The Wolverine

October 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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������ michigan football coach Fred Jackson compared him to former Alabama running back and Heisman Trophy-winner Mark Ingram at Michigan media day. But an August injury hampered the freshman, who made his debut in the final minutes of a 31-3 romp over Eastern Michigan Sept. 17. Rawls carried the ball twice for four yards. ���He���s a talented kid that we need to find out more about,��� offensive coordinator Al Borges said. ���I said in the beginning, if it���s a freshman that���s the best back, so be it, but we���re never going to find out unless we put him in the game and give him the ball. ���He���s not afraid to run the ball inside. He, like Fitzgerald Toussaint, is a tough runner with a good burst of speed, but until he gets the ball more, you���re not going to really know.��� Cornerback Blake Countess: It was a scene with which Michigan fans are all too familiar: a true freshman cornerback trots out after an already depleted defensive backfield suffers another injury. Last year, Cullen Christian was burned by Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins for a long touchdown on his first drive in the game. Countess saw his first game action against San Diego State after fifthyear senior cornerback Troy Woolfolk tweaked his left ankle. Veteran Aztec quarterback Ryan Lindley wisely tested the rookie with three deep balls right off the bat, but Countess played above his years, with perfect position and coverage, denying the pass all three times. He also played well on short routes, keeping the receivers in front of him and eliminating potential yards after catch. He recorded one pass breakup and seven tackles in the game. ���I thought he did a nice job,��� Michigan head coach Brady Hoke said. ���He���s a talented kid, and he���ll be a real good player for us. He���s smart, understands the defense and has a good feel for it.��� Strongside linebacker Brennen Beyer: Beyer made his debut against Western Michigan, and he played like a freshman. On his first drive, Beyer came off the edge on a screen pass, and although he correctly read the play, he did so a split-second too late, allowing Bronco quarterback Alex Carder to find his open running back. But defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is impressed with how quickly Beyer is picking up the defensive scheme. ���He comes in against Eastern Michigan and plays much, much better than he did the last time he was out there. That���s what you���ve got to count on,��� Mattison said.�� Through three games of action, Beyer had made three tackles. Cornerback Raymon Taylor: Like Beyer, Taylor tripped up on his first outing. On his first play as a Wolverine, Taylor was called for a late hit out-of-bounds against Eastern Michigan. After that, though, he settled down and played well. Taylor lined up against slot receivers as U-M���s nickel back, jamming them and playing physical ��� something Michigan has sorely missed in its defensive backs the last few seasons. ������ Great Game Perfomances Derrick Alexander Against Minnesota In 1992 For this month���s ���Greatest Game Performances��� we looked at Homecoming contests during the past three decades to see which Wolverine stood out the most; U-M will host Purdue in the 2011 Homecoming game Oct. 30. Not surprisingly, there were an overwhelming number of contenders, including standout efforts by quarterback Brian Griese in 1995 (four touchdown passes), linebacker Sam Sword in 1997 (five tackles for loss), quarterback Chad Henne in 2004 (328 yards passing) and wide receiver Mario Manningham in 2007 (147 yards and two scores). However, Derrick Alexander���s effort in 1992 topped them all. When Minnesota arrived in town Oct. 24, the Wolverines sought to extend their winning streak to six games over the Golden Gophers, holding onto the Little Brown Jug after temporarily letting it slip away in 1986. U-M had met Minnesota in 27 Homecoming games previously, notching a 20-7 mark, and the Maize and Blue would quickly give their fans cause to believe they were en route to their 21st victory, racing out to a 21-7 first-quarter edge and a 35-7 halftime lead. Alexander was responsible for three of Michigan���s first five touchdowns, scoring on a 52-yard reception from quarterback Elvis 44��� the wolverine��� ������ October 2011 Grbac, a 13-yard reception and a three-yard grab in the first 15 minutes. The redshirt junior from Detroit would add a 32-yard touchdown catch in third quarter, finishing the day with four. ���He was kind of loose coming into this game,��� Grbac said. ���I thought if I could just get him the ball, he could do a couple of things. Our timing has been going really well in practice, and things just clicked today.��� To this day, Alexander is the only U-M receiver in program history with four touchdown receptions in one game. Seven receivers, including Alexander, have had three touchdowns. He caught three more balls against the Gophers and would tally seven grabs for 130 yards. Though he had some success in Michigan���s first six contests in 1992, hauling in 26 passes for 250 yards and four scores, Alexander needed the breakthrough performance to know he had returned to 100 percent from a devastating knee injury in the 1991 season opener that had ended his year. ���It���s definitely a dream come true,��� he said. ���It was a long year, sitting on the sidelines watching the team play great every week. I just wanted to come out here and do the Alexander made seven catches for 130 yards and four touchdowns versus the same things we���ve done in the past. It���s a Gophers, the only time a U-M wideout thrill to come back after sitting a year and play as well as I am.��� has caught four TD passes in a game. ��� Michael Spath Photo courtesy U-M Sports information

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