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September 12, 1997 - Image 15

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-12

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 12, 1997 -15

The Matchups:
Superior up front,
Colorado will run
.all over Michigan

Staff
Picks
- all picks made
against the
spread.
Game (HOME TEAM IN CAPS)
MICHIGAN (-1) vs. Colorado
MICHIGAN STATE (-19) vs. MemphisI
INDIANA (-13 1/2) vs. Ball State
IOWA (-25) vs. Tulsa
LOUISVILLE (-6) vs. Illinois
MINNESOTA (-9) vs. Iowa State
NORTHWESTERN (-17 1/2) vs. Duke
Notre Dame (-19) vs. PURDUE
OHIO STATE (-38) vs. Bowling Green
PENN STATE (-37) vs. Temple
Wisconsin (-15 1/2) vs. SAN JOSE STATE
NORTH CAROLINA(413) vs. Stanford
Best Betf
Last week
Overall
Overall best bet

A

[I I

NICHOLAS J.
COTSONIKA

By Alan Goldenbach
Daily Sports Editor
Let's be honest, for a moment.
What really are the chances that this
game will comeydown to a Hail Mary
on, the final play of the game for the
third straight time?
A whole heck of a lot less than the
chances of it happening a second
time, which is why talk of another
game being decided from spirits
above should pretty much come to a
halt.
But Michigan is an enigma.
Absolutely nothing should ever be
ruled out with this team ... including
another Hail Mary, perhaps even
coming from the arm of Brian Griese.
MICHIGAN RUSHING OFFENSE VS.
OLORADO RUSHING DEFENSE:
Both teams have lost significant
parts of their respective units here
from last season.
Michigan lost 60 percent of its
starting offensive line and Colorado
lost the anchor of its defense All-
America "'Middle linebacker Matt
Russell, who racked up 22 tackles
against Michigan last year.
But with the exception of Russell
nd left end Greg Jones, the
buffaloes return their entire front
seven from last year that was third
stingiest against the run in the run-
happy Big 12 conference.
Michigan's running game, outside
of the occasional Charles Woodson
reverse, was particularly bland last
year. In fact it was the first season
since 1989 in which the Wolverines
did not have a 1,000-yard back.
Clarence Williams and Chris
Howard will be looked upon to take a
significant load off Griese, whose
.passing game will be under an
amount of scrutiny as intense as any
Michigan quarterback has ever had.
lf either are unproductive, which is a
distinct possibility, it could mean an
early entry for the highly touted 6-
foot-1, 225-pound freshman Anthony
Thomas.
But with rookie butterflies already
an his system for his first game, can
.Thomas be expected to be thrust into
a close game, be the Wolverines' fea-
tured back, and get them 100 yards
on the ground?
No. But even if he doesn't get sig-
nificant action, it won't be because
Williams and Howard are racking up
100-yard games themselves.

EDGE: Colorado
MICHIGAN PASSING OFFENSE VS.
COLORADO PASSING DEFENSE:
Brian Griese won't have anytime to
get adjusted as the starter. It's in to
the fire for him right away.
Fortunately for him, Colorado's
secondary isn't typical of ones it has
sported in the past. There's no super-
star occupying one of the corners like
Chris Hudson and Deon Figures did
earlier in the decade.
Looming at free safety, however, is
Jim Thorpe Award candidate Ryan
Black, who led the Big 12 in tackles
last season with 154, the most ever by
a Colorado defensive back. And he
hasn't forgotten last year's battle,
where he registered a career-high 23
tackles playing all over the field.
The key here is not whether
Colorado can stop Michigan, but
rather, can Michigan muster up
enough juice through the air to make
this aspect of their offense a legiti-
mate threat? The way that will hap-
pen is if Griese can establish a second
viable option besides Tai Streets -
whether that comes in the form of
Russell Shaw, Jerame Tuman or even
Woodson. Regardless, it must come
from someone.
Even though Carr named Griese
the starter, Scott Dreisbach (or Tom
Brady or Jason Kapsner) looms on
the sideline ready to jump at the first
opportunity to win his job back. Will
that make Griese overly cautious?
Probably so. That's the last thing that
an already offensively inept
Michigan needs.
EDGE: Colorado
COLORADO RUSHING OFFENSE VS.
MICHIGAN RUSHING DEFENSE:
The Big Ten rarely features short,
quick, scat-back types like
Colorado's Herchell Troutman, with

Michigan
Michigan State
Indiana
Iowa
Illinois
Iowa State
Duke
Notre Dame
Ohio State
Penn State
Wisconsin
Stanford
Michigan State
3-9
3-9

ALAN
GOLDENBACH
Colorado
Michigan State
Ball State
Tulsa
Louisville
Iowa State
Duke
Purdue
Ohio State
Penn State
Wisconsin
North Carolina
North Carolina
2.10
210
1-0

Michigan
Michigan State
Ball State
Tulsa
Louisville
Minnesota
Duke
Notre Dame
Bowling Green
Temple
Wisconsin
North Carolina
Notre Dame
4-8
4-8
0-1

