Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 45 of 163

44 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW comes a very significant motivator." There was a meeting later in the week in Carr's private office that brought a smile to the coach's face. Calm, measured, Biakabu- tuka modestly said he would have a great game, displaying an air of confidence that gave Carr chills. "He was locked in all week, and Tshi- manga is a guy with a lot of pride," said Carr. "I don't know if it was all the 'Eddie George is great' talk, but Tshimanga understood that to be the running back at Michigan there was tradition and history of performing on the ultimate stage, and that was the Ohio State game." Throughout the season, Jackson had been experimenting with one-back sets, breaking the mold from the two-back sets that were a Michigan hallmark. Sitting down to watch the OSU film, Jack- son noted the Buckeyes' 4-3 defense played perfectly to a scheme in which U-M shelved the fullback in favor of a two-tight end look, giving Biakabutuka two options — the origi- nal hole or a cutback lane. "I knew if we could block the middle linebacker and the Sam linebacker to our play side, there was no way they could stop Tshimanga on the backside. Everything he did in that game was primarily cutbacks," Jackson said. "He had one man to beat — the weakside linebacker. Tshimanga comes to me after the first series and says, 'Coach, don't worry about that backside linebacker. I can make him miss all day.' And he did." Biakabutuka's first carry of the game went for 22 yards. His second went for 19 yards, but his four-yard pickup on third down wasn't enough to move the chains and Michigan came up empty when Remy Ham- ilton's 49-yard field goal missed. Biakabutuka had 62 yards on three carries to set up a Williams four-yard touchdown reception on U-M's second series, and then had 44 yards on six carries to position the Wolverines for a field goal on their fourth offensive possession. By the time Michigan had started its fifth drive, sophomore quarterback Brian Griese had completed 4 of 8 passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers were un- remarkable but effective in keeping the OSU defense, which entered play allowing 124.1 yards rushing per game, off-balance. How- ever, when Griese threw an interception, a low grumble arose on the sidelines. Biakabu- tuka had rushed for 172 yards on 16 carries (10.8-yard average) at that point, and the linemen wanted to continue running the ball through the Ohio State defense. One series later, Biakabutuka rushed for 18 and five yards on the first two snaps of the drive, but then played decoy for four straight pass attempts, the final one picked off. "We had told the coaches really early in the game we were mashing those guys," Payne relayed. "There is something about hand-to-hand combat. You can feel how much fight is in your opponent, and we knew by the end of our first possession they were giving in. We knew we could run the ball 50 times and dominate, but the coaches wanted to throw the ball some so we weren't one-dimensional. "After the first interception, there was some groaning but we came back out, ran the ball really well, and then we were throwing again. When Griese got picked that second time, we came to the sidelines, and veteran offensive linemen like [junior] Jon Runyan and [senior] Joe Marinaro did not keep their mouths shut." Biakabutuka did his best to stay out of the fray, but only because he believed the lesson had been learned. The Scarlet and Gray could not stop the ground game, and after back-to-back Michigan drives ended with interceptions, he expected U-M to stick to the run. To open the third quarter, Jackson called for Biakabutuka on six straight plays, the ball carrier gaining 41 yards and moving Michigan from the Ohio State 49-yard line to the OSU eight. Griese connected with tight end Mark Campbell for a six-yard completion and then dove over Payne for a two-yard QB sneak. The Wolverines led 17-9 and the offensive line was satiated. But their happiness would not last. Biaka- butuka ran for 19 yards on three carries and Williams had a 16-yard rush, but a late third- quarter drive, with U-M leading 17-9, ended with another interception, and this time there was no holding back. "We didn't get it," said Payne. "Here we are just kicking butt up front, and we've got this running back that is picking up eight, 10, 20 yards almost every carry. He's having the greatest game by a running back maybe in this rivalry's history, and we're throwing the ball? And we're throwing it to the other team. "I was pretty vocal and told the coaches if we threw it again I was going to walk off the field. "Tshimanga wasn't in the middle of it, but he had this look in his eyes like, 'Give me the ball. Everything will be fine if you just give me the ball.' "Tshimanga was getting ready because he knew we were going to run and knew Ohio State knew we were going to run the rest of the way." "I look at Tshimanga — he's on the side- Though Biakabutuka was dinged up with a hurt shin versus Ohio State, he kept going back into the game. According to running backs coach Fred Jackson, "The moment was his." PHOTO BY BOB KALMBACH Biakabutuka's 1995 Season Game By Game Opp. Att. Yards YPC TD Virginia 7 33 4.7 0 Illinois 10 97 9.7 3 Memphis 25 143 5.7 2 Boston College 32 117 3.7 1 Miami (Ohio) 22 95 4.3 1 Northwestern 34 205 6.0 0 Indiana 16 111 6.9 0 Minnesota 19 196 10.3 2 Michigan State 37 191 5.2 1 Purdue 14 84 6.0 0 Penn State 26 139 5.3 1 Ohio State 37 313 8.5 1 Texas A&M 24 94 3.9 0 Totals 303 1,818 6.0 12 MAKING

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