13 Michigan Behind quarterback John Navarre, Big Blue goes for big air as it looks to reassert itself in the Big Ten

August 10, 2003

A year ago, Wolverines quarterback John Navarre had only a shaky
hold on his starting job, the result of a jittery 2001 season in
which he threw 11 interceptions in Michigan's final six games,
including an unforgivable four in a bitter 26-20 loss to Ohio
State. Now, after passing for 21 touchdowns against only seven
picks--and throwing for a school-record 2,905 yards--in '02, the
6'6", 228-pound senior is under a different kind of strain, as
the man expected to lead his team back to a Big Ten championship.
"I take satisfaction in knowing I've changed some people's
minds," he says. "I remember sitting in the coaches' office on
January 5th and saying how excited I was to start the new
season."

He'll have a lot to work with. Five players with starting
experience are back on the offensive line, including two All-Big
Ten honorees, junior left guard David Baas and senior left tackle
Tony Pape. The wideouts are talented though inexperienced.
(Junior Braylon Edwards is the only one who caught more than 21
passes last year.) The running game features junior tailback
Chris Perry, a 6'1", 220-pound head cracker who enjoyed a
breakout season, rushing for 1,110 yards and 14 touchdowns. Says
senior receiver Tyrece Butler, "It's going to be a lot more
explosive than last year."

After two straight losses to Ohio State, the pressure will be on
the Wolverines to reassert themselves against their archrivals.
But stress is nothing new to Navarre, a survivor who's dealt with
pressure for the better part of three years. When he takes the
field at Michigan Stadium on Aug. 30 to play Central Michigan,
he'll be the first Wolverines quarterback since Rick Leach (class
of '78) to start four straight season openers. "The one thing you
know as a Michigan quarterback is that you're going to be
criticized," says Navarre. "I only pay attention to what I can
control." --Mark Beech

COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS POCKET POISE Navarre, who improved markedly in '02, will be the first Wolverines QB in 25 years to start four season openers.

FAST FACTS

2002 RECORD 11-2 (6-2, third in Big Ten)
FINAL AP RANK 9
RETURNING STARTERS 13

KEY RETURNEES (2002 stats)

QB John Navarre (Sr.)
48 career TDs, tied for second at Michigan

CB Marlin Jackson (Jr.)
Assault charges could sideline defensive star

RB Chris Perry (Sr.)
Outback Bowl: Four rushing TDs, 108 rec. yards

LT Tony Pape (Sr.)
6'6" 305-pounder is top NFL prospect

WR Braylon Edwards (Jr.)
Fastest 60-meter runner (6.88) on track team

TELLING NUMBER

160.1
John Navarre's career per-game passing yardage, third highest at
Michigan behind Jim Harbaugh (175.8) and Tom Brady (172.6).

SMART MOVE

Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr rewarded receiver Braylon Edwards for
his breakout '02 season (67 catches, 1,035 yards, 10 TDs) by
giving him the number 1 jersey formerly worn by All-Americas
Anthony Carter, Derrick Alexander and David Terrell. Says
Edwards, "I asked for it when I got here, but they told me to
prove myself first."

SCHEDULE

AUG. 30 Central Michigan
SEPT. 6 Houston
13 Notre Dame
20 AT OREGON
27 Indiana
OCT. 4 AT IOWA
11 AT MINNESOTA
18 Illinois
25 Purdue
NOV. 1 AT MICHIGAN STATE
15 AT NORTHWESTERN
22 Ohio State

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)