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-08-31-2004 #1DJRamFan Guest
Gutierrez named Michigan's starting QB
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- When Lloyd Carr said Monday that Matt Gutierrez would be Michigan's starting quarterback, it was news to at least some of his players.
"We're dead serious -- we didn't know either," said running back David Underwood, sitting near safety Ernest Shazor, outside of a studio where Carr's news conference was held. "I guess we didn't have to know yet."
Gutierrez (pronounced goo-TARE-es) will make his first college start when the eighth-ranked Wolverines open their season against Miami of Ohio (1-0) on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
Since the Wolverines lost to USC in the Rose Bowl, it seemed likely the redshirt sophomore would win the job. But Carr insisted two other quarterbacks -- Clayton Richard and Chad Henne -- had a shot.
After redshirting as a freshman two years ago, Gutierrez was John Navarre's seldom-used backup last season, completing 13 of 19 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown.
Earlier this month, Gutierrez was very diplomatic about the quarterback competition.
"Whoever is on the field is going to have earned it, and everyone else is going to respect the coach's decision," he said.
Gutierrez, a mobile quarterback with a solid arm, has not lost a game he started since he was a high school freshman playing junior varsity football. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder starred for three seasons on varsity at DeLaSalle Catholic High School in northern California where he threw for more than 5,000 yards and 64 TDs with just nine interceptions.
Carr said Gutierrez's high school success didn't necessarily help him become Navarre's successor.
"What counts is your performance here," Carr said.
Underwood, who also will make his first start Saturday, said Gutierrez deserves to lead the Wolverines.
"He works hard, wakes up early, watches film, works out, watches more film, then works out some more," Underwood said. "And everybody loves him because of the type of person he is. He's just a cool cat.
"On the field, he's cool, calm and collected. Bad plays don't bother him at all. When something good happens, he's very emotional."
Shazor said even though Gutierrez has limited experience in college, he has learned a lot.
"He was able to see everything that John Navarre went through, up close for two years," Shazor said. "He got a taste of playing in a few games, went on road trips, and took a lot of snaps in practice. All of that will help him."
Carr said Richard and Henne still are competing to be Michigan's No. 2 quarterback.
Richard, a drop-back passer with a strong arm, did not play as a freshman last year. Henne, who threw for 7,000 yards and 74 TDs in Pennsylvania, reminds Carr of Drew Henson.
"(Henne) has been impressive, there's no question," Carr said. "And I like Clayton Richard a lot."
Miami of Ohio also is breaking in a new quarterback this season.
Josh Betts, who is replacing Ben Roethlisberger, passed for three TDs and ran for a score to lead the RedHawks to a 49-0 rout of Division I-AA Indiana State on Saturday.
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