M Defenders In Spotlight For Purdue Game
M DEFENDERS IN SPOTLIGHT FOR PURDUE GAME
Boilermaker Offense Has Produced 15 TDs
By Wayne DeNeff
Who are the Michigan men who’ll be called on Saturday to defend against the talented array of Purdue pass receivers who’ll be fanning out to catch the aerials of the fabulous Mike Phipps?
They are three seniors who were all-state quarterbacks as high school players and a sophomore who played split end.
The seniors are Tom Curtis, an All-American candidate whose career pass interceptions stand at 20; Barry Pierson, who has put two excellent games back to back, and Brian Healy, a mainstay of the defensive backfield for his third straight season.
The sophomore is Tom Darden, the roverback who played split end and defensive back in Sandusky, Ohio.
Purdue’s quick and sure-handed group of pass receivers include sophomore end Ashley Bell, who was labeled an All-American candidate before he ever played a game and last week earned nomination for national lineman-of-the-week honors after an outstanding game in the 36-35 victory over Stanford; deep threat Stan Brown who is the Boilermakers’ leading scorer with 30 points; halfback Randy Cooper, fullback John Bullock and end Greg Fenner.
Fenner has the fewest pass catches, five, of any of the five players Phipps has thrown to but he nabbed the two-point conversion pass against Stanford.
Bell has caught 16 passes for 256 yards, Brown 10 for 244 yards, Cooper 10 for 184 yards, Bullock nine for 186 yards and Fenner five for 51 yards.
Although he didn’t get an interception in Michigan’s 40-17 loss to Missouri last Saturday, Curtis has three this season and is within range of the career national record, 26, set by Illinois’ Al Brosky in 1950, 1951 and 1952.
Pierson, whose outstanding defensive work against Washington etched his name boldly in Michigan football lore, came back with a top-notch effort against Missouri—returning two punts for 48 yards and 35 yards, recovering a Tiger fumble early in the first quarter and catching tailback Joe Moore for a three-yard loss on a running play.
Healy, one of Michigan’s most consistent performers against both the pass and run, joined Curtis as an untried sophomore in the Michigan defensive backfield in 1967 and grabbed two interceptions that year and three in 1968.
Darden, who had a first quarter interception against Missouri, has been bothered by a pulled muscle and a sprained ankle through much of this season but now appears to be in his best shape so far.
Of course, those four Wolverines will tell only half the story of how well Michigan does against Purdue’s potent aerial attack. The other half will be told by the defensive line—ends Mike Keller and Cecil Pryor, tackles Fred Grambau and Pete Newell and middle guard Henry Hill—and how much pressure it can apply.
Linebackers Marty Huff and Ed Moore also will play key roles, along with the ready reserves such as rover Frank Gusich and defensive back Bruce Elliott.
Defense, without a doubt, can carry Michigan a long way toward the triumph it seeks and it will have to snarl an offense which in three victories has produced 15 touchdowns, 928 yards passing and 589 yards rushing.
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