Rusell Davis found out quickly that they do things a little differently at Michian than they did at Woodbridge, Va.) High School.
To many a high school star accusomed to others clearing the way for him, blocking can be demeaning. Not to Davis. He found the quickest way to coach Bo Schembechler's heart was to show him he could knock people down when he didn't have the ball as down when he didn't have the ball as well as he could when he was carrying it.
Davis is one of the most valuable players for the No. 1 Wolverines who play Navy on Saturday afternoon before 104,000 in Michigan Stadium at 1:30.
Davis already has rushed for 193 yards in 33 carries for the 2-0 Wolveines. And his blocking is one reason his best buddy, tailback Harlan Hucklby, has picked up 196 yard in 41 [WORD ILLEGIBLE]
Davis was to have been a starter last year as a sophomore, but a troublesome pulled thigh muscle postponed that until the final four games. Davis gained 596 uards.
"I was starting at fullback and Rob Lytle was at tailback," Davis said of last year. "Then I got hurt. They don't have time to wait for you here so they moved Lytle to fullback and put huckelby at tailback."
Schembecher cast a suspicious eye at Davis, who reported for fall practice about 15 pounds overweight.
He had "feasted" on his mother's cooking all summer. "I was about 230 pounds," the 6-foot-2 Davis said. "Now I'm back down to under 220 and I feel good."
The rap against Michigan the past few seasons has been that it can't win the big games, and that the Wolverines play with robot-like predictability.
Michigan's eight-year record in final games, four of them bowl games, is 0-7-1. Take those games out and they are 76-4-2.
This season Schembechler has added a little imagination to the offense that was No. 1 in the nation last year, 448 yards a game.
Michigan is basically a triple-option team, with quarterback Rick Leach one of the best at running that type of offense. But the Wolverines also now will throw the football at times it is not absolutely necessary.
All of this has made life much easler for Davis, but he added, "I still run between the tackles and block on the sweep."
Three seasons ago, when scouts from virtually every major college in the country had gone to Woodbridge and returned drooling over the running back. Davis was torn between Michigan and Southern California.
He settled on Michigan "because it was close to home but not too close," and because he believed in Schembechler.
He believes in his running mate, too.
Huckelby from Detroit, only 20 miles from Ann Arbor, is like a brother to Davis, takes him home to his mother's cooking.
Playing for the country's No. 1 team hasn't impressed Davis too much. At least not yet.
"When you make your goals for the season, certainly being No. 1 is one of them, but you have to keep that in the back of your mind," Davis said. "If you let that preoccupy you, you're going to get into trouble."
The Wolverines ran into trouble last week against Duke and were fortunate to escape with a 21-9 victory.
"Duke has a real fine team," Davis said. "We just made a lot of mistakes, but we'll get better."
Schembechler was a little coy over prospects against Navy, a 28-point underdog. He says the Mids - whom his team beat 70-14 last year - will win eight or nine names this ear. "They play us. Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. They're gonna get one of the three." Schembechler said. "Maybe two of the three and they should beat their other opponents."
A somber Navy coach George Welsh simply says Michigan is better than his team. "Something out of the ordinary is going to have to happen for us to win."