May 26, 2014

Edwards: Must be road warriors

Former Michigan running back Stan Edwards knows all about Michigan's upcoming 2014 schedule. He sees, like everyone, the road games at Notre Dame, at Michigan State, at Ohio State.

And he doesn't care.

He remembers well the times Bo Schembechler's crews packed their bags to hit the road in the Big Ten or some other venue. He said on WTKA radio recently that it simply should not matter where a team is playing.

"I don't get caught up in stuff like that," Edwards said. "If you can play football, I don't care if we're playing in your house or my house, or nobody's house. We're going to line up and play.

"Playing at home or on the road is something I don't think a team should have to worry about. We used to enjoy putting those white jerseys on, going into foreign territory, getting into the third quarter, looking into the stands, and saying 'Shhhh! It's a little different ball game now, isn't it, guys?'

"Playing on the road is not that big of a deal for me. If you're going to be a good team, you've got to win games on the road … we'll be fine, even with the rivalry games on the road."

For the record, the 1980 squad Edwards played on took care of business on the road. The Wolverines lost a heartbreaker at Notre Dame, 29-27, but won at Minnesota (37-14), at Indiana (35-0), at Wisconsin (24-0) and at Ohio State (9-3). They, of course, took the big road trip to Pasadena that year, beating Washington in the Rose Bowl, 23-6.

It didn't hurt that Schembechler's defense didn't give up a touchdown over the final five games of the season.

"We had a pretty explosive offense," he said. "We won the national rushing title. We had two backs go over 100 yards almost every game. There were a couple of games when three of us almost went over 100 yards.

"We had the greatest wide receiver in college football at the time, in Anthony Carter. So we had a very balanced offense, but our defense is what carried us.

"Once our defense started to come around, it was one of the most outstanding performances in the history of college football. But we would kick their butt in practice. We would wear their behind out.

"You talk about downhill? That's the term of the day now in football? We came downhill with it. We stopped running option football with our quarterback. We would just power it. Man, we brought it."

It all came together, of course, in Schembechler's first Rose Bowl victory.

"That was a fun time," Edwards said. "It was Bo's finest coaching effort, in my opinion, watching him over the years, or one of the finest.

"We had serious adversities, things that didn't line up correctly for us, and we had to decide, as a team and as a coaching staff - are we going to be the team we're capable of being, or are we going to make excuses about what happened in the first part of the season and continue the downward slide?

"We didn't do that. We looked in the mirror, we looked at each other and we came together. And man, we had one of the most historic seasons ever here."

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