Every five years or so, a group of old Michigan players from mid-1940s would gather to share old stories and relive the camaraderie of one of the closest teams to ever put on the winged helmet. The team featured the All-American backfield duo of Bob Chappuis and Bump Elliott, not to mention Howard Yerges, Bob Mann, and future All-Americans Alvin Wistert, Pete Elliott, Dick Rifenburg, and Robert Wahl. But when you ask the history guys who really made that team go, their answer is always the same guy, and not one of the above. He was also, coincidentally, the guy organizing the reunions.
As they last met in 2008, 2013 was supposed to be the next such get-together. Some of the guys are still out on the golf course, but the years have dealt the losses to these men that their 1946-'49 opponents never could, and of those that remain to us, too few can responsibly make the journey for a 2013 reunion. So we'll have it here instead, as MGoBlog had the opportunity to interview the man at the heart of one of Michigan's all-time greatest teams, spinning fullback Jack Weisenburger.
Last week I had the opportunity to spend a short time speaking with Jack on the phone about his time at Michigan, from his recruitment to the changes he witnessed in wartime, to the team. His story and theirs, after the jump.
Off topic season is over. It is game week and we are putting on our game faces. Most off topic posting is hereby illegalized until after the Ohio State game. The exceptions:
local pro teams in moderation
general college football in whatever quantity you'd like
As a reminder that will forever go unheeded, threads about the Big Ten and Michigan opponents are on topic. I will shake my fist at you and scream "why?" if you label a thread about Ohio State OT.
Captains. Not much surprise that Michigan's captains are David Molk, Kevin Koger, and Mike Martin.
It's amazing to me that the guy who recruited Molk to Michigan was Lloyd Carr. It's been a long four years. Here's Molk latest appearance on CTK, where he discusses being a captain in his usual blunt fashion:
Q: Will you change at all, publicly?
A: Yes. I will be nicer to the media.
We did this winning thing from time to time. Bo after the 1976 Ohio State game:
Pinky finger can be removed and applied as a teeth-whitening device
That what I got out of the article, anyway.
This is what I am talking about. The Muskegon Chronicle does something cool with its archives: it uses them instead of locking them away, reprinting a September 1st, 1948, article on the ascension of Bennie Oosterbaan to the top job:
Bennie knows football from A to Z. He is popular with his players and with his fellow coaches. There is very little about football that Bennie doesn’t know. Fritz Crisler gives Oosterbaan considerable credit for much of Michigan’s successes in recent years.
Michigan will have a good team this fall. Practically the same defensive eleven as last year will be available. The squad won’t be as deep with experienced players as it was last year, but enough talent has returned to continue the two-team idea used so successfully last season. …
Michigan’s attack this season will probably be built around the running of Derricotte. While all of the backs can pass, there probably won’t be as much passing as a year ago.
Recruiting was important even back in 1948—the article mentions Michigan's stiff admissions requirements made the freshmen class "the poorest in years."
RIP Killer. I lost my interest in the Lions a while ago and withdrew into maniacal focus on Michigan a few years later but still remember Tom Kowalski as a quality beatwriter and one of the rare people who could carry a nickname like "Killer" ably. He died in his sleep two days ago at 51. John Niyo remembers him, as does local media flamethrower Jeff Moss.
Where power fits now. Shakin' The Southland runs down all the different things you can do to that defensive end you're usually optioning off in the zone read game. One of them is something Michigan ran last year and will run more of this year:
Now what else do I want to throw at that DE to get inside his head? What if he has a tip on the read option and plays it right, or the opposing DC has instructed him to always go for the QB? We can use that against him with a Trap. …Another option, very similar, is to run a Power on him. Below I'm using the TE/H on the playside, but he could also be set in the backfield beside the QB. Either way, he gets kicked out or log blocked.
What if he spots this formation based on my tendencies as a playcaller, and figures out that we're going to run Power from this set? To keep him from making that guess every time, I need to be able to run my zone read option from the same formation. Also, instead of having the TE/H kick him out, I just send the blocker on an Arc outside, and run the tight zone or power anyway. If he stops to set his feet to take on the H-back, he wont be able to do much to the RB in time to stop the play.
Here you're making up for a lack of pile-bulling beef by using the power as a changeup that exploits the need to cheat on whatever the base play is. Lately those ends just tear down the line so power might not be the best anwer—Michigan had success pulling the playside guard last year and getting outside that end.