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September 03, 1997 - Image 72

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-03

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4F -The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 3, 1997

FOOTBALL

Reality crashed
in on 'M'after
excessively high
expectations
VANSTON - No way we
should have been so shocked.
As we looked at the score, we
were still in disbelief. We wondered
how this happened and what mis-
takes were made. We wondered how
Michigan could lose to
Northwestern two straight years.
We wondered. We were blind.
Somewhere along the line, we all
got caught up in the Run for
Perfection. We talked about the Run
for the Roses, but we were lying to
ourselves.
What we really wanted was unde-
feated, undisput-
ed, unsullied per-
fection. We
wanted it,
whether we were
journalists, casu-
al fans or die-
hards.
NICHOLAS J. We wanted to
COSONIKA see Michigan
The Greek win so badly -
Speaks because it was a
great story,
because we
ached to see the
Wolverines on top again, because
Nebraska lose and a national cham-
pionship was possible. Just because.
We were blind.
Somewhere, we forgot how
Michigan won its first four games.
We just looked at the scores and
accepted them. We watched
Michigan rise in the rankings, and
that was fine
Never did we consider what was
-really happening. The appearances
were enough, because we wanted to
see them so much.
We were looking through Rose
Bowl-colored glasses.
The Wolverines' first few games
weren't an exposition of perfection.
They weren't even close.
But we praised and praised this
team. We went back on all of our
pre-season predictions. Before the
opener, we were talking about an 8-4
or a 9-3 season. We were talking
about the tough non-conference
schedule and the grueling Big Ten.
We were talking about the Hall of
Fame Bowl.
Then, Michigan beat Colorado.
Whoa, that changed everything and
everyone. We all got so excited.
And then we were bitter.
Michigan lost to Northwestern.
Our great story is gone. Our chance
to go to Pasadena is probably gone.
Our chance to gloat is gone.
Boy. We were selfish and foolish.
We were blind.
Take a step back and look.
Michigan squeaked by Illinois, 20-8.
Yes, squeaked. It wasn't a great
game.
Michigan didn't play very well.
Illinois was just bad.
Then came Colorado. Big game.
Big victory. But here too, the
Wolverines beat a team that didn't
play well. Quarterback Koy Detmer
had a good day, but the Buffaloes'
defense didn't.
And remember, Michigan was
inches from disaster in that game. If
Rae Carruth had caught Detmer's
Hail Mary pass, we'd all still be cry-
ing because of the irony. With the

extra point, the score would have
been tied. There would have been
overtime.
But Chuck Winters knocked the
ball down, and instead of calling it
luck, we called it a Sign.
When the Wolverines were behind,
14-7, in the fourth quarter against
Boston College, we weren't worried.
The breaks were going Michigan's
way, right? And Michigan won, 20-
14.
The Wolverines were drained from
the week before, we said. We didn't
ask why they only scored 20 points
for the fourth straight game. We did-
n't ask why Boston College, a
mediocre football team, nearly beat
a top-10 team.
And when Michigan trounced
UCLA, 38-9, we all felt justified.
We were right. Look at the defense,
we said. Look at the offense, we
said. One's great, the other's improv-
ing. We started talking Rose Bowl,
and when Nebraska lost to Arizona
State., we started talking national
title.
Boy. We were selfish and foolish.
We wanted perfection so badly for
so many different reasons. We were
blind.
No way we should be so shocked.
a Northwestern is a good team, and so
is Michigan.
But the Wolverines, overall,

B w
Big wins,

tough losses mark year

By Barry Sollenberger
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan Wolverines are seeing
the number four in their sleep these
days.
And it's giving them nightmares.
Why?
Because last season marked the
fourth straight year in which the
Michigan football team lost four games.
The last time the Wolverines had such a
stretch of futility was 1934-37. If
Michigan loses four games again this
season, it will mark the first time in
school history that the Wolverines have
dropped at least four games in five suc-
cessive seasons.
Still, even though Michigan's final
8-4 record last fall was disappointing,
the season wasn't without its bright
spots.
The Wolverines raced to a 4-0 start
for only the second time in the past 10
seasons. Included in those victories was
a 20-13 decision over Colorado on Sept.
14 in Boulder, Colo. With the victory,
Michigan gained a measure of revenge
for the infamous Hail-Mary loss to the
Buffaloes in 1994.
Then after dispatching Boston
College and UCLA, the Wolverines set
their sights on another "revenge" game
-- the Northwestern game. A year ear-

