The 2nd coming of the 1997 Wolverines

Submitted by hfhmilkman on September 1st, 2015 at 10:02 PM

I am not going to predict an undefeated season.  However,it is uncanny how many similarities there are between the 1997 team and the 2015 team.  I will list.  Neither team was highly regarded in the preseason.  Brian Griese was a 5th year senior who was viewed at best a game manager and who did exactly that.  Is this not what we expect if Rudolph is indeed the starting QB?  The 1997 team opened against a very strong Colorado team.  This team opens up against Utah.  Griese was truly a game manager completing over 80 passes to RB's and Tuman had as many ypg(40) as the leading receiver Streets.  It is possible a RB or TE may lead our team in receptions.   Our lead RB was known for his power to get 3 instead of breaking for 80.  Yet the RB position was done by committee.  The 2015 team has 4 RB's who may get significant action with the lead being a power back.  The core of the team was a dominant defense built around a great player in the secondary who had the freedom to make great plays.  Woodson was not just a great defender but a three way player who made plays on offense and special team.  The strength of the 2015 team will be the defense that returns almost everyone of significance.  Peppers may only be a redshirt freshman.  Yet all of the talk is he is the keystone of the defense.  And of course the 1997 team hosted its two biggest rivals.

Now there are some differences.  The NFL draft in the succeeding years and the careers of those players revealed just how talented the 1997 team really was.  Perhaps we could not say the same thing in August of 1997.  Yet the age of makes it easier to have a handle on how talented or not talented an individual is.  I do not see scores of NFL capable players much less evidence of players capable of long NFL careers on the 2015 team.  However, the point of discussion is I believe Michigan has a chance to use the same template used in 1997 to have a better than expected year. 



September 1st, 2015 at 10:37 PM ^



Rudock the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Had a savvy football nose
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it knows
Aw, that other Ferentz
Used to laugh and call him names
He never let poor Rudock
Go beyond managing games

Then one foggy New Years Eve,
Harbaugh came to say,
Rudock with your head so bright,
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight

Then how all the reindeer loved him,
As they shouted out with glee,
Rudock the red-nose Reindeer
You'll go down in history

Read more: Christmas Carols - Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

East German Judge

September 1st, 2015 at 10:07 PM ^

While all of us here (trolls excluded) would love for this to happen, one huge and obvious difference is that we now have an excellent coach, but he is only in his 1st year and not sure if he can get all the latent talent on the squad to manifest it self on the field while LC was already the coach and had things going in the right direction.  And also, Woodson was also a proven commodity on the field, while JP still needs to show it on the field.

A Fan In Fargo

September 2nd, 2015 at 1:27 AM ^

under Harbaugh and his offensive prowess. To say that this D is like the 97 one? Man a junior corner/3 way stud won the only Heisman given to a predominately defensive player. Boy if this is anywhere close to that team it'll be a great fall for me. I don't know if Pep is Woodson as a junior though . This D is pretty stacked. I'll give em that. All Hail Megatron...shit I mean Michigan!


September 1st, 2015 at 10:24 PM ^

There is no Charles Woodson on the 2015 team.   Peppers may be good now, but he is not Charles.  Charles was in his 3rd season as a starter in 1997 and Peppers will be in his first. 

No player changed the game like Charles did.  Without him, that 97 team would have had 3 or 4 losses.

The 97 team produced over 28 NFL players...many whom played over 10 years in the league.  Other than the 2001 Miami team, you wont find many other programs with 1/4 of the team making "the league".

However, Lloyd Carr was in ultra conservative mode with that offense....despite having an NFL line, A Train, Tai Streets, Tuman, Shea, Griese etc.

For that reason, they were a 3 loss team without Charles making plays and pulling games out of the fire.  He also took away 1/2 the field.  Opposing teams were AFRAID of Charles.  Ive never seen that before in my life... FEAR of one defensive player (other than Lawrence Taylor in the NFL).  

Thank God they had Charles.


September 1st, 2015 at 10:31 PM ^

Lloyd Carr was a very good college HC, top 30 all time...who held himself back from being Great.  He would have been among the greatest, top 5 HC of all time (with multiple NCs), had he just trusted his offensive talent to be playmakers more.  Those 10-3 seasons would have been 13-0, 12-1 and 11-2 had he just let his offensive players go at it.   The 97-03 teams were absolutely stacked offensively.


September 1st, 2015 at 10:46 PM ^

Lloyd top five all time? I think you're pushing it a little. If you would say Bo could have been top five ever I would agree with you. We had defeses like nobody else in the 70s and 80s but were losing bowl games to scores of 9-7, 17-10, 14-6, etc. Bo Jackson said he'd never been hit harder in his life during the 84 Sugar Bowl. But we lost 9-7. And some of those OSU games could have gone the other way as well. 


September 2nd, 2015 at 1:10 AM ^

Well Lloyd was 122-40 with 5 BT titles and 1 NC.  Thats pretty damned good...probably top 15 overall in win % ever.

Say he would have one 1 or two other NCs by opening things up (1999, 2000 maybe 2006 if things fall the right way).

