Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 43 of 163

42 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW "We saw a lot of glimpses his sophomore year, and some of the best things we saw were in practice where he just blew us away. We didn't really feel like there would be a drop-off from Wheatley," said wide receiver Mercury Hayes (1992-95). "We had a young quarterback in there — Scott Dreisbach was a redshirt freshman and had never played a game — and we knew our running game was going to be critical. Everyone felt really comfortable that Tshi- manga was our No. 1 back because he had shown us he could play." Dealing With Injury Michigan trailed Virginia 17-0 in the 1995 season opener, and while Dreisbach was engineering the incredible comeback, cul- minating in Hayes' 15-yard corner-of-the- end-zone touchdown grab as the game clock expired, Biakabutuka was on the sidelines, grimacing in pain. "My left shoulder got banged up pretty good, and I couldn't really move my arms when I ran so I had to come out," he said. "I'm sitting on the sideline, and the train- ers are trying to loosen it up, but instead of getting better, it was getting worse and worse. "I didn't want to sit out, especially be- cause I felt like the team needed me. But it was a long season, and the coaches wanted to be careful, and I wanted to be careful." Biakabutuka finished with only 33 yards on seven carries, but he was overjoyed by the team's rally. "My goals that season had nothing to do with any individual rushing records but to win the Big Ten and go undefeated," he re- membered. "I was really happy that we came back and beat Virginia." X-rays revealed an injury to Biakabutuka's AC joint. Though not separated, the shoulder was under duress, and the 6-1, 205-pound tailback encountered the very real possibility he might be forced to sit out week-two's visit from Illinois. "They said if I could put up with the pain and make it through practices, they would let me play the next game," shared Biakabutuka, who admits there was considerable motiva- tion in the running backs room. "Those guys were good. If you sat out, you could come back in a week or two weeks, and you might not have a job. "It wasn't like I was Wheatley coming off a pair of 1,000-yard seasons. I was con- fident in myself and I knew the coaches had confidence in me, but you never wanted to give your coaches a reason to second-guess whether you were the guy." "I think one of the reasons he didn't miss a game was because he didn't want someone to take his job while he was out," Carr said. "We had fostered a culture as coaches where there was intense competition, and players felt the pressure to perform when they got their chance. "Tshimanga had his chance as a sopho- more [when Wheatley was out], and that's when we really had some evidence of what he could do in a full game. And he knew from his own experience, when there's an injury, and you're out for a game, someone will get their chance to perform. " Biakabutuka (10 carries), Howard (10), Davis (nine) and freshman Clarence Wil- liams (six) split the day's workload against the Illini, but while Howard, Davis and Wil- liams combined to average 2.6 yards per attempt, Biakabutuka averaged 9.7 per carry, scoring on runs of five, 11 and 35 yards in a 38-14 victory. "I don't know if it was because he didn't want to get hit, but he made some ridiculous moves that week," said Fred Jackson, who served as offensive coordinator in 1995 in addition to coaching running backs. "I've never seen so many defenders falling on their backsides trying to make a tackle. "They had a guy named Simeon Rice, who was a first-round pick and had a long NFL career, and there's a play where he's standing between Tshimanga and the open field. Tshimanga makes this move, you see Simeon reach out and he just swings his hands at nothing, falls down, and Tshimanga runs untouched for a long touchdown. "He did some of the most incredible things in that game that in 35 years I've never seen anything like it." Biakabutuka continued to put up with the pain and somehow thrived, rushing for 143 yards and two touchdowns against Memphis and 117 yards and a score against Boston Col- lege in leading Michigan to a 4-0 start. Nei- ther the Tigers nor Eagles, however, would spend their afternoons whiffing on their tack- les, hitting Biakabutuka consistently. The good news is a bye week was the reward for perseverance. "I never complained, and I tried not to wince on the sideline. I didn't want anyone to know how bad it hurt — it was a tough game and I was trying to motivate my team- mates," he said., recalling the Boston Col- lege contest. "After the game, I couldn't get my jersey off by myself, but I was proud that I kept fighting to be there for my team." His Feet Hayes remembers sitting in a film session when the tape broke away from an opponent to a drill Jackson had run with his ball car- riers. A videographer had captured the se- quence, panning away from faces and jersey numbers, to legs and finally to Biakabutuka's feet, prancing, darting, skipping through the footwork session faster than anything any- one had ever seen. "It was hard to describe," said Hayes. "Guys are looking around at each other like, 'How is he doing that?' Q Yard Line Down-&-Distance Yards Total 1 M25 1st-and-10 22 22 1 M47 1st-and-10 19 41 1 O36 3rd-and-12 4 45 Drive ended with a missed 49-yard field goal. 1 M34 2nd-and-3 16 61 1 50 1st-and-10 44 105 1 O6 1st-and-6 2 107 Drive ended with a Clarence Williams touchdown reception. 1 M22 1st-and-10 18 125 1 M40 1st-and-10 0 125 1 M40 2nd-and-10 2 127 Drive ended with a punt. 2 M11 1st-and-10 0 127 2 M27 1st-and-10 5 132 2 M32 2nd-and-5 33 165 2 O35 2nd-and-10 4 169 2 O23 1st-and-10 0 169 2 O23 3rd-and-10 2 171 Drive ended with a 38-yard field goal. 2 M20 1st-and-10 1 172 Drive ended with an interception. 2 M25 1st-and-10 18 190 2 M43 1st-and-10 5 195 Drive ended with an interception. Q Yard Line Down-&-Distance Yards Total 3 O49 1st-and-10 5 200 3 O44 2nd-and-5 23 223 3 O21 1st-and-10 4 227 3 O17 2nd-and-6 5 232 3 O12 3rd-and-1 1 233 3 O11 1st-and-10 3 236 Drive ended with a Brian Griese touchdown run. 3 M24 3rd-and-1 -1 235 Drive ended with a punt. 3 M20 1st-and-10 6 241 3 M26 2nd-and-4 14 255 Drive ended with an interception. 3 M35 1st-and-10 2 257 3 M37 2nd-and-8 38 295 4 O19 2nd-and-4 6 301 4 O13 1st-and-10 1 302 4 O7 2nd-and-4 -1 301 Drive ended with a Clarence Williams' touchdown run. 4 M33 1st-and-10 4 305 4 M37 2nd-and-6 -1 304 Drive ended with a punt. 4 O2 2nd-and-2 2 306 Drive ended with a Tshimanga Biakabutuka touchdown run. 4 M24 2nd-and-6 8 314 4 M32 1st-and-10 -1 313 Drive ended with a punt. The 1995 Ohio State Game Carry By Carry MAKING

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