Jamison Prepares for Illini

Michigan defensive end Tim Jamison has helped lead a revitalized Michigan defense the past five weeks of the season. When the Wolverines head to Illinois this weekend, Jamison will get a chance to lead his unit against a mobile quarterback for the first time since the teams blowout loss to Oregon.

ANN ARBOR -- Fourth-year defensive end Tim Jamison pictured a different start to the season. Coming in with a national top five ranking and dreams of a national title, demoralizing losses to both Appalachian State and Oregon brought the Wolverines national championship run to an end before it could even begin.

Against the Mountaineers, quarterback Armanti Edwards captained the spread attack which netted close to 400 yards of total offense. In the Oregon game, facing a spread attack with a mobile quarterback for the second straight week, quarterback Dennis Dixon shredded the Michigan defense for over 600 yards, 300+ of it coming from the Ducks spread running game.

Saturday, when the Wolverines trip to Champaign, Ill., Juice Williams will provide the same test to a Michigan defense that seems to have gotten its feet on the ground the past five weeks.

"Last week Purdue played a little bit of spread, but this week will remind us of the Oregon game," Jamison said when commenting on the match up with his home state school this weekend. "We practiced hard for that game, but now we have a better feel for the option. We had new starters on the team, but they are confident now going against the spread and controlling the run.

"It is about doing your assignments. If you have the quarterback, then you stay on the quarterback. If you have the dive, then you stay on the dive."

Against Illinois last week, in a game that some of the Wolverines scouted, the Hawkeyes did just that in an upset win that gave Iowa its first Big 10 win of the season. Now, with the Wolverines Rose Bowl hopes on the line, and a newly motivated Fighting Illini team to boot, it's the Wolverines turn to show the discipline needed to shut down an Illinois rushing attack that is near the tops in the nation.

"This week everyone just has to do their assignments. Illinois does a great job faking and catching someone not doing their assignment. That is how they advance the ball down the field.

"Iowa played assignment football. No one was trying to do anyone else's job. Everybody did their job and they stopped the run. That's what we have to do this week in practice."

Adding to the excitement, the Wolverines showdown with 5-2 Illinois also provides the Maize and Blue with its first taste of the night life. Playing under the lights for the first time since beating Penn State 17-10 in Happy Valley last season, finding ways to keep focused during the day will be one last test before the Wolverines take the field at Memorial Stadium.

"Get ready for it. The coaches will come up and talk to you and you will have meetings. There is nothing like night games during prime time. It brings back high school memories," Jamison said.

Head coach Lloyd Carr continued.

"I think a year ago one of the great environments I've ever been in, in college football was at Penn State. There was an electricity there (at Beaver Stadium) because of a lot of things; the game had great significance, but, you know, the environment.

"I think the same thing will happen this week. It is a game where you know there's a lot on the line because of the season."

For the Wolverines, a return trip to the Rose Bowl is on the line, and it may well just come down to whether or not Jamison and company can successfully stop the Illinois spread option attack.

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