Lloyd Carr Talks Michigan Football

In his weekly press conference, Michigan Head Coach Lloyd Carr talked about last week's game against Minnesota and looked forward to Saturday's game against Illinois. Here are a few of the pertinent answers for Illini fans from the press conference.

Question: Have you thought about putting extra guy in back on punt returns?
Lloyd Carr:Well, the thing that Minnesota did, they gave us three different punt formations. They substituted differently than they did prior to going into that game. They have a soccer-style punter. He is a guy that very often -- a year ago, they rolled him to the right to kick the ball soccer style. So I don't think it would have done us any good to have an extra guy back because of the nature of their punting game.

And I think, you know, I give them a lot of credit from the standpoint that it does -- it did make it much more difficult because they did not have a conventional punter. I think that's an issue that you have to give your opponent credit, there's no question about that.

Question: You mentioned turnovers, you want to improve on that. What kind of things do you guys do to improvise?
Well, we have a lot of drills that our receivers and our running backs, for example, every week we're running strip drills. They run with a football. It's kind of a silk covering on it that's very slippery where we try to strip the ball out of their hands, which means it forces them, if they're going to hang onto it, they're really going to have to secure the ball tightly, they're going to have to keep their hips down and their pads up and their head up because that's the way you can protect the football. So there's a lot of drills, a lot of things done on a daily basis.

Every time, even if we're not in a drill, if we're in a regular offensive-defensive situational part of practice, as a coach, if you see a guy that's not taking care of the football. If you can ever see a football from behind, when a ball carrier is running away from you, if you ever can see the football, it's not secure. You've got to have the ball high and tight, and you can't be carrying it like you would a loaf of bread.

There's a lot of things that you're emulating. And then sometimes it's caused by your opponent. When your opponent makes a great play, you know, you have to give them credit. So some of those have been to the credit of our opponent, but some of them haven't. Those are the ones that we've got to eliminate.

Question: What is Illinois doing well this year that you see?
Well, I think their offensive line has really improved over a year ago. There's a whole group of those guys. (Bucky) Babcock I think is an excellent player. But they're playing with a lot of confidence. They're rushing the football extremely well. I think that's particularly true when you look at E.B. Halsey, and I think he is leading the Big Ten in all purpose yardage. I mean, that's an impressive statistic. They got the ball to their fullbacks. They're very patient. They've got two tight ends there, so they love to throw the football off of play action and control the football. You know, defensively, Mike Mallory, who played here at Michigan, is there new coordinator. They're playing very hard. They got the best punter, second best punter in the Big Ten conference statistically (Steve Weatherford). He's back from a year ago. There's the makings there of a good football team. Jon Beutjer of course, a sixth-year quarterback, he's been around forever and knows the offense in and out.

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