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January 09, 1998 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-01-09

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 9, 1998 - 11

JSack to 8-4? Not so fast: 98
outlook bnkt for Wolvernes

N ow what? Spring practice is less than four months away
and the exhilaration of a national championship is only
ephemeral, as Michigan is about to find out. The mys-
ue of all the celebrations, pep rallies and parades will wear
and the Wolverines will have to seriously consider what
they will have to do to at least repeat as Big Ten champs, let
alone the nation's best.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr can't get away with the we'll-
build-on-what-we've-achieved-this-year excuse for his 1998
outlook. How do you build on perfection?
Before he builds, Carr must step back and see what remains.
Gone will be the nation's best player, Charles Woodson; the
brains behind the offense, quarterback Brian Griese; the
dependable and vastly underrated start-
" g offensive backfield, Chris tIoward
d Chris Floyd; and the anchors and
hearts of both lines, Zach Adami and
Glen Steele.
Looks like the 1998 team's ready to / <
flop back into the 8-4 spiral of the pre-
vious four seasons.
Wait up, we've made that mistake AAN
before. And that was when this team
lost a bigger chunk of its personnel. GOLDENBACH
So, take away Woodson, take away The Bronx
riese, take away Howard and Steele Bomber
believe it or not, Michigan should
still be a preseason top-10 team, maybe
-And we're not talking top-10 in the same manner that we're
talking about how Colorado or Notre Dame were such cases
earlier this season. Michigan does have a legitimate shot of
threatening to repeat as national champs.
-Why? Fifteen good reasons. That's how many starters return
from this team next year.
Nine of those are chiefly why the Wolverines were national
champs in the first place - their defense. Michigan will have
e of its 11 starters on defense returning next year. Woodson
apd.Steele are the only ones leaving.
>Not to short-change the talents of these two All-Americans,
but Michigan is so deep at both of their positions that filling
t$es spots won't be the slightest problem.
-The Wolverines landed perhaps the nation's top recruiting
class of defensive backs this year and the trio of William
Peterson, DeWayne Patmon and James Whitley didn't serve as
towel boys for the starters. Each saw significant action at cru-
cial-points in the season, including during the secondary's
tnughest test against Washington State and Ryan Leaf.
Strong safety Marcus Ray should easily be a first team All-
rican next year and compete for the Jim Thorpe Award as
torenation's top defensive back. Cornerback Andre Weathers
should receive more attention for the talents that made him a
firsteam All-Big Ten selection now that he is no longer the
"┬ęt$er corner" opposite Woodson. Free safety Tommy
Hendricks' production was lost in Michigan's deep secondary,
butit must be noted that the Houston native, who will be a
jtnior next year, was fourth on the team in tackles this year.
There is no reason to disagree with Ray, who said last week
after the Rose Bowl victory that the secondary will be better
t year.
The linebacking corps should be devastating with all three
starters - Sam Sword, Dhani Jones and Clint Copenhaver-
as well as a top backup - Ian Gold - returning.
As for filling Steele's shoes, Juaquin Feazell served as per-
haps the nation's finest backup and should step into a starting
role. But Feazell won't be given that job on a silver platter. All
signs are pointing to two of last year's starters, David Bowens
(who left school this year for academics) and Ben Huff (who
was injured and may receive a sixth year of eligibility) retum-
lig. if both do, Michigan defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann
Continued from Page 9 R E

