the base play
Ace: After the title game, it's time to wash the bad taste out of our mouths. Thinking back on the 1997 title team, who was your favorite player to watch other than Charles Woodson? Answer should be your choice at the time, so unless you've always been obsessed with line play I'm going to be a little skeptical if one of you answers Steve Hutchinson.
Alex Cook: I was four-and-a-half years old at the time and have no recollection of this team whatsoever. I'm going to graduate this spring / summer, so, uh, yeah 1997 was a while ago.
Seth: Dude don't forget people knew Hutchinson and Backus then. Freshman linemen were almost unheard of in recent memory, so Lloyd announcing two would start was a big part of why September expectations were for "another four-loss season."
|It's not like two freshman offensive linemen went totally unremarked, Ace.|
(The contempt with which I used to say those four words embarrasses me now).
Through that season there were Daily stories and Replay mentions about Hutchinson and Backus: going to Blimpy's for the first time, having to buy Spots for the seniors, boilerplate "pick things quickly" stuff from coaches, yada yada. However I personally read those articles a few years later in the archives, and also developed my appreciation for Rob Renes only after hitting campus in 1998 and being exposed to frat brothers and editors who worshipped him.
As my high school notebooks will attest, I was a fan of Dhani Jones. He was so fast tracking down guys wherever on the field, and always appeared around the ball, and was only a sophomore. He really stuck out in the Penn State game, and I remembered him having a ton of sacks (a Bentley lookup reveals six). And his name was Dhani, and he had a fro, and they said he was a straight-A student, and back then I believed in the student-athlete hooey a lot more. If he had played in the time of YouTube he'd be an MGo-Favorite easily.
Dhani was only marginally ahead of a bunch of that front seven. The way Keith Jackson would say "Clint Copenhaver" you thought Copenhaver was some sort of defensive god. James Hall would chase quarterbacks into their nightmares. Sam Sword and Glenn Steele because it's not enough that we destroy your offense we have to literally send guys named for medieval weaponry at you. Either of those guys would be my pick after Jones (I loved sacks).
And I liked A-Train, a big-time recruit when that was just becoming a thing, and so damn fast. When I bought my jersey freshman year it was between 7 and 32; I went with the former because Henson was my grade.
[After the jump: we loved everybody]