tier, the Wildcats had rolled into Ann
Arbor and stunned previously-unde-
feated Michigan, 19-13. Northwestern
used that victory as a jumpstart to the
Big Ten championship.
The Wolverines were determined not
to let the Wildcats ruin their undefeated
season again. But ruin it Northwestern
did.
For a while, it looked like Michigan
would do the ruining. Through three
quarters, despite a hostile Evanston
crowd, the Wolverines led 16-0 and
were poised to go 5-0 and hand the
Wildcats their first conference loss
since 1994.
Then the Wolverines forgot some-
thing. They forgot to play the fourth
quarter. Northwestern scored 17
unanswered points to steal the game,
17-16.
"We have no excuses," Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr said afterward. "We
had the game under control and just
made too many mistakes in the second
half."
From there, the Wolverines rebound-
ed to beat Indiana, Minnesota and
Michigan State. At 7-1 overall and 4-1
in the conference, the Wolverines,
ranked No. 9 in the nation, were in the
Big Ten title chase when they went to
Purdue on Nov. 9.

When they left Purdue, they were out
of it.
The Boilermakers' 9-3 upset marked
one of the worst losses in recent
Michigan history. Purdue had not
defeated a top-10 team since 1984, and
Michigan's Rose Bowl hopes were
dashed.
"(Purdue was) a very disappointing
loss, because the Big Ten championship
for us is out the window," Carr said
afterward.
The Wolverines couldn't rebound the
following week, dropping a tough 29-
17 decision to Penn State and their
record to 7-3 and 4-3.
That loss set up what most people
thought would be a rout the following
week in Columbus against Ohio State.
The Buckeyes were undefeated and
already headed to the Rose Bowl.
Michigan, in all probability, was headed
to the Alamo Bowl with a dismal 7-4
record.
But an Ohio State blowout didn't
happen.
Behind backup quarterback Brian
Griese, the Wolverines hung tough in
the first half, and then scored 13 unan-
swered points in the second half to post
a 13-9 shocker over the 18-point
favorite Buckeyes. As it turned out, the
victory cost Ohio State the national

..
,,
,..,
-

t_;

MARK FRIED)MAN/DaIl
Michigan junior running back Chris Howard dodges past a Michigan State defense-
man on Nov. 2, 1996. Michigan defeated Michigan State, 45-29.

championship.
"Opportunities don't come very often
to do something special in life," Carr
said. "I told our team (before the game),
they had a chance to do something spe-
cial."
Afterwards, the Wolverines accept-
ed a bid to the Outback Bowl to face
Alabama and coach Gene Stallings in

his final game as Alabama coach.
In a game similar to the
Northwestern loss, Michigan domt-
ed the first three quarters, but sur -
dered two late touchdowns and lost, 17-
14. The Wolverines had finished the
season 8-4.
And the nightmares about the num-
ber four had begun.

Carr shffes
coaching staff

By Nicholas J. Cotsonika
Daily Sports Editor
A game of musical coaches was
played at Schembechler Hall on Feb.
13, and when it was over, Michigan
football coach Lloyd Carr announced
that one coach had found himself a
new school and three others had
gained new job titles.
And there might be more to come.
"Anytime you make coaching
changes, you have to analyze your
strengths," Carr said in a news con-
ference. "That's what we've done."
Mike DeBord, assistant head coach
and interior offensive line coach the
past two seasons, is now offensive
coordinator, replacing new assistant
head coach Fred Jackson.
DeBord, who turned down an offer
in December to be head coach at
Western Michigan University, will
also coach tight ends and tackles,
because former offensive line coach

Becoming offensive coordinator
shouldn't be a shock to DeBord: He
has been deeply involved with the
offense, working with tackles @d
tight ends and often helping Jackson
call running plays.
He said his offensive philosophy
won't be too novel. He wants to
establish the running game, score
inside the 20-yard line, and disci-
pline an offense that turned over the
ball 25 times last season.
"We need to be able to run the ball
to compete," DeBord said. "Our red-
zone attack is very important,,
and everybody knows it.
"I enjoyed watching what Green
Bay did this year, their blocking
schemes, back sets. Brett Favre
makes plays, but they really know
how to control the football. They're a
ball-control team, and we have to be,
too."

* MARK FRIEDMAN/Daily
Sophomore running back Clarence Williams heads into the Alabama defense during the Outback Bowl, held in Tampa,
Fla. on New Year's Day. Michigan lost the game, 17.14.
Alabasa defense intercepts
Grise, runs away with win-

As for Jackson,

B o b b y
Morrison has
been moved to
special teams.
Morrison may
also coach an
offensive line
position, but
Carr said he is
hoping to find
someone else.
"We still
might have one
move to make,"
Carr said.
T e r r y
Malone, a
Detroit native,

"Anytime you
make coaching
changes, you have
to analyze your
strengths. That's
what we've done."

