Sunday, June 29, 2008

Michigan quarterbacks of the early-'70s

Nick Meyer of the Detroit Free Press recently compiled a photo list of Michigan's top 10 quarterbacks of the past 30 years. Here is Meyer's list:

This list only covered the past thirty years (1978-present). As this blog covers what I refer to as the modern-era of Michigan Football (1969-present), I thought I would go back and profile in chronological order the three outstanding Wolverine quarterbacks of the early-'70s who were not on the list.

Don Moorhead (1970 starting QB)

Moorhead was co-Captain of the 1970 squad. He was also the starter in 1969 during which he lead the Wolverines to the historic 24-12 victory over then #1 ranked Ohio State. In 1970, Moorehead guided the Wolverines to a perfect 9-0 start heading into the final game of the season versus Ohio State. On the year, Moorhead was 87-190 passing (45.8%) for 1,167 yards with 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He also ran the ball 97 times for a net total of 368 yards and he had two rushing touchdowns.

Tom Slade (1971 starting QB)

Slade was a tough-as-nails QB who was better known for his blocking ability than he was for his passing ability. Slade piloted the Wolverines to Coach Schembechler's only perfect regular season as the Wolverines went 11-0 in 1971 and advanced to the Rose Bowl. Slade only threw 63 passes in 12 games that year. He was 27-63 passing (42.9%) for 364 yards with 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He was more proficient in the running game as he toted the ball 87 times for a net total of 266 yards while scoring 3 touchdowns.

Dennis Franklin (starting QB 1972-1974)

Franklin was a three-year starter that led the Wolverines to an incredible 30-2-1 record from 1972-1974. The only downside was Michigan went 0-2-1 versus Ohio State in those three seasons and the Wolverines never made it to the Rose Bowl game in that span. Nevertheless, Franklin ranks right near the top of Michigan's all-time most successful quarterbacks. Franklin was a proficient passer as well as an extremely dangerous runner. During his three-year stint as the Wolverines' signal caller, Franklin completed 153 of 294 passes (52.0%) for 2,285 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. On the ground, Franklin displayed dazzling footwork as he gained a net total of 1,212 yards on 351 carries with 16 touchdowns.

Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of QB Tom Slade (17) conferring with Coach Schembechler on the sidelines from Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

'70s Flashback: 1977 Game 5- #3 Michigan 24 MSU 14

October 8, 1977: After trouncing the #5 ranked Texas A&M Aggies 41-3 in game four, the resurgent Wolverines traveled to East Lansing to take on the in-state rival Michigan State Spartans. The Wolverines had a seven-game winning streak versus the Spartans heading into the game. The Wolverines relied on a devastating running attack to notch their eighth straight victory over the Green and White. Michigan employed an offensive attack that was a 3:1 ratio in favor of the running game. The Wolverines tallied 302 rushing yards versus 111 passing yards.

The Spartans struck first and took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter on a 19-yard TD pass from QB Ed Smith to WR Kirk Gibson. The Wolverines responded by scoring ten unanswered points to take a halftime lead of 10-7. Michigan's first score was a 12-yard TD pass from QB Rick Leach to WR Richard White. The Wolverines pulled ahead on a booming 50-yard field goal by Gregg Willner.

Early in the second half, OLB Dominic Tedesco recovered a fumble for the Wolverines that led to a 74-yard scoring drive that was capped by a three-yard run by Russell Davis. Wolfman Dwight Hicks (pictured above) then intercepted an Ed Smith pass and the Wolverines scored again two plays later. This time it was a 3-yard TD run by QB Rick Leach. That score gave Michigan a 24-7 lead that it would never relinquish. Michigan's defense yielded a fourth quarter TD to MSU but the Wolverines' "D" also recovered two fumbles in the final quarter to secure the victory. RB Harlan Huckleby and wolfman Dwight Hicks were named Michigan's Champions of the Game. Go Blue!