Michigan
Michigan State
Ball State
Tulsa
Illinois
Minnesota
Duke
Notre Dame
Ohio State
Penn State
Wisconsin
North Carolina
Tulsa
4-8
4-8
1-0

JOHN
LEROI

DANIELLE
RUMORS

11

i

the possible exception of Ohio State's
Pepe Pearson. So the Wolverines will
have to be on their toes so that
Troutman doesn't dance around
them.
Colorado returns three-fifths of its
starting offensive line, but its losses
were key - guards Chris Naeole and
Kyle Smith. But Smith's place was
taken by seniors Aaron Wade and Ben
Nichols and a trio of sophomores
averaging 6-foot-7, 285 pounds
should fill Naeole's void quite nicely.
Michigan, however, doesn't have
anything close to the personnel it had
at this time last year.
Gone are the Wolverines three best
run-stoppers Jarrett Irons, William
Carr, who both graduated. and Ben
Huff, who blew out his knee last
week and is gone for the season.
Knock David Bowens'off that list for
failing out of school, and Michigan is
pinning its hopes almost entirely on
Glen Steele and Sam Sword.
Although both are among the top 10
in the country at their positions, they
can't possibly hope to hold the fort
for the entire front seven.
EDGE: Colorado
COLORADO PASSING OFFENSE VS.
MICHIGAN PASSING DEFENSE:
This is by far the most intriguing
matchup of the game since it matches
each team's strongest positions.
Colorado quarterback John Hessler
relieved Koy Detmer five times last
year, and was the starter for the last

eight games of 1995, so experience
isn't lacking even though rustiness
not shed in the season-opener against
Colorado State might be there.
Easing his transition will be the pres-
ence of Phil Savoy sprinting down-
field. With Rae Carruth moving on to
the NFL, it's now Savoy's turn to
become the next superstar receiver
for a Buffaloes team that has includ-
ed Michael Westbrook, Charles
Johnson and Mike Pritchard.
Troutman is also a threat coming out
of the backfield,
The key here will be how well
strong side cornerback Andre
Weathers holds up, as he will surely
see plenty of passes thrown his way
- away from Woodson, who occu-
pies the weak side. Safeties Marcus
Ray and Daydrion Taylor better get
used to their roles of giving Weathers
a hand, as teams will try to exploit
whomever is on the strong side for
Michigan all season. But that should
not be a problem. Ray and Taylor are
as good a pair of safeties as any in the
nation.
EDGE: Michigan
SPECIAL TEAMS
Specially bad, as you may call its
for Michigan.
It's always said that special teams
can turn a game around for you. In
that case, then this game may be

decided on whether or not Michigan
can avoid using any aspect of its
kicking game.
Either Jay Feely or Kraig Baker
will handle the placekicking for the
Wolverines and whomever Lloyd
Carr chooses won't make him forget
about the loss of Remy Hamilton, the
best kicker in school history. Punting
duties will be assumed by either
Baker or junior walk-on Jason
Vinson. Vinson has never seen game
action and Baker hasn't punted since
1994. With such little experience in
this area, don't be surprised if Carr
strays form his typically ultra-conser-
vative game plan and gambles on
fourth downs occasionally.
Colorado, on the other hand,
returns both of its kickers, placekick-
er Jason Lesley and punter Nick
Pietsch. Neither, however, were par-
ticularly outstanding last year; Lesley
only converted half of his field-goal
attempts and missed four extra
points. Pietsch averaged only 38
yards per boot, 32 net.
The one who can change this game
drastically is Woodson. If he is able
to break a punt or two for significant
yardage, Michigan's dull offense
won't be hurt any further by starting
drives deep in its territory. The kick-
off returners, Williams and freshman
James Whitley have a total of six
returns' worth of experience between
them.
Ryan Nunez, Colorado's return
man for both kickoffs and punts last
year is gone. but sophomore Marcus
Stiggers returns to handle at least the
kickoff side of the chores, where he
averaged a mediocre 17.5 yards per

return.
What would you rather have bad or
worse? Bad experience wins out.
EDGE: Colorado.
Michigan has just about no right
winning this game, even more than
last year. The offense is still very
much unsettled, the front seven on
defense could be mistaken for a sieve
and someone with a wooden leg is
not much worse than . w6t the
Wolverines have in their kicking sta-
bles.
But history in on Michigan's side.
The Wolverines always seem to play
to the level of their opposition, some-
times that works in their favor, some-
times not. The fact is that Michigan
has defeated the past five top 10
opponents it has faced, going back to
the 1994 Holiday Bowl against
Colorado State.
Last year, Michigan could not even
come within the same galaxy as
Colorado in terms of talent, and look
what happened. This year, the dispar-
ity is almost as equal.
If this game is judged on paper,
there's no room for debate. If history
and intangibles are added to the equa-
tion, it makes the battle a whole lot
more interesting. But it doesn't make
it close enough.
PREDICTION: COLORADO 19,
MICHIGAN 14.

___
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