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Thury, September 12, 1996
Dreisbach pressured to live up to Michigan's storied past
By Barry Solenberger
Scott Dreisbach knows a lot depends
Namely, Michigan's chances for a suc-
cessful season. A Rose Bowl season.
That puts a lot of pressure on the
sophomore quarterback. And as if he
needed any more pressure, there is the
story of the teams that preceded him in
From 1990-1994, the Wolverines
won 44 games, appeared in five bowl
games (they won four), finished in the
top 10 of the final Associated Press
poll three times and had 10 All-
There are two people who were pri-
marily responsible for this Michigan
success - quarterbacks Elvis Grbac and
Todd Collins. During those five years,
no other Michigan signal-caller started a
game. Statistically, the two rank as the
best quarterbacks in school history.
Grbac led Michigan to two Rose Bowls,
including a victory over Washington.
Collins didn't take his team to Pasadena
during his two years as a starter (1993-
94), but he was hardly to blame for the
Then came last season. For the first
time since 1989, the quarterback posi-
tion was not a strength of Michigan's.
But coach Lloyd Carr had a young
redshirt-freshman with a lot of poten-
tial. Dreisbach took over and directed
the Wolverines to a 4-0 start before
being lost for the season with an
This season, the sophomore is back
and the leader of a youthful Michigan
offensive attack. He says his right
thumb has completely healed, which is
good news for Michigan fans. For this
fall, Dreisbach must be healthy and
display poise beyond his years if the
Wolverines are to make it to Pasadena
for the first time in four years.
He must, in fact, become as good as
Grbac and Collins were.
Of course, no one is saying that
directly. Those types of comparisons
only add unwanted pressure.
"I didn't really follow them when
they were (at Michigan)," Dreisbach
says. "The level they played at was a
top level. I don't have the experience to
be at their level - or even close to
Dreisbach is a level-headed guy.
He's not interested in comparisons. He
only wants to lead the Wolverines to
victory each Saturday, and if individ-
ual accolades follow, so be it.
But the point is clear. Dreisbach
knows he must be better this season.
And the pressure is there. You don't go
to Pasadena with a mediocre quarter-
back. You need a star leading your
offense, like the ones the Wolverines
had from 1990-94.
"I think I will feel pressure,"
Dreisbach says. "I'm in more of a lead-
ership role. But it's pressure that
comes with everything. I don't really
feel it, but I know it's there."
And while it may be asking a lot for
Have the Wolverines fallen from their own sta
loyd Carr believes in The Michigan Tradition. He knows
it; he talks about it; he revels in it. But he is also haunted
No matter what Lloyd Carr does while he is the head coach
at Michigan, he knows it will be held up to standards set by
Yost and Crisler.
And he is reminded every day of the success of a man
known simply as Bo.
Carr's office is in Schembechler Hall.
Still, Carr embraces the expectations,
if not the scrutiny placed on his team,
because of them.
There is one tradition more daunting
than the rest, however. One that brings
with it more pressure than most. One
which started with Schembechler and RYAN
has since become the motto of the WHITE
Michigan football program: White on
"Those who stay will be champions." Target
Schembechler put that sign above the ._.._.__....
lockerroom door shortly after he arrived
in Ann Arbor.
It told those Wolverines that if they worked, if they did
what was asked of them - play hard and study hard - Bo
would get them to the Rose Bowl.
And he did.
In 1970, '72, '77, '78, '79, '81, '83, Those
shirted. He didn't play a down.
As far as Irons is concerned, that doesn't count. So
Michigan is focused on winning its first Big Ten champi-
onship since 1992. This is not the most talented team since
that '92 squad, and this team isn't favored to win the confer-
ence as some of its predecessors have been.
But these Wolverines may be the most determined of the
past four. Determined not to let another Michigan tradition
fall by the wayside. The Wolverines have suffered three
straight four-loss seasons. They haven't been dominating the
Big Ten, and they haven't been winning championships.
They don't even have the nation's biggest stadium any-
If the Michigan mystique hasn't faded in the past three sea-
sons, it certainly has flickered. And these seniors don't want
to see it burn out on their watch.
They see Bo's sign every day in the lockerroom, just over
the doors to the practice field.
"Those who stay will be champions."
Irons, for one, didn't have to stay. As one of the top line-
backers in the country last year, he could have gone pro. But
he came back. He came back for a ring. He stayed to be a
- There are five teams that have a legitimate shot to win the
Big Ten this year and claim the bowl trip
Michigan covets like a birth right.
who Stay The key will most likely be injuries.
Whichever team has the fewest is the one
ampions. who will be in Pasadena the first day of
Schembechler It could be Michigan. It could very
rmer Michigan well be somebody else.
football coach "It would hurt a lot," said senior nose
tackle Will Carr about the prospects of
not going to the Rose Bowl. "Coming up
Scott Dreisbach must read defenses all season the way he did in the fourth quarter of the Virginia game last year if Michigan is to have any chance at making the Rose
Bowl. The shadows of Elvis Grbac and Todd Collins will follow him every rush, every pass and every play.
