September 21, 2004
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By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Editor
If you've seen 6-foot-4, probably-bigger-than-listed
333-pound defensive lineman Gabe Watson punishing
opponents week after week for Michigan, there's one
activity that you definitely wouldn't expect to see him
But, according to Watson's cousin-in-law, lineback-
er Roy Manning, that's exactly the skill that Watson
added to his repertoire over the summer.
During summer workouts, Watson began to show
off his moves, and all his teammates went nuts follow-
ing his performance.
Watson's collection of talents also includes a profi-
ciency at impressions - and the list of targets includes
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr.
"It's not that hard" to do a Carr impression, Man-
ning insisted, before quickly claiming that he had
never attempted to imitate the Wolverines' head man.
"It's good to have guys like (Watson)," Manning
said. "He's making jokes all the time, doing (his) lit-
tle funny voices and things like that. It's good for the
team, keeping guys not so serious."
Still, while Watson, now in his junior season, may
be a walking Comedy Central special off the field, he's
all business on it. That has become apparent this year,
as the Novi native has constantly disrupted opponents'
plans to run the ball up the middle or sit a quarterback
in the pocket.
And while Watson's sack numbers - he has yet to
record one this season - are far from overwhelming,
he has recorded 11 tackles and has numerous quarter-
His play up front has left Manning impressed with
more' than just Watson's ability to bust a move.
"I think this is (the best he's played at Michigan),
most definitely," Manning said. "He's focusing a lot
more and going out there and being the player that he
should be. He's a great athlete, he's very talented and
he's going to be a great player here."
This season marks the first time that Watson has
been able to crack the starting lineup - he came off
the bench in every game last year. He entered Michi-
Back to the drawing
board for my column
Multi-talented junior defensive end Gabe Watson has found his niche on Michigan's defensive line after coming
off the bench in the past two seasons.
Garden State of Mind
'll let you all in on a little secret
- writing a sports column isn't
as easy as you might think.
Every other week, I have one simple
job: pump out 20 inches of text to be
featured right here, as a column in
the sports section.
The problem is, this week, I had
no idea what to write about.
Does Rick Reilly ever have this
problem at Sports Illustrated?
What about the Detroit Free
Press's Mitch Albom?
Well, since I'm obviously less
talented than those guys (and am
handicapped by a full-time class
schedule and no personal research
staff), I have no idea what to write
about this week.
I've been thinking long and hard
about my column. I came up with
an idea to write about diehard tail-
gaters before a Michigan football
game. Have you ever been driv-
ing past the Big House on a Friday
afternoon, and noticed the line of
RVs already packing the Pioneer
High School parking lot? I drove by
one day and thought this could make
an interesting column, so I spent
last Friday afternoon hanging out
and talking with some of Michigan's
most intense fans.
These guys have a few stories
worth noting. It's interesting that
some of the RV owners live just 15
or 20 minutes away from the sta-
dium, but camp out overnight just
because they have fun doing it. But
a few interesting stories isn't enough
to drive an entire column. Now my
first, and seemingly best, column
idea was a bust.
I needed a plan B, and I needed
one quickly. But much like Chad:
Henne when faced with a blitz on
Saturday, I didn't do a great job
adjusting. I thought during the
football game and afterwards for
another column idea, but I still had
nothing by the time the game ended
I considered other things I could
write about. I thought about Mich-
igan's quarterback situation. I still
support Henne taking the snaps, and
I didn't like Lloyd Carr's decision to
give Clayton Richard playing time
on Saturday. I also thought the rota-
tion of players on and off the field
on Saturday was crazier than Gary
Busey - did Jermaine Gonzales
really catch a pass on Saturday? At
times, it was like Carr and company
were spinning a roulette wheel and
sending out every player whose
number came up.
Then, I thought about my column
again. Can I really fill up a page
with reasons why Carr is coaching
Michigan like a dad coaching Pop
Warner football - just making sure
everyone gets in the game? This
football column idea lasted about as
long as the XFL.
So I started wracking my brain
for other column ideas. What else
could I write about that people
would find interesting?
I took a look at this week's Best
Buy flier. Tiger Woods 2005 and
NHL 2005 are coming out this
week for PS2, Gamecube and Xbox
(ironically enough, after the NHL
owner's lockout last week). I thought
about devoting this column space to
sports video games. Maybe I'd write
bout Tiger and the NHL.
Then it hit me: maybe I should
write about the King of all Video
Games, Madden 2005. Heck, I own
the game. I know that there is a
Madden Monday Tournament at
Scorekeepers during every Mon-
day Night Football game. I thought
maybe I would head down there and
check it out.
YES! I finally found my column
idea. I felt like Tommy must have
felt after the postseason ban was
See BREMMER, Page 11
gan as one of the most highly-touted recruits in the
country, but was played sparingly his freshman year,
sitting out five games and registering a mere two
Unable to live up to his seemingly endless potential
in his first two years in Ann Arbor, Watson was eager
to grab a starting spot in 2004.
"I believe I have a lot to offer," Watson said when asked
about his struggles during Michigan's preseason media
day. "The last couple of years, I was behind two good
defensive linemen (Grant Bowman and Norman Heuer),
but this is a big year and I hope to do real good things."
So far, so good for Watson this season. Now
an unchallenged fixture on the Michigan front, he
has anchored the Wolverines in their move to a 3-4
defense, often proving immovable for opposing offen-
In one of the more obvious examples of his domi-
nance this season, Watson was at the center of Michi-
gan's dramatic goal-line stand in the first half at Notre
Dame. He drove the Irish line back on fourth down,
allowing his teammates to stuff running back Ryan
Grant shy of the goal line.
But the lack of sacks has frustrated Watson this year
and left him aiming his goals skyward, again.
"I know I can play a lot better," Watson said.
And regardless of how well he may have played in
Michigan's first three games, the big man knows he'll
have to crank it up again when the Wolverines host a
physical Iowa team on Saturday.
"Whenever you're in the stadium, you want to go
hard, hard, hard, so that's what I try to do," Watson
said after Michigan's win over San Diego State last
weekend. "And if I push the pocket in, I push the pock-
et in. If I don't, then I have to do something different
to push it."
As for Michigan, Watson believes his personal
improvement is just as critical as the unit's as a whole.
"We're not great, but we're good," Watson said.
"Every week, we're trying to improve and, if we con-
tinue to do so, we can make a run at the Big Ten cham-