Second Quarter
S-Gibson, 19-yard pass from Smith (Nielson)
M-White, 12-yard pass from Leach (Willner)
M-Willner, 50-yd. FG

Third Quarter
M-R. Davis, 3-yd. run (Willner)
M-Leach, 3-yd. run (Willner)

Fourth Quarter
S-Earley, 11-yd. run (Nielson)

Top Individuals
Rushing: Huckleby (M) 31-146; R. Davis (M) 25-96; Earley (S) 13-76
Passing: Leach (M) 4-10-111; Smith (S) 14-23-147
Receiving: Clayton (M) 3-99; Earley (S) 4-56

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System Coach vs. Program Coach

In general terms a "program" coach is a head coach that oversees the football program, interacts with alumni and the community, serves as the face of the team and often the university. A "program" coach is sometimes viewed as a figurehead because he has often turned over a lot of the day-to-day responsibilities to his assistant coaches. Examples of "program" coaches are Joe Paterno at Penn State and Bobby Bowden at Florida State. On the other end of the spectrum are the "system" coaches. A "system" coach is a head coach who is strong in "X's" and "O's" but is often awkward in front of the press and has trouble communicating outside the realm of football. A prime example of a "system" coach is Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach who is an offensive guru but who is also a little bit off-center personally. Near the end of his tenure at Michigan, many people began to view Coach Carr as more of a "program" coach and not enough of an "X's" and "O's" type coach. Conversely, when Coach Rod took the Michigan head coaching position, people wondered if Coach Rod was polished enough to be the face of one of the premiere football programs in the nation. However, although each coach has obvious strengths in certain areas, neither coach should be pigeon-holed as simply a "program" coach (the knock against Coach Carr) or a "system" coach (the knock against Coach Rod).

Coach Carr joined the Michigan staff in 1980 as the secondary coach under Head Coach Bo Schembechler. In 1987, Coach Carr was elevated to the post of Defensive Coordinator. He excelled in that position for eight (8) seasons before being named Head Coach in 1995. Even as a Head Coach, Coach Carr was active in calling plays. Unlike Joe Paterno, who does not even wear a headset as he stalks the sideline during a game, Coach Carr was always very active in game-time decisions during his 13 years as Head Coach. Furthermore, the entire game plan was designed around Coach Carr's unyielding philosphy of "Protect the lead and the ball". Coach Carr had a system but it is one that often drove the Michigan faithful up a wall.

Coach Rodriguez arrives to Michigan with his vaunted "Spread Offense" that he helped innovate. He is widely viewed as an offensive genius for his offensive system. However, the Michigan faithful were not quite as sure if Coach Rod had the stature and professionalism to lead the Michigan Football program. Coach Schembechler and Coach Carr were among the most respected coaches in college football. It is a tremendous legacy that Coach Rod is following. It was not clear in the early going if Coach Rod was ready to be the face of one of the all-time premiere college football programs. For example, Coach Rod was quoted during a Spring Practice press conference as saying, "I don't like to pat guys on the butt, because they'll turn around and crap in your hand". Classy. However, Coach Rod redeemed himself during the "Rich Rod on the road tour" as he received high marks from the fans he met during his swing across the land. It appears that Coach Rod is quickly becoming more comfortable in his public role as the Head Coach of the top football program in the country.

Neither Coach Carr or Coach Rod should be pigeon-holed as a "program coach" or a "system coach". Although Coach Carr and Coach Rod have very different styles from each other, they both are well-rounded coaches. No matter the label, the fans hope that the tradition of winning will continue unabated during the Coach Rod regime. Go Blue!

*NOTE: Photo of Coach Rod and Coach Carr on the golf course by TONY DING/Special to the Free Press

**NOTE 2: Photo of Coach Carr and Coach English on the sidelines during the 2006 OSU game by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Michigan Football - Game winning touchdowns

Memorable moments- game winning touchdowns brought to you by WolverineHistorian. Go Blue!