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September 09, 1999 - Image 57

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19ML ,



16 - The Michigan Daily - Kickoff '99 - Thursday, September 9, 1999

Thursday, September 9, 1999 -


Will '99 be a Brees for Boilers



By Rick Freeman and Josh Kleinbaum
Offensive Line: Could be Michigan's
greatest strength. The line returns
Steve Frazier, David Brandt, Steve
Hutchinson and Jeff Backus, who have
played 12 games with each other.
Hutchinson is a preseason All-America
candidate and was elected as a tri-cap-
tain. The line has, in effect, seven
starters since Jonathan Goodwin and
Maurice Williams (both of whom may
have started) have been barred from
doing so as punishment for their
involvement in the K-Mart thefts. Both
saw significant playing time against
Notre Dame. Frazier played most of
the Notre Dame game at center, but
said he and the other guards can
rotate at any of the three positions.
Tight Ends: Could be Michigan's
greatest weakness. Very little experi-
ence among the three main candi-
dates. Shawn Thompson played most
of Saturday's game, and made a cru-
cial catch on Michigan's final drive..
Bill Seymour also saw playing time.

Running Backs: Michigan is deep -
on paper. The Wolverines have six true
freshmen, and of their upperclassmen,
only Anthony Thomas has been used
as a workhorse back before this sea-
son. He will be spelled more often by
Walter Cross. Aaron Shea - a convert
from tight end - has settled in to his
new role. He will be spelled by sopho-
more fullback Evan Coleman.
Receivers: On a team that sometimes
has torediscover the forward pass,
this position could be full of sleepers.
Marcus Knight somehow manages to
be often overlooked but has soft
hands. David Terrell and Marquise
Walker (both recruited by Drew
Henson, by the way) have plenty of
ability, although Terrell has seen more
action. DiAllo Johnson, the hero of
last season's Citrus Bowl, and Ricky
Bryant are capable backups.
Quarterback: C'mon. You know what
these guys can do. But Brady showed
an even-keel confidence against the

Irish, particularly on the first and last
drives of the second half - both of
which ended in touchdowns.
Henson may have more raw talent,
but Brady has started the past 14
games for Michigan, and 11 have been
victories. Should Michigan's quarter-
back question be settled by an injury,
the backups are Jason Kapsner (3-for-5
career at Michigan) and Mark Bergin.
Defensive Line: An experienced
bunch. Rob Renes has started 26
straight games, and always seems to
find a way to get his hands on the
ballcarnier. Josh Williams and Eric
Wilson join him on the front line. Pat
Kratus has been an able backup.
Linebackers: Michigan uses an atypi-
cal approach to its linebackers -
smaller, quicker linebackers play up
the middle and the big, strong guys
play on the outside. So Dhani Jones
and Ian Gold, who total a measly 438
pounds, are the inside linebackers,
with James Hall and first-year starter
Grady Brooks - totalling 507 pounds
- on the outside. They're quick up the
middle, and Hall is a beast on the out-
side. Brooks is the weak link, but, after
getting a few games under his belt,
should be more than able. Larry Foote

By T.J. Berka
Daily Sports Editor
The scariest part of October usually
falls on the last day of the month.
When Halloween comes, ghosts and
goblins come out to frighten the mass-
But as scary as any ghoul - or for
that matter "The Blair Witch Project"
- may be, it has nothing on Purdue's
October football schedule.
Oct. 2, at Michigan. Oct. 9, at Ohio
State. Oct. 16, Michigan State. Oct.
23, Penn State. Oct. 30, at up-and-
coming Minnesota.
"This season presents a heck of a
challenge, that's for sure," Purdue
coach Joe Tiller said.
Forget getting stuck in the woods.
Getting stuck with the Boilermakers'
schedule is enough to drive someone
to feverish insanity.
But Purdue isn't cowering in the
corner, wishing it could skip the
Wolverines and Buckeyes for a third
consecutive season.
Instead, the Boilermakers are hop-
ing to use the schedule to prove that
the last two seasons - in which they
had two nine-win seasons and Alamo
Bowl victories - were not flukes.
"I can't wait to play those teams,"
safety Adrian Beasley said. "I'm look-
ing forward to proving that Purdue can
be one of the best in the Big Ten."
The Boilermakers have the best

