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September 03, 1996 - Image 73

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-03

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FOOTBALL

The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - September 3, 1996 - 7F

,;-,
, . ,.

Mercury Hayes grabs a Scott Driesbach
pass late in the game against Virginia
to seal Michigan's comeback victory
(left).
Tshimanga Blakabutuka set several
season records in rushing last season
before leaving for the NFL Draft (top).
Amani Toomer was one of the leading
receivers for the 1995 Wolverines
(below).
Photos by MARK( FRIEDMAN/Daily

).

I,
6 ~*

#SomeonE
the huddle
never hea
400,ooo p
this quiet.
Northw

By Ryan White
Daily Sports Writer
The final two games of last season best
summed up what the 1995 Michigan football
team went through.
The Wolverines' regular season ended with
their best performance of the year, a 31-23
upset of the undefeated and No. 2-ranked
Buckeyes. That was the good Michigan team.
The other group of Wolverines showed up
in San Antonio for the Dec. 28 Alamo Bowl.
While the Wolverine defense allowed just one
touchdown, their offense was almost non-
existent in the 22-20 loss to the Aggies.
But, truth be told, at that point in the season
it wasn't a surprise when the offense strug-
gled; it had done so
Ssaid in most of the year.
Early on, however,
ei 'Ve Michigan looked like
it was well on its way
rd to its first Rose Bowl
appearance since
eople 1993.
The Wolverines
opened the year in dra-
matic fashion. On the
- Darnell Autry final play of the
estern tailback Pigskin Classic against
Virginia, Michigan
quarterback Scott Dreisbach connected with
receiver Mercury Hayes in the corner of the
endzone for the game-winning touchdown.
The game was the first for Dreisbach and
interim-coach Lloyd Carr, and the return from
a 17-point deficit marked the biggest come-
back in Wolverine history.
"There wasn't any question in my mind in
the last seven to eight minutes that (the play-
ers) believed they could win," said Carr who,

1996 Schedule
This fall's football schedule, withhome
games in ALL CAPS and all-time records
against each opponent.
Aug. 31 ILLINOIS 59-20-2
Sept. 14 at Colorado 1-1-0
Sept. 21 BOSTON COLL. 3-0-0
Sept. 28 UCLA 7-2-0
Oct. 5 at Northwestern 44-12-2
Oct. 19 INDIANA 41-9-0
Oct. 26 at Minnesota 60-23-3
Nov. 2 MICHIGAN STATE 57-26-5
Nov. 9 at Purdue 35-10-0
Nov. 16 PENN STATE 1-2-0
Nov. 23 at Ohio State 52-34-6
after the Wolverines' 5-0 win over Purdue on
Nov. 11, had the interim taken off of his head
coach title.
Michigan rolled to four more wins over Illi-
nois, Memphis, Boston College and Miami
(Ohio). The 5-0 start was the Wolverines' best
since 1986.
The Wolverines weren't without their loss-
es, though. Or at least one major loss.
Dreisbach caught the thumbnail on his
throwing hand on a teammate's jersey in prac-
tice between games against the Eagles an
Miami (Ohio). The mishap injured ligaments
in Dreisbach's thumb and ended his season.
Sophomore Brian Griese stepped in after
Dreisbach went down and led the Wolverines
past Miami (Ohio) in his first-ever start.
The first loss for Michigan came from the
most unexpected of teams. Northwestern
made Ann Arbor its second major stop on the
Wildcat Rejuvenation Tour when it beat the
Wolverines, 19-13, on Oct. 7.
It was Northwestern's first win in Michigan

Stadium in its last 36 tries, and it quieted not
only Wolverine players but Michigan fans as
well.
"Someone said in the huddle, I've never
heard 100,000 people this quiet,"' said Wild-
cat running back Darnell Autry.
More than anything done by Northwest-
ern, Michigan killed itself. The Wolverines
had a Tshimanga Biakabutuka touchdown
called back because of a
holding penalty, and
Michigan turned the ball
over four times - prob-
lems that would plague
the Wolverines in all four
losses.
Michigan rebounded
from the loss to pound
Indiana and Minnesota,
but on Nov. 4 the Wolver-
ines lost to MichiganCarr
State for the second time in three years.
The Wolverines beat Purdue, 5-0, on Nov.
I 1, but a week later they lost to Penn State for
the second straight year.
Then came Ohio State and an upset that
many compared to Michigan's 24-12 upset of
the Buckeyes in 1964, Bo Schembechler's
first year. Simply put, it was amazing.
Even more amazing than the win was the
313 yards rushing Biakabutuka piled up in the
game. Biakabutuka completely dominated
Ohio State and overshadowed Buckeye back
Eddie George, who would go on to win the
Heisman Trophy.
"It has been a long season, but I can't think
of a better way to end it than the way these
kids did this afternoon," a choked-up Carr
said after the game. "It was a tremendous
effort by an unbelievable group of kids."

