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January 08, 1997 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-01-08

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88 -The Michigan Daily - SPORTSWednesday - January 8, 1997

'Bama defense too much for Blue
Wolverines kept out of end zone until game's final moments

By Barry Sollenberger
Daily Sports Editor
TAMPA, Fla. - Long after Michigan had
dropped its second consecutive bowl game, a
number of Alabama fans remained on the field
at Houlihan's Stadium engaged in a game of
touch football.
After one particularly impressive defensive
play, a Crimson Tide fan exclaimed, "That
Alabama defense, baby!"
He was, of course, still excited about the
effort turned in an hour earlier by the Alabama
defense - an effort that deserved credit for
the Tide's fifth straight bowl victory.
Despite surrendering 417 yards of total
offense (almost 200 more than its season aver-
age), the Tide made big plays when it needed
to and held the Wolverines without a touch-
down until the game's final moments.
"Obviously, they have a great, strong
defense," Michigan quarterback Brian Griese
said. "They are one of the three or four best in
the country."
Alabama lives and dies with its defense.
The Tide averaged just 357 total yards of
offense per game during the season and
totaled just 247 against Michigan, 77 on its
last drive.
With these statistics in mind, it's clear that
the defensive unit is to thank for Alabama's 10
victories this season.
But the Wolverines did have some surpris-
ing success moving the ball. Griese completed
a Michigan bowl record 21 passes (in 37
attempts for 287 yards), and the Wolverines
rushed for 124 yards. During the regular sea-
son, the Tide had allowed just 93 yards per
game on the ground.
But when it really mattered, Michigan
might as well as have been trying to plow
through a brick wall.
For example, with the score tied at three late
in the first half, the Wolverines had the ball at
the Alabama eight after an 18-yard fake-field
goal run by Griese.
Then came a series of downs that would
haunt Michigan later.
On first down, Chris Howard was stopped
after a gain of two yards.

For some reason, our defense doesn't
give up many points, week after week after
week.
- Gene Stallings
Alabama football coach

On second down, Griese spiked the ball to
stop the clock.
Then after approaching the line of scrim-
mage for third down, the Wolverines were
confused and had to burn their final timeout.
The stoppage of play did Michigan no good,
because Griese was bounced out-of-bounds
for a three-yard loss on third down.
On fourth down, Remy Hamilton kicked a
22-yard field goal.
Result: The Wolverines went to the locker-
room leading the defensive struggle only 6-3
when they could have led 10-3.
"We had an opportunity to score down in
there at the end of the first half and didn't take
advantage of that," Michigan coach Lloyd
Carr said. "To be a great offense, you have to
be able to put the ball in the end zone."
The Wolverines certainly did not have a
great offense this season, and the Alabama
defense would take advantage of it later in the
game.
With the score still 6-3 early in the fourth
quarter, Michigan seemed poised to go in for
a crucial touchdown. The Wolverines had the
ball first-and-10 at the Alabama 15, but two
plays netted only five yards, and Michigan
was faced with third down.
On the down, Griese was pressured before
lofting a perfect pass - right to the Tide's
Dwayne Rudd. Rudd intercepted it and
motored 88 yards for a touchdown.
Moments earlier, the Wolverines were on
the verge of a 13-3 lead. Now they trailed, 10-
6.
"I was just trying to throw the ball away,
essentially;' Griese said. "I just wanted to get
rid of the ball. I just didn't throw it away."

It was a mistake from which Michigan
would not recover. But maybe it was more pre-
dictable than anyone knew. Griese had seen
little action at quarterback this season, and
Alabama has lived on defensive comebacks
during coach Gene Stallings' tenure at the
school.
"For some reason, our defense doesn't gi
up many points, week after week after week;'
Stallings said.
Rudd, an All-American, was selected Player
of the Game after registering two pass-
breakups and two tackles, in addition to the
interception for a touchdown.
"In every game, we play hard aefensively,"
Rudd said. "We make big plays every week. It
wasn't really a surprise."
Roiling Tide
Gene Stallings finished his coaching
career at Alabama with a 5-1 record in
bowl games. The Crimson Tide has now
won five consecutive bowl games. The
Alabama school record for consecutive
bowl victories (6) was set between 1975
and 1981.
Stalings' bowl games ...
1991 Fiesta Louisville 34, Alabama 7
1991 Blockbuster Alabama 30, Colo. 25

1993 Sugar

Alabama 34, Miami 13

1993 Gator Alabama 24, N. Carolina 10
1995 Citrus Alabama 24, Ohio State 17
1997 Outback Alabama 17, Michigan 14

Michigan's Chris Howard was bottled up by the Alabama defense in last Wednesday's Outback Bowl.