Carr said his new
job will help
him beconl
head coach.
"Fred will
have a lot more
administrative
responsibilIi
ties, such a
discipline an
eligibility con
cerns," Car
said. "He 1
tremendousl
well-respe*
by players an
staff, and h
will still hav
an impact o

M'

goes

down in Outback Bowl, 17-14

By Ryan White
Daily Sports Writer
TAMPA, Fla. - When it was all said and done, the
Outback Bowl was nothing more than a summary of
the entire Michigan football season.
The Wolverines were hurt by a costly turnover, an
offense that failed three times to score after moving
within the Alabama 35-yard line, and a defense that
couldn't hold the Crimson Tide when the Wolverines
needed it most.
The result was a 17-14 loss to Alabama on New
Year's Day in front of 53,161 at Houlihan's Stadium.
Both the Wolverines (8-4) and the Crimson Tide
(10-3) came into the game with highly touted defens-
es, and neither unit disappointed.
Michigan held Alabama to 247 yards of total
offense and effectively shut down the Tide for most of
the game. For their part, Alabama's defenders made
stops when they had to and turned the game around
with one fourth-quarter play.
With just 45 seconds left in
the third and Michigan up 6-3,
Alabama quarterback Warren To ba
Faust handed off to flanker
Michael Vaughn, and Vaughn great offei
handed to flanker Marcell West
on a reverse. After a three-yard you h v
gain, West was smacked by
Michigan safety Marcus Ray be able toe
and fumbled. ,,j
The W olverines took over tohe wn 1 d n
on their own 31. and on
first-and-10, running back endzo e, a
Clarence Williams broke we -
through the right side of the did f
line for 30 yards.
Michigan drove down to
the Alabama seven-yard line, MIC
but on third-and-five, quarter-

stalled and failed to convert.
Charles Woodson picked off Alabama quarterback
Freddie Kitchens with 2:54 left in the first half, and
Michigan took over at the Crimson Tide 35.
That drive stalled after only three plays, and Remy
Hamilton was going to attempt a 44-yard field goal.
Griese, the holder, however, grabbed the snap and ran
right for 18 yards, setting up first-and-goal from the
eight.
Running back Chris Howard went six yards on first
down, and on second down, Griese downed the ball to
stop the clock.
Carr said the Wolverines wanted to get a running
play in and still have their final timeout if they didn't
score on the play. But before Michigan could run the
third-down play, it had to call time anyway.
Griese was hit for a loss of three yards on third down
and Michigan had to settle for a 22-yard Hamilton field
goal that made the score 6-3.
Another missed opportunity was the result of a little

- Lloyd Carr
football coach

Michigan

has been hired to replace DeBord as
interior offensive line coach. He was
offensive line coach for Dan Henning
at Boston College in 1996 and had
accepted the offensive line position
at Maryland in December.
But the decision to come to
Michigan was easy, he said. Malone
graduated from Detroit Catholic
Central High School in 1978 and
served as an assistant at Bowling
Green from 1986-95.
"If it had been any other place, I
couldn't have left (Maryland)," said
Malone, glancing down at his gold
watch with the Mid-American
Conference logo on its face.
"This is for the two championships
we won at BG. I'm looking forward
to replacing it as soon as I can."

the offense."
Morrison, a former linebacker!
coach, was rumored to be a candi-
date to replace Jim Herrmann o
defense.
Herrmann was promoted f n
linebackers coach to defensive c
dinator after Greg Mattison left rii
December to become defensive coor
dinator at Notre Dame, leaving
position open.
But Carr said Morrison has-
"great love for special teams," th<
Wolverines need a lot of work in tha
area, and that another defensivi
coach isn't needed.
"We have had the luxury to havi
two defensive coaches in the pAL
Carr said. "This will not be a pro
lem."

ise,

put
ghe
mid
- Lloyd Carr
higan football coach

trickery. Midway through
the third quarter, from the
Alabama 41, Griese later-
alled across the field to
Woodson, who threw back
to the right side to Griese.
Griese had nothing but
green grass and blue jerseys
in front of him, but he
tripped at the 40-yard line
and fell after only a four-
yard gain.
Griese was sacked on
the next play and the
Wolverines were forced to
punt.
"To be a great offense,
you have to be able to put
the ball in the end zone,

back Brian Griese floated a forced throw over the middle
and was picked off by Alabama linebacker Dwayne

and we didn't do that," Carr said.
Despite all of its offensive problems, Michigan was

i

ntage in C

ffd

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