ten," Wacker
said. "After today, he's leading the
Toomer's second touchdown blew
the game wide open, securing a 35-15
advantage for Michigan. But early on
things looked bleak for the Wolverines.
With Michigan leading 7-3 early in
the second quarter, Minnesota made a
case for victory.
later touchdown reception, Darkins
caught a screen pass from Gopher quar-
terback Tim Schade near midfield and
broke the play outside. Michigan safety
Clarence Thompson had the angle on
Darkins, who powered down the side-
line. However, when Thompson was
held up in traffic, Darkins motored in
for a 67-yard touchdown. Darkins, the
Minn - Chalberg 23-yard field goal
Drive: 6 plays, 14 yards, 2:15
Mich - Wheatley 2-yard run
Drive: 11 plays, 69 yards, 4:49
Minn - Darkins 67-yard pass from Schade
Drive: 4 plays, 90 yards, 1:25
Minn - Osterman 32-yard pass from Schade
Drive: 5 plays, 53 yards, 1:20
Mich - Hamilton 37-yard field goal
Drive: 10 plays, 51 yards, 3:33
Mich - Hamilton 28-yard field goal
Drive: 9 plays, 53 yards, 2:23
Mich - Toomer 9-yard pass from Collins
(Toomer pass from Collins)
Drive: 5 nlavs. 30 vards. 2:31
Player No. Yds TD
Jordan 1 0 0
s; .: Tl";'