The Wolverine

2021 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 29 of 163

28 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2021 FOOTBALL PREVIEW and took it back 60 yards for a touchdown, his second pickoff TD of the season covering more than half the field. Next came Iowa, playing the role of the weekly sacrificial lamb. Michigan's offen- sive line — tackles Jim Brandstatter and Jim Coode, guards Reggie McKenzie and Tom Coyle, and center Guy Murdock — enjoyed their usual road-grading experience, while the Wolverines ran wild with 559 yards of offense. Three Shuttlesworth touchdowns staked U-M to a 21-7 halftime lead at Michigan Stadium. Then the Wolverines turned it loose, scoring 42 second-half points, while the Hawkeyes became yet another victim failing to reach 100 total yards (97). While he garnered plenty of limelight as the star running back, Billy Taylor appreci- ated Michigan's defense as much as anyone. It got him back on the field — and quickly. "The guys were awesome," he said. "Mike Taylor and Thom Darden, [All-Big Ten de- fensive end] Mike Keller. These guys just played great defense, and Coach Young was always pushing everybody to not let any- body score on us." U-M simply looked unbeatable, but the Wolverines knew, deep down, not to believe it. "Each game built up our confidence," Tay- lor said. "I had a big game against Iowa. We took the field with the attitude that nobody's going to beat us. "Bo said something in the locker room: 'You know you're a better team than this Iowa team.' He'd say something similar ev- ery week. But I remember him saying: 'The only way we lose this game is if we beat ourselves.'" The same held true the following week, at Purdue. It almost happened. U-M needed Dana Coin's 25-yard field goal with only 26 seconds left to pull out a 20-17 win. Gary Danielson unloaded a pair of touchdown passes, including a 66-yard bomb to Darryl Stingley, to throw a major scare into the Wolverines. Shuttlesworth (125 yards), Taylor (98) and Doughty (93) kept the ground game going, but the Wolverines barely survived. They then turned full attention on Hayes and his scarlet and gray legion. The Big One "It was good for us to go in there, have a dogfight and beat Purdue," Taylor assured. "But nothing was going to stop us from beating Ohio State. We just believed we were going to do it. We knew it was going to be a tough game. The coaches knew it. All during practice, they were preparing us to run against the Ohio State de- fense. The same thing with our defense. "Our defensive guys had on some red jer- seys, which I didn't like at all. We got used to seeing those colors. A lot of football is psychological. We felt we were the better team, and we were also smelling an unde- feated season." The '71 crew wasn't among Hayes' elite. In a rebuilding year, the Buckeyes went 6-4 overall, 5-3 in the Big Ten, finishing behind Northwestern. But this was Michigan. This was Schem- bechler. This was the game that inhabited Wayne Woodrow Hayes' dreams. There would be no capitulation. Instead, it seemed there might be a stale- mate. The Wolverines' defense didn't give an inch — as expected. But Hayes' troops were ready for a Michigan offense that reduced almost every other opponent to rubble. Michigan led just 3-0 in the third quarter, tenuously clinging to the advantage provided by Coin's 32-yard field goal. Then, instantly — without U-M's defense even being on the field — the lead evaporated. "That game was going to be an easy win for Michigan — double-digit favorite," Ros- iek recalled. "Then [OSU's Tom] Campana ran that punt back and they just kept playing." Campana slashed through Michigan's special teams unit on an 85-yard punt return touchdown in the third quarter. Suddenly, shockingly, the Wolverines were facing a home upset almost on the scale of the one they'd sprung on the Buckeyes two years earlier. To further complicate matters, Slade found himself merely spectating, following a first-quarter hip injury. It fell to Cipa to help U-M put the winning points on the board. Cipa got it done, directing the 11-play, 72-yard, fourth-quarter drive that preserved a perfect 11-0 record. He, Taylor and Seyferth provided the key play, on an option pitch turned 21-yard touchdown. Seyferth threw a devastating block to spring U-M's tailback, who sprinted home to glory. "I was blessed to be the one to carry that ball over the goal line for the winning touch- down," Taylor recalled. "I don't recall my feet even touching the turf. It was a team effort. I thought a lot about the hard work, and Bo. He promised us we'd be champions if we stayed — and we stayed. "It was like a dream come true. Every young football player dreams about and hopes to be a person that makes a difference. It was just a great culmination of my career at Michigan." The reaction, inside and out, proved over- whelming. "Once I turned the corner, there was a clear field," Taylor said. "A guy was in hot pursuit, but I was able to out-run him. That play was so huge for me. My heart was pumping. "I just raised both fists in the air. Thank God! I realized in that moment how big a play that was. There were tears rolling down my face. "It was a good group of guys. We still communicate. We still have reunions. That team, our senior team, we still get together. It's been 50 years now. You don't see that too often. I talked to guys who've been in school, and they don't have reunions. But that was a close-knit team. Ten guys got drafted off that team to the NFL. It was a special group." U-M ALL-AMERICAN DEFENSIVE BACK THOM DARDEN Running back Billy Taylor (No. 42), who rushed for 1,297 yards in 1971, capped an 11-play, 72- yard, fourth-quarter drive on an option pitch turned 21-yard touchdown at the 2:07 mark that proved to be the winning score in Michigan's 10-7 victory over Ohio State. PHOTO COURTESY BENTLEY HISTORICAL LIBRARY

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - 2021 Michigan Football Preview