FANS WONDER AS M DRILLS FOR GOPHERS
By Wayne DeNeff
There are a lot of reasons why Michigan was upended by Michigan State in a key Big Ten game at East Lansing last Saturday.
-Michigan’s pass receivers dropped the ball six times.
-The Wolverines were assessed 80 yards in penalties, including two major ones for unsportsmanlike conduct and a personal foul.
-Michigan had three fumbles, one of which was recovered by the Spartans on the Wolverines’ 32 and later turned into State’s second TD.
- A safety which was the result of a sophomore mistake.
These are errors difficult to overcome but what seemed more important in Saturday’s 23-12 loss was that the Wolverines did not appear ready to block and tackle at the pace set by the inspired Spartans.
It came as a surprise to Michigan fans because even in the loss to Missouri the Wolverines were credited with “hard-nosed” football.
The Wolverines weren’t supposed to be overconfident because they knew the Spartans were a big team, one that was physically strong and capable of advancing the ball on force alone. But how do you build a team up for an opponent which has yielded 96 points in two games?
It must have felt something like being beaten up by a one-arm man. The Spartans have a questionable aerial attack and they went to “their thing”—running the football—to defeat the Wolverines on 348 yards rushing.
All the more surprising, the Spartans accomplished the victory despite the loss of three running backs with injuries—Earl Anderson last spring, Tommy Love in early fall drills and Eric Allen since the season began.
Also, Coach Duffy Daugherty had three second stringers inserted into the defensive backfield in attempt to stir up the secondary which had some bad moments against Notre Dame and Ohio State. The new starters were Tom Kutschinksi, brother of Michigan’s famed runner, Ron Kutschinski, Doug Barr and Brad McLee.
Barr had 13 tackles and broke up on pass.
There is more concern now about Michigan’s upcoming game with winless Minnesota because the Gophers lean heavily on a ground attack. Michigan needs a victory in every game to keep alive its Rose Bowl hopes while MSU, which has Ohio State behind it, can just about be certain of the trip to Pasadena by winning its remaining games. It’s something the Spartans have a lot better chance of doing now in view of Saturday’s win over Michigan.
It would be wrong simply to blame Michigan for the loss and not hand out some bouquets to the Spartans who were ready for their best performance by far.
And how important is one man to a football team?
It was said before the season started that Michigan State’s defense would depend a lot on Rich Saul and how well he recovered from a knee injury.
Saul, a 6-3, 220-pound senior, apparently has fully recovered and he was a key man in a defense which held Michigan to just 12 points and never allowed the Wolverines and sustained drive for a touchdown.
When Michigan started moving in the first quarter, there was Saul all over tailback Glenn Doughty on a fumble and the Wolverines lost 11.
End of a drive.
Later in the first period, the Wolverines got another scoring threat under way. But on third and six at the MSU 26, Saul smeared quarterback Don Moorhead for a 12-yard loss.
End of a drive.
The second quarter belonged to Michigan State and the Spartans went ahead, 16-3.
Then it was 23-3 as MSU scored again about midway in the third period.
Michigan finally started to advance again after the last MSU touchdown but on second down and three yards to go at the Spartans’ 44, Moorhead was hit again by Saul and defensive back Brad McLee for a nine-yard loss.
End of a drive.
While Michigan and Michigan State came out about the same in total offense—340 for the Wolverines and 355 for the Spartans—Saul and his hard hitting teammates provided the big plays to blunt Michigan’s drives.
Linebacker Don Law had 14 tackles, defensive back Barr 13 and tackles Ron Curl and Ron Joseph 10 and 9 tackles, respectively.
While Rich Saul was sparkling for the Spartans on defense, twin brother Ron, an offensive guard, was opening holes in the Michigan line for halfback Don Highsmith and quarterback Bill Triplett to gain 129 yards and 142 yards, respectively.
PHOTO CAPTION: Trouble Starts Early: Michigan football fans probably should have sensed a dreary afternoon when on Michigan State’s first play from scrimmage, quarterback Bill Triplett (17) raced 28 yards from out of the shadow of the Spartans’ goal. More than half of the Michigan team is giving chase, including safety Tom Curtis (25), linebacker Marty Huff (70), rover Tom Darden (35), end Cecil Pryor (55), tackle Fred Grambau (92) and linebacker Ed Moore (97). The Spartans are guard Ron Saul (nearest to Triplett), Frank Foreman (84) and Craig Wycinsky (77). Triplett gained 142 yards in all.
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