Coach Carr Leery of Homecoming Opponent Purdue

Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr thought that Homecoming games were supposed to be automatic wins. Not so with Purdue, which comes in with an undefeated Big Ten record and some unknowns. Purdue Freshman QB Brandon Hance is more mobile than last year's Drew Brees, who decimated UM's secondary. But will Hance stand up to the onslaught of Rumishek and Company?

Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr is not one to back down from a challenge, but he wonders who scheduled a team like Purdue for the 2001 Homecoming game.

"I thought homecoming is always supposed to be an easy game," Carr said Monday.

Carr praised both the Purdue offense and defenses for their play so far this year, saying "We will have to play our best game of the year."

The Wolverines remember a Purdue team that both passed and ran well against Michigan last year in pulling out a come-from-behind win at West Lafayette, 32-31, on Travis Dorsch's field goal with 18 seconds left.

Carr's focus this year is shutting down the West Coast-style offense of Coach Joe Tiller by shutting down the run and forcing Freshman QB Brandon Hance into making quick decisions and hopefully, some mistakes. Stopping the run first is key to Carr.

"I don't think anyone has run the ball real well against us," he said. "Philosophically that's what you want."

Last year, former Purdue QB Drew Brees was able to exploit both the pass and the run against Michigan.

"First is to stop the run,"Carr said. "Second is to exert pressure with four men because that sets up your blitzes. If you can't do it with four, then you have to go to five and that makes you more vulnerable."

Carr said that he was relatively pleased with the offense's play against Penn State, a 20-0 win in Happy Valley. The one concern is the team's play in the red zone.

Michigan had the ball inside the 20 yard line four times in the first quarter and a half and came away with just six points. One of those times was a fake field goal Carr called that failed when reserve QB Jermaine Gonzales was tackled at the one.

"We had a well-designed play but just didn't get it in there," Carr said.

Carr praised the performance of kicker Hayden Epstein, receivers Marquise Walker and Ronald Bellamy, both of whom scored important touchdowns, and he continued to compliment red-shirt sophomore QB John Navarre.

"We've never had a tougher quarterback," Carr said. "He is a valiant guy."

Navarre has improved in his ability to stay in the pocket and look for receivers. Carr is concerned that UM gives up too many sacks and part of that is Navarre's fault. 

But Carr said Navarre is improving at sensing defensive linemen, linebackers and safeties moving in on him and throwing the ball away when all the receivers are covered.

"He's improved in every facet of the game," Carr said. "We've had no better deep thrower since I've been at Michigan."

Navarre connected with Marquise Walker on a touchdown strike right at the end of the first half to give Michigan a 13-0 lead. Walker "made the best catch of his career" according to Carr when he twisted and leapt up between three Penn State defenders to grab Navarre's pass. 

Overall, Carr said, UM came out of the Penn State game "feeling good about some things and seeing some things we have to work on."

  As usual, Carr evaded questions about the conditions of some injured players.

Offensive tackle Demetrius Solomon reportedly injured his ankle in the first quarter and was replaced by Courtney Morgan.

Carr hinted that Strong Safety Julius Curry could be back for Purdue and Running back Chris Perry should see more action than against Penn State.

Misc: Michigan has outscored opponents in every quarter except the fourth so far this year.

Here are the totals:

1st. UM: 29 Opp: 3

2nd. UM: 62 Opp: 26

3rd. UM 27 Opp: 10

4th. UM 34 Opp: 38

 

 


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