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September 03, 2002 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-03

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The Michigan Daily - SportsTuesday - September 3, 2002 - 17A
'Average Joes' key to Malone's new look

By Joe Smith
Daily Sports Editor
Same old offense, just more production.
That's what many casual observers of Satur-
day's game could say about the new offensive
schemes unleashed by offensive coordinator
Terry Malone.
"That's a fair statement," said quarterback John
Navarre.
The Wolverines didn't line up nine wide
receivers or utilize many trick plays (other than
their usual reverse). They did-
n't overuse the shotgun set, run
the option or throw deep every FOOTBALL
play. Notebook
But players liked that the
"new and improved" offense
was more efficient, productive and balanced.
Navarre, who threw nine interceptions in the
final five games last year, had just one pick on Sat-
urday - a batted ball at the line intercepted by
defensive lineman Kai Ellis. Michigan coach Lloyd
Carr has said he wants an offense that takes care of
the ball, and the Wolverines turned the ball over
just twice - even though they fumbled four times.
Michigan still was insistent on running the
ball, just like it has since the Stone Age. The dif-
ference was, this time the offensive line gave
enough push and created enough holes for Chris
Perry to run through - and score more touch-
downs on Saturday (three) than he had all last
year (two). Perry's 57-yarder on the second play
from scrimmage was the longest run by a
Wolverine in nearly two years.
"We wanted to prove we're still Michigan and
we can still move the ball through the running
game," said right tackle Tony Pape..
The Wolverines finished with 150 yards on the
ground, which was enough to keep Washington hon-
est on several Michigan play-action opportunities.

As promised, the new offense included Navarre
getting the ball to playmakers in short routes and
letting them create. But instead of throwing
every pass in the direction of a certain player
(Marquise Walker), Navarre spread the ball to six
different receivers - three of which caught at
least five balls.
Michigan didn't utilize the tight end much, with
Bennie Joppru catching just one pass in the final
minutes for 11 yards.
"We have a lot more short passes, kind of West
Coast Offense type stuff," said Calvin Bell, who
had one catch for 28 yards. "We changed things a
little, like making it easier for the quarterback to
read and make checks and stuff."
The Wolverines did use four wide receiver sets,
with fullback B.J. Askew sometimes lining up out
wide or moving into the slot - which were two
different idiosyncrasies for an offense that
Navarre promised would "attack" the defense,
"exploit its weaknesses" and be "more produc-
tive."
If one includes the three missed field goals,
Navarre and Co. put the Wolverines in position to
score 40 points - which is nearly 15 above last
year's average.
"We don't have a big star on offense," Navarre
said. "We have 11 average Joes out there."
But if "average Joes" can average more than 30
points, few will complain that the subtle changes
to the Michigan offense aren't enough.
STAR POWER: Junior receiver Tyrece Butler's
performance certainly wasn't average, according
to Carr. Butler caught six passes for 85 yards,
most of which coming on key third-down situa-
tions. He was Michigan's savior late in the game ,
when he had the presence of mind to recover
Braylon Edwards' fumble on the crucial, fourth-
down play.
"The hustle that Tyrece Butler made won the
game for us," Carr said. "Thank God Tyrece was

hustling."
Carr said while he was displeased with
Edward's fumble, the sophomore will prove those
people wrong who say Michigan doesn't have a
superstar receiver.
"Braylon Edwards is a go-to-guy," Carr said.
"He has as much potential as any kid we've had in
a long time."
Carr often compares Edwards playmaking abil-
ity to former Wolverine and now Chicago Bears
wide receiver David Terrell, who was at Satur-
day's game. Edwards made his best Terrell imper-
sonation by jumping up and grabbing a 45-yard
bomb from Navarre to give Michigan a 14-0 lead
in the second quarter - his first career touch-
down.
"There will be more to come," said Edwards.
LAMBEAu LEAP?: Joppru made his first declara-
tion as captain a popular one with Michigan fans
on Saturday. With his Wolverines celebrating at
midfield after the dramatic victory, Joppru pointed
to the end zone and said "Students! Let's do this."
Several Michigan players ran to the student sec-
tion and leaped into the stands - a tradition made
famous by the Green Bay Packers at their home,
Lambeau Field.
"That's the kind of stuff when you were little
you watch TV, you can't wait to do that when you
get to college," said safety Charles Drake. "Hon-
estly, when I first came out for warm ups, that stu-
dent section has been as crowded as it's been since
I got here. They were just getting guys hyped,
excited. We really owe those fans, not just that
section, but giving love back to the fans, because
it was rocking in the Big House."
And did the usually stoic and strict Carr razz
any of the players for their celebration antics?
"Naw, the coaches didn't rib us about it," said
Perry. Carr "was probably up there too, I didn't
see him."
Now that would have been a sight.

DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
Michigan tailback Chris Perry led the Wolverines' rushing attack with 123 yards
and 2 touchdowns, including a 57-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

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