Carr Prepares For Final Game

After 13 seasons as the head coach of the Michigan football program, Lloyd Carr is now entering his final week of game preparation as the Wolverines put the finishing touches on a game plan for the No. 12 Florida Gators. What is running through Carr's mind as he prepares for his final game as the U-M coach.

It's the end of an era. For the past 13 years, Lloyd Carr has been responsible for monitoring the Michigan program as the team ascended to new heights. After a pair of 8-4 seasons, Carr brought Michigan its first national title in near 50 years with a perfect 12-0 record in 1997. Now 10 years removed from that title, Carr, who's guided the Wolverines to four Rose Bowl appearances, and one trip to the Orange Bowl, is preparing for his last game on the Michigan sideline.

Standing in his way of one last victory, the No. 12-ranked Florida Gators. Behind the left arm, and legs, of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, the Wolverines, and Carr, have one last chance to snap a bowl game skid that dates back to the Wolverines last match up with the Gators, a 38-30 win in the 2003 Outback Bowl.

Arriving in Florida earlier this week, the Wolverines are now going through final run through's as the the season, and Carr's tenure at Michigan rapidly approaches a sudden end.

"We have had the two best practices of our preparation, these first two days down here," Carr said when addressing the media on Friday. "We will lighten up a little bit today and come back with a full practice tomorrow and then taper down for the game."

Distractions, however, seem to have made their way into the Wolverines bowl preparations, as rumors of academic controversy, transfers, and uncertainty on job security of assistant coaches has lingered on since Carr's retirement announcement at the end of November.

According to Carr, distractions haven't been a problem though, and the Wolverines continue final prep work for the Gators while taking advantage of his last bowl experience.

"Having a good time is part of the bowl experience but the real key is that when you are in meetings is everybody on time or are you having problems with guys being awake or not and are they paying attention," Carr said when asked about distractions.

"Those are the fundamental issues and are they practicing hard or making the mistakes they shouldn't be. Are they hustling. Are they making progress. Those are all signs that you look for and those are things that I haven't seen thus far."

With that said, Bowl Week 2008 is clearly different. With just one more chance to make his mark on the Michigan program, it's hard for Carr, who admits to viewing things slightly differently, to not look ahead and wonder.

"I always ask our team after a game, 'Did we win, did I contribute and who's next. I won't have to ask that third question. It will be the end for these seniors and this team. It will be a new team next year, it won't be this team. This will be the last time that we will be together so we're trying to make every day count and enjoy it and get prepared.

"I've tried to concentrate on this game. I know that there are going to be a lot of changes in my life. I just don't know what those are going to be."

If the Wolverines are to send Carr out with a win, it'll take a sound effort to stop one of the best offensive teams in the nation in their own backyard. With an offense similar to that of the Oregon Ducks, the Maize and Blue have a difficult task laying ahead for the first day of 2008.

"I think that they remind me a lot of Oregon than anyone that we've played because they use the quarterback even more than Oregon so you have a 240 pound quarterback that runs like a tailback. When he gets into the areas where there are a lot of people he runs like a fullback. The biggest improvement that Tim (Tebow) has made this season is that he is throwing the football really well. He has made a lot of great throws down the field so he's a problem. Percy Harvin, I think is one of the great football players that I've seen in my coaching career. He is a tremendous athlete and a guy that creates a lot of problems."

Michigan and Florida will kick-off the 2008 Capital One Bowl at 1:00 p.m. on ABC.

Quotables:
Do you ever get read on a team for a game? … "I have had enough reads and some of them have been good and some of them have been bad so I don't trust them. I think that the other team has something to do with it. I do think there is an importance in terms of how they prepare and how they are focused and I really do think that this team is really focused since we've been here."

Is keeping a team fresh hard after five weeks off? … "I think there's a fine line there and I think the biggest thing that we needed to do was get accustomed to the weather. All of our practices at home were indoors where you are not stretching the field because you have both teams (offense and defense with demonstration squads) practicing on the same field. So you need to do some running and other things to catch up there. Anytime you are looking at that kind of layoff that both teams had, there are some things that are important, getting into the type of condition and having the proper timing is as important as anything else."

About linebacker Shawn Crable"He is the biggest linebacker that we've had in terms of height wise and he has great speed. He is probably the fastest linebacker that we've had since I've been at Michigan. I think he has a great future in the game. He is respected by his teammates, was elected captain, which is a tremendous honor. Shawn has had a very, very good year.

"Anytime that you had that kind of height and that kind of speed, it has enabled him to make some plays. He is a guy that can bend his knees and rush the quarterback and run over you or the quickness to move around you or get his hands up and knock the ball down. There are a lot of advantages to having the physical attributes that he has."

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