1 more NC and Lloyd would be right up there with the best of them


September 2nd, 2015 at 9:38 AM ^

A lot of the bad games Lloyd lost were not because of the was because of defense or special teams.

1998 Syracuse, 1999 Illinois and MSU, 2000 Purdue and Northwestern, 2001 Tenneseee, 2002 Iowa, 2003 Iowa and Oregon, 2004 OSU, 2005 (a lot), 2006 OSU, 2007 App State, Oregon, and Wisconsin.


September 2nd, 2015 at 2:13 AM ^

Don't think the '96 team was ever that close. It was, in the non-OL positions, the least talented offensive team Carr ever coached; the only rival in that department was the 2001 team, which was measurably superior in most statistics. Yeah, we think fondly of many of those players from '97 (and we should, but let's not pretend '97 was an offensive powerhouse either), but this was not that season. In '96 you had Young Tai Streets and Russell Shaw flanking Young Clarence Williams and Chris Howard. None of these players even rank in the top four of Michigan players at their positions in the Lloyd Carr era. At QB it was mostly Scott Driesbach until Not '97 Brian Griese took over late. The team just didn't have enough offense to win that many games. But it did set up the '97 team well.

The '96 team does, however, hold one important distinction: With the posting of this thread, it is the last Michigan team not to be positively compared to the '97 team.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

snarling wolverine

September 1st, 2015 at 10:43 PM ^

Eh, '98 was not a national title-level team. The '98 version of Brady wasn't nearly as good as the '99 one was, and the running game was iffy.   We also weren't nearly as dominant defensively, without Woodson and Steele.  10-3 was an OK record given the team we had, although the three losses were ugly.  

1999 OTOH was one player away from the national title - William Peterson.  He was kicked off the team in the preseason . . . and then we had no CB good enough to cover Plaxico Burress at MSU.  The secondary was our only weakness that year.  Peterson would have shored it up.



September 2nd, 2015 at 12:55 AM ^

I'm on app so can't see who's getting negged or how many times...
HOWEVA - allow me to take a stab at why someone would neg the Peterson Defense:
We didn't lose just the msu game, we also lost to Illinois. There were numerous defensive lapses in both games (and let's acknowledge that psu still feels jobbed by the officials in our '99 victory).
Unless you're talking about CWood, I've never seen a CB @ Michigan that was so good you could say they were the difference between 10-2 or 12-0.
Also if the guy was kicked off the team by Lloyd, then it was for good reasons, so crying that we'd have won the MNC with him is veering to close to trojan, cane, buckeye country. Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing that matters, so to speak.


September 2nd, 2015 at 1:07 AM ^

We were down to trying to use David Terrell at CB against MSU.  Illinois was a lack of focus after a big lead.  Would have likely been a different story if we had not lost the week before at MSU.  I was at the PSU game, I don't recall a ref controversy at that one. 

It's not a given that Peterson would have been the difference, but it's certainly plausible.  

That '99 team was this close.  For want of a nail . . . .


September 2nd, 2015 at 1:13 AM ^

....and forcing Drew Henson in vs. MSU was a factor in the loss.  He connected on one bomb TD, but threw a nasty pic and put the team in a bad hole that they had to climb out of with Brady in the 2nd half.

Forcing Henson in there hurt the 1999 team early in the season...

The Illinois game, there was a missed XP and also a snap over Bradys head as he was leading the team back late in the game. 

Total defensive collapse though...


September 2nd, 2015 at 2:19 AM ^

The Illinois loss was the flukiest loss I've ever seen Michigan lose. Remember, Anthony Thomas was a bit banged up, and Carr decided to pull him out of the game with a lot of time left to preserve his health--a defensible decision with a 20-point lead. By the time things had gone to pieces, he was showered and unable to return.

Your view of the Henson situation is mildly uncharitable; Michigan had two great QB talents and had rotated them consistently every game in the same fashion. I was pro-Brady at the time, and he did lead quite a comeback against State, but Carr was placating two players he needed in the best way he could. And let's not pretend that State wasn't very good that season, because they were.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

snarling wolverine

September 2nd, 2015 at 9:46 AM ^

To be clear, I'm not saying Peterson's dismissal wasn't justified - just that it was a major loss at a position we really couldn't afford to lose a starter.

Someone analyzed the polls that year and concluded that an 10-1 Michigan team likely would have played in the national title game, so Illinois alone wouldn't have cost us.  Anyway, I'm not certain we lose that game if we aren't coming off a loss (and in any event, it was a crazy, fluky loss).

Henson's appearance in the MSU game undoubtedly hurt us, but the biggest problem that day was that we simply had no answer for Plaxico Burress, who absolutely shredded us for like 250 receiving yards.


September 2nd, 2015 at 2:15 AM ^

doesn't get nearly enough credit on that team.  that guy beat anyone and everyone.  because of that we didn't need to blitz much, though when we did, it was very effective, especially when guys like woodson blitzed off the edge.  i remember steele making sparty's RT look silly all game.  i can't remember his name but i think he was an all pro for dallas a few years.

too bad steele didn't cash in.  back problems curtailed his nfl career.