INABILITY TO BREAK BIG PLAYS BEAT M IN ROSE BOWL
By Wayne DeNeff
In view of Coach Bo Schembechler’s illness, which has attracted so much interest and concern, there has been little review of the 56th Rose Bowl game.
Actually, there probably isn’t too much to review.
What the record crowd of 103,878 saw in person and what millions viewed on television was defense dominating a rather unspectacular game.
However, Southern California was able to produce the one big play for a touchdown and it resulted in a 10-3 victory over Michigan, a team which seemed to lack something on offense.
That something was Schembechler, who missed the game because of a heart attack and remains in St. Luke’s Hospital in Pasadena today.
“Losing Bo hurt the offense more than it hurt the defense,” said defensive back Tom Curtis who along with tight end Jim Mandich, left directly from Pasadena for the Hula Bowl in Honolulu. Schembechler devised the offense and called the plays during the regular season.
Michigan drove three times deep into Southern Cal territory but missed a touchdown each time. On third-and-goal at the three, quarterback Don Moorhead’s pass was batted back. The Wolverines salvaged a field goal. On fourth-and-three at the 13, Moorhead passed incomplete to fullback Garview Craw, and on fourth-and-one at the nine, Craw was stopped at the line of scrimmage.
“There was no confusion on the incomplete pass to Craw,” said Jim Young, defensive coordinator who took the helm in Schembechler’s absence. It looked as if the fullback couldn’t handle the short pass but the ball was there only a split second after Craw had turned to look at Moorhead.
“It was a flood pattern and Craw got open earlier than he should have,” continued Young. “Moorhead was surprised and the ball was thrown a little earlier than it should have been.”
Young said further that he ran Craw on the fourth down play later “when we were deep in their territory because we had been hitting their ends and tackles and I thought hitting their middle would work.”
Craw has been Michigan’s bread-and-butter man inside the 10-yard line all season.
Southern Cal’s TD came suddenly toward the end of the third quarter when flanker Bob Chandler grabbed Jimmy Jones’ pass at about the Michigan 22, broke a tackle by Brian Healy, eluded Ed Moore at about the 20 and out-raced Barry Pierson to the end zone.
“While watching the films before the game, the one Trojan player we felt was underrated was Chandler,” said Young. “I wasn’t too surprised when he came up with the big play for SC.”
The play covered 33 yards.
Michigan had what appeared to be a big break late in the contest when Dick Oberreuter centered the ball high to Ron Ayala in a punting situation. But Ayala managed to control the ball, whirl around and somehow punt it between Cecil Pryor and Mike Keller. What looked like a big break for Michigan actually turned into a big break for Southern Cal because the punt rolled dead on the eight-yard line.
“If we could have gotten the ball on their 35, I’m sure we would have scored,” said Young.
“I was fortunate that I was able to get high enough to deflect the ball,” said Ayala.
“I knew they always rushed two guys from the outside. I sidestepped the guy coming from the right. But the left guy hit me in midair as I kicked the ball. I think it should have been a penalty. My understanding is that when you’re hit like that, it’s a penalty.”
Ayala doubtless is right and a penalty would have been a bigger break for USC—a first down at about the Michigan 25.
The official started for the flag in his pocket but then for some reason didn’t throw it.
“Running never entered my mind,” said Ayala, but that’s what the Wolverines might have been thinking, causing them to miss the block.
“I thought the turning point of the game was when they had a bad snap on that punt and we didn’t block it like we should have,” said Young.
“It was just a matter of being beaten by a good team and we couldn’t move the ball,” said quarterback Don Moorhead. “Maybe it would have been different if Bo had been there to call somebody a stupid blankety-blank fathead,” another person commented.
While the loss broke Michigan’s string of Rose Bowl successes at four and ended its domination of USC at three, the Wolverines still have a fine 4-1 Rose Bowl record and a 3-1 advantage over the Trojans, the most consistent power in the west.
And the Big Ten still enjoys an 18-8 lead in the Big Ten-Pacific 8 series.
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