After 15 seasons at Michigan, coach Bo Schembechler doesn't like to admit that he's changing his ways. But he has no choice but to get his 1984 Wolverines off the ground. Schembechler is as embarrassed about his upcoming affaire d'air as Lee Iacocca might be if you were to catch him in a Toyota. "I hate to say this, but we're going to throw more," says Bo. "Not 40 times a game, mind you, but maybe 25."
Everything is topsy-turvy in Ann Arbor these days. The defense, the Wolverines' perennial strong suit, was gutted by graduation. The offense, which heretofore all but eschewed the forward pass, has an abundance of promising receivers. Furthermore, the team has no superstars. Schembechler has no problems with hardworking no-names. What he doesn't like is the way spring practice went. "The offense moved the ball too well," says Schembechler, who prefers that the defense excel in the spring. "I'm worried about the linebackers and then the punting." Nonetheless, Schembechler has maintained the demeanor of a Good Humor man with lots of new flavors. "Things are just going to be different around here," he says.
Take quarterback. Michigan is the only Big Ten contender without a returning starter at the position. The job belongs to junior Jim Harbaugh, who spent his formative years scrambling right under Bo's nose. His father, Jack, was a Wolverine assistant until he took a job at Stanford in 1980. Schembechler says the 6'3", 202-pound Harbaugh can do most anything: "Don't worry about my quarterback. He won't be the runner Steve Smith [the starter the past three seasons] was, but, boy, can he throw."
Michigan has at least six solid pass catchers, but tailback is wide open, and, after losing All-Americas Stefan Humphries and Tom Dixon, the offensive line will be merely adequate. Bolstering the iffy defense will be Al Sincich, an All-Big Ten middle guard, tackle Kevin Brooks, linebacker Mike Mallory (119 tackles in '83), and cornerback Brad Cochran (64 tackles).
September 4, 1984
The Wolverines' unlikely celebrity' is walk-on Bob Bergeron, a placekicker who, Schembechler says, "weighs 135 pounds soaking wet." Bergeron led the team in scoring last year, making 15 of 17 field-goal attempts. His 45-yarder beat Iowa in the final eight seconds. "That happens to a kicker maybe once in a lifetime and never at Michigan," says Bergeron. "We're not exactly known for our kickers." Next year at this time, however, Michigan may be known for the pass.