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September 11, 1997 - Image 27

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

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Colorado comes to town to finish heavenly series

Thomas may provide punch to
swift, experienced skill positions

How many rivalries are born in an
instant, created spontaneously from a
blinding moment of magic and pain,
instead of a slow simmer of emotion over
several seasons? And how many times
can two teams pound each other only to
decide the game on its final play, on a
Hail Mary heave with national title hopes
hanging in the air along with the ball?
There is no way to completely com-
prehend the way Michigan and Colorado

have played football against each other
this decade. They have met twice in
extraordinary games that have produced
tempests of emotion and excitement,
unlike any seen before but that are nearly
mirror images of each other.
In 1994, with the Wolverines hoping to
win their first national title since 1948, the
Buffaloes won a game in which they were
dominated, when quarterback Kordell
Stewart did the unforgettable. He was on

his own 36-yard line, behind by five
points with six seconds remaining and the
Michigan Stadium crowd roaring.
And suddenly, it was over. Stewart's
desperate toss was tipped into the air by
safety Chuck Winters and landed in the
grateful hands of receiver Michael
Westbrook. Touchdown. Silence.
Westbrook had made The Catch. The
Wolverines lost, 27-26, beginning a
downward spiral to an 8-4 season. Many
feel they have yet to recover, though they
redeemed themselves last season.
Under a full rainbow in the endless
Boulder, Colo., sky, the Buffaloes
thought they would do it again. Michigan
led, 20-13, in the final minute, but as

quarterback Scott Dreisbach tried to run
out the clock, he made a critical mistake.
On fourth-and-13, he fumbled the snap
and downed the ball.
There were five seconds remaining,
and on a change of possession, the clock
stops. Colorado had one last chance.
Quarterback Koy Detmer ran out to play
the role of Stewart; receiver Rae Carruth
played Westbrook. Winters played him-
self, and this time, he made no mistake.
Though the Buffaloes were closer, on
the Michigan 37, they ran the same play,
rocket-jet-right, and the Wolverines ran
the same defense, 30-victory. Detmer
threw to the right corner of the end zone
- where Westbrook made The Catch
two years before - but Winters batted it
down. This time the Buffaloes, who were
hoping for their first national title since
1990, had their dreams dashed.
The Wolverines had won, and the sto-


rybook finish of 1994 had a sequel. "It
shows you how easily things could have
gone the other way in 1994," Colorado
coach Rick Neuheisel said afterward.
But before that game, the Wolverines
didn't want it viewed that way. Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr was vocal with his
view that 1994 was an isolated incident.
In a teleconference, he said the 1994
"game has no bearing on this game. I'm
not talking about that game."
Dreisbach, however, said the 1994
game did motivate the Wolverines, giving
them "something to learn from. We have
to play four quarters of football and not
let up. I remember where I was when the
play happened. I was on the sidelines in
my uniform, and I saw the play. I was
shocked that it had just taken place."
There no doubt will be the same type
of talk this weekend, but the lessons and
motivations remain the same. Both teams
want this one, the rubber match of the
three-game series that ends this year.
Colorado, though depleted by the loss
of Detmer and Carruth, may present a far
greater test for the Wolverines than any-
one, and it is unlikely that it will take four
quarters of nearly flawless football -
and maybe a few prayers - to win.
Because the Wolverines are the final
Division I team to open the season and
must do so against the Buffaloes, Carr
said they will be at a distinct disadvan-
tage. Colorado, which beat Colorado
State last Saturday, has had more time to
prepare for a game that always seems to
go against the team caught on its heels.
- Nicholas Ji Cotsonika


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Michael Westbrook hauled in this Hall
Mary pass on the last play of the game
in 1994. Last year's game went down
to the last play as well.

