M GEARS TO STOP MSU GROUND ATTACK
By Wayne DeNeff
Last week, Michigan’s defensive backs were in the spotlight as the Wolverines prepared for an aerial assault from Purdue’s Mike Phipps.
This week, the key men in Michigan’s defense could turn out to be the linemen who’ll have to take the initial thrust from State’s fine trio of running backs.
Halfback Don Highsmith, fullback Kermit Smith and halfback Eric Allen have split the running assignments fairly evenly as the Spartans have rushed for 789 yards in two victories and two defeats.
Highsmith, a 6-0, 192-pound senior from New Brunswick, N. J., is the fastest of MSU’s offensive backs and he wound up as the No. 2 carrier last season on 396 yards.
Smith, a 6-0, 205-pound senior from Baytown, Tex., has quickness as his main asset. He lettered as a linebacker as a sophomore and as a member of the punt and kickoff teams as a junior.
Allen, a 5-11, 170-pound sophomore from Georgetown, S. C., is a great breakaway threat and looms as MSU’s most exciting runner since All-American Clinton Jones was carrying the mail three years ago.
Highsmith has carried 63 times for 292 net yards, Smith 40 times for 179 yards and Allen 50 times for 201 yards.
Quarterback Bill Triplett gives Coach Duffy Daugherty a fourth ballcarrier in the backfield and Triplett has been the runner about as much as the others, 52 times. Triplett has gained 199 yards and lost 97 attempting to pass for a 102 net.
The men along Michigan’s defensive front line include ends Mike Keller and Cecil Pryor, tackles Fred Grambau and Pete Newell and middle guard Henry Hill.
Michigan’s depth at the front hasn’t been too bad so Wolverine fans can also look for Al Carpenter, Dick McCoy and Dan Parks to see plenty of duty and this could be the Saturday for senior defensive end Phil Seymour to return to action.
An All-Big Ten player in 1968, Seymour has yet to play a minute this season because of a knee injury.
Of course, the linebackers always figure prominently in defense against the rush, as well as the roverman in Coach Bo Schembechler’s defensive alignment, so Marty Huff, Ed Moore and Tom Darden will have critical assignments.
Huff, a 6-2, 225-pound junior, is well on his way to an outstanding season and came up with a great game against Purdue, snaring three of Phipps’ passes, nearly getting a fourth and recovering a fumble.
Against Vanderbilt he picked up a blocked punt and ran 31 yards for a touchdown.
While supplying all this offensive fireworks, Huff still is Michigan’s leading tackler with 25 unassisted and seven assisted tackles.
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