The Wolverine

2022 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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34 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2022 FOOTBALL PREVIEW offense from the line of scrimmage," Skene pointed out. "It was pro style. You see quarter- backs now, they can call anything at the line of scrimmage. We were the same. "Because that offense was so good, we could come to the line, and Elvis could check in or out of anything in our entire playbook. We could do it in a matter of seconds and run the play. Defenses were constantly wondering what the heck we were going to do. "They would adjust, and we would adjust. We'd see somebody move over, and Elvis would kill the play and run something else and off we went. That is such a luxury to have, and that had taken a year or two to build." The roster came in awash with fifth-year se- niors, something college football teams won't see again. "I've been told our class, the '88 class, was the last class in Michigan history where all the players were redshirted," Hutchinson offered. "That speaks volumes — they had a bunch of players ahead of us that were good enough that we didn't need to play. We all waited our turn. We all knew what was going to happen and built on that year of getting acclimated to college and learning from the guys ahead of us. "Several guys were on the travel team, but no one saw the field. That kept us as a closer group. There were some guys on that team who ended up being really good NFL players that, by today's standards, were barely three stars. "The coaches did their job in finding the tal- ent. Everitt was a late add-on to our class. He wasn't coming until things fell into place, and he was a big part of our success." The Season The four-time defending champ Wolverines drew an always-tough assignment to begin their season. They traveled to Notre Dame, where the opposition also featured NFL talent, bolstered by a boisterous home crowd that made flags fly and disappear based on location, location, location. U-M built a 17-7 lead in that one, spurred by Wheatley's 27-yard TD bolt and a 30-yard Grbac-to-Alexander touchdown connection. But the Irish rallied to tie it, helped along by a beyond dubious interference call on Law. Michigan still saw a chance to win it, but Grbac's third interception of the afternoon — in the back of the ND end zone — ended its hopes for a win with 65 seconds left. "We were marching down the field, late in the game, to go win that thing," Skene recalled. "We were going into the south end zone. The play was to be thrown either to the first-down marker or the third row. "That didn't happen, and it ended up being an interception in the back of the end zone, be- tween the goal posts to a safety who was standing there. "I thought Everitt was going to kill Elvis that day [laughs]. I thought I was going to witness an assassination on the sideline. Those things happen on a foot- ball field." Elvis lived, while the next six opponents didn't. Michigan rolled over Oklahoma State (35- 3), Houston (61-7), Iowa (52- 28), Michigan State (35-10), Indiana (31-3) and Minnesota (63-13). All felt the wrath of the Wolverines following tie No. 1. "The biggest thing was, we never played down to our com- petition," Hutchinson assessed. "It's so easy to know you're the better team and let them in the game. That was a testament to the team that we had. "We came out and executed, despite the fact that we'd won four straight Big Ten champion- ships. We were not complacent. This was our class legacy here, and we didn't take our foot off the gas. "When it came time to where we were sup- posed to win, we won. For a lot of teams, that's a very difficult thing to do. The way Bo [Schembechler] and Mo [Gary Moeller] had recruited, we had all senior leadership. The seniors before us showed us the blueprint, and it made it easy. We followed the blueprint and added our own personalities to it." The MSU rout featured a twist for Hutchin- son, now an emergency room physician at Beaumont Hospital in Michigan. "I had a couple of sacks, and that was the first game, because of injury, that I had to move to outside linebacker and stand up," he recalled. "It was a big thing, standing up and dropping into coverage, something I'd never done before. "It led to the similarity between Aidan and me in our senior years, adding an extra level of intrigue." After surviving at Purdue (24-17), pum- meling Northwestern (40-7) and stretching their win streak to eight games, the Wolverines hosted what would turn out to be a pedestrian 6-5-1 Illinois team. No fewer than 10 Michigan fumbles later, tie No. 2 fell shockingly into place at 22-22. "I just remember being on the bench, and over and over we fumbled … it was surreal," Hutchinson said. "I'm like, how can you fum- ble that much? It was cold, but it wasn't wet. "We're on the bench and heard, 'Sudden change!' We're thinking, 'Are you serious? Another one?'" Senior wideout Derrick Alexander was Michigan's leading receiver, hauling in 50 catches for 740 yards and 11 TDs. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETICS "I remember walking off the field. Ugh. We didn't lose, we didn't win. But it felt a heck of a lot more like a loss than a neutral, tie situation. Ties just suck." ALL-BIG TEN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN DOUG SKENE Chris Hutchinson, an All-America defensive tackle that season, was one of the fifth-year seniors who were part of five consecutive Big Ten championship squads. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETICS

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