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Bo Keeps M Mood Light As Bowl Date Approaches

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BO KEEPS M MOOD LIGHT AS BOWL DATE APPROACHES By Wayne DeNeff PASADENA, Calif.—Five days in California preparing for the 1970 Rose Bowl game and this appears to be the mood of the Michigan football team: Happy, hard-working, care-free, enthusiastic, fun-loving. Probably, it is a mood Coach Bo Schembechler has tried to create. After all, it is still 10 days until the showdown with unbeaten Southern California. The second week here could be different. By no means has Schembechler been soft in practice. The workouts have been rugged and when a few Wolverines cam running out of the dressing room a wee bit late for the Saturday afternoon session, he told them in no uncertain terms that they’d be required to do extra work when practice was over. But the mood remains light. Before one of the practices, while the Wolverines were dressing, the coaching staff staged an impromptu game of touch football. During one drill, assistant coaches Frank Maloney and Gary Moeller, plus graduate assistant Paul Johnson, donned white jersies and ran Southern Cal pass routes against the Michigan secondary. One of Schembechler’s problems is that he doesn’t have enough players to simulate Southern Cal plays because of the 50-man roster limitation. The Michigan coach says it is a big advantage for Southern Cal to drill with its normal 70-80 players and he wants the Big Ten to change its rule. Not only does he feel it’s unfair to the visiting Midwestern school but he also says it’s unfair to those football players who have been members of the team all season. Although they won’t be practicing or playing, of course, Schembechler has made certain that every member of his co-championship team will be here to see the Jan. 1 game. As might be expected, there has been lots of joking and kidding and a good portion of it is directed affectionately at Tom Darden, known as the “Wolf Man,” Barry Pierson, who for some reason is called “Zona,” middle guard Henry Hill, who is known as “Pumpkin Head,” and slender, second string quarterback Jim Betts, called “Rope.” Schembechler has a way of talking tough to the Wolverines and then relieving the tension with a joke. And while there is no doubt Schembechler runs a “tight ship,” he is sensitive to the players’ feelings, needs and desires. They loved him for calling off the Friday night meetings and Sunday’s practice. If Schembechler is worried about the injuries to Pierson, Hill and sophomore tailback Billy Taylor, he has not indicated he is. Pierson, a cast covering his left arm for protection of an arm injured back in Ann Arbor, is limited in what he can do. Hill has a knee injury and couldn’t work out Saturday afternoon while Taylor is running at only about half speed because of a pulled muscle in his leg. Each is expected to start against the Trojans and the general condition of the Michigan team remains excellent. “I am amazed,” said Schembechler, “we didn’t lose that much condition and timing since the Ohio State game. However, we are not yet ready to play a football game.” Visitors to the Michigan practice field at East Los Angeles Junior College have included All-America Al Wistert, who played tackle for Michigan in the early 1940s, and All-America defensive back Rick Volk, who was here with Coach Bump Elliott’s team which won the 1964 Big Ten championship. Wistert lives in California and Volk, a member of the Baltimore Colts, was here to play against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. So far, the distractions have not been a problem for the Michigan team but Schembechler is concerned about the days ahead when the tempo of activity will speed up and when the fans pour into town for the biggest parade of the year and the Rose Bowl game which follows. So far, the Los Angeles press hasn’t stirred up anything but Schembechler was taken aback when one local sportswriter introduced Taylor as “Michigan’s O. J. Simpson.” “You see,” said Schembechler to the sportswriter with a grin, “that’s the reason I don’t like to talk to sportswriters. Now how am I going to get that guy to work?”