Dreisbach to be a Grbac or a Collins,
it's not a pipe dream. Because at 6-
foot-4 and 209 pounds, Dreisbach is
potentially the next great Michigan
"I like Scott as a quarterback because
of his athletic ability," says Michigan
offensive tackle Thomas Guynes. "I
know that if I get in trouble, he can
scramble around, and I can get back on
the block so I don't look too bad:"
Dreisbach certainly has the talent,
but can he keep off of the operating
table? His thumb has healed, but he
recently had another injury befall him.
Back in early August, Dreisbach
banged his right foot into a wall, injur-
ing his fourth toe pretty badly. When
Dreisbach went to tell Michigan coach
Lloyd Carr about the mishap, Carr rid-
dled the 20-year-old with a response
that cannot be printed here.
"He had a few choice words,"
Dreisbach said. "He told me that if I
missed a snap, I could transfer. In a
Joking, indeed. Because if
Dreisbach were to leave, it would like-
ly put Carr in exactly the same position
he was in a year ago when the then-
redshirt freshman went down - up a
Fortunately for Michigan, Dreisbach's
toe healed quicker than his thumb.
After a 4-0 start last fall, the
Wolverines limped to a 5-4 finish with
the inexperienced Brian Griese at
quarterback. It was evident rather
quickly that Griese did not have what it
would take to lead Michigan to
But that is not to say that Michigan
would have ended its season in the
Rose Bowl if Dreisbach had not gotten
hurt. When in action, he was hardly
everybody's All-American. His first
game mirrored his next three. At times,
he couldn't hit anybody (see the first
three quarters of the Virginia game)
and at others, he was brilliant (see the
fourth quarter of the Virginia game).
"I think he's still a young quarter-
back and is going to make some mis-
takes," Carr says. "But I think that in
terms of throwing the ball, he's right
where he was before he got injured."
But the Wolverines need him to be
better than he was before the injury.
They need him to be better than he was
two weeks ago against Illinois.
Dreisbach led the Wolverines to victo-
ry, but he was just 11-of-23 for 117
yards and a touchdown.
"I thought he was very hesitant in
the first three series," Carr said. "I
thought he played well in the last
series, hitting some of his passes.
Remember, he's still a young guy."
If Michigan doesn't make it to the
Granddaddy of them all this season,
the first graduating class since 1975
will leave Ann Arbor without smelling
roses. This puts a lot of pressure on a
player who only has five career starts.
But that's the way it is.
"He's only played four games,"
Michigan quarterbacks coach Stan
Parrish said before the season. "But
people don't want excuses about how
he's inexperienced. He has to be ready
And much improved.
Elvis Grbac and Todd Collins are
gone to the NFL, and the Wolverines
are now Dreisbach's team. In a league
in which no team is dominant, the
Wolverines can get back to the Rose
Bowl. But will they? Who knows?
That depends on a lot of things.
It depends, in part, on luck. It
depends on how healthy Michigan can
remain. And it depends on the running
game. But above all, whether or not the
Wolverines go to Pasadena depends on
It depends on Scott Dreisbach. *
Michigan got to know Pasadena real will be C
Only once during Schembechler's 20 - B
years did Michigan go four years, 1973- F
76, without making a trip to Pasadena.
But Michigan tied Ohio State for the
Big Ten title in 1972, '73 and '74.
Those players didn't go to the Rose Bowl, Ohio State did,
but they were champions.
Still, each player knew that if he came to Michigan, he
would likely win a Big Ten championship and one day play in
a Rose Bowl.
The game which Michigan helped usher into existence in
1902 quickly became the benchmark for excellence.
When Schembechler left, Gary Moeller took over, and
nothing seemed to change.
Moeller took the Wolverines to the Mih a
promised land in 1992 and '93.
But Michigan hasn't been back since, Year dppoi
and this year's seniors could become the 1969 South
second group since 1969 not to play in a' 1971 Stan"
Rose Bowl. 1972 none
Will those who stay be champions? 1973 nine
That's what this year's players are asking 1974 none
themselves. 1976 South
Can those who stay be champions? 1977 Wash
That's what everyone else is wondering. 1978 SautU
"We've stressed it' said co-captain 1980 Wash
Jarrett Irons. "All we've talked about is 1982 UCLA
winning the Big Ten and going to the Rose 198 Ao
Irons has been to the Rose Bowl before. 19t
He was a freshman the last time the 1992 Wash
Wolverines'made the trip, but he was red-W
through high school I was never a considered a loser.
"I always had some kind of championship."
And so has every senior to play for the Wolverines since
Irons, Carr and the rest of the seniors don't plan on letting
Will those who stay be champions?
Michigan hopes so. The rest of us are waiting to see.
This is not a laughing matter for Michig
such importance, coach Uoyd Carr and
at referees, opponents and even each o
and win the Big Ten championship, two
time. Above the doors that lead to the
stay will be champions," a phrase intro
Schembechler. Carr's senior class couli
reign began not to at least share a coi