Coach Carr on Marlin Jackson's Move To Safety

Today (Thurs.) at the Big Ten Kickoff I got a chance to ask Lloyd Carr in more detail about Marlin Jackson. It's pretty interesting stuff.

I actually got to ask Carr about Jackson a couple different times today. And a couple other reporters who were there from other Big Ten schools threw in a question or two as well. Here's what Carr had to say.

Is this going to be a situation where Marlin plays some at safety and some at corner?

"No. He will be the starter at free safety."

Will he still be on man to man coverage at times?

"Sure. When teams go with three wideouts, which happens quite a bit, the way things line up Marlin will still be checking the guy that is usually the best receiver, who lines up as the slot receiver."

What is the reason for the switch?

"We have three very good cover guys in Markus Curry, Jeremy LeSueur and Marlin, and this way one of them doesn't have to sit on the bench. Curry had a great spring, and Jeremy LeSueur is as good a corner as there is in the Big Ten."

Did Ron English coming in as the new DB coach have something to do with this? Did English suggest it?

"Well, sure English had input on it. But Jim Herrmann had input on it, I had input on it. And Marlin had input on it."

"We didn't have to talk Marlin into it. After the spring he saw that he could be involved in more plays from the safety position, and that this was a positive move for him. You know at corner, he's totally out of the play half the time, when the ball goes to the other side."

Has Marlin gotten big and strong enough to handle the punishment?

"He's up to 196 lbs. now so he's big enough. Last year he played at about 185. And he's gotten stronger too. Also, we don't put eight men in the box that much. We usually play a 'cover two' with both safeties where Marlin will line up back on one hash mark. We do blitz a safety sometimes, but Marlin's position would usually be the one staying back."

Do you think Marlin will play safety in the NFL?

"We don't really think too much about things like that. But I'd say Marlin will be able to play either in the NFL, safety or corner. And this move will only help him as far as his NFL future is concerned."

Note: for those who are wondering if this is a good idea. I asked Michigan linebacker Carl Diggs, "What has jumped out to you as the most impressive thing about the whole defense over the summer?" Carl answered, "To me, the group that I'm most impressed with -- I'd say Jeremy LeSueur, Markus Curry and Marlin Jackson. During seven on sevens this summer, just watching the way they were competing impressed me -- they were really locking down on our receivers. We have a pretty good receiver corps here, but the way they were locking them down -- that really impressed me."

One final thing. In this writer's opinion, this move looks tailor-made for Michigan's 2003 schedule, where most of the games are against 'passing teams': Central Michigan, Houston, Oregon, Illinois, Purdue, Northwestern, Michigan State ... that's seven out of twelve.

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