‘MEN IN TRENCHES’ COULD TELL THE STORY
By Wayne DeNeff
There is no question Michigan needs a superb effort from every player if it hopes to upset Ohio State on Saturday.
But there might be just a wee bit more demanded from the five Wolverines who’ll man the trenches against the Ohio State juggernaut.
These are the defensive linemen—ends Cecil Pryor and Mike Keller, tackles Pete Newell and Fred Grambau and middle guard Henry Hill.
A high percentage of Ohio State plays this season have started with quarterback Rex Kern either handing off to fullback Jim Otis or faking to Otis to start some other action.
It means that Otis comes charging into the line on just about every play.
It’s the five linemen—with support from linebackers Marty Huff, Ed Moore and Mike Taylor—who’ll be trying to ward off the blocks to get at Otis and at the same time trying to figure out Kern’s fakes which result in someone else carrying the football.
All the credit for the deceptiveness of Ohio State’s attack can’t be handed over to Kern.
While the junior runner-passer is the best of the college quarterbacks in hiding the ball, he gets a lot of support from Otis who barrels into the line full-steam ahead whether or not he has the ball.
It’s not at all unusual for two or three tacklers to drag Otis to the ground only to discover the ball is not concealed in the arms of the senior fullback.
Otis is a hard man to stop, with or without the football and Michigan certainly will be yielding yardage to the 6-0, 215-pounder. But the Wolverines also will be counting on their “men up front” to keep the situation under control.
Otis simply had a great day against the Wolverines a year ago and it’s not one they have forgotten.
He scored three touchdowns from the two-yard line and another from the five in the 50-14 rout.
His yardage for the day was 143 in 34 carries and between Kern and Otis they accounted for 239 yards, one or the other carrying the ball on 53 plays.
Michigan drilled for two solid hours in a downpour yesterday and it looked like another wet practice was in store for today as snow blanketed the Ann Arbor area.
Unlike preparations for the last two games at Iowa and Illinois, Michigan is working out on the Tartan Turf surface in the southeast corner at Ferry Field.
Iowa and Illinois have natural grass in their home stadiums so the Wolverines prepared for those games on the regular turf at Ferry Field.
Coach Bo Schembechler emphasized again yesterday that the Big Ten championship is uppermost in his mind as he prepares the Wolverines.
Asked whether he would try for two points and victory or one point and a tie in the event Michigan trailed by only a point following a late-in-the game touchdown, Schembechler said:
“We’ll go for two points. A tie won’t help us.”
A victory by the Wolverines would give them a share of the championship while a tie would leave them trailing the Buckeyes who will go into the game with a 6-0 record in the league compared with Michigan’s 5-1. A tie in the Big Ten counts as a half-game lost and a half-game won.
Some are of the opinion that Michigan needs at least a tie with Ohio State to remove any doubts about the bowl assignment but the majority view is that the Wolverines have that assignment pretty well locked up.
“We want the title,” Schembechler said.
While Ohio State rover Jack Tatum has been getting a lot of attention in regard to the Buckeyes’ defensive success, Schembechler offered a reminder yesterday that the visitors from Columbus have more.
“I don’t think Tatum is their whole defense,” said Schembechler. “They have a lot of good people on that unit and no weakness.
“If they stuff our offense, Tatum will have to get help. We won’t change our offense for them, and sometime we’ll go straight at Tatum. But there is no question our big problem is to move the ball on their defense.”
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