Banged-up 'M' wrestlers jump out
to perfect dual-meet season start

By 5ordan Field
and Tracy Sandler
Daily Sports Witers
Despite an encouraging 2-0 start, the
Michigan wrestling team is limping into
its dual-meet season.
Michigan won back-to-back matches
against Eastern Michigan and Lehigh.
The Wolverines handily beat the
intrastate rival Eagles, 34-6, on Jan. 4
and survived a scare from Lehigh, 23-16
on Jan. 5.
"I felt we performed well despite
injuries, illness and the holiday layoff,"
Michigan coach Dale Bahr said. "It was
a nice way to begin the dual-meet season
after a month of non-competition."
The Wolverines have been hampered
by injuries all season. The team had
hoped the winter break would give it
time to heal old injuries, but the time off
may have proved just the opposite. The
team knew junior All-American
Brandon Howe was out for the season
with a shoulder injury but learned of
more bad news over the holidays.
Freshman Damion Logan, who
injured his shoulder at last month's Las
Vegas Invitational, may be more serious-
ly injured than first expected. Filling in

for Howe at 126 pounds, Logan is 15-4
on the season._
"Damion may be out for the season,"
Bahr said. "During the next two weeks,
we're going to decide whether to oper-
ate. He is still eligible for a medical red-
shirt, and I think that's probably what
we're going to do."
The team finds itself undermanned at
126 pounds, a weight class that seemed
secure with Logan. Tryouts will be held
this week between freshman Mat Warner
and junior Jon Newsom for Logan's
spot.
"We're struggling at 126, but from
134 and up we're pretty solid," Bahr said.
Although Logan's injury does not
look hopeful for the Wolverines, they
have received good news from sopho-
more Corey Grant and red-shirt fresh-
man Teya Hill. Grant, at 134 pounds,
had hyperextended his knee in practice,
but it has healed and he will return to the
lineup this weekend against Central
Michigan.
Hill, at 142 pounds, will be competing
in his first match of the season after
returning from knee surgery.
"(This weekend) Grant at 134 and Hill
at 142 should be back," Bahr said. "He

may struggle in his initial matches, but
by Big Ten time, he should be fine."
Although times look grim for the
Wolverines, junior co-captain Jeff
Catrabone prefers to look on the bright
side.
"The break helped us heal some of our
injuries, but we fell out of shape a little
bit," Jeff Catrabone said. "We're working
ourselves back into shape with practice."
The team will need to practice hard
for this weekend. Saturday it will wrestle
Mid-American Conference favorite
Central Michigan. The Wolverines will
then be wrestling Sunday at home
against No. 4 Penn State.
"(Central Michigan) is a good, young
team;' Bahr said. "They gave us a good
battle last year, and I expect the same this
year."
Good news for the Wolverines,
according to Bahr, is that sophomore
Chris Viola will probably move up from
his current No. 9 ranking after beating
third-ranked wrestler Lee Pritts of
Eastern Michigan, 10-8, in overtime.
Michigan has five ranked wrestlers with
Catrabone, Logan, senior heavyweight
Airron Richardson and junior 150-
pounder Bill Lacure.

KRISTEN SCHAEFER/Daily
Junior 150-pounder Bill Lacure and the Michigan wrestling team are undefeated thus far in the dual-meet season, having beat-
en Lehigh and Eastern Michigan over winter break. The team will be slightly undermanned going into this weekend's meets
against Central Michigan and Penn State, however, as several wrestlers will be sidelined with injuries.

-WAMM

The Nation's
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