Running backs
With little hesitation, Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr admits that the one
area that needs the most improvement
over last season is the running game.
Granted, the Wolverines didn't have
a terrible ground attack. But for only
the second time since 1985, Michigan
didn't average 200 rushing yards per
game - a sure sign of mediocrity in
the Big Ten. Relying mostly on
Clarence Williams and Chris Howard,
the Wolverines averaged only 168
rushing yards.
So while Howard and Williams will
likely split the duties at tailback for
Saturday's opener, Carr said that if nei-
ther is impressive, 225-pound true
freshman Anthony Thomas could get
plenty of carries.
"He's going to play," Carr said.
"He's one of those guys who, when he
gets the football, everyone turns to
watch. He's a good receiver and he
gives us some size that we haven't had
in a while."
Thomas, rated the No. 2 tailback in
the country out of high school,
reminds Carr of Tyrone Wheatley. He
won't start right away, but it is con-
ceivable that Thomas could become
Michigan's feature back.
But Williams and Howard aren't
likely to lie down and let Thomas vault
ahead of them on the depth chart, and
Carr is hoping that the pair can shoul-
der most of the load.
Williams, a junior, and Howard, a
senior, are veterans. Each has shown
flashes of brilliance. Howard racked.
up five 100-yard games last season
and scored a team-high 10 touch-
Williams had a strong freshman sea-
son, but after bulking up before his
second year, had a disappointing
sophomore season. But Williams has
dropped 15 pounds in preparation for
this season.
"I really think that the extra weight
slowed me down," Williams said. "I
feel like the quickness is back after
losing the weight."
While at least three players will
share time at tailback, senior Chris
Floyd will play almost every down that
Carr goes with a fullback. Promising
sophomore John Anes, who was
expected to challenge Floyd for the
starting spot, left the team for personal
reasons before fall practice began
Floyd was a decent runner last sea-
son, averaging 3.4 yards per carry, but
he made the most improvement as a
blocker. Floyd was a tailback in high
school and had to learn the intricacies
of the fullback position when he came
to college.
The loss of Anes means that true
freshman Demetrius Smith will be
Floyd's backup. Smith saw more time
at nose tackle in high school, but Carr
loves Smith's size (6-foot-2, 265-
pounds) and his blocking skills.
Meanwhile, Charles Woodson is, as
always, a threat as a rusher as well. The
cornerback/receiver/kick returner aver-

aged 25.3 yards per carry on six revers-
es from his receiver spot, including a
57-yard touchdown against Illinois.
. - John Leroi
Running backs
The starters
Pos. No. Name Yr./Elig.
TB 33 Clarence Williams Jr./Jr.
TB 8 Chris Howard Sr./Sr.
FB 7 Chris Floyd Sr./Sr.
The backups
TB 32 Anthony Thomas Fr./Fr.
FB 27 Demetrius Smith Fr./Fr.
FB 34 Eric Brackins Fr./Fr.
When junior Jerame Tuman was being
recruited out of Liberal (Kan.) High
School, there were a lot of things on his
mind. There was his size, which is
presently 6-foot-4, 235 pounds. There
were his hands, which are soft enough to
catch an ostrich egg dropped from a 10-
story building.
And there were offenses. Who would
use his potent combination? Apparently,
the Wolverines said they would, and they
have kept their promise.
Last season, the Wolverines used their
tight ends, Tuman and junior Mark
Campbell, extensively. Tuman caught 33
passes for 524 yards; Campbell 13 for
169. Michigan's top wide outs, Tai
Streets and Russell Shaw, barely sur-
passed those numbers. Streets caught 44
passes for 730 yards; Shaw 33 for 384.
Expect the Wolverines to lean on their
tight ends again this season, even though
the arsenal is a full one. Streets and
Shaw, along with sophomores Marcus
Knight and Kevin Bryant, are more than
dependable. Sophomore Aaron Shea
closes out what could be the best tight
end corps in the nation.

Don't forget all-purpose star junior
Charles Woodson, either. While he isn't
intercepting passes at cornerback or
returning punts and kicks, he lines up on
offense as the most talented player on the
field. He is so feared, defenses key on
him instantly, and he is a finalist for the
Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the
nation's top receiver, even though he has
just 13 career receptions.
"It's a great feeling to know that the
coaches want to use you that way,"
Woodson said. "I'll just keep playing
hard and trying to make things happen. I
can catch the ball."
As good as Woodson is, however, the
passing offense begins at tight end at
Michigan, no matter which quarterback,
senior Brian Griese or junior Scott
Dreisbach, is starting.
"I came to Michigan, because I knew
they utilized their tight ends," Tuman
said. "It's a great feeling to be so
involved in the offense."
Tuman and Campbell are almost iden-
tical targets.
Campbell is just as big as Tuman at 6-
6, 242. Both are excellent blockers. And
the only way to tell them apart, other
than Tuman's No. 80 and Campbell's No.
88, is a slight difference in speed.
"I'm a little faster," Tuman said with a
- Nicholas Ji Cotsonika
The starters
Pos. No. Name Yr./Elig.
SE 86 Tai Streets Jr./Jr.
FLK 4 Russell Shaw Sr./Sr.
TE 80 Jerame Tuman Sr./Jr.
The backups
SE 85 Marcus Knight So./So.
FLK 19 Aaron Wright So./Fr.
TE 36 Aaron Shea Jr./So.
TE 88 Mark Campbell Sr./Jr.


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Junior Clarence Williams shed 15 pou
year ago. Williams, Chris Howard and



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