The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 45 be a breakaway runner, Elliott said. Detwiler was a "cruncher," Ward "just as quick and fast as anybody you've ever seen there" and Anthony led the way from the fullback posi- tion with 702 yards, 4.8 yards per carry and nine touchdowns. Even sophomore fullback Dave Fisher averaged 4.3 yards per carry and ran for 205 yards. "Defenses couldn't ever zero in on one per- son," Elliott said. "The offense was diversi- fied. That was the fun of it. We didn't think we were limited in what we could do because they were such a talented group." Timberlake was the catalyst, a multi-tal- ented All-American who could hurt teams with both his arm and his feet. Like many of his teammates, he was a fierce competitor on the field and a gentleman off it. He'd later work eight years as a Presbyterian clergyman in Wisconsin in addition to being a hospital administrator who found affordable health care for low-income patients, mostly at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. "Bob was not a straight drop-back quarter- back. He could do some of the finesse things," Elliott said. "He could run with the ball. We used not only the option, but also quick throws and passes. He was big, too, weighed over 210 pounds and could run. That made him really effective in the offense we were running, a combination of split-T and drop-back passing. He was a great quarterback for us." The nation's media agreed. Timberlake made about every All-America team, gained 1,381 yards of total offense in the regular season — second highest ever at Michigan at the time — and earned the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football as Big Ten MVP. The One That Got Away Timberlake and the Wolverines were fa- vored when Purdue, led by upstart sopho- more signal-caller Bob Griese, came to Ann Arbor Oct. 17 with a 1-1-1 record. Griese had already shown flashes of his ability, but few expected him to lead an upset against a Wolverines squad some thought to be a team of destiny. Turnovers, though, would plague Michigan and help keep the game closer than it should have been. Timberlake ran four yards for the opening touchdown, threw a 17-yard touch- down pass to Steve Smith in the second quar- ter and enjoyed a great game, rushing for 113 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries and passing for 145 yards and a touchdown, but Purdue took advantage of a Michigan fumble at the Boilermakers' 3-yard line and two other miscues to take a 21-14 lead into the fourth quarter. "It was Griese's sophomore year, and he had a real decent game against us," Conley recalled. "He'd roll out left, right, throw those six-, seven- and eight-yard passes down the field. They had scouted us well. By rolling him out, they could run away from Bill Yearby." Still, Michigan had a chance to win when Timberlake ran 54 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 21-20. Elliott didn't hesitate to go for two points and a potential win, but there was one problem — Timberlake was gassed. "I agreed with the call, but in hindsight I probably should have called a timeout," Tim- berlake recalled. They'd done enough that they could have — probably should have — won the game. The Wolverines finished with 435 yards to Purdue's 268 and moved the ball up and down the field. They came up a few feet short when Timberlake kept and was tackled just shy of the goal line. "Obviously it was my decision to go for two when we could have tied the game, but at that time there was no playoff situation," Elliott said. "If it had been later in years, they would have had us play it off. We wanted to go for a win and not a tie, and we did and didn't make it. We ran an option play with Timberlake, and the only mistake we made was he had just run 50 yards for a touchdown and he was tired. He couldn't make it across the goal line for the points. "It worked. It was a good call, the best call we had on the goal line, but it just didn't go." Looking back, Conley said, the loss remains hard to stomach. In an era in which teams would only throw 12 to 15 times per game, fumbles were significant. The No. 5 Wolverines' loss knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten and out of the top 10. The next morning, Conley went to Elliott's of- fice like he always did following a Saturday game to discuss team business and found the coach alone. "I'll never forget seeing him there feeling bad," Conley recalled. "He says, 'Jim, you The 1964 Wolverines All-Americans: DT Bill Yearby and QB Bob Timberlake. Yearby earned All-America honors from the nation's coaches in 1964 and again in 1965. A 6-3, 225-pounder with sprinter's speed, he was known for his pursuit in ad- dition to his fierce hitting ability. He passed away Dec. 20, 2010, after a long illness. Timberlake rushed for 574 yards and threw for 807 to earn near-consensus All-America honors in 1964. He scored 80 points (eight TD, four FG and 20 PAT). His total offense — 1,381 yards — for the 1964 regular season was second best in U-M history at the time. All-Big Ten: Timberlake, Yearby, DL Jim Conley and OL Tom Cecchini. Captain: Jim Conley Most Valuable Player: Bob Timberlake. Head coach: Bump Elliott Assistant coaches: Don Dufek, Dennis Fitzgerald, Henry Fonde, Robert Holloway, Tony Mason and Jack Nelson. Trainer: Jim Hunt. Manager: Bob Evans. Dominating defensive tackle Bill Yearby, a two-time All-American (1964 and '65), anchored a Michigan defense that surrendered just 8.3 points per game. PHOTO COURTESY BENTLEY HISTORICAL LIBRARY 42-47.1964 50th Anniversary.indd 45 6/19/14 4:37 PM

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