Michigan's Vaughn is in line for another big rushing game


COLLEGE PARK -- Two games into the season, Jon Vaughn JTC still finds Michigan's offensive line a source of wonder.

From tackle to tackle, no one weighs under 269. The head bully is Greg Skrepenak, the largest player in Michigan history at 6 feet 6, 322 pounds. And, as Maryland coach Joe Krivak says, "The amazing thing is, they all run so well."

The main beneficiary of this protection is Vaughn, a sophomore who leads the country in rushing with a 244.5-yard average. Indeed, he had more yards (288) against UCLA than Maryland has as a team in four games (244).

"It's 95 percent line and 5 percent me," Vaughn said as he relished the prospect of playing against Maryland Saturday. "If no one's in the way, you can run wherever you want. You could have picked anyone out of the stands and they could have run as well as I did."

Pardon Vaughn this slight exaggeration. A sophomore who played mostly on the special teams last season, carrying only 10 times for 57 yards, Vaughn is, according to Krivak, "an exciting runner with world-class speed."

Conceded Michigan coach Gary Moeller, "Jon's got some speed. He's got the ability to hit the home run."

Vaughn is the first Wolverine ever to rush for 200-plus yards in back-to-back games. He already has joined Ron Johnson, Tom Harmon and Jamie Morris as the only Michigan runners with more than one 200-yard game.

"My eyes get so big when I'm running through the line because I've never seen holes that big in my life," Vaughn said.

ABC-TV analyst and former NFL coach Dick Vermeil calls Michigan's line "one of the best in recent college football history."

Said Moeller, "When you look at the stats, you have to give the major credit to the offensive line. They really have something going."

Michigan ranks fourth in the country in rushing offense (354.5), despite two games against testy opponents. The No. 6 Wolverines lost to No. 1 Notre Dame by four points and defeated UCLA, 38-15.

"I told the team, 'This is the best team we'll play this season and it has the best personnel,' " Krivak said. "If Notre Dame is No. 1, Michigan has to be in the top five. When [ex-coach] Bo Schembechler went into baseball [Detroit Tigers], he didn't leave the cupboard bare."

Krivak notes that Michigan "softens you up" with Jarrod Bunch, a 247-pound fullback, then turns loose Vaughn.

"We've got to hold our ground and not get pushed around," Krivak said.

Michigan's record against Atlantic Coast Conference schools is 14-2; North Carolina beat the Wolverines twice . . . Moeller on Maryland: "This is a week we can't take for granted. We face an improved Maryland team, and we need to get better each week."

Since being shut out in the opener, Terps senior flanker Barry Johnson has 13 catches for 271 yards. He needs 24 receptions to become the Terps' all-time leading receiver.

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