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September 11, 1998 - Image 21

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-09-11

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

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Big House reclaims No. 1 spot

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Revamped offense starts with
inexperience in quarterback role

By Jennifer Yachnin
The dust around Michigan Stadium
has settled just in time for the opening
home game. '
Renovations totaling s6 million
include 70 new restrooms, widened
pathways around the stadium and near-
ly 5,500 additional seats. New combi-
nation scoreboards and videoboards
also tower over spectators at both ends

of the stadium.
The new boards are part of a $7.9
million dollar project that also includes
four new videoboards in Crisler Arena
and a production facility.
The new stadium screens will allow
the athletic department to run replays
and highlights from previous seasons.
"If it is a controversial play, we'll run
the replay one time," said Thomas
Cecchini, associate athletic director.

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Fans who attended the preseason
football media day said they were gen-
erally pleased with the improvements to
the stadium.
"I love the new boards," said Chelsea
resident Don Haywood. "I was amazed
to actually see (the images) so clearly"
Haywood said the only thing that the
Athletic Department may still need to
do is "paint all the seats maize and
blue."
The dimensions of the boards, 40 feet
x 78 feet and nine feet deep, surprised
maiy spectators, who had mixed reac-
tion to the increase in size.
"I've never seen a big screen so clear-
ly," said Steve DeDoes, an Ann Arbor
resident. "It is a little obtrusive coming
east on Stadium."
"I'm kind of a purist, sports has
become this multimedia thing now,"
DeDoes said. "The boards are great in
here, but they're not great outside (the
stadium)"
Ed Hoeglund, was involved in selling
the Sony system videoscreens to the
University.
"The reaction is they are as good or
better than television sets at home,"
Hoeglund said. "These are the two
largest pair of boards installed at a
University stadium anywhere."

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ADRIANA YUGOVICH/Daily
With renovations complete, Michigan Stadium now holds around 108,000 -
making it the biggest stadium in the country.

Nancy Lein, mother of a Michigan
football player, said she heard about the
renovations and videoscreens from her
son.
"My son told me he was really
impressed," said Nancy Lein. "It just
adds a new dimension. I'm not a foot-
ball expert and it helps me to figure out
what's going on.
"Sometimes you miss things when
you're sitting in the stands;' Lein added.
The scoreboards, which do not have

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any advertising, have rotating displays
with the phrases "Hail to the Victors"
on one side and "National Champions"
along with the game dates on the other.
"We noticed the boards when we
were coming in," said Julie Boumaroun,
a Livonia resident. "The men working
on the (scoreboards) are no bigger than
the letters"
The additional seats have been added
in six rows around the top of the stadi-
um, except on the east side and around
the press box.
"I like how they put the seats in
because they can keep their name - the
Big House," said 10-year-old Matt
McMillian, a Plymouth resident.
McMillian's mother, Pamela, said
they came to see the stadium because
her son "wants to play here some day
and we're big fans."
"The pictures are nice and clear. The
National Champions on the (boards) are
a great," Pamela McMillian said.
A few fans said the additional seating
would detract from the game.
"It's kind of funny how everybody is
trying to be bigger than everyone else,"
said Shawna Aalbregtse. a Saline resi-
dent. "It's taking away a little from the
whole atmosphere."

By Sharat Raju
The best thing the Michigan offense
has going for it is the Michigan defense.
"We're very fortunate as an offense
to be able to practice against what I feel
is the best defense in the country,"
offensive lineman Jon Jansen said. "I
hope by the end of the year or sometime
along the year that we can give them as
good of a look as they give us."
As is the case with nearly every foot-
ball season, the focus for the
Wolverines is the defense. And while
defense wins championships - as the
saying goes - the success of the
offense is critical to this year's team.
Who else is going to put the ball in the
end zone?
So, six starters return for the
Wolverines. That is more than half of
the offense. But the main area of con-
cern is at the skill positions, where
Michigan will have to find consistency
primarily in the offensive backfield.
The success of last season brought in
an abundance of youthful talent. Talent
is one thing. Being able to successfully
utilize it is another issue.
Here's the offensive breakdown,
position by position.
Quarterbacks

Griese only threw three others away.
Now, it's junior Tom Brady's turn to
guide the Michigan offense.
"Tom Brady is much like Brian
Griese," Carr said. "He has paid his
dues. He has worked extremely hard."
As hard as he has worked in training
camp, Brady is still quite inexperi-
enced. Notre Dame was his first start
and prior to that, he had only thrown 20
passes in his career - with 15 comple-
tions.
"I never thought that I would get an
opportunity," Brady said. "I think
everyone who is at this school is here
for a reason and everyone is talented."
(See page 11 for quarterbacks fea-
ture.)
Tailbacks

back last season. He caught 22 passes
last season and probably would have
had more receptions had it not been for
a hamstring injury that prevented him
from playing in the final three regular-
season games.
After Thomas and Williams, there are
no experienced running backs for the
Wolverines. Freshman Justin Fargas,
however, received significant playing
time against Notre Dame and is consid-
ered the top running back prospect by
several recruiting magazines. The 6-1,
185-pound Encino, Calif., native can
fly, having run a 10.55 100-meter dash.
"Fargas is extremely quick with a
great burst," Carr said.
Walter Cross, 6-0, 205 pounds, is the
other freshman tailback recruit likely to
see playing time although he didn't
carry the ball against Notre Dame.
See OFFENSE, Page 6B

Senior running back Clarence Williams an
bers of the Michigan backfield who have

Starter
Tom Brady
'Key reserme
Scott Dreisbach
Drew Henson

Possible starters
Justin Fargas
Anthony Thomas
Clarence Williams

Elig, Ht. Wt,
Fr. 6- 185.
So. 6-2221
Sr. 5.9 189

Elig. Ht. Wt.
Jr. 6-5 213
Sr. 6-4 214
Fr. 6-4 221

Michigan's inexperience in the offen-
sive backfield isn't limited to the quar-
terback position. The running backs are
also untested, with two exceptions.
Last season's Big Ten freshman of
the year, Anthony Thomas, proved that
he can run over pretty much anyone he
wants.
"You never expect something like
(winning the national championship)
your freshman year," Thomas said. "But
now we have something to shoot for."
At 6-foot-2, 229 pounds, Thomas is a
tough guy to tackle, as opponents have
already found out. He played in every
game last season, averaging four yards
a carry and rushed for more than 100
yards twice last season. Pretty good
considering he was the No. 2 tailback
behind Chris Howard.
While Thomas is a punishing runner,
senior Clarence Williams is a shifty,
quick-cutting back who was invaluable
to the Wolverines as a third-down slot

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Before the 1997 season, no one in
their right mind would say that once
Brian Griese graduates he will have left
behind a legacy for all Michigan quar-
terbacks to follow.
Well, here we are in 1998 and Griese
has set the standard of consistency.
Aside from last season's Iowa game
when he tossed three interceptions,

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