The line at Michigan
I The line at Michigan keeps beating odds By TOMMY GEORGE Free Press Sports Writer ANN ARBOR The season-opening season-opening season-opening season-opening game against Notre Dame was only a week away when Michigan coaches decided to make a bold move: Offensive guard Bob Tabachino would move to center. It was not an easy assignment for Tabachino: He had to learn the proper way to snap the ball and new blocking schemes in seven days. But Tabachino mastered it, and Michigan's offensive line was overpowering in its first three games (victories over Notre Dame, South Carolina and Maryland). It paved the way for U-M U-M U-M to average 255 rushing yards and 24 points a game. "It looked as if it would be one of the best lines we've had here," said Michigan Michigan coach Bo Schembechler. "We saw we were really onto something good." Neither Schembechler nor U-M U-M U-M offensive offensive line coach Elliot Uzelac could foresee the problems that lay ahead or the way his linemen would respond. Injuries have come in bushels, but someone has always filled in admirably. admirably. IT IS A major reason Michigan is 6-1 6-1 6-1 (4-1 (4-1 (4-1 in the Big Ten) heading into its game against Illinois (4-3, (4-3, (4-3, 3-1 3-1 3-1 ) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Champaign, 111. "What we've been trying to do is keep our kids tough and make them realize there is no real sense of emergency emergency unless you create it," Uzelac said. "We've been fortunate in that way. Every man called on has done the job." Michigan's starting guards in its first three games Mark Hammer-stein Hammer-stein Hammer-stein (leg) and Mike Husar (arm and ankle) suffered injuries against Maryland that were more severe than first thought. Hammerstein was out for the season, and the next week Husar injured an ankle and has missed the last three games. Tackle John Elliot missed last week's homecoming game against Indiana because of back spasms. And there have been plenty of other aches and pains. Against Indiana, tackle tackle Clay Miller went down with a leg injury, and on the next play four of the five interior linemen were forced to shuffle to different positions. But that play a Jim Harbaugh pass to split end Paul Jokisch gained 31 yards to the Indiana 20. The offensive offensive line had given Harbaugh time to throw. The Wolverines ended up with 604 total yards. MILLER IS EXPECTED to play against Illinois, but Husar likely won't. Elliot might, depending on if he can practice today. That leaves senior Jerry Quaerna (6-feet-7, (6-feet-7, (6-feet-7, (6-feet-7, (6-feet-7, 273 pounds) and Miller (6-4, (6-4, (6-4, 264) at tackles, junior John Vitale (6-1 (6-1 (6-1 , 277) and senior Mike Krauss (6-4, (6-4, (6-4, 229) at guards, Tabachino (6-1, (6-1, (6-1, 263) at center and Eric Kattus (6-6, (6-6, (6-6, 225) at tight end. Only Tabachino, Miller and Kattus originally were starters. "All of this came about under a horrendous set of circumstances," Schembechler said. "We've been moving moving people around up there like crazy." And Schembechler will make another another move this week to bolster his depth: Defensive tackle Dave Chester likely will become an offensive guard. Michigan chooses offensive linemen linemen on their ability to pass-block. pass-block. pass-block.