quarterback in the Big Ten - and per-
haps the nation - in junior Drew
Brees tore up most of Purdue's indi-
vidual season passing records last sea-
son, completing 361 passes for 3,983
yards and 39 touchdowns.
"The strength of team is the offen-
sive line and the guy who lines up
behind center," Tiller said.
Purdue looks to put much of its
hopes this season on its Heisman
Trophy candidate, and Brees isn't shy-
ing away from being the focal point of
the Boilermakers.
"I have always wanted to have center
stage," Brees said. "When I was
younger, I was called a ball hog
because I always wanted to have the
While Brees has learned how to
share the ball with his wide receivers,
the Boilermakers would like to see him
hand the ball off to his running backs
J. Crabtree and Dondre Johnson did
well in their limited rushing opportuni-
ties, combining for 1,127 yards and
averaging 4.3 and 4.5 yards per carry,
Due to this, Tiller wants to make
sure that Purdue's running game can
take pressure off of Brees when neces-
"In 1999, I think its possible that
Drew could throw for fewer yards than

in 1998 and we could still be a better
team," Tiller said.
Along with an increased emphasis
on running the ball, Purdue also
acknowledges a need to increase
defensive pressure.
The Boilermakers lost their two
main pass rushers, Roosevelt Colvin
and Chike Ofeakor, to the NFL, leav-
ing the defense a question mark.
But Purdue is excited about sopho-
more Akin Ayodele. Ayodele, who was
recruited by Purdue but spent last sea-
son at Coffeyville Junior College,
wowed the players and coaching staff
during spring practice.
"Ayodele was great during spring
practice," said all-America candidate
Beasley. "He could step up and be a
real key to this defense."
Even with Ayodele, the Purdue
defense has its hands full trying to
emerge from the shadow of its power-
ful offense.
With the losses to graduation and
the skill level of the offense, Tiller
knows what will lead Purdue in the
early going.
"The defense does have some catch-
ing uptto do," Tiller said. "We are
going to have to score a lot of points
early until the defense figures things
If the defense does figure things out,
playing Purdue could be a very scary

6-2 Big Ten, 9-4 overall
defeated Kansas State, 37-34
october arbor



Drew Brees
Matt Light
Gene Mruczkowski
Jim Niedrach
Chukky Okobi
Brandon Gorin
Tim Stratton
Dondre Johnson
Vinny Sutherland
A.T. Simpson
Randall Lane

K Travis Dorsch
P Danny Rogers

__ _

Wide receiver Marcus Knight wasn't able to stay inbounds in the end zone against
Notre Dame on Sunday, but he'll get plenty of chances throughout the season.


and Eric Rosel will both see playing
time off the bench, particularly in
Lloyd Carr's '34' defense..
Defensive Backs: Suspect so far, but
with definite potential to solidify.
James Whitley returns at corner, and


N 4~t

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DeWayne Patmon and Tommy
Hendricks return at safety. Patmon
made several quality tackles in crucial
situations against Notre Dame. The
real question is the open cornerback
spot - Cato June and Todd Howard
will compete for playing time.
Placekicking: Hayden who? Jeff Del
Verne made four field goals from
between 21 and 37 yards Saturday,
including a 28 yarder soon after miss-
ing a 26-yard chip shot, which shows
his confidence. Hayden Epstein, the
highly-touted full-scholarship kicker, is
still recovering from a knee injury that
threatened to sideline him for the
entire season. His four first-half kick-
offs all went for touchbacks, but two
in the second half were returnable.
His lone field-goal attempt hit the left
upright from 51 yards away - not a
difficult length for him in practice.
Punting: Left with less than the usual
15 yards, punter Cory Sargent man-
aged to get away a punt with no prob-
lems while pinned deep in his own end
zone Saturday. His three punts aver-
aged 48 yards. When healthy, Epstein
also serves as a punter, and took over
the starting job at the end of last sea-
son. If Sargent returns to last-season
form, Epstein would likely take over
punting duties. Henson has shown an
ability to punt, and would make fourth
down very interesting if he were the
regular punter.
Returners: Lloyd Carr has several
options for kick returners - the key is
holding on to the ball. Fumbled kicks
plagued Michigan all last year, to the
point that Michigan's best play was fre-
quently letting the ball go. On punts,
Knight will be the primary returner. He
has decent speed, but isn't all that elu-
sive, so don't expect to see him break
too many great returns. On kickoffs,
Carr can choose between Cross,
Thomas, Terrell and June. Terrell has
the most explosiveness,-Thomas is most
likely to run through would-be tacklers,
but Cross will be taking the most kicks.
Why? Both Thomas and Terrell will see
a ton of playing time in the offense,
and using Cross on kick returns will
help keep them fresh and healthy.

Ayodele. A transfer from (
Ayodele impressed players
expected to help soothe tr
Chike Ofeakor along the fr
GRADE: If football only co
would get an A+. But the
ball and play defense too.
Rose Bowl contender. B+/I

Headline: Septemnher




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