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September 11, 1997 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-11
Note:
This is a tabloid page

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

14 - The Michigan ily -(ckof '97 -.Septem 11-13
Without Smith, Cameron 'na
takes Hoosiers to the air "

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Barnett faces tough task if
Northwestern is to repeat

Woodson anchors spectacular
secondary; if only he could kick

If you think a new coach and a new
offensive scheme is going to make
Indiana rise from the depths of the Big
Ten cellar, think again.
Even though first-year coach Cam
Cameron plans to change the
Hoosiers' offensive attack from the
ground to the air, the only success they
will have this year will probably be on
the hardwood.
Cameron arrived in Bloomington to
replace Bill Mallory and revamp an
offense that relied on an exhausted,
heavy running game.
Despite tailback Alex Smith and
fullback Steve Lee, the porous offen-
sive line forced the Hoosiers to sputter
to a dismal 3-8 overall record last sea-
son, their second-straight losing sea-
son, and a tie for ninth place in the
conference with Illinois and
Minnesota.
Enter into the equation Cameron,

who spent 10 years as an assistant at
Michigan.
He was brought aboard to make the
Hoosiers more pass-oriented and they
just might be ... but probably not for
another year or so.
Smith, the Hoosiers' top rusher last
season, is gone, leaving the backfield
on shaky ground. Jason Spear returns,
and he rushed for 226 yards on 59 car-
ries last year. If academically eligible,
Levron Williams could make a big
splash. But a depleted offensive line
does not help matters.
If Cameron wants to take the
Hoosiers airborne, success rests in
quarterback Jay Rodgers, who passed
for 600 yards last season.
But Cameron has had plenty of
offensive success and is responsible
for converting Gus Ferotte into a legit-
imate NFL player as quarterbacks
coach for the Washington Redskins.

Indiana's strength, if any, lies in its
defense, which might just be a double-
edged sword.
The Hoosiers return six starters, but
they are the same six who allowed at
least 27 points to every league oppo-
nent except Purdue last year.
The Hoosiers are still a few years
away from doing any damage in the con-
ference, but with Cameron on the side-
lines, they might be well on their way.
- Danielle Rumore

Last year was Northwestern's
opportunity to show that its break-
through season of 1995 wasn't a
fluke.
A 9-3 overall record and a tie for
first place in the Big Ten with Ohio
State proved that.
This year is Gary Barnett's oppor-
tunity to show that he is the type of
coach who warranted the lucrative,
long-term contract extension he
received last year.
Barnett will have to adjust, maneu-
ver and finagle his Wildcats, as the
great coaches do, if they are to cop a
third straight conference title. That's
because no other Big Ten coach has
lost as much of the heart and soul of
his team as Barnett.
Starting on offense, the Wildcats
will have to replace their top four spe-
cialty players.
Quarterback Steve Schnur and full-

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D'Wayne Bates: out for the season.
back Mike McGrew both graduated,
tailback Darnell Autry left early for
the NFL Draft, and D'Wayne Bates,
the conference's top returning receiv-
er, tore his anterior cruciate ligament
in fall practice and is out for the sea-
son.
On the other side of the ball, two-
time Big Ten Defensive Player of the
Year Pat Fitzgerald has moved on to
the pros, along with his inside line-
backer partner Tim Scharf an4 tackles
Joe Reiff and Matt Rice.
The defensive line is strong, with
defensive ends Casey Dailey, the
team-leader with eight sacks a year
ago, and Keith Lozowski (106-tack-
les) returning.
Still, there is talent remaining on this
team, which includes receiver Brian
Musso, kicker Brian Gowins and a sec-
ondary that returns three starters.
Even though this team has shocked
many during its two-year renaissance,
including Michigan both years, the
Wildcats are often prone to letdowns
(they have lost to lowly Wake Forest
in the non-conference season both
this year and last and narrowly
escaped with a victory against Big
Ten doormat Illinois), which make
this team an enigma.
The Wildcats, however, may have
to sacrifice a season that will be a
notch or two below the standards it
set the previous two.
A season w-e the Wildcats drop
back to the middle of the Big Ten
pack won't go to waste, though. This
year's herd of freshman is the best
recruiting class in- school history,
which will get Northwestern back to
the top of the conference next season.
-Alan Goldenbach