will have a tough time divvying up playing time.
Speaking of Herrmann, the Broyles Award winner isn't
going anywhere, contrary to rumblings that anytime a coach
finds success, he's off to a new job. He has said repeatedly that
he is staying at Michigan, at least for the time being.
Remember, Herrmann is a Michigan man through and through.
He played here and this is his only collegiate coaching stop. He
wants to stay.
Not only may Michigan's secondary be better next season,
there's a good chance the entire defense will be, too.
The question marks for this team, however, begin to mount
on offense, where undoubtedly, the toughest task facing Carr is
finding someone to step into the shoes worn so brilliantly by
Griese. The man who many thought was a candidate for
replacement this season turned out to be probably Michigan's
second-most valuable player. His loss, however, may not be felt
until people see the Michigan offense running without his lead-
ership next year.
Sophomore Tom Brady seems to be the front-runner to
replace Griese. All year, Carr said repeatedly that he was
impressed with his progress, and Brady was always listed as
the backup on the gameday two-deeps.
Running right behind Brady is redshirt freshman Jason
Kapsner, an untested talent with a mammoth frame and a can-
non for an arm.
And then there's Scott Dreisbach, who will be the elder
statesman of this unit next year. Forgotten most of this season,
his game could have a renaissance similar to Griese's this sea-
Top to bottom, talent is in this position, but as Griese indicat-
ed this season, that is not always the most desirable trait of a
championship signal-caller.
As if he didn't get enough credit during his four years here,
Howard's legacy will unfortunately be forgotten quickly when
Anthony Thomas steps into the starting role and becomes
Michigan's next superstar back. Running behind a line that
returns four starters, Thomas will challenge Wisconsin's Ron
Dayne for the title of the Big Ten's top rusher. Both have simi-
lar running styles and both have 2,000-yard potential.
Thomas will need sophomore Demetrius Smith to slide in
and take over Floyd's spot as fullback. Routinely labeled the
best fullback in the Big Ten by Carr, Floyd's absence, too,
won't be felt immediately. Smith did get some action early on
this year when Floyd was banged up, but he will be looked
upon to become as much a part of this offense as Floyd was,
which includes being a solid receiver.
Michigan's receivers may turn out to be the greatest blessing
for whomever takes over the reins under center. The experience
and talent that return can make just about any quarterback look
good. Jerame Tuman will get preseason All-America attention,
as will Tai Streets, by way of busting out on national television
in the Rose Bowl. Tuman has such viable backups in Mark
Campbell and Aaron Shea that it would not be unusual to see
Michigan go with a double-tight end-package more frequently.
That may be necessary because Streets should see tough cover-
age as the candidates for the other wideout job - Marcus
Knight, Kevin Bryant and Aaron Wright - caught a combined
five passes this season. It may not be out of the question for
Carr to seek immediate contributions from a plum crop of
receivers that have already committed for next year, including
the nation's top prospect, Marquis Walker.
But the chief reason why Michigan should not have to worry
about slipping back is Carr, who overcame an inferiority com-
plex to assert himself as one of most respected coaches in the
nation. He has brought back the aura that surrounds Michigan
characteristic of the Bo Schembechler days. He has instilled the
confidence in this program that it can - and should go to the
Rose Bowl every season.
12-0 again? It's possible. 8-4? That would be a lot tougher.
-Alan Goldenbach can be reached at agold ajumnich.edu.

Chris Howard is one of the few seniors who has suited up for the last time In a Michigan uniform, and though he will be
replaced by talented backs such as Clarence Williams and Anthony Thomas, the Wolverines will surely miss Howard's dependd
ability in the backfield.

defensive back in the nation
Woodson also became the first
Michigan player to be a first-team All-
America selection two years in a row
since Greg Skrepenak and the school's
first two-time winner of Big Ten
Defensive Player of the Year.
Already with the Walter Camp, Football
News, Bear Bryant, Woody Hayes, and
Schutt Sports coach of the year awards in
his back pocket, Carr will have to make
room for one more.
Carr was awarded the GTE Coach of
the Year Award as selected by members
of the American Football Coaches
Association. The announcement came at
:association's annual convention in
,llas, for which Carr left straight from
Pasadena after the Rose Bowl.
Most of the coaches who voted Carr
for this award were the same ones who
voted Nebraska No. I in the final USA
Today/ESPN Poll, while dropping the
Wolverines to No. 2 and costing them
the title of undisputed national champi-
The AFCA award, first given in 1935,
is the oldest of the many coach of the
r awards. Carr is the fourth Michigan
ach to receive the honor, following
former legends Fritz Crisler (1947 win-
ner), Bennie Oosterbaan (1948) and Bo
Schembechler (1969). Michigan is the
first school to have four different win-
ners of the award.
One of the benefits of winning the
award is getting the opportunity to coach
the 1999 Hula Bowl, an annual postsea-
son all-star game played in Honolulu in



Savor the Wolverines' first national
championship since 1948 for years
to come with a glossy, full-color
poster of The Michigan Daily's front
page. The poster sells for $5 and
will be available next week at
The Michigan Daily's offices in
the Student Publications
Building at 420 Maynard St.
and at select retail outlets in
the Ann Arbor area. Add a
poster of Michigan's Rose
Bowl-clinching win over Ohio
State for an additional
$2.50. Read the Daily to
find out when the posters x
will be available for


.1 t.Z''.iX ~ .4~.az" a-~S .4%4~ fl~4~ICt&h~&X I

January by the nation's top seniors.
Apparently, several other establishments
are saying "phooey" to the coaches'
coronation of Nebraska as national
At Sunday evening's pep rally at
Crisler Arena, Michigan will be present-
ed with two more national championship
trophies by two of the nation's oldest
The National Football Foundation

Hall of Fame has honored Michigan
with the MacArthur Bowl as the nation's
most outstanding team. Making the pre-
sentation will be the foundation's chair-
man, Jon Hanson, and former Michigan
All-American Ron Johnson, who played
from 1966-68.
Also elbowing its way into the
Schembechler Hall trophy cabinet will
be the Grantland Rice Trophy, presented
by the Football Writers Association of

Rushing record i

n sight, Williams

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