While the win over Ohio State was without
a doubt the highlight of the year, it wasn't the
final game - that was against the Aggies in
the Alamo Bowl. And it wasn't a happy ending.
"A&M executed their plays and we didn't
execute ours," co-captain Jarrett Irons said
after the loss. "You can't sit and dwell on it
because it's over with."
As was the season.
So what about this year?
Who will replace offensive stars Biakabu-
tuka, receivers Mercury Hayes and Amani
Toomer, and linemen Joe Marinaro and Jon
Runyan? Can Dreisbach return as the starting
quarterback and continue to build off his 4-0
start last season?
Lots of questions and few answers, yet.
Sophomore Clarence Williams will be
called upon to step in for Biakabutuka. Last
year Williams handled the ball 60 times for
277 yards.
As for the receivers, that position might be
the biggest question mark for the Wolverines,
and one of the positions where Carr might be
forced into using a true freshman.
Of course, it won't matter who the receiver
is if Dreisbach can't get them the ball, but that
doesn't seem to be much of a worry for Carr.
According to Carr, "he really looked like
the Dreisbach of old," by the end of spring
ball.
So, will Michigan be able to return to the
promised land in Pasadena?
With all the questions on offense, the
answer to that question may well fall on a
defense returning nine of I I starters.
This much, however, is clear: The season
begins Aug. 31 when Illinois comes to Ann
Arbor, and the questions will begin to be
answered then.

RYAN
WHITE
-White on
Target r!
Tradhkm
hangs Over
'M' sports
T he Michigan Tradition.
That will not be the first time
you hear that phrase during your
stay in Ann Arbor. Trust me.
Ask any athlete on this campus why
they came to Michigan and the manda-
tory answer is something like, "Well,
for the academics and the great athletic
tradition."
Tradition is a big thing on this cam-
pus, and nowhere is it bigger than
Michigan Stadium. This season will be
the 117th of football at Michigan, and
the Wolverines' 756 all-time wins is
the best in Division I.
But that's not all that sets Michigan
apart when it comes to football lore.
There's the distinctive winged hel-
met, the crowds at home which are
always well over 103,000, the rivalries
against Michigan State, Ohio State and
Notre Dame. There are legendary
coaches like Fielding H. Yost, Fritz
Crisler and Bo Schembechler.
The foundation this is all built on is
the Rose Bowl. Michigan has made 16
appearances in Pasadena, winning
seven of those. That's more appear-
ances and wins than any other Big Ten
team, for now anyway.
Seeing how Michigan hasn't been to
the Rose Bowl since 1993, the Wolver-
ines are giving conference foes a little
time to try to catch up.
There are any number of explana-
tions as to why the Wolverines haven't
turned up roses lately.
Maybe, after going five times in
seven years between 1987 and 1993,
Michigan simply tired of the bowl
game. Very doubtful, though.
Increased competition? That is a
possibility. With the addition of Penn
State in 1993, the league definitely
improved.
Coaches will also tell you that the
reduction in scholarships available to
the teams has helped level out the tal-
ent, making it possible for Northwest-
ern to win the conference champi-
onship last season.
More than anything else, however,
Michigan simply hasn't gotten the job
done. Last season was no exception.
The Wolverines lost four games for the
third straight year, and all four were
winnable.
So what's it going to take this year
to buck the trend of four-loss seasons
and second-tier bowl games?
That's a tough question to answer
about a team that has been as inconsis-
tent as Michigan has the last couple of
years, but here are a few things that
would help.
On offense:
Score more touchdowns and kick
fewer field goals.
The Wolverines moved the ball very
well last year, all the way to their
opponents' 20-yard line. Then, after a
sack, or a holding penalty, or a sack
and a holding penalty on the same
play, Michigan would be forced to
send in kicker Remy Hamilton.
A lot of the responsibility for
improving on last year will fall on the

offensive line.
Many wondered what Michigan
would do when tailback Tshimanga
Biakabutuka announced he was leav-
ing school early, but the bigger loss
may be offensive tackle Jon Runyan.
The Wolverines have always had a
running back to step in and pick up the
slack, but big, experienced offensive
linemen aren't as easy to come by.
m It would also be a big help to
Michigan if quarterback Scott Dreis-
bach remained healthy.
Brian Griese did his best filling in
for the injured Dreisbach most of last
season, but key mistakes in key situa-
tions hurt both Michigan and Griese.
On defense:
More of the same, and that
shouldn't be tough since the Wolver-
ines return nine of II starters from last
year.
Jarrett Irons, one of last year's co-
captains, leads a solid group of line-
backers, and Charles Woodson, who
made first-team All-Big Ten as a fresh-
man, will lead a strong secondary.
The only real problem for coach
Lloyd Carr will be replacing linemen
Trent Zenkewicz and Jason Horn. The
two combined for 16 sacks during the
remnra-, ast ea

18IAKABUTUKA
Continued from Page IF
ose plays with 309.
Biakabutuka was also a finalist for
the- Doak Walker National Running
Back Award and a UPI honorable men-
tion All-American, and was given the
Wolverines' Bo Schembechler Most
VWluable Player Award.
'Biakabutuka's career-high 313 yards
rushing against Ohio State on Nov. 25
helped the Wolverines to a 31-23 win
over the then-No. 2 and undefeated
*uckeyes.
,At the time Biakabutuka announced
he ,would leave Michigan, he hadn't
' spoken to anyone from the NFL, and
many felt he would be picked some-
where in the third round of the draft.
- However, Biakabutuka was impres-

M

I

I

A NT

A D

The largest college-owned football stadium
in the country, Michigan Stadium is the
gathering place for more than 100,000
Wolverine fans every football%
Saturday.r
Built in 1927. It cost more than $950,000}
to construct a 72,000-seat stadium.
Listed Capacity: 102,501
Largest Crowd: 106,867, vs. Ohio State in
1993. Michigan won, 28-0. That game is the.
NCAA record for football attendance.
There have been 27 other games with more
than 106.000 in attendance.

W Il

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