Secondary
Charles Woodson. Charles Woodson.
Charles Woodson. Charles Woodson.
Expect to hear the name a lot. That is,
unless, opposing quarterbacks continue
the advisable strategy of throwing away
from him. Still, one gets the feeling
you'll hear the pame quite a bit anyway.
The junior Heisman Trophy hopeful
and Jim Thorpe Award finalist is, as
everybody knows, Michigan's most
dynamic player. And while his athleti-
cism allows him to dabble in receiving,
kick returning and even rushing,
defense is still Woodson's top duty.
Opponents fear him, the magazines
adore him and his teammates absolute-
ly love him. Nobody doubts his abili-
ties.
"It's great having Charles back
there," Michigan safety Marcus Ray
said. "He can take one side of the field,
and the other 10 of us can take the
other."
That's hardly an exaggeration.
Michigan's coaches have so much faith
in Woodson, they let him take the oppo-
nent's best receiver one-on-one virtual-
ly every play. Rarely are balls thrown
his way - the primary reason Woodson
didn't have more than the five intercep-
tions he snagged last season.
Woodson's Heisman bid is stronger
than most defensive players' because he
plays offense and returns punts as well.
And while Woodson said he probably
'von't be striking the Heisman pose on
the field anytime soon, he admits that
thoughts of winning the award have
crossed his mind.
"That would be something that is
very nice for me," Woodson said. "But
it's not the first thing I think about in the
morning."
Even without Woodson, the
Wolverines have one of the best secon-
daries in the Big Ten. Ray and free safe-
ty Daydrion Taylor may be the Big Ten's
best pair of safeties. Both are vicious
hitters and have All-Big Ten potential.
Taylor has had some injury problems
in fall practice, but sophomore Tommy
Hendricks is a capable backup at either
free or strong safety.
The only question mark is at the cor-
ner opposite Woodson. Junior Andre
Weathers will probably get the nod in
Michigan's first game; but the coaches
are also high on true freshman James
Whitley, who Woodson said "has better
skills than I did when I was a freshman."
- John Lerci

Special teams
The only thing special about
Michigan's special teams this season
may be how many players get to see
action away from their natural positions.
With little or no experience at either of
the kicking positions, Michigan's special
teams could be exposed early in the sea-
son as a big weakness.
Last year, Brian Griese temporarily
silenced his critics when he was able to
display an effective use of another limb
when Carr installed him, as a pooch-
punter. Griese performed quite effective-
ly in that role, placing half of his kicks
inside the opposition's 20-yard line.
As for the regular punting duties, that
job is up in the air, and probably will
remain that way for much of the season.
Projected starter Cory Sargent hurt his
back during the summer and has been
slow to recover. Whether he will is any-
one's guess. In the interim, junior walk-
on Jason Vinson and senior Kraig Baker,
who is also competing for the placekick-
ing job, will fight it out. Baker hasn't
seen game action since 1994 and Vinson
hasn't ever.
On the contrary, Michigan would love
to show off Charles Woodson in his role
as punt returner. Although he didn't take
over the role until the 10th game last sea-
son, Woodson performed up to his
exceptional standards, averaging almost
10 yards per return. Undoubtedly, he will
bring excitement to the position and
could be the most effective player in the
role since Derrick Alexander.
Clarence Williams enters the season
as the only kickoff returner with any
game experience. Maybe more disturb-
ing for Carr is that Williams isn't terribly
experienced in this area - returning
only three kickoffs last year, all against
Ohio State. Woodson did see some
action here, but Carr doesn't intend to
overuse him. Thus, he will complement
Williams with one of two true freshmen,

JXX

:GOB
From Your Ne
Maple at ladC

James Whitley or William Peterson.
For three years, Remy Hamilton, the
most prolific field-goal kicker in
school history, was a staple in the
Wolverines' offense. Now that he's
graduated, the battle for the job is
between Baker and kickoff specialist
Jay Feely, neither of whom has ever
attempted a field goal in a game.
-Alan Goldenbach
Special teams
The starters
Pos. No. Name Yr./Elig.
PK 49 Jay Feely Sr./Jr.
or 48 Kraig Baker . Sr./Jr.
P 38 Jason Vinson Sr./Jr.
or 48 Kraig Baker Sr./Jr.
PR 2 Charles Woodson Jr./Jr.
KR 33 Clarence Williams Jr./Jr.
KR 5 James Whitley Fr./Fr.
The backups
PR 86 Tai Streets Jr./Jr.
KR 19 Aaron Wright So./Fr.
KR 23 William Peterson Fr./Fr.
P 14 Brian Griese 5/Sr.

Charles Woodson gets all the headlines, b
might be the best safety in